We turn to Wyoming this morning, where the financial world is parsing through Janet Yellen's keynote speech for hints to when the Fed might raise interest rates. Then, famously neutral, Switzerland has not joined in sanctioning Russia and as such, they aren't included in Russia's retaliatory ban on European food imports.
This week, Janet Yellen is the star of the show at the Economic Policy Symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. That's where central bankers from all over the world converge to talk monetary policy...and possibly fly fishing techniques.
There aren't expected to be any major surprises from Yellen this year. The Federal Reserve is expected to stay its course with lots of stimulus and low interest rates.
"I think everybody agrees, quantitative easing is essentially on auto-pilot," says Bill Stone, Chief Investment Strategist for PNC Wealth Management.
"Quantitative easing" is the Fed's now-famous policy of pumping billions of dollars a month into the U.S. economy. When the Fed first started the practice, central banks around the world voiced concern. But now Stone says Europe looks poised to take similar measures.
"Relative to Europe, we look like we’re kings in terms of economic growth," Stone says. "I don’t necessarily feel like anyone’s saying, 'You’ve stayed too loose too long,' anymore."
In fact, now Europe is worried the U.S. will taper the stimulus off too fast.
"There’s a real fear that the U.S. will raise rates more quickly and that they’ll see a money drain out of Europe," says Michael Farr, president of investment firm Farr, Miller and Washington.
The worry is that if the Fed turns the spigot off and U.S. economic growth slows, we’ll buy fewer European goods, which would be a big blow to the struggling European economies.
Starting this fall, it will be more difficult to get commonly prescribed painkillers, such as Vicodin.
The Drug Enforcement Administration has announced a new rule that reclassifies drugs containing hydrocodone. That means most consumers will be forced to get their prescription in person — no more over-the-phone refills.
Dr. Jeffrey Samet at Boston University says abuse of prescription painkillers is a devastating trend.
"It’s linked to addiction and transition to heroin use and people are dying from that," he says. "So, we need to do something."
The question is whether reclassifying the drug is too crude an approach.
The public health risk is clear: the CDC reports more than 16,500 people died from opioid painkiller overdoses in 2010. Mark Fleury, with the American Cancer Society’s lobbying arm, says when it’s harder to get pain pills because of addiction, it’s harder for people that really need pain pills to get them.
“A post-operative cancer patient who has some breakthrough pain from a surgery for example, you are in pain in the middle of the night and you really don’t want to get up and drive to a doctor’s office to get a prescription,” he says.
There is data that shows an increased risk for suicide when someone lives in chronic pain, Fleury says and regulators should use patient usage patterns to determine how easy it is to obtain pain pills instead.
The government hopes to clamp down on rampant cross-border smuggling of government-subsidized staples that has caused shortages on the country's store shelves.