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    U.S. pharmacists can now prescribe the leading COVID-19 pill directly to patients. The Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday that pharmacists can begin screening patients to see if they are eligible and then prescribe Pfizer's drug Paxlovid. Previously only doctors could prescribe it. Paxlovid has been shown to curb the worst effects of COVID-19 but it has to be started within five days of symptoms. Paxlovid is intended for people with COVID-19 who are more likely to become seriously ill. That includes older people and those with other health conditions.

      Stocks turn higher on Wall Street in choppy afternoon trading Wednesday following the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s most recent policy meeting. The S&P 500 rose 0.6%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.4% and the Nasdaq rose 0.7%. The Russell 2000 index of small company stocks remained in the red, down 0.5%, a sign that investors are worried about economic growth. The minutes of the two-day meeting last month show that Fed officials concluded higher interest rates could be needed to restrain what they saw as a worrying trend: consumers starting to anticipate higher inflation. Bond yields rose.

        A company that has performed appraisals on some of Donald Trump’s most prized properties has been held in contempt of court for missing a deadline to turn over documents in the New York attorney general’s civil investigation into the former president’s business practices. Manhattan Judge Arthur Engoron said late Tuesday that real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield had shown a “willful failure” to comply with Attorney General Letitia James’ subpoenas, including for records pertaining to Trump’s suburban Seven Springs Estate, a Wall Street office building and a Los Angeles golf course. Cushman & Wakefield said it will appeal Engoron’s ruling.

          A deadline is fast approaching for teachers, librarians, nurses and others who work in public service to apply to have their student loan debt forgiven. New figures from the U.S. Department of Education show 145,000 borrowers have had the remainder of their debt canceled through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. Most of those cancellations have come since the government relaxed the complex rules to apply to the program last fall. But those less stringent rules will only apply until Oct. 31. Federal figures show that an estimated 43 million Americans carry student loans worth $1.6 trillion.

            European Union lawmakers have voted to include natural gas and nuclear in the bloc’s list of sustainable activities. The European Commission earlier this year made the controversial proposal as part of its plans for building a climate-friendly future, dividing member countries and drawing outcry from environmentalists over what they criticize as “greenwashing.” EU legislators rejected an objection to the proposal in a 328-278 vote on Wednesday. The green labeling system from the European Commission defines what qualifies as an investment in sustainable energy.

              Slovakia’s government is facing another serious crisis after a junior party threatened to withdraw from the four-party coalition. The liberal Freedom and Solidarity party says it was not ready to be in the government any more together with Finance Minister Igor Matovic, a populist leader whose Ordinary People party won the 2020 parliamentary election. Economy Minister Richard Sulik, Freedom and Solidarity head, has often clashed with Matovic, over how to tackle soaring inflation driven by high energy prices amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Freedom and Solidarity has given  Prime Minister Eduard Heger time till August's end to reconstruct the government.

                New rules proposed by the Biden administration on Wednesday would make it easier for borrowers to get their federal student debt forgiven through several existing programs. The action is intended to overhaul relief programs that have been criticized for their burdensome paperwork requirements and long processing times. It builds on the administration’s efforts to expand targeted debt cancellation for certain borrowers while President Joe Biden considers broader student debt forgiveness. The proposal would reshape a debt forgiveness process for students whose colleges deceive them, along with other programs for borrowers who are disabled and those with careers in public service.

                The Vermont-based ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s is suing its corporate parent Unilever over a plan that would allow its product to be sold in east Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank. In a lawsuit filed this week in New York, the ice cream maker asked a court to block  the decision by Unilever to sell the business interest in the ice cream company in Israel to a local company that would sell ice cream with Hebrew and Arabic labeling poses “poses a risk” to the integrity of the Ben & Jerry’s brand name. In a statement Unilever said it had a right to enter the agreement and the deal has already closed.

                A top Russian official has warned the U.S. that it could face the “wrath of God” if it pursues efforts to help establish an international tribunal to investigate Russia’s action in Ukraine. Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy secretary of Russia’s Security Council chaired by President Vladimir Putin and former Russian president, denounced the U.S. for what he described as its efforts to “spread chaos and destruction across the world.” Medvedev cited the Apocalypse to warn the U.S. not to try to push the war crimes investigations against Russia. In another blustery warning to the U.S.., Russian lower house speaker Vyacheslav Volodin on Wednesday urged Washington to remember that Alaska used to belong to Russia.

                Apple plans to roll out a “lockdown” option for iPhones, iPads and Mac computers intended to protect against spyware unleashed by state-sponsored hackers — although enabling it will also make these devices less useful. The safeguard announced Wednesday is a tacit acknowledgement that not even Apple — the world’s most valuable company — has been able to adequately shield the iPhone and its other products against attacks from malicious actors backed by governments fishing for information about perceived adversaries. The new feature, called “lockdown mode," will initially be offered in a test format before it's released to all iPhone, IPad and Mac users, as part of a major software updates this fall.

                5 Things To Do in a Recession Wed, 07/06/2022 - 17:00

                Any day now, you can expect your latest quarterly 401(k) statement from your employer that shows the current value of your life savings, and you probably anticipate that the stock and fund portion of your savings has lost value since your last statement. Knowing inflation is much higher than normal, interest rates are rising, and the economy may be headed into recession, it’s not surprising that your investments are impacted. But for the first time, in addition to your current 401(k) balance, companies show projections that illustrate what your lump sum savings might look like as monthly income after you retire. These figures may be lower than you thought.

                Finding a financial advisor you can trust who has the expertise you need and is committed to working in your best interests can be overwhelming. That’s why you should consider Wealthramp’s free financial advisor matching service. Every advisor in the Wealthramp network is rigorously vetted. Answer some quick questions, review your advisor matches and schedule a free meeting with any or all of your matched advisors. Wealthramp will never sell your data. You won’t get pushy sales calls from them. If you are ready to see your best advisor matches, get started now.

                So what’s next? As the Fed tightens into a slowing economy, there’s a high risk of recession, and even a mild contraction in economic growth can last for months or years. Telltale signs of recession among other things are when retail sales are falling, manufacturing slows down, businesses stop hiring, and more people either lose their jobs or get laid off. As alarming as the news might appear, recession is part of the normal business cycle. Instead of reacting, this is a good time to revisit your financial plan to position yourself to prosper.

                Whether you're managing your finances on your own or working with a trusted financial advisor to help you manage part or all of your portfolio, here are five important actions you should take now to keep your finances in fighting trim during tough economic times.

                1) Keep Your Credit Score High

                In a period of high inflation, it costs more for everyone to borrow money regardless of their credit score. However, people with lower credit scores will suffer even more. Lenders charge less to borrowers who’ve shown they will repay loans on time as agreed. Banks use your credit score as a handy way to see what kind of a borrower you are. If over time you’ve shown a pattern of paying debt late, lenders will be wary of lending you money. The shorthand metric used to measure borrowing behavior is your credit score — a low one means that lenders are worried you won’t pay them back. To account for that risk, lenders charge more to lend to iffy borrowers in the form of higher interest rates.

                This isn’t the time to allow your credit rating to slip. If you do need to borrow money, you’ll want to do it at the lowest possible interest rate, which is reserved for those who have high credit scores over 700. If you’re carrying credit card balances year over year, have you looked at the interest rate you’re paying? A typical credit card charges you over 25% in annual interest. For example, imagine that you bought a set of summer patio furniture on sale for $10,000. If you have an outstanding balance of $10,000 on your credit cards and you don’t pay it off, it’s like adding $2,500 on top of what you paid for the table and chairs.

                2) Maintain Your Cash Reserves

                It’s important to get to the point where you know you have ideally six to 12 months of ready cash in an accessible account for emergencies and unexpected expenses. In a recession, that reserve fund becomes even more essential in case you lose your job or any major unexpected event happens to you and your family. If you have enough of a savings cushion, you’ll sleep better. The downside is that banks don’t pay much on their savings or money market accounts, but the benefit is that you’ll be able to access money immediately without having to potentially sell losing stocks to raise money when the market is down. It also gives you the freedom to know you won’t need to take out a loan when interest rates are going up. It seems unfair that banks are quick to raise borrowing rates and much slower to increase rates on savings accounts, but the financial safety that comes with liquid cash reserves is worth it. The best way to set aside extra dollars is to make the lifestyle choice to live under your means.

                3) Invest, But Don't Gamble

                Long-term inflation eats into your savings and investment returns. When inflation is high — and recently we’ve seen inflation hit 8.6% — that means you’re paying more but getting nothing more in return. An inflation rate close to 9% is four times higher than the norm. And over the years, even at lower rates, inflation takes a toll. The best way to stay ahead of inflation is staying invested in a diverse portfolio of stocks because over time, stocks tend to grow faster than inflation.

                If you’re not sure how to build a diversified portfolio designed to protect and grow your money, this is where an established financial advisor who is independent and thoroughly vetted can help. Finding a financial advisor you can trust who has the expertise to meet your financial needs and is committed to working in your best interests can be overwhelming. That’s why you might want to consider Wealthramp’s free financial advisor matching service. Every advisor in the Wealthramp network is rigorously vetted. Answer some quick questions, review your advisor matches, and schedule a free meeting with any or all of your matched advisors. Wealthramp will never sell your data. You won’t get pushy sales calls from them. If you are ready to see your best advisor matches, get started now.

                Take from the experts — investing is the turtle, not the hare. John Bogle of Vanguard Group said investing is supposed to be boring — investment guru Ben Stein asks what’s wrong with average? — billionaire investor Warren Buffett never gambled. Buffett earned his billions by careful, consistent value investing. He missed the best moment to get into Apple (AAPL). To this day, he is still not invested in Tesla (TSLA). He doesn’t understand Bitcoin and doesn’t want to learn. In his entire investment career, he has rarely had a blockbuster win. So how did he accumulate so much wealth? In addition to careful investing, an often-overlooked reason is that he has lived a very long life.

                4) Find Inflation Hedges

                Another tactic during a recession is to choose investments that act as hedges against inflation over long periods. Gold and commodities are the go-to short-term investments for protecting your portfolio from stock market shocks because commodities like gold tend to move in the opposite direction from stocks. However, gold is a poor long-term investment, which is why many fiduciary financial advisors recommend hedging only about 5% to 10% of your portfolio. When you seek to beat inflation, one of your best tactics is to fully diversify your portfolio. That doesn’t mean randomly picking exchange-traded funds in different sectors. Diversification requires that you create a plan that you stick to and revise when market indicators show you its time. Your best bet is to connect with a financial advisor who can look at your portfolio and help you make sure it is diversified.

                5) Brush Up Your Resume and Boost Your Skills

                Right now, unemployment is at a historic low in the U.S. Whether it’s shallow or deep, recession often leads to companies laying off employees. The best way to protect yourself from losing your job and to ensure that you succeed in finding a new job if necessary is to make yourself as valuable an employee as possible. If your current company offers education reimbursement, jump on that benefit and work on a degree or a certification that can increase your future earnings. There are also low-cost or free training courses you can pay for yourself to boost your resume. Keep a record of your accomplishments at work to turn a standard resume and cover letter into one that helps you stand out and attract the right attention. And stay closely connected to your professional and personal network.

                Actions to Take Today

                As you take defensive action to protect yourself and your family from recession, decide whether to do it yourself using digital tools or collaborate with a rigorously vetted, fee-only fiduciary financial advisor who works only for you, not as an agent for a brokerage firm or insurance company. If you’re getting close to retirement, choose a fiduciary who has the expertise and specializes in retirement income planning. They can help you:

                • Make a tax-focused plan on your own or with their advice
                • Develop an investment strategy you will be able to stick to over time
                • Devise ways to pay down high-interest debt
                • Shore up cash accounts

                Finding the right financial advisor can be challenging. Let Wealthramp help you find the right advisor who will help you with your personal financial needs and situation.

                Pam Krueger is a recognized investor advocate, award-winning personal finance journalist, and founder and CEO of Wealthramp, a free advisor matching platform that connects people with rigorously vetted fee-only financial advisors. She is also the creator and co-host of MoneyTrack, which aired on PBS from 2005-2019, and Friends Talk Money podcast for PBS Next Avenue currently in its 7th season.


                The Norwegian Cruise Line company is dropping a requirement that passengers test negative for COVID-19 before sailing. The company said Wednesday that testing will only be needed on ships departing from places where local rules still requires testing, including in the United States and Canada. The change starts Aug. 1. Norwegian says relaxing its testing rule will match what others in the travel industry are doing “as society continues to adapt and return to a state of normalcy.” The company operates the Norwegian, Oceania and Regent Seven Seas lines.

