said in April after sealing the deal. “I don’t care about the economics at all.”

He cared a little more when the subsequent plunge in the stock market meant that he was overpaying by a significant amount. Analysts estimated that Twitter was worth not $44 billion but $30 billion, or maybe even less. For a few months, Mr. Musk tried to get out of the deal.

This had the paradoxical effect of bringing the transaction down to earth for spectators. Who among us has not failed to do due diligence on a new venture — a job, a house, even a relationship — and then realized that it was going to cost so much more than we had thought? Mr. Musk’s buying Twitter, and then his refusal to buy Twitter, and then his being forced to buy Twitter after all — and everything playing out on Twitter — was weirdly relatable.

Inescapable, too. The apex, or perhaps the nadir, came this month when Mr. Musk introduced a perfume called Burnt Hair, described on its website as “the Essence of Repugnant Desire.”

“Please buy my perfume, so I can buy Twitter,” Mr. Musk tweeted on Oct. 12, garnering nearly 600,000 likes. This worked, apparently; the perfume is now marked “sold out” on its site. Did 30,000 people really pay $100 each for a bottle? Will this perfume actually be produced and sold? (It’s not supposed to be released until next year.) It’s hard to tell where the joke stops, which is perhaps the point.

Evan Spiegel.

“What was unique about Twitter was that no one actually controlled it,” said Richard Greenfield, a media analyst at LightShed Partners. “And now one person will own it in its entirety.”

He is relatively hopeful, however, that Mr. Musk will improve the site, somehow. That, in turn, will have its own consequences.

“If it turns into a massive home run,” Mr. Greenfield said, “you’ll see other billionaires try to do the same thing.”

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Putin Repeats Unsupported ‘Dirty Bomb’ Claim, Fueling Fears of Escalation

Credit…Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

KYIV, Ukraine — The pharmacies are empty, prices have skyrocketed and the remaining residents of the city of Kherson have been warned by occupying Russian forces that if they stay in their homes, they could be considered hostile and treated accordingly.

They have been offered only one exit route — farther into areas more firmly under the control of Russian forces.

“We live like in a dystopian movie here,” said Katerina, 38, on Tuesday by telephone. She asked that her full name not be used for her safety. She described widespread looting, empty store shelves and an increasingly threatening atmosphere.

“People are trying to get rid of Russian money as soon as possible,” Katerina said.

Unreliable phone and internet services have made it exceedingly difficult to get information about what is happening in Kherson and across Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine. But details seeping out from photos, video, Ukrainian officials and activists suggest a dangerous situation for the thousands believed to still be there.

On Wednesday, explosions rattled windows across the city. Local activists said it was a Ukrainian strike targeting a Russian base being used to train newly mobilized soldiers. The Ukrainian military has not commented on the strike.

Russian news media reported that the local police station was attacked by a rocket-propelled grenade, releasing video of a damaged building in the city.

Fighting raged across Kherson, with the Ukrainian military southern command saying that it struck Russian positions across the region.

“The enemy is conducting defensive operations and trying to hold the occupied frontiers,” the Ukrainian military said. “With aviation, multiple launch rocket systems, cannon artillery and mortars, the enemy is opening fire on Ukrainian forces all over the contact line.”

The Russian hold on Kherson remains precarious. Kirill Stremousov, a top Russian proxy official in Kherson, claimed on the Telegram messaging app that occupation officials had moved over 22,000 people from the west bank, but Ukrainian officials have said far fewer have left, putting the number at several thousand.

Calling people still in the city “waiters” hoping for success of Ukrainian forces, Mr. Stremousov threatened those who remained with prosecution, adding #Stalin to his message.

He posted a video interrogation of what he said was a 17-year-old who was providing information to the Ukrainian military as evidence of the fate that awaits those who help the Ukrainian military. The video could not be independently verified.

Military analysts have said that it appears the Russian military is making preparations to leave the city and fall back across the Dnipro River to its west bank, where Ukrainian officials have said Russian forces were fortifying their position. But there was no indication of a mass flight of Russian soldiers.

President Vladimir V. Putin in September overruled local commanders who wanted to withdraw across the river, U.S. officials have said, and Ukraine says it believes Russian force still plan to fight.

