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The Fed is back in focus amid Congress' stimulus impasse

Even though the Fed's policymaking committee has no meeting scheduled until mid-September, more attention is turning to the central bank as inflation has begun to pick up and Congress left town without delivering a new round of fiscal stimulus.

Why it matters: Since its unprecedented intervention into financial markets in March, the Fed has been seen as the driver of financial markets — holding up stock and bond prices through its massive bond-buying programs.


What's happening: Treasury yields spiked 26 basis points between Aug. 4 and Aug. 13, hitting their highest since June 24, and the stock market's gains have slowed.

  • "What we’re seeing is the market trying to figure out what’s next from the Fed," Gennadiy Goldberg, U.S. rates strategist at TD Securities, tells Axios.
  • "There’s very little doubt about the Fed being accommodative but what does the fall look like?"

The biggest questions are about the pace of an economic recovery in the U.S. and how that could impact asset prices.

  • While few investors believe a COVID-19 vaccine could be ready and widely available before year-end, investors are positioning just in case — not wanting to miss out on another market bonanza.
  • "People don’t want to wait for vaccine news to come out to reposition their portfolio," Richard Steinberg, chief market strategist at The Colony Group, tells Axios.

The big picture: A quickly recovering economy could be great for stock prices but trouble for bonds, and has the potential to put the Fed behind the curve on inflation, auguring for faster interest rate hikes.

  • Both consumer and wholesale prices have increased much faster than expected in recent months and the Washington Post wrote earlier this month that "the cost of groceries has been rising at the fastest pace in decades."

The bottom line: The Fed faces a number of new pressures but the market will be looking for assurances that chair Jerome Powell and company are still prepared to do whatever it takes to keep interest rates down and asset prices flying high.

What's next: Investors will be carefully perusing minutes from the Fed's July meeting, which will be released on Wednesday.

Trump says he expects to announce a nominee for Supreme Court vacancy "next week"

President Trump said Saturday he expects to announce a nominee for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's vacant Supreme Court seat “next week” and that the person will “most likely” be a woman.

What he's saying: “I think we’ll have a very popular choice whoever that may be," Trump said before departing on Marine One. "We want to respect the process. I think it’s going to go very quickly, actually.”

Go deeper: Trump says Republicans have an obligation to fill Ginsburg's seat

Susan Collins says Senate should postpone Supreme Court vote until after Election Day

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said in a statement Saturday that she believes the Senate should wait to vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee to fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat until after the general election.

Why it matters: Collins will be a key senator in how this process plays out. As one of the most centrist Senate Republicans, whether or not the Senate confirms Trump's SCOTUS nominee could hinge on her vote.

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Pinpointing climate change's role in extreme weather

Climate scientists are increasingly able to use computer models to determine how climate change makes some extreme weather more likely.

Why it matters: Climate change's effects are arguably felt most directly through extreme events. Being able to directly attribute the role climate plays in natural catastrophes can help us better prepare for disasters to come, while driving home the need to tackle greenhouse gas emissions.

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Big Tech takes the climate change lead

The tech industry is playing a growing role in fighting climate change, from zero-carbon commitments to investments in startups and pushing for the use of data to encourage energy efficiency.

Why it matters: Big Tech is already dominating our economy, politics and culture. Its leadership in helping to address climate change — and reckon with its role in contributing to it — could have similarly transformative impacts.

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Lindsey Graham says he will vote for Ginsburg's replacement before next election

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Saturday said he plans to support a vote on President Trump's nominee to fill the vacancy left by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on Friday, before the election.

Why it matters: Graham in 2016 opposed confirming President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, because it was an election year.

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Schumer: "Nothing is off the table next year" if Senate GOP moves to fill Ginsburg's seat

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told fellow Democrats on a conference call Saturday that "nothing is off the table next year" if Senate Republicans move to fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Supreme Court seat in the coming weeks.

What he's saying: “Let me be clear: if Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans move forward with this, then nothing is off the table for next year," Schumer said, according to a source on the call. "Nothing is off the table.”

ActBlue collects record-breaking $30 million in hours after Ginsburg's death

ActBlue, the Democratic donation-processing site, reported a record-breaking $30 million raised from 9 p.m. Friday to 9 a.m. Saturday in the aftermath of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death, NPR writes and ActBlue confirmed to Axios.

Why it matters via the New York Times: "The unprecedented outpouring shows the power of a looming Supreme Court confirmation fight to motivate Democratic donors."

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