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Photographer: Samuel Corum/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A government watchdog will review whether the financial market trading activity of two top economic officials at the Fed violated the central bank’s rules or the law, a Fed spokesperson said on Monday.

Why it matters: It’s the latest fallout from a rare public scandal at one of the world’s most influential economic bodies — one that's led to rapid resignations, raised questions about conflicts of interest and drawn ire from lawmakers.

Catch up quick: Financial disclosures showed two regional Fed presidents owned — and in one case, actively traded — assets that could have benefited from the monetary policy they helped shape as the economy was on the brink of collapse.

  • The officials last week resigned within mere hours of one another — a development virtually unheard of at the Fed.

Speaking to reporters, Fed chairman Jerome Powell said last month its current rules around what Fed officials can trade or own are inadequate — and an internal review of said rules (and changes to them) would come.

  • He went a step further during a congressional hearing last week, hinting the problem may not just be the rules, but that the trades might not have been compliant with those rules after all.

What’s new: “As part of our comprehensive review, we began discussions last week with the Office of Inspector General for the Federal Reserve Board (OIG) to initiate an independent review of whether trading activity by certain senior officials was in compliance with both the relevant ethics rules and the law. We welcome this review and will accept and take appropriate actions based on its findings,” a Fed spokesperson said on Monday.

The backdrop: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) today said the SEC should look into whether those officials’ trades amounted to insider trading.

  • She also took a direct shot at Powell — who’s renomination by President Biden still hangs in the balance: "It is not clear why … Powell did not stop these activities.”
  • Warren said last week she would not support Powell's renomination.

Go deeper

Changing the inflation conversation

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Inflation looks like it’ll run hot for longer than plenty of smart people thought it would. The conversation over just how much more Americans will have to pay for their stuff has taken on a new intensity, as supply problems show few signs of fading.

Why it matters: The rate of price growth has remained consistently strong in recent months — a time that some thought would bring cooling prices after an initial reopening spike. What goes on with prices will influence the decisions made by Congress, the Biden Administration, and the Federal Reserve.

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

NYC firefighters union urges members to defy mayor's vaccine mandate

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

The president of New York City's firefighters union told reporters Wednesday that he's advised unvaccinated members to ignore Mayor Bill de Blasio's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city workers, per Reuters.

Why it matters: Under de Blasio's order that's due to take effect Friday, unvaccinated city employees would be placed on unpaid leave. But Uniformed Firefighters Association head Andrew Ansbro said he told members that "if they choose to remain unvaccinated, they must still report for duty," according to Reuters.

4 hours ago - Health

Study: Common antidepressant guards against COVID hospitalization

A COVID-19 intensive Care Unit in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil on May 27, 2021. Photo: Fabio Teixeira/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The readily available antidepressant fluvoxamine significantly reduced COVID-related hospitalizations, according to a large study published Wednesday.

Why it matters: The clinical trial suggests that a cheap, readily available drug could dramatically reduce serious illness and death when prescribed early.

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