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Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden said Thursday his administration will take action against anti-competitive business practices and ease construction materials shortages and transportation backups in an effort to curb price hikes.

Why it matters: "In recent weeks, the United States has faced shortfalls and bottlenecks from lumber to computer chips to port cargo backlogs. Together with labor shortages, those issues are making homes, cars and consumer goods pricier and harder to get," Reuters reports.

By the numbers: Data last week showed the Consumer Price Index jumped 4.2% from a year earlier in April, the fastest since 2008.

What they're saying: "In the coming weeks, my administration will take steps to combat these supply pressures, starting with the construction materials and transportation bottlenecks, and building off the work we're doing on computer chips," Biden said during a speech in Ohio, according to Reuters.

  • "We're also announcing new initiatives to combat anti-competitive practices that hurt small businesses and families," he said, though he did not talk about specific policies his administration is considering.
  • "You can't reboot a global economy like flipping on a light switch" the president said, adding there would "be ups and downs in jobs and economic reports. There's going to be supply-chain issues - price distortions on the way back to a stable and steady growth."

The big picture: Some Democrats and economists have started to worry that Biden's new federal spending requests will contribute to inflation fears and ultimately stymie his economic agenda.

  • Biden is set to unveil his $6 trillion federal budget proposal for FY2022 on Friday.
  • The president signed an executive order in February ordering the federal government to review the supply chains for semiconductor chips, large-capacity batteries, rare minerals and pharmaceuticals to help expand U.S. access to those goods.

Go deeper: Don't fear inflation

Go deeper

Roughly 500 Americans still waiting to leave Afghanistan

Ned Price. Photo: KEVIN LAMARQUE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration said Friday that the State Department is in touch with approximately 500 U.S. citizens in Afghanistan who still wish to leave the country.

Why it matters: The Aug. 31 deadline for a U.S. troop withdrawal is looming closer. While the Biden administration has said there is no plan to extend the deadline, the president suggested on Thursday that efforts may continue past that date to bring some Americans home.

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.