The Federal Reserve’s key policy-making body — the Federal Open Market Committee — wraps up its two-day meeting today with a news conference hosted by Chair Janet Yellen, and projections on economic growth going forward.
Consumer prices were up strongly in May — at around a 2 percent annual rate — for everything from food and gasoline, to rents and new cars. If that keeps up, the Fed might have to raise short-term interest rates sooner than expected, to tamp down prices. That could also tamp down consumer spending and job growth.
“You’ve still got the backdrop of this slow-growth economy with stagnant household income," says Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com. "Suddenly inflation’s starting to pick up, so you’re taking away what little spending power the consumer had.”
And Bernie Baumohl at the Economic Outlook Group says even though economic growth and job-creation have clearly rebounded since the dismal winter months, there are a lot of wild cards out there for the Fed — like stubbornly low wage-growth in the U.S., not to mention civil strife in Iraq, and soaring oil prices worldwide.
“The geopolitical pot is really boiling furiously," says Baumohl. "And it really greatly complicates the decision-making process on the Fed, among investors and also among CEOs.”
A new report from the Education Trust says over $15 billion a year in federal aid goes to colleges where most of the students don’t graduate. Plus, many of the students -- three out of ten -- have so much debt they can’t repay it.
Not so suprising: most of the schools on the list are for-profit institutions.
There’s some argument in academic circles as to what is a good graduation rate -- some students transfer, some take longer to graduate, and not everyone finishes. Judith Scott-Clayton, a professor of economics and education at Columbia University’s Teacher’s College, says while that is the case, it's still easy to spot problematically low rates.
“I think most people could agree that 15 percent is probably too low," Scott-Clayton says.
But over a six year period at a group of schools (many of which are for-profit), the report found that 15 percent is exactly how few students are graduating.
Michael Dannenburg, Director of Higher Education Policy with Education Trust cites the University of Phoenix, a for-profit that he says receives $4 billion a year in federal student aid and has a lot of campuses on the low graduation list. The school points out that many of its students work on top of their studies, so of course it takes them longer to graduate.
But Dannenburg notes the average college graduation rate from four year colleges after six years of enrollment is 59 percent. He also says you can’t pin low rates on low income students.
Says Dannenburg, "We’ve looked at scores of institutions that are serving similar students with similar characteristics that get very different results. In other words, demography is not destiny in higher education."
Building new World Cup or Olympics facilities in different cities every several years is just too costly, says commentator Frank Deford. So why not, he asks, try something different?
Museums are filled with dead insects, birds, fish, mammals and reptiles meticulously gathered worldwide in the name of scientific discovery. But some researchers now say scientists should think twice.
A corporation has one core obligation: to make money. But some companies, known as benefit corporations, also promise to create a tangible benefit to communities and the environment.