What Janet Yellen thinks
The Treasury secretary opened the DealBook DC Policy Project yesterday, one of the few media interviews she has given since taking the job last month. Although she was typically understated in her conversation with Andrew, she dropped hints about some of her biggest priorities. Here’s what we think she’s planning:
On jobs: Ms. Yellen said that the goal was to “get unemployment down to the levels we enjoyed prior to the crisis.” But she’s looking beyond the headline unemployment rate at bigger, broader numbers, and believes that the government has capacity to take on even more debt — suggesting she’ll push for more stimulus and other policies to goose the economy.
On taxes: Don’t expect Ms. Yellen to support an Elizabeth Warren-style wