3.16.2022

Interest Rates, Ever Forward Stuck, and Americans' Favorite Dog Breeds Everything you need to know for today in five minutes.

Good morning. It's Wednesday, March 16, and we're covering a potential interest rate hike, another stuck cargo ship, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].

NEED TO KNOW

 

Airstrikes and Sanctions

Prime ministers from Poland, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic traveled to Kyiv yesterday to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, as Russia renewed airstrikes in the capital city and hit a TV tower in the western Ukrainian city of Rivne. At least two dozen people were killed in total. The mayor of Kyiv imposed a 35-hour stay-at-home order. 

 

Zelenskyy, in an address to the UK's Joint Expeditionary Force yesterday, acknowledged Ukraine is unlikely to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and said the country is still seeking security guarantees. Russian President Vladimir Putin had previously demanded Ukraine not join NATO. Zelenskyy will deliver a virtual address to the US Congress today.

 

Meanwhile, tensions between Russia and the West are escalating. The US announced sanctions on Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko (an ally of Putin), his wife, and 11 Russian military officials. The UK also announced new sanctions on hundreds of Russian and Belarusian individuals and import tariffs on Russian goods like vodka and artwork. In retaliation to US sanctions on Russian banks, oligarchs, and commodities, Russia sanctioned President Joe Biden and other administration officials.

 

Separately, Biden is traveling to Brussels next week for a NATO summit on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, as the number of refugees fleeing the war-torn country hit 3 million. 

 

See map updates of the invasion here.

Feds Eye Rate Hike

The Federal Reserve ends its two-day meeting today and is expected to raise interest rates for the first time since 2018 in an effort to curb inflation fueled by post-pandemic spending, government stimulus, and high energy prices. The federal funds rate will likely increase by 0.25 percentage points, raising the target range from 0%-0.25% to 0.25%-0.50%, according to analysts (see historical rates). The Federal Reserve will also release new forecasts for growth and inflation. 

 

The central bank typically targets annual inflation near 2% (see why); in contrast, US inflation hit a 40-year high in February at a 7.9% annual rate. By increasing the interest rate, policymakers are trying to slow down the economy. Banks will pass along the higher rates to consumers, who will then need to pay more for items like mortgages and car loans, making borrowing more expensive, so they potentially hold off on spending. 

 

Read more on the link between interest rates and inflation here.

Ever Forward (Unless Stuck)

A massive container ship ran aground Sunday in the Chesapeake Bay en route from Baltimore, Maryland, to Norfolk, Virginia. The 1,096-foot vessel, named Ever Forward—cousin ship to Ever Given, which ran aground in the Suez Canal last year—became stuck in 25-foot-deep water. No official cause has been announced, but some have suggested the ship missed a waypoint and diverged while turning into the channel.

 

Last year's six-day maritime traffic jam resulted in an estimated loss of $36B to $60B in global trade. Both ships are owned by Taiwan-based Evergreen Marine, which has sent divers to assess the damage. Over 1 million cubic feet of sand needed to be moved to free the Ever Given; it is unclear what assistance the Ever Forward will require.

 

The US Coast Guard is working with local officials to refloat the ship. No pollution or injuries were reported.

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IN THE KNOW

 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with The Ascent

> Fox News cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski, 55, and Ukrainian producer Oleksandra Kuvshynova, 24, killed in attack that injured correspondent Benjamin Hall (More)

 

> BTS, Olivia Rodrigo, and Billie Eilish headline list of performers announced for the 64th Grammy Awards (April 3, 8 pm ET, CBS) (More)

 

> Burkina Faso's Diébédo Francis Kéré becomes first Black winner of prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize (More) | See some of Kéré's top designs (More)

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Science & Technology

> Australia becomes first country to approve the antimalarial drug tafenoquine for use in children; the disease kills more than 600,000 people each year, 80% of whom are children under 5 years old (More)

 

> Archaeologists uncover ancient tombs, 14th-century leaden sarcophagus under Paris' Notre Dame (More)

 

> The Ebola virus may lay dormant following medical treatment and initial recovery, new study in monkeys shows; behavior may lead to recurrent infections and outbreaks (More)

Business & Markets

> US stock markets rise (S&P 500 +2.1%, Dow +1.8%, Nasdaq +2.9%) ahead of today’s Federal Reserve rate announcement (More)

 

> Sarah Bloom Raskin formally withdraws herself from nomination process to the Federal Reserve, after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) signaled opposition Monday (More)

 

> Puerto Rico exits bankruptcy after largest public debt restructuring in US history; government had $70B in debt seven years ago (More) | Reports say Saudi Arabia is considering pricing its oil sales in Chinese yuan rather than the US dollar (More

Politics & World Affairs

> Police arrest suspect in a string of serial shootings in New York City and Washington, DC; suspect shot five homeless victims, killing two, since March 3 (More)

 

> Chinese lockdown grows to more than 80 million residents as cases hit new reported high Tuesday at 5,370 new infections; country has pursued a "Zero Covid" policy (More) | US cases fall under 32,000 per day; see stats here (More)

 

> Jury awards $150M to families of some victims killed in a 2019 crane crash in Seattle; four people died and three others injured after safety latches were prematurely removed amid high winds (More)

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ETCETERA

 

Is daylight saving time about to become permanent?

 

America's most popular dog breeds.

 

More than a century of baby name trends.

 

Winners of this year's Sony World Photography Awards.

 

"SNL" comedian Pete Davidson is headed to space.

 

Researchers want to lure giant Asian hornets using sex pheromones.

 

Digital wallets, for animals.

 

Drones form a giant QR code over Austin, Texas.

 

Why people are going into goblin mode.

 

Clickbait: Shake your tail feathers.

 

Historybook: US Founding Father James Madison born (1751); US Military Academy is established (1802); Comedian Jerry Lewis born (1926); RIP Nobel Prize-winning author Selma Lagerlöf (1940); Dow Jones drops by 2,997, single-largest point drop in history, amid pandemic fears (2020). 

 

"For, so long as there are interesting books to read, it seems to me that neither I nor anyone else, for that matter, need be unhappy."

- Selma Lagerlöf

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