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: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The skirmish over Jay Powell's future as Fed chair provides a glimpse of a much bigger fight — one that could mark the beginning of the end of the modern era of independent central banking.

Why it matters: Powell epitomizes the way in which central banks, working alongside the government, took on the role of rescuing the economy from the shock of the pandemic. Now some lawmakers want to keep the relationship much closer than it has been in recent decades, to harness some of the power only central banks have.

The big picture: Central banks (the Federal Reserve, in particular) have never been more important, or more powerful.

  • The other side: Central banks have also never been as constrained in their range of possible actions. The natural interest rate is close to zero, which means that their main policy tool — the ability to set interest rates — also has to remain near zero.

Driving the news: Left-wing members of Congress have asked President Biden to replace Powell as Fed chair, saying that they want a "whole of government approach" to eliminating climate risk.

Between the lines: The letter clearly considers the central bank to be part of the government, rather than an independent agency working within a relatively narrow mandate.

  • The letter makes clear that central bank decisions are unavoidably political, especially when it comes to the issue of climate change. The Fed is either going to pursue a zero-carbon agenda or it isn't, and either way, it's going to upset certain politicians.
  • The EU implicitly capitulated to the reality of a political central bank when it appointed a politician, rather than an economist, to lead the European Central Bank.

Powell has a strong case that he stayed comfortably within the Fed's narrow mandates. Still, many of his programs were unprecedented, meaning the Fed is vulnerable to charges of mission creep.

  • The debate over Powell's renomination is really a debate over the degree to which Fed mission creep is something to be embraced and extended, rather than accepted only as a necessary evil.

The bottom line: Congressional gridlock means that the official terms of the Fed's mandate aren't going to change any time soon.

  • Unofficially, however, it has already been moving toward a greater emphasis on tackling inequality, which is nowhere in the mandate. If Biden is serious about the importance of the zero-carbon agenda, it makes sense that he'd want someone sympathetic to that view at the helm of the Fed.

Go deeper

Column / Harder Line

Poor countries push for lenience in banning fossil-fuel financing

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The growing urgency of tackling global warming is colliding with the world’s deeply uneven use of the heat-trapping energy resources that are causing it.

The big picture: The long-simmering debate over the role rich and poor countries should fill in tackling climate change is reaching a boiling point.

12 hours ago - Health

FDA advisory panel recommends Pfizer boosters for those 65 and older

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Key Biscayne Community Center on Aug. 24, 2021. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday overwhelmingly voted against recommending Pfizer vaccine booster shots for younger Americans, but unanimously recommended approving the third shots for individuals 65 and older, as well as those at high-risk of severe COVID-19.

Why it matters: While the votes are non-binding, and the FDA must still make a final decision, Friday's move pours cold water on the Biden administration's plan to begin administering boosters to most individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine later this month.

12 hours ago - World

France recalls ambassadors from U.S. and Australia over submarine deal

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L), French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (C), and French ambassador to the U.S. Philippe Etienne. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

France has taken the extraordinary step of recalling its ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia after both countries blindsided their French allies with a new military pact and submarine contract, the French Foreign Ministry announced on Friday.

The backstory: While sealing an agreement with the U.S. and U.K. to acquire nuclear submarines, Australia ripped up an existing $90 billion submarine deal with France. That led senior French officials to accuse the U.S. of a "stab in the back."