Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Big names in the world of finance are beginning to call out the Fed and other central banks for their role in ramping up economic inequality and manipulating financial markets — a departure from the praise they received for most of last year.

Why it matters: Wall Street was the only pillar of solid support. Most Americans say they don't trust the Fed and politicians look to be taking aim at the central bank for overreaching with its unprecedented actions in March.

Driving the news: Mohamed El-Erian, chief economic adviser at $2.8 trillion asset manager Allianz and the former chair of President Obama's Global Development Council, became the latest heavy hitter from the financial industry to issue a rebuke of central banks' policies.

What he's saying: "There is abundant evidence that the beneficial economic implications are low, and the costs include irresponsible risk-taking, higher inequality, distortion of financial markets such as negative interest rates and misallocation of resources," El-Erian told Switzerland's The Market.

  • "I don’t think central banks quite realize how much irresponsible risk-taking is going on," he added.
  • "In 2010, Ben Bernanke talked about the benefits, costs and risks that come with unconventional policy. He added, the longer you maintain it, the lower the benefits, the higher the costs and risks. This was ten years ago. At that time, Bernanke was thinking of unconventional policy as an economic bridge. Now, it has become a destination."

Zoom in: "We have stumbled into very unhealthy co-dependences; co-dependences between central banks and investors, between central banks and debt issuers which are governments and companies, and between central banks and politicians," El-Erian said.

  • "They are all in this unhealthy co-dependency. It’s like a bad marriage: They’ve ended up relying on each other, and they just don’t know how to get out of it."

Former FDIC chairwoman Sheila Bair was similarly unkind in her assessment of the Fed's actions in a Wall Street Journal editorial last week.

  • "Capitalism doesn’t work unless capital costs something and markets don’t work unless they’re allowed to rise and fall. The corporate facilities may have originally been justified as extraordinary one-off interventions to help companies maintain operations, but they morphed far beyond this purpose, and distorted capital allocation."
  • "The result was a windfall for investors, cheap credit for the uncreditworthy and record-shattering levels of corporate leverage."

Between the lines: Calls for change are even coming from inside the house. Fed presidents, including Atlanta's Raphael Bostic, Boston's Eric Rosengren, San Francisco's Mary Daly and Minneapolis' Neel Kashkari, have all spoken publicly about the Fed's role in worsening inequality.

Keep an eye on the yield curve
Data: U.S. Department of the Treasury; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

"One of the most under covered stories is what’s happening to the U.S. yield curve," El-Erian warns.

What's happening: "It’s on a consistent move up, and that puts the Fed in a very difficult position, because if it allows the curve to continue to steepen, it can undermine financial stability," he tells The Market.

  • "If the Fed wants the yield curve to stop steeping, it has to implement yield curve control, or what they like to call yield curve targeting. But yield curve targeting is a huge step in policy."
  • "It would distort the U.S. Treasury market completely. So keep an eye on this, because this is starting to get to dangerous levels."

The big picture: Ultra-low Treasury yields are a major factor underpinning the runup in stocks. Experts have warned that the Fed's new stance encouraging inflation risks letting interest rates get out of control.

Where it stands: The difference between yields on 10-year Treasury notes and 2-year notes jumped to 1%, its highest since July 2017.

Editor's note: A quote from Neel Kashkari to the FT was removed as he was referring to another issue.

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Jan 28, 2021 - Economy & Business

How GameStop exposed the market

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Retail traders have found a cheat code for the stock market, and barring some major action from regulatory authorities or a massive turn in their favored companies, they're going to keep using it to score "tendies" and turn Wall Street on its head.

What's happening: The share prices of companies like GameStop are rocketing higher, based largely on the social media organizing of a 3-million strong group of Redditors who are eagerly piling into companies that big hedge funds are short selling, or betting will fall in price.

D.C.'s building boom grinds to a halt

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The decades-long building boom that remade Washington D.C. is screeching to a halt, undone by broader construction trends and the legacy of the post-pandemic workplace.

Why it matters: Dizzying construction has reshaped the city, reinvigorated downtown and created bustling new communities. 

Facebook fights for its image

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Facebook is ditching apologies and taking a more combative stance against its critics as it faces a new barrage of negative coverage and leaked internal reports.

Driving the news: As part of the new posture, Facebook started testing placing positive messages about itself in users' News Feeds last month, according to a New York Times story Tuesday.