“The Russians are replenishing, strengthening their grouping there,” Oleksiy Arestovych, a senior adviser to Mr. Zelensky, said in an online video late Tuesday. “It means that nobody is preparing to withdraw. On the contrary, the heaviest of battles is going to take place for Kherson.”

Anna Lukinova contributed reporting from Kyiv.

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Liberal U.S. lawmakers withdraw Ukraine letter after blowback

WASHINGTON, Oct 25 (Reuters) – A group of liberal U.S. Democrats withdrew a letter to the White House urging a negotiated settlement to the war in Ukraine, the group’s chairperson, Democratic Representative Pramila Jayapal, said on Tuesday, after blowback from within their own party.

“The Congressional Progressive Caucus hereby withdraws its recent letter to the White House regarding Ukraine,” Jayapal said in a statement. She added: “The letter was drafted several months ago, but unfortunately was released by staff without vetting.” read more

The letter signed by 30 caucus members became public on Monday, leaving some other Democrats feeling blindsided just two weeks before Nov. 8 mid-term elections that will determine which political party controls Congress. And it appeared just as Republicans face concerns that their party might cut back military and humanitarian aid that has helped Ukraine since Russia invaded in February.

Several members of the Progressive Caucus issued statements expressing support for Ukraine, noting that they had joined other Democrats in voting for billions of dollars in aid for Ukraine.

Some said they had signed the letter months earlier and that things had changed. “Timing in diplomacy is everything. I signed this letter on June 30, but a lot has changed since then. I wouldn’t sign it today,” Representative Sara Jacobs said on Twitter.

Representative Jamie Raskin, who also signed, said in a statement he was glad to learn it had been withdrawn and noted “its unfortunate timing and other flaws.”

Ukraine’s troops have been waging a successful counteroffensive, with forces advancing into Russian-occupied Kherson province and threatening a major defeat for Moscow.

‘BLANK CHECK’

The letter drew immediate pushback, including from within the Progressive Caucus. “Russia doesn’t acknowledge diplomacy, only strength. If we want Ukraine to continue as a free and democratic country that it is, we must support their fight,” Democratic Representative Ruben Gallego, a caucus member, said in a written comment.

Representative Kevin McCarthy, the top House Republican, told Punchbowl News in an interview this month that there would be no “blank check” for Ukraine if Republicans take over. That fed speculation that Republicans might stop aid to Kyiv, although many members of the party said that was not their intention.

In her statement withdrawing the letter, Jayapal said that, because of the timing, the letter was being conflated as being equivalent to McCarthy’s remark.

“Nothing could be further from the truth. Every war ends with diplomacy, and this one will too after Ukrainian victory. The letter sent yesterday, although restating that basic principle, has been conflated with GOP opposition to support for the Ukrainians’ just defense of their national sovereignty. As such, it is a distraction at this time and we withdraw the letter,” Jayapal’s statement said.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said both Democrats and Republicans support continued assistance for Ukraine and he did not think the letter would put U.S. support into question.

“In recent days, we’ve heard from Democrats, we’ve heard from Republicans, that they understand the need to continue to stand with Ukraine, to stand for the principles that are at play here,” he told a news briefing.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Additional reporting by Richard Cowan and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Cynthia Osterman

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Saudi Arabia ‘maturer guys’ in spat with U.S., energy minister says

  • OPEC+ oil output cut led to U.S., Saudi spat
  • Saudi Arabia and U.S. “solid allies” – minister
  • Big Wall St turnout at flagship Saudi investment summit

RIYADH, Oct 25 (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia decided to be the “maturer guys” in a spat with the United States over oil supplies, the kingdom’s energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said on Tuesday.

The decision by the OPEC+ oil producer group led by Saudi Arabia this month to cut oil output targets unleashed a war of words between the White House and Riyadh ahead of the kingdom’s Future Investment Initiative (FII) forum, which drew top U.S. business executives.

The two traditional allies’ relationship had already been strained by the Joe Biden administration’s stance on the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the Yemen war, as well as Riyadh’s growing ties with China and Russia.

When asked at the FII forum how the energy relationship with the United States could be put back on track after the cuts and with the Dec. 5 deadline for the expected price-cap on Russian oil, the Saudi energy minister said: “I think we as Saudi Arabia decided to be the maturer guys and let the dice fall”.

