From The Morning Dispatch.
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday the Consumer Price Index increased 1.3 percent from May to June, and 9.1 percent year-over-year—the fastest rate of annual inflation since November 1981. Gasoline prices accounted for a significant portion of the jump, but core inflation—which excludes food and energy prices—was still up 5.9 percent year-over-year.
- President Joe Biden landed in Israel on Wednesday, kicking off his first trip to the region as president. In an interview with an Israeli TV station, he reiterated that the United States would not remove the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ designation as a foreign terrorist organization, even if that prevents his administration’s negotiators from reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. He also said he wouldn’t rule out U.S. military action to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon “if that was the last resort.”
- Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe imposed a state of emergency and curfew on Wednesday as protests continued to rage after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country on a military aircraft and appointed Wickremesinghe to act on his behalf. Parliamentary Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said Rajapaksa reiterated his intention to resign, and that a new president would be elected next week.
- Rishi Sunak—the United Kingdom’s former Chancellor of the Exchequer whose resignation last week helped trigger Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s resignation—finished first on Wednesday in the initial ballot of Conservative members of Parliament to determine Johnson’s successor, with Trade Minister Penny Mordaunt, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch, House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Tom Tugendhat, and Attorney General Suella Braverman also receiving enough support to move on to the next round of voting on Thursday.
- The Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization on Wednesday for a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Novavax, a Maryland-based biotechnology company. The two-dose vaccine—which has been available in Europe for months, and does not rely on mRNA technology like Pfizer and Moderna’s—was authorized as a primary immunization series for adults, not as a booster shot. The Biden administration announced Monday it had purchased 3.2 million doses of the shot, to be delivered in the next few weeks.
- The Department of Health and Human Services issued guidance to U.S. pharmacies on Wednesday clarifying that—due to antidiscrimination statutes that apply to recipients of federal funding—they cannot, in certain circumstances, deny patients access to prescribed medications used in abortions, regardless of state law. A handful of doctors and patients have reported instances of pharmacists restricting access to certain drugs used to treat autoimmune disorders in recent weeks over concerns they could cause miscarriages.
- The Treasury Department reported this week the federal government ran a budget deficit of $89 billion in June 2022, a 49 percent decrease from June 2021 due primarily to pandemic-related stimulus programs expiring and tax revenues increasing as more Americans returned to work. Outlays for the month fell 12 percent year-over-year—from $623 billion to $550 billion—and government receipts increased 3 percent.
- The Euro and U.S. dollar reached parity on Wednesday for the first time in 20 years, with recession fears and fallout from the Russia-Ukraine war depreciating the value of Europe’s currency against the relative “safe haven” of the dollar.
- The Senate voted 66-28 on Wednesday to confirm Michael Barr—an Obama-era Treasury Department official who helped craft the Dodd-Frank Act and stand up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau—to serve as the top bank watchdog at the Federal Reserve.