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Federal Reserve Raises Interest Rates Despite Banking Sector Turmoil
The Fed raised benchmark interest rates for the ninth consecutive time, Grand jury for Trump's indictment delayed and Moderna CEO defends vaccine price increase at Senate hearing.
The Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point on Wednesday, marking the ninth consecutive rate increase. This puts the key benchmark federal funds rate at 4.75% to 5%, the highest level since 2007, from near zero just a year ago. Policymakers signalled that rate increases could soon come to an end, suggesting that future hikes will depend on incoming data reports. Officials dropped a phrase used in their previous eight statements that said the committee anticipated "ongoing increases" in the fed funds rate would be "appropriate." Recent developments, including the implosion of Silicon Valley Bank earlier this month, have complicated the Fed's efforts, because the rapid rise in interest rates played a direct role in the bank's failures. Increasing interest rates again could exacerbate instability within the financial system. New economic projections laid out after the meeting show that a majority of Fed officials expect rates to rise to 5.1% this year, implying just one more quarter-point increase. Officials also indicated that economic growth will slow sharply this year, unemployment will rise to 4.5%, and inflation will persist.
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THE HILL — Mystery surrounds possible Trump indictment
Former President Donald Trump may not face indictment until at least Thursday as reports indicate that a grand jury in the Manhattan probe has yet to convene. Although it is suggested that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is likely to seek an indictment soon, his office has not confirmed this. Trump has not mentioned his potential arrest since his post on Truth Social on Saturday suggesting that he would be arrested on Tuesday, but aides later clarified that he had not been given any advanced notice. Last week, prosecutors brought in Michael Cohen, Trump's former fixer, who made the $130,000 hush payment before receiving reimbursement from Trump.
WASHINGTON TIMES — Moderna CEO defends COVID vaccine price hike, citing pivot to endemic phase
Moderna's CEO, Stephane Bancel, testified at a Senate hearing on Wednesday to discuss taxpayer-funded support of the COVID-19 vaccine. Bancel defended the company's plan to increase the vaccine's price, saying that as the pandemic stabilizes, Moderna is taking on more risk and cost, as well as losing economies of scale. Bancel rejected accusations of corporate greed and emphasized that his company invested years of private funding to develop the messenger RNA platform that was used for the vaccine. He also pledged to help the uninsured with patient assistance programs and to partner with community hospitals and homeless shelters to offer the vaccine free of charge. Lawmakers questioned Bancel on the increased price of the vaccine, government support, and the company's responsibility to keep the shots affordable. They also asked about the vaccine's potential side effects, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and the role of government patents
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