“We keep hearing you ‘are with us or against us’, is there any room for ‘we are with the people of Saudi Arabia’?”

Saudi Investment Minister Khalid al-Falih said earlier that Riyadh and Washington will get over their “unwarranted” spat, highlighting long-standing corporate and institutional ties.

“If you look at the relationship with the people side, the corporate side, the education system, you look at our institutions working together we are very close and we will get over this recent spat that I think was unwarranted,” he said.

While noting that Saudi Arabia and the United States were “solid allies” in the long term, he highlighted the kingdom was “very strong” with Asian partners including China, which is the biggest importer of Saudi hydrocarbons.

The OPEC+ cut has raised concerns in Washington about the possibility of higher gasoline prices ahead of the November U.S. midterm elections, with the Democrats trying to retain their control of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Biden pledged that “there will be consequences” for U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia after the OPEC+ move.

Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud, the kingdom’s ambassador to Washington, said in a CNN interview that Saudi Arabia was not siding with Russia and engages with “everybody across the board”.

“And by the way, it’s okay to disagree. We’ve disagreed in the past, and we’ve agreed in the past, but the important thing is recognizing the value of this relationship,” she said.

She added that “a lot of people talk about reforming or reviewing the relationship” and said that was “a positive thing” as Saudi Arabia “is not the kingdom it was five years ago.”

FULL ATTENDENCE AT FII

Like previous years, the FII three-day forum that opened on Tuesday saw a big turnout from Wall Street, as well as other industries with strategic interests in Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter.

JPMorgan Chase & Co Chief Executive Jamie Dimon, speaking at the gathering, voiced confidence that Saudi Arabia and the United States would safeguard their 75-year-old alliance.

“I can’t imagine any allies agreeing on everything and not having problems – they’ll work it through,” Dimon said. “I’m comfortable that folks on both sides are working through and that these countries will remain allies going forward, and hopefully help the world develop and grow properly.”

The FII is a showcase for the Saudi crown prince’s Vision 2030 development plan to wean the economy off oil by creating new industries that also generate jobs for millions of Saudis, and to lure foreign capital and talent.

No Biden administration officials were visible at the forum on Tuesday. Jared Kushner, a former senior aide to then-President Donald Trump who enjoyed good ties with Prince Mohammed, was featured as a front-row speaker.

The Saudi government invested $2 billion with a firm incorporated by Kushner after Trump left office.

FII organisers said this year’s edition attracted 7,000 delegates compared with 4,000 last year.

After its inaugural launch in 2017, the forum was marred by a Western boycott over Khashoggi’s killing by Saudi agents. It recovered the next year, attracting leaders and businesses with strategic interests in Saudi Arabia, after which the pandemic hit the world.

Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi, Hadeel Al Sayegh and Rachna Uppal in Riyadh and Nadine Awadalla, Maha El Dahan and Yousef Saba in Dubai; Writing by Ghaida Ghantous and Michael Geory; Editing by Louise Heavens, Mark Potter, Vinay Dwivedi, William Maclean

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Saudi Arabia ‘maturer guys’ in spat with U.S., says energy minister

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  • OPEC+ oil output cut led to U.S., Saudi spat
  • Saudi Arabia and U.S. “solid allies” – minister
  • Big Wall St turnout at flagship Saudi investment summit

RIYADH, Oct 25 (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia decided to be the “maturer guys” in a spat with the United States over oil supplies, the kingdom’s energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said on Tuesday.

The decision by the OPEC+ oil producer group led by Saudi Arabia this month to cut oil output targets unleashed a war of words between the White House and Riyadh ahead of the kingdom’s Future Investment Initiative (FII) forum, which drew top U.S. business executives.

The two traditional allies’ relationship had already been strained by the Joe Biden administration’s stance on the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the Yemen war, as well as Riyadh’s growing ties with China and Russia.

When asked at the FII forum how the energy relationship with the United States could be put back on track after the cuts and with the Dec. 5 deadline for the expected price-cap on Russian oil, the Saudi energy minister said: “I think we as Saudi Arabia decided to be the maturer guys and let the dice fall”.

“We keep hearing you ‘are with us or against us’, is there any room for ‘we are with the people of Saudi Arabia’?”

Saudi Investment Minister Khalid al-Falih said earlier that Riyadh and Washington will get over their “unwarranted” spat, highlighting long-standing corporate and institutional ties.

“If you look at the relationship with the people side, the corporate side, the education system, you look at our institutions working together we are very close and we will get over this recent spat that I think was unwarranted,” he said.

While noting that Saudi Arabia and the United States were “solid allies” in the long term, he highlighted the kingdom was “very strong” with Asian partners including China, which is the biggest importer of Saudi hydrocarbons.

The OPEC+ cut has raised concerns in Washington about the possibility of higher gasoline prices ahead of the November U.S. midterm elections, with the Democrats trying to retain their control of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Biden pledged that “there will be consequences” for U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia after the OPEC+ move.

Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud, the kingdom’s ambassador to Washington, said in a CNN interview that Saudi Arabia was not siding with Russia and engages with “everybody across the board”.

“And by the way, it’s okay to disagree. We’ve disagreed in the past, and we’ve agreed in the past, but the important thing is recognizing the value of this relationship,” she said.

She added that “a lot of people talk about reforming or reviewing the relationship” and said that was “a positive thing” as Saudi Arabia “is not the kingdom it was five years ago.”

FULL ATTENDENCE AT FII

Like previous years, the FII three-day forum that opened on Tuesday saw a big turnout from Wall Street, as well as other industries with strategic interests in Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter.

JPMorgan Chase & Co Chief Executive Jamie Dimon, speaking at the gathering, voiced confidence that Saudi Arabia and the United States would safeguard their 75-year-old alliance.

“I can’t imagine any allies agreeing on everything and not having problems – they’ll work it through,” Dimon said. “I’m comfortable that folks on both sides are working through and that these countries will remain allies going forward, and hopefully help the world develop and grow properly.”

The FII is a showcase for the Saudi crown prince’s Vision 2030 development plan to wean the economy off oil by creating new industries that also generate jobs for millions of Saudis, and to lure foreign capital and talent.

No Biden administration officials were visible at the forum on Tuesday. Jared Kushner, a former senior aide to then-President Donald Trump who enjoyed good ties with Prince Mohammed, was featured as a front-row speaker.

The Saudi government invested $2 billion with a firm incorporated by Kushner after Trump left office.

FII organisers said this year’s edition attracted 7,000 delegates compared with 4,000 last year.

After its inaugural launch in 2017, the forum was marred by a Western boycott over Khashoggi’s killing by Saudi agents. It recovered the next year, attracting leaders and businesses with strategic interests in Saudi Arabia, after which the pandemic hit the world.

Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi, Hadeel Al Sayegh and Rachna Uppal in Riyadh and Nadine Awadalla, Maha El Dahan and Yousef Saba in Dubai; Writing by Ghaida Ghantous and Michael Geory; Editing by Louise Heavens, Mark Potter, Vinay Dwivedi, William Maclean

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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As UK’s Truss fights for job, new finance minister says she made mistakes

  • Truss sacked finance minister on Friday
  • New chancellor Hunt warns of tough decisions
  • ‘I’ve listened, I get it’, Truss says
  • BoE’s Bailey says agrees with Hunt on need to fix finances
  • Some Conservative lawmakers say Truss will be ousted

LONDON, Oct 15 (Reuters) – Britain’s new finance minister Jeremy Hunt said on Saturday some taxes would go up and tough spending decisions were needed, saying Prime Minister Liz Truss had made mistakes as she battles to keep her job just over a month into her term.

In an attempt to appease financial markets that have been in turmoil for three weeks, Truss fired Kwasi Kwarteng as her chancellor of the exchequer on Friday and scrapped parts of their controversial economic package.

With opinion poll ratings dire for both the ruling Conservative Party and the prime minister personally, and many of her own lawmakers asking, not if, but how Truss should be removed, Truss is relying on Hunt to help salvage her premiership less than 40 days after taking office.

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In an article for the Sun newspaper published late on Saturday, Truss admitted the plans had gone “further and faster than the markets were expecting”.

“I’ve listened, I get it,” she wrote. “We cannot pave the way to a low-tax, high-growth economy without maintaining the confidence of the markets in our commitment to sound money.”

