(The Hill) – The Federal Reserve raised its baseline interest rate range Wednesday by two times the size of a usual rate hike as the central bank sprints to get ahead of rising inflation.
The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), the panel of Fed officials in charge of monetary policy, boosted interest rates by 0.5 percentage points to a target range of 0.75 to 1 percent.
After leaving rates near zero for all of 2021, Fed Chair Jerome Powell and other bank leaders have pledged to quickly bring borrowing costs back toward levels that won’t stimulate the economy.
Top Fed officials all but confirmed they would hike rates by 0.5 percentage points in the weeks leading up to the May FOMC meeting after approving a 0.25 percentage point hike in March.
Consumer prices rose 6.6 percent over the 12 months ending in March, according to personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index, the Fed’s preferred gauge of inflation. The Fed aims for annual inflation of 2 percent each year.
“It may be that the actual peak was in March, but we don’t know that and so we’re not going to count on it,” Powell said during a panel discussion with top economic officials last month.
“We’re really going to be raising rates and getting expeditiously to levels that are more neutral.”
Interest rates for mortgages, automobile loans and other longer-terms loans were already rising in anticipation of the Fed’s decision. Rates on credit cards, short-term credit products and loans with adjustable interest rates — which lenders often tie to the Fed’s baseline interest rate range — are set to rise immediately.
Fed officials are hoping to bring inflation down by reducing consumer and business spending through higher interest rates. As households and businesses face higher borrowing costs, they could be less willing to spend money on goods and services. Lower demand for goods and services could prompt suppliers to reduce prices and curb plans to spend money on expanding their operations.
While Fed officials are aiming to slow the economy enough to reduce inflation without stopping growth altogether, a growing number of economists fear the bank may be unable to stop prices from rising without causing a recession.
When the Fed raises interest rates quickly to stop rising inflation, the steep rise in borrowing costs can slow the economy into a recession and an increase in unemployment.
Powell and Fed officials have expressed confidence the U.S. economy is strong enough to withstand higher interest rates without a stoppage in growth or joblessness rising.
The U.S. added 1.7 million jobs over the first three months of 2022 and had 11.5 million open jobs in March, according to the Labor Department, a figure that amounted to roughly two open positions for every unemployed American.
Even so, stubborn pandemic-related supply chain snarls, port backlogs, the war in Ukraine and slowing economic growth abroad may make it tougher for the Fed to curb inflation without adverse effects for the U.S. economy.
Pulaski County Fair Comes to North Little Rock Riverfront Park
NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – If you are looking for a fun time going into the weekend, the Pulaski County Fair is back in the Little Rock metro this week.
North Little Rock is hosting its 2nd annual fair at the Riverfront Park in North Little Rock. The fair hours Wednesday through Friday will be 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday, it will open at noon and close at 11 p.m.
Fair-goers will be able to enjoy Hip Hop Night Thursday and participate in a pie contest the following Sunday. Other activities include rides, games and talent contests.
Adult admission is $5 and children 12 and under will have free admission.
For more information on ticket purchase and activities, visit ThePulaskiCountyFair.com.
Original Source: fox16.com
Court Recesses in Josh Duggar Child Pornography Sentencing
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — On May 25, Judge Timothy L. Brooks called a recess in the Western District of Arkansas Federal Court shortly after 11:30 a.m.
Nearly the entire morning session of Joshua Duggar’s sentencing hearing was spent addressing a list of objections the defense made to a pre-sentencing report submitted to the court. The prosecution had one objection, which was addressed before today’s hearing.
The defense had 21 objections, and the morning proceed with the judge addressing many of them. Several objections about sentencing enhancements were overruled, others were sustained, and a handful of them were tabled until later in the day.
Some of the judge’s rulings on certain objections also rendered others moot, seeing some of the 22 items withdrawn. The judge also vacated one of Duggar’s convictions as a lesser charge, which he had previously noted he would do when Duggar was found guilty in December, 2021.
The judge sided with the defense on the matter of whether Duggar “did knowingly engage in distribution” of illegal child sexual assault materials. At issue was the peer-to-peer file sharing software Duggar used, which is how his activity was first discovered by an undercover Little Rock police officer.
Ultimately, the judge found the passive nature of the software, which cannot turn file sharing ability on or off, to be enough to sustain the defense’s objection.
Another matter that has been disputed by both sides in sentencing memorandums pertains to the total number of images Duggar downloaded. The defense has maintained that the number is “127 at most,” while the prosecution has stated that there were over 600.
Today, the judge clarified the importance of this difference, noting that the defense’s total would result in a two-level sentencing enhancement, while the prosecution’s higher number would increase that to a five level enhancement.
A good deal of time was spent trying to calculate an exact total, with the judge ultimately deciding that it was impossible, partially due to the presence of some files being located in unallocated space on Duggar’s computer. Judge Brooks added that each video counted as 75 images in this total.
“The Court gets to 525 images very easily,” he stated, before settling on an unconfirmed total of 590. He acknowledged that there may be more than 600, but for sentencing purposes he limited the enhancement to four levels.
Two defense objections pertained to what the court called Duggar’s “Ashley Madison scandal,” and the judge ruled that his confessions about infidelity before the trial and his own words about having a pornography addiction were “relevant in several respects.”
Judge Brooks will rule on the remaining objections and subsequently begin addressing the final sentencing guidelines this afternoon, beginning at 12:10 p.m.
Original Article: fox16.com
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