                Britain’s beleaguered Prime Minister Boris Johnson is fighting for his political future after two of his top Cabinet ministers walked out of their jobs. A string of more junior ministers followed and resigned Wednesday. A growing number of opponents within his own Conservative Party have called for Johnson to go. But with the prime minister showing no sign of quitting, it could fall to a powerful Conservative group known as the 1922 Committee to decide whether to oust him before the next general election. Johnson survived a no-confidence vote by his party's lawmakers next month. Under current party rules, a year must pass before another formal leadership challenge. The committee has the power to shorten the timeframe.

                Italian Premier Mario Draghi’s government has staved off the immediate prospect of an early election after a key ally indicated he would remain in the coalition for now. Draghi met with former Premier Giuseppe Conte who is now the leader of the populist 5-Star Movement for more than an hour Wednesday. Draghi's coalition partners range from the left to the right of the political spectrum in addition to the populists. He has said publicly that his government couldn’t continue without the support of the 5-Stars. Conte is caught between the loyalty to the coalition and pressures from the increasingly restless base of his party.


                The war in Ukraine is fueling fears of a natural gas emergency in Europe. Russia has throttled back supplies to more countries, this time to major economies and big users such as Germany and Italy. And there are worries about a complete shutoff. Supplies are enough to generate electricity and power industry for today’s needs. But Europe needs to fill its underground gas storage this summer. If it can't, the 27-member European Union could face emergency gas rationing by governments and economic disaster this winter. Meanwhile, higher gas prices and the threat of a cutoff are raising pressure on Europe to find substitutes and reduce how much gas it uses — and fast.

                French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne says the government plans to nationalize French electricity giant EDF amid an energy crisis aggravated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The French state now holds an 84% stake in the company, one of the world’s biggest electricity producers. In her first major speech to France’s parliament, Borne said Wednesday, “We must have full control over our electricity production and performance.” Shares in EDF jumped on the news. The rise in share price was an apparent sign that investors expect the government to pay a premium to buy up the remaining stock. EDF manages France’s sizable fleet of nuclear reactors, which are facing a raft of technical and other problems.

                The Energy Department is teaming with actor Robert Downey Jr. to recruit up to 1,000 new workers focused on climate change and clean energy. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on Wednesday released a video with the “Iron Man” actor encouraging applicants from diverse backgrounds to join the department’s “clean energy corps.” The corps will take on jobs aimed at accelerating deployment of clean energy such as wind and solar power. The video will be played on the Energy Department’s YouTube channel and featured on social media.

                For years, there’s been a cardinal rule for flying civilian drones: Keep them within your line of sight. But that's starting to change as aviation authorities prepare to cautiously relax some of the safeguards they imposed to regulate a boom in off-the-shelf consumer drones. Drones can now soar out of their pilots’ sight to inspect power lines across the forested Great Dismal Swamp in Virginia. They’re tracking endangered sea turtles off Florida’s coast and monitoring seaports and railroads in the U.S. and Europe. Businesses want smoother rules that could open your neighborhood’s skies to new commercial uses, but privacy advocates and some private pilots have concerns.

                More than 145,000 U.S. borrowers have had the remainder of their student loan debt canceled through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, and officials say many more likely qualify. The program, launched in 2007 to steer more graduates to public service, cancels student debt after 10 years of public interest work, or 120 payments. Teachers, librarians, nurses, public interest lawyers, military members and other public workers can all apply. The U.S. Department of Education has relaxed the complex rules for applying for the program, but only until Oct. 31.

                In a story published July 5, 2022, about President Joe Biden's visit to Ohio on Wednesday, The Associated Press erroneously reported that it would be Biden's fourth visit to the state as president. It will be his sixth.

                Somalia’s president has called for assistance from Turkey to combat the effects of severe drought that is threatening the Horn of Africa. Hassan Sheikh Mohamud made the comments Wednesday during his first visit to Turkey since returning to office following an election in May. The two countries have forged close ties over the past decade. Some areas of the Horn of Africa could be declared in famine within weeks because of the driest drought in the region in decades. Russia's war in Ukraine has abruptly drawn millions of dollars away from other crises and Somalia, facing a food shortage largely driven by the war, might be the most vulnerable. Turkish President Recep said Turkey’s humanitarian and development assistance to Somalia in the past decade has exceeded $1 billion.

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