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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Corruption comes in many forms: cheating, bribery, nepotism, cronyism, embezzlement, fraud, state capture. Donald Trump's nomination of Stephen Moore to the Federal Reserve board falls neatly under the heading of "cronyism."

The big picture: Moore has few apparent qualifications for a seat on the Fed board. Instead, he is being rewarded for his work on Trump's election campaign and for his gushing praise of Trump in places like his "Trumponomics" book.

  • The proximate cause of his nomination seems to be a recent WSJ op-ed that Moore wrote claiming "the Trump administration’s pro-growth policies have attracted investment from around the globe," and which, bizarrely, urged the Fed to link domestic interest rates to international commodity prices.
  • Moore would politicize the Fed in an unprecedented manner: He has consistently called for higher interest rates whenever a Democrat is in the White House and lower rates when it's a Republican. Were he to be confirmed — an act that itself would qualify as state capture — Fed chair Jay Powell could no longer truthfully say that his rate-setting committee is independent, unswayed by partisan political considerations. That independence has been a Fed bedrock for decades.

The Fed shocked the bond markets this week by announcing that it was planning no more rate hikes for the rest of the year. That's despite the fact that current rates are low and growth seems healthy. By coincidence, the Fed's move follows sustained and public pressure from President Trump, urging the Fed to stop raising rates.

  • The markets don't believe that Trump is responsible for the new policy. But if they did suspect political influence, the Fed's credibility — by far its most important asset — would be shattered.

Further reading: John Authers explains the most likely economic rationale for Powell's actions, while Greg Ip worries that if rates need to be this low when the economy is doing well, the Fed will not be able to cope if and when the next big downturn happens. And Binyamin Appelbaum reminds us that the Fed seems to be neglecting its other big job, of regulating the banking system.

Go deeper

1 hour ago - World

Mapped: The world's most and least corrupt countries

Expand chart
Data: Transparency International; Map: Jared Whalen/Axios

The most corrupt governments in the world are in South Sudan, Syria and Somalia, according to Transparency International's annual index, while the "cleanest" are in Denmark, Finland and New Zealand.

  • Breaking it down: The U.S. is 27th, China 66th, India 85th, Brazil 96th and Russia 136th. Scroll over the map to see each country's ranking.

Crypto leads to massive surge in online scams

Expand chart
Reproduced from FTC; Chart: Axios Visuals

Bogus cryptocurrency investments led to an unprecedented increase in online scams last year, according to new data from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Why it matters: Cryptocurrency is an easy target because while it's surging in popularity, there's still a lot of confusion about how it works.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
3 hours ago - Health

New clues emerge on long COVID

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

The presence of certain autoantibodies or high amounts of coronavirus RNA in the blood could be indicators a patient has a higher chance of developing long COVID, according to a new study in the journal Cell.

  • Other factors include a person having Type 2 diabetes or the reactivation of the Epstein-Barr virus.