6.16.2022

Rate Hike, Black Death Origins, and the Watergate Myth Everything you need to know for today in five minutes.

Good morning. It's Thursday, June 16, and we're covering the biggest interest rate hike in decades, the origins of history's deadliest pandemic, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].

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NEED TO KNOW

 

Biggest Rate Hike in 28 Years

The Federal Reserve has approved the largest interest rate hike since 1994 in an effort to continue to slow down the economy and curb high inflation. The central bank increased rates by 0.75 percentage points yesterday, raising the range for its benchmark federal-funds rate from 0.75%-1% to 1.5%-1.75%. The increase means higher borrowing costs for consumers and businesses, including for credit cards, mortgages, and auto loans (see 101). 

 

The hike exceeds previous 0.5 percentage-point increases in March and May, as annual inflation reached a four-decade high of 8.6% last month, fueled by high prices for food, shelter, and energy. In contrast, the Fed typically targets year-over-year inflation near 2% (see why).

 

The central bank plans to raise rates four more times this year. Officials forecast the benchmark rate to reach a range of 3.25% to 3.5% by year's end, which would be the highest since 2008 (see history). 

Child Vaccine Approval

A federal advisory panel recommended yesterday expanding the authorization of two COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, a decision that will make the shots available to children as young as 6 months old. Approval would make vaccines available for nearly 18 million children. 

 

First, the panel recommended the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for use in children aged 6 months up to 5 years of age. Preliminary data suggested a three-dose regimen was around 80% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 in the age group. The dosage in trials was one-tenth the volume of adult shots.   

 

Second, the panel recommended Moderna's vaccine for use in children aged 6 months to 17 years old. Specifically for younger children, the company sought authorization for a two-shot regimen for ages 6 months through 5 years old, with data showing efficacy of up to 50% in preventing symptomatic disease. 

 

To date, the Pfizer vaccine has been the lone option for Americans between 5 and 18 years old. See vaccination rates by age group here.

 

Health officials say shots may be available as early as next week.

Black Death Origins

Genomic analysis of 14th century remains originally buried in modern-day Kyrgyzstan suggests an outbreak in the region likely served as the precursor to the Black Death, researchers revealed yesterday. The discovery sheds light on the longstanding mystery surrounding the potential origin of the medieval plague, which killed tens of millions of people across Eurasia and North Africa roughly 700 years ago. 

 

In the study, DNA from a strain of the plague-causing bacteria Yersinia pestis was found in gravesites where the tombstones indicated the occupant had died from pestilence. Analysis revealed the strain to be a direct ancestor of a number of major lineages that later propagated across multiple continents, including a variant recovered from graves dug in London at the height of the outbreak in 1348. 

 

For centuries, the region occupied a central position along the ancient Silk Road trading routes, which researchers say would have facilitated the widespread transmission of the disease.

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IN THE KNOW

 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with Vuori

> Colorado tops Tampa Bay in overtime to take Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals (More) | Boston looks to even NBA Finals series against Golden State in Game 6 tonight (9 pm ET, ABC) (More)

 

> Murder trial for the killing of Grammy-winning rapper Nipsey Hussle begins in Los Angeles; Hussle was slain outside his clothing store in 2019 (More)

 

> Golf's US Open tees off this morning from Brookline, Massachusetts; world No. 3 Rory McIlroy is favorite to win (More

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Science & Technology

> US automakers report nearly 400 crashes involving partial or fully automated driving systems between July and May; Tesla accounted for 273 crashes out of an estimated 830,000 such vehicles on the road (More)

 

> Long-haul COVID-19 study identifies a subset of patients with significant persistent coordination and cognition issues (More) | Study tracks how chronic infection gives rise to new variants in single patient (More) | Dr. Anthony Fauci tests positive, reports mild symptoms (More)

 

> Researchers demonstrate the world's first ultrafast photonic computer chip that processes information based on light polarization (More)

Business & Markets

> US stock markets rise (S&P 500 +1.5%, Dow +1.0%, Nasdaq +2.5%) after Federal Reserve’s 0.75% rate increase (More) | US retail sales fell in May amid higher inflation, the first decline in five months (More)

 

> Total US home equity increased 20% in the first quarter of 2022 to a record $27.8T (More)

 

> Ford to recall nearly 3 million cars due to a damaged or missing part that may prevent the car from shifting into the intended gear, raising the risk of rollaway (More)

Politics & World Affairs

> Buffalo, New York, gunman charged with 26 counts of federal hate crimes and weapons violations for killing 10 people, all of whom were Black, at a supermarket in May; shooter said he chose target based on racial demographics (More) | John Hinckley Jr., who attempted to assassinate former President Ronald Reagan in 1981, freed from court oversight (More)

 

> House Jan. 6 Select Committee releases footage of Capitol tour led by Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) on the eve of the storming (More) | Third public hearing schedule for today at 1 pm ET (Watch)

 

> The EU signs gas deal with Israel and Egypt as it tries to wean itself off Russian gas, which makes up about 40% of the bloc's supplies (More) | See updates on Russia's invasion of Ukraine (More)

IN-DEPTH

 

The Watergate Myth

The Conversation | W. Joseph Campbell. Fifty years ago this week, five burglars with ties to former President Richard Nixon were arrested at the Watergate complex in Washington, DC. Since then, the narrative of the scandal centers around the heroic-journalist myth surrounding reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. Here’s what the story gets wrong. (Read)

Doctor Donor

The Verge | Kudrat Wadhwa. When Arianna Huhn journeyed to find her biological father, nothing could prepare her for what she would find—fertility fraud by the doctor who had performed the insemination procedure on her mother. (Read)

WORDS TO INVEST BY

 

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ETCETERA

 

Fossils of bulldog-faced dinosaur discovered in Egypt.

 

The strawberry supermoon lights up the night sky.

 

The 10 best hiking trails in the US.

 

The world's cheapest Michelin-starred restaurants.

 

Autos and the art of dazzle camo.

 

See Ryan Gosling as Ken in next year's "Barbie" movie.

 

Man on lawnmower fights off emus with pool noodle (w/video).

 

An adorable sheep bounces across a field for a cookie.

 

Clickbait: When your government urges you to drink less tea.

 

Historybook: Economist Adam Smith born (1723); President Abraham Lincoln gives "House Divided" speech (1858); First American roller coaster opens in Coney Island, New York (1884); Ford Motor Company is incorporated (1903); Valentina Tereshkova becomes the first woman in space (1963); Rapper Tupac Shakur born (1971).

 

"Hatred and anger are the greatest poison to the happiness of a good mind."

- Adam Smith

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