On The Money — How the inflation fight will cause pain for Americans

·5 min read

The Fed is ready and willing to inflict damage on the U.S. economy in its fight to bring down inflation. We’ll also look at how a rail strike could hike food prices, Twitter’s continuing legal fight with Elon Musk and the potential oil price jump this winter.

But first, Russian President Vladimir Putin had an exceptionally bad weekend.

Welcome to On The Money, your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line. For The Hill, we’re Sylvan Lane, Aris Folley and Karl Evers-Hillstrom. Someone forward you this newsletter? Subscribe here.

Powell: Inflation fight will ‘bring some pain’

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell sounded a warning to Americans last month as the central bank continues its efforts to combat high prices: The fight against inflation is going to be painful.

“Higher interest rates, slower growth and softer labor market conditions will bring down inflation. They will also bring some pain to households and businesses,” Powell said last month.

Here are three ways Americans could feel it.

  • Workers will lose power and protection: Economists expect job growth to slow and the unemployment rate to rise as businesses feel the squeeze of higher rates. That means many workers who’ve not yet gotten raises won’t get one and may have fewer other employment options with better compensation.

  • Harder for businesses to grow and expand: Slower sales and the higher cost of borrowing money may make it difficult — if not impossible — for some firms to not only invest in their workforce, but their physical operations and the equipment they use.

  • Higher home payments, slower home sales: Homeowners and buyers will feel the pain of the Fed’s fight against inflation across the housing market as higher interest rates slow sales and force listing prices down.

Sylvan has it all here.


How a railroad strike could send food prices soaring

The nation’s supply of food could take a hit if railroad workers go on strike, driving up prices at the grocery store and limiting U.S. grain exports to countries facing famine.

As soon as next week, 115,000 freight rail workers could walk out if they cannot reach a new contract with railroads, potentially shutting down the national rail network that transports 20 percent of all grain shipments in the middle of peak harvest season.

  • A rail shutdown would overwhelm grain storage facilities, leaving farmers with few options to store their crops and boosting the chance of spoilage, while also driving up the price of bread and other processed food. 

  • Grocery prices have risen 13.1 percent over the last year, hitting American families hard, and the food sector has blamed existing rail disruptions. 

  • Because roughly one-third of U.S. grain exports travel by rail, a work stoppage would also cut down on America’s ability to ship food to foreign nations, particularly those in East Africa and the Middle East that face widespread hunger.

Karl has the details here.


Twitter argues latest Musk move to cancel buyout deal is ‘invalid’

Twitter in a new filing argues that Elon Musk’s latest move to back out of his agreement to buy the company for $44 billion over the company’s handling of a high-profile whistleblower is “invalid and wrongful.”

Twitter’s attorneys pushed back on Musk’s third attempt to cancel his acquisition in a regulatory document filed Monday, reiterating arguments they used in the two prior instances while stating that Twitter has “breached none of its representations or obligations” under the agreement.

“As was the case with each of your prior purported terminations, the Musk Parties third purported termination is invalid for the independent reason that Mr. Musk and the other Musk Parties continue to knowingly, intentionally, willfully, and materially breach the Agreement,” they wrote.

The Hill’s Rebecca Klar walks us through it here.


Yellen says Russia could force gas prices higher in winter

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Sunday warned that gas prices may spike again this winter.

Yellen told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” that gas prices could rise due to the European Union largely halting Russian oil purchases this winter and banning provision of services that allow Russia to ship oil by tanker.

But Yellen noted a western price cap proposal was designed to balance curbing Russian oil revenues helping fund its war in Ukraine, while maintaining some access to Russian oil to “hold down global oil prices.”

“So I believe this is something that can be essential,” she said. “And it’s something that we’re trying to put in place to avoid a future spike in oil prices.”

Good to Know

President Biden on Monday bemoaned the state of U.S. airports as he touted the ways a bipartisan infrastructure law passed last year would help upgrade terminals, improve the passenger experience and reduce emissions.

Biden traveled to Boston to highlight a $62 million investment in Logan Airport through the infrastructure law. The funding will be used to modernize the international terminal of the airport and to improve roadways that keep planes circulating.

Here’s what else we have our eye on:

  • Senate Democrats’ campaign arm released a new ad on Monday attacking Arizona Republican Senate nominee Blake Masters’s comments about Social Security during a primary debate in June.

  • The Biden administration next month will place new restrictions on U.S. shipments of semiconductor chips and chipmaking equipment to China.

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading and check out The Hill’s Finance page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.


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