She said Hunt would lay out at the end of the month the plan to get national debt down “over the medium term”.

But, the speculation about her future shows no sign of diminishing, with Sunday’s newspapers rife with stories that allies of Rishi Sunak, another former finance minister who she beat to become leader last month, were plotting to force her out within weeks.

On a tour of TV and radio studios, Hunt gave a blunt assessment of the situation the country faced, saying Truss and Kwarteng had made mistakes and further changes to her plans were possible.

“We will have some very difficult decisions ahead,” he said.”The thing that people want, the markets want, the country needs now, is stability.”

The Sunday Times said Hunt would rip up more of Truss’s original package by delaying a planned cut to the basic rate of income tax as part of a desperate bid to balance the books.

According to the newspaper, Britain’s independent fiscal watchdog had said in a draft forecast there could be a 72 billion pound ($80 billion) black hole in public finances by 2027/28, worse than economists had forecast.

Truss had won the leadership contest to replace Boris Johnson on a platform of big tax cuts to stimulate growth, which Kwarteng duly announced last month. But the absence of any details of how the cuts would be funded sent the markets into meltdown.

She has already ditched plans to cut tax for high earners, and said a levy on business would increase, abandoning her proposal to keep it at current levels. But a slump in bond prices after her news conference on Friday still suggested she had not gone far enough.

‘MEETING OF MINDS’

Kwarteng’s Sept. 23 fiscal statement prompted a backlash in financial markets that was so ferocious the Bank of England (BoE) had to intervene to prevent pension funds being caught up in the chaos as borrowing costs surged.

BoE Governor Andrew Bailey said he had spoken to Hunt and they had agreed on the need to repair the public finances.

“There was a very clear and immediate meeting of minds between us about the importance of fiscal sustainability and the importance of taking measures to do that,” Bailey said in Washington on Saturday. “Of course, there was an important measure taken yesterday.”

He also warned that inflation pressures might require a bigger interest rate rise than previously thought due to the government’s huge energy subsidies for homes and businesses, and its tax cut plans.

Hunt is due to announce the government’s medium-term budget plans on Oct. 31, in what will be a key test of its ability to show it can restore its economic policy credibility.

He cautioned spending would not rise by as much as people would like and all government departments were going to have to find more efficiencies than they were planning.

“Some taxes will not be cut as quickly as people want, and some taxes will go up. So it’s going to be difficult,” he said. He met Treasury officials on Saturday and will hold talks with Truss on Sunday to go through the plans.

‘MISTAKES MADE’

Hunt, an experienced minister and viewed by many in his party as a safe pair of hands, said he agreed with Truss’s fundamental strategy of kickstarting economic growth, but he added that their approach had not worked.

“There were some mistakes made in the last few weeks. That’s why I’m sitting here. It was a mistake to cut the top rate of tax at a period when we’re asking everyone to make sacrifices,” he said.

It was also a mistake, Hunt said, to “fly blind” and produce the tax plans without allowing the independent fiscal watchdog, the Office for Budget Responsibility, to check the figures.

The fact that Hunt is Britain’s fourth finance minister in four months is testament to a political crisis that has gripped Britain since Johnson was ousted following a series of scandals.

Hunt said Truss should be judged at an election and on her performance over the next 18 months – not the last 18 days.

However, she might not get that chance. During the leadership contest, Truss won support from less than a third of Conservative lawmakers and has appointed her backers since taking office – alienating those who supported her rivals.

The appointment of Hunt, who ran to be leader himself and then backed Sunak, has been seen as a sign of her reaching out, but the move did little to placate some of her party critics.

“It’s over for her,” one Conservative lawmaker told Reuters after Friday’s events.

($1 = 0.8953 pounds)

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Reporting by Michael Holden, Alistair Smout and William Schomberg
Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise, Helen Popper, Ros Russell and Diane Craft

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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EXCLUSIVE Fed’s Bullard favors ‘frontloading’ rate hikes now, with wait-and-see stance in 2023

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WASHINGTON, Oct 14 (Reuters) – A “hotter-than-expected” September inflation report doesn’t necessarily mean the Federal Reserve needs to raise interest rates higher than officials projected at their most recent policy meeting, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said on Friday, though it does warrant continued “frontloading” through larger hikes of three-quarters of a percentage point.

