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Fed chair says economic support could be dialed back this year

Federal Reserve chairmanJerome Powellgave the strongest signal yet that some pandemic-era support that's bolstered the economy and stock market might go away this year. But he stopped short of a firm commitment and timeline.

Why it matters: In a closely-watched speech, Powell was upbeat on the recovery — though he warned about the Delta variant and "harmful effects" of winding down support too soon.

What they're saying: "If the economy evolved broadly as anticipated, it could be appropriate to start reducing the pace of asset purchases this year," Powell said, referring to the $120 billion worth of bonds it buys each month.

  • Yes, but: There's "much ground to cover" before the Fed eases lifts off of rock-bottom interest rates, Powell said — another way the Fed's goosed the economy.

Details: Powell spoke at the annual Economic Symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming — a conference that went virtual as the virus raged across the country.

Catch up quick: There's been a fierce debate among traders and economists about whether the economy has made "substantial further progress" toward the Fed's goals — what Powell has said could trigger it to pull back support.

  • Prices are rising at the fastest rate in decades, though Powell again said this would prove to be temporary once supply chains are untangled and other reopening quirks fade.
  • The labor market has recovered nearly three-quarters of jobs wiped out at the pandemic onset. But it's still short 6 million, with millions more out of the job market altogether.

The intrigue: A parade of Fed officials — including some voting members — had the same message in a series media interviews ahead of Powell's speech: it's time to start tapering bond purchases, though they differed on exactly when.

Why the startup world needs to ditch "unicorns" for "dragons"

When Aileen Lee originally coined the term "unicorn" in late 2013, she was describing the 39 "U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors."

Flashback: It got redefined in early 2015 by yours truly and Erin Griffith, in a cover story for Fortune, as any privately-held startup valued at $1 billion or more. At the time, we counted 80 of them.

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Scoop: Facebook's new moves to lower News Feed's political volume

Facebook plans to announce that it will de-emphasize political posts and current events content in the News Feed based on negative user feedback, Axios has learned. It also plans to expand tests to limit the amount of political content that people see in their News Feeds to more countries outside of the U.S.

Why it matters: The changes could reduce traffic to some news publishers, particularly companies that post a lot of political content.

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Scoop: Amazon quietly getting into live audio business

Amazon is investing heavily in a new live audio feature that's similar to other live audio offerings like Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Spotify's new live audio platform, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: As with Amazon's efforts in podcasting and music subscriptions, the company sees live audio as a way to bolster the types of content it can offer through its voice assistant, Alexa, and its smart speaker products.

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Hurricane Ida exposes America's precarious energy infrastructure

The powerful hurricane that plunged New Orleans into darkness for what could be weeks is the latest sign that U.S. power systems are not ready for a warmer, more volatile world.

The big picture: “Our current infrastructure is not adequate when it comes to these kinds of weather extremes,” Joshua Rhodes, a University of Texas energy expert, tells Axios.

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"We must go further": 70% of adults in European Union are fully vaccinated

About 70% of adults in the European Union are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The milestone makes the E.U. one of the world's leaders in inoculations, after an initially lagging vaccine campaign, the New York Times notes.

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What Elizabeth Holmes jurors will be asked ahead of fraud trial

Jury selection begins today in USA v. Elizabeth Holmes, with the actual jury trial to get underway on Sept. 8.

Why it matters: Theranos was the biggest fraud in Silicon Valley history, putting both hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of patients' health at risk.

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