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Interest rates are expected to stay at near zero through 2023, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday. 

Announced as the U.S. central bank concluded its two-day policy meeting, the move aims to stimulate more economic growth as the country recovers from the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.  

The Fed’s interest rate benchmark determines the cost of borrowing money for businesses and homebuyers, as well as the interest rates on consumer credit cards.

 

The central bank also said it would allow inflation to run slightly above the 2% target. 

“With inflation running persistently below this longer run goal, the Committee will aim to achieve inflation moderately above 2 percent for some time so that inflation averages 2 percent over time and longer-term inflation expectations remain well anchored at 2 percent,” the post-meeting statement said. 

This was the first time the central bank forecast its outlook for 2023. 

“These changes clarify our strong commitment over a longer time horizon,” Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said at a post-meeting news conference. 

The Fed expected annual GDP would fall by 3.7%, compared with the 6.5% it forecast in June. The Fed projects unemployment at the end of the year will be 7.6%, compared to the 9.3% it predicted in June. After peaking at 14.7% in April, the current unemployment rate is 8.4%. 
 

News Source: Voice of America

Federal Judge Questions North Carolina Absentee Rule Change

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Too Late for Texas to Use Straight-Ticket Voting, Court Says

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — November's elections are too close for Texas to make changes now and restore a straight-ticket voting option that was sought by Democrats, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

Most states don't offer straight-ticket voting, which allows voters to more quickly cast a ballot by choosing a party's entire slate of candidates with a single mark. Texas offered the options for decades, but Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law in 2017 that eliminated the option starting this fall.

A federal judge in Laredo said in a ruling last week that the pandemic should give Texas pause about longer lines at polling places. But the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that changes shouldn't be made so close to the Nov. 3 elections, and with early voting starting in Texas in just two weeks.

Democrats had sued to restore straight-ticket voting in March, citing long Super Tuesday lines in Houston where some voters waited more than an hour to vote. They said the law disproportionately hurts Black and Latino voters in big urban counties, where ballots are typically longer and take more time to fill out.

Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said “last-minute changes to our voting process would do nothing but stir chaos.”

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Tags: Texas

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