In a Reuters interview, Bullard said U.S. Consumer Price Index data for September, which was released on Thursday, showed inflation had become “pernicious” and difficult to arrest, and therefore “it makes sense that we’re still moving quickly.”

After delivering a fourth straight 75-basis-point hike at its policy meeting next month, Bullard said “if it was today, I’d go ahead with” a hike of the same magnitude in December, though he added it was “too early to prejudge” what to do at that final meeting of the year.

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If the Fed follows through with two more 75-basis-point hikes this year, its policy rate would end 2022 in a range of 4.50%-4.75%.

In what were tempered remarks for one of the Fed’s most hawkish voices recently, Bullard said that at that point he would let further increases rest on incoming data.

“I do think 2023 should be a data-dependent sort of year. It’s two-sided risk. It is very possible that the data would come in a way that forces the (Federal Open Market) Committee higher on the policy rate. But it’s also possible that you get a good disinflationary dynamic going, and in that situation the committee could keep the policy rate and hold it steady,” Bullard said a day after the U.S. government reported that consumer price inflation remained above 8% last month.

The possibility of a fifth larger-than-usual increase in December is “a little more frontloading than what I’ve said in the past,” he added.

But the trajectory mapped out by Bullard would still leave the target policy rate at the median level that Fed officials projected last month they would need to reach – evidence of a broad consensus at the central bank around at least a temporary stopping point after a year in which they have ratcheted rate expectations steadily higher.

Even if some of Bullard’s colleagues want to reach that point in smaller interim steps and not until early next year, Bullard said he regards faster increases as warranted because the U.S. labor market remains strong, and “there’s just not much indication that we’re getting the disinflation that we’re looking for.”

Though some investors and economists expect the Fed will need to lift its policy rate even further, to 5% or higher, Bullard said, “I wouldn’t predict that now … If that happens it will be because inflation doesn’t come down the way we’re hoping in the first half of 2023 and we continue to get hot inflation reports.”

The level he has penciled in for the end of the year is adequate, he believes, to lower the Fed’s closely-watched core personal consumption expenditures inflation index to below 3% next year, a long way back to the central bank’s 2% target.

‘SOFT LANDING’

Bullard said that despite the sense of turbulence in financial markets, there was “still a fair amount of potential for a soft landing,” with the United States likely to avoid a recession and companies reluctant to lay off workers who have been hard to hire during the post-pandemic economic reopening.

Warnings about recession risk may be distorted in part by inflation itself, Bullard said, with short-term bond yields driven higher than longer-term ones not for lack of faith in the economy, an “inversion” of the yield curve that shows investors betting on a recession, but because of the premium charged for the inflation taking place now.

Volatility in markets is to be expected when rates rise, he said, but may settle after a period of adjustment.

“It’s the transition that throws everybody for a loop,” Bullard said. But after that, the economy “could grow just as fast at the higher interest rates,” he said.

Asked about the sense that overseas events, such as the tension between the Bank of England and the current British government, may risk broader financial problems, Bullard said that his regional bank’s index of financial stress showed it to be low.

Compared to the sorts of serious market seizures seen during the financial crisis in 2008 or the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, “I don’t think we’re in a situation where global markets are facing a lot of stress of that type.”

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Reporting by Howard Schneider; Editing by Dan Burns and Paul Simao

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Howard Schneider

Thomson Reuters

Covers the U.S. Federal Reserve, monetary policy and the economy, a graduate of the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University with previous experience as a foreign correspondent, economics reporter and on the local staff of the Washington Post.

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Energy subsidies merely delay high inflation, ECB’s Villeroy warns

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WASHINGTON, Oct 15 (Reuters) – Europe’s energy subsidies may reduce the current rate of inflation but only at the expense of future higher readings, potentially complicating the task of monetary policy, European Central Bank (ECB) policymaker Francois Villeroy de Galhau said on Saturday.

Fearing that high energy prices sap household purchasing power, governments are now rolling out copious support and some have already warned that excessive spending could bring fiscal and monetary policy into conflict as one is easing while the other is tightening.

“We should not be under the illusion that price caps reduce underlying inflation,” Villeroy said in Washington on Saturday, addressing a meeting of the G30, a group of private and public financial officials.

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“They may only help to reduce the risk of second round effects,” he added. “Price caps, if temporary, only reduce current measured inflation at the expense of future measured inflation.”

The ECB has been tightening policy quickly this year and Villeroy argued that governments should also play their part by reestablishing fiscal discipline because the fiscal and monetary policies are misaligned.

Instead of broader spending increases which add to already high inflation pressures, governments should focus help on those in the greatest need of help, Villeroy argued.

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Reporting by Balazs Koranyi; editing by Clelia Oziel

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Bank of England governor has ‘meeting of minds’ with Hunt

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  • Bailey says he talked to new finance minister on Friday
  • ‘Very clear and immediate meeting of minds’ on fiscal challenge
  • Rates likely to rise by more than thought in August – Bailey
  • Recent bond-buying not about targeting yields

WASHINGTON, Oct 15 (Reuters) – Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey said there was an “immediate meeting of minds” when he spoke with finance minister Jeremy Hunt about the need to fix the public finances after the tax cut plans of Hunt’s predecessor unleashed market turmoil.

Bailey, speaking in Washington where British officials attending International Monetary Fund meetings have been put on the spot about the crisis engulfing the country, said he had spoken to Hunt on Friday after he replaced Kwasi Kwarteng.

“I can tell you that there was a very clear and immediate meeting of minds between us about the importance of fiscal sustainability and the importance of taking measures to do that,” Bailey said.

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“Of course there was an important measure taken yesterday,” he said at an event where he also hinted at a big interest rate rise by the central bank next month.

Prime Minister Liz Truss, seeking to save her term in office which is barely a month old, said on Friday that Britain’s corporation tax rate would increase, reversing a key pledge made during her bid for Downing Street.

Hunt said earlier on Saturday that some taxes might have to rise and others might not fall as much as planned, signalling a further shift away from Truss’s original plans.

Bailey, speaking at an event organised by the Group of Thirty, which comprises financiers and academics, welcomed the role that Britain’s independent budget watchdog would have in assessing the budget plan that Hunt will publish on Oct. 31.

The Office for Budget Responsibility was not tasked with weighing up the impact of Kwarteng’s “mini-budget” which set off a slump in the value of the pound and government bonds when he announced it on Sept. 23.

“Flying blind is not a way to achieve sustainability,” Bailey said.

Truss criticised the BoE during her leadership campaign, saying she wanted to set a “clear direction of travel” for the central bank. BoE officials pushed back at those comments saying their independence was key to managing the economy.

‘STRONGER RESPONSE’ WITH RATES

Bailey said the BoE might raise interest rates by more than it previously thought because of the government’s huge energy bill support – which could lower inflation in the short term but push it up further ahead – and whatever it decides to do on tax cuts and spending.

“We will not hesitate to raise interest rates to meet the inflation target,” Bailey said. “And, as things stand today, my best guess is that inflationary pressures will require a stronger response than we perhaps thought in August.”

The BoE raised rates by half a percentage point in August – at the time its biggest increase in 27 years – and then did so again in September with inflation around 10%, far above the BoE’s target of 2%.

It is due to announce its next decision on Nov. 3 and many investors think it will either raise them from their current level of 2.25% to 3% or possibly 3.25%.

In the shorter term, the BoE will be keeping a close eye on how financial markets behave on Monday after it ended its emergency bond-buying programme on Friday.

Bailey said the now-completed intervention was “not about steering market yields towards some particular level, but rather preventing them from being distorted by market dysfunction”.

He said the BoE had acted after the violent market moves which exposed the “flaws in the strategy and structure” of a lot of pension funds.

The intervention was different to the much bigger and longer-running bond-buying that the BoE undertook during the coronavirus pandemic and earlier as a monetary policy tool.

“In these difficult times, we need to be very clear on this framework of intervention,” Bailey said.

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Reporting by Howard Schneider in Washington and William Schomberg in London; Additional reporting by Michael Holden in London; Editing by David Clarke

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Howard Schneider

Thomson Reuters

Covers the U.S. Federal Reserve, monetary policy and the economy, a graduate of the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University with previous experience as a foreign correspondent, economics reporter and on the local staff of the Washington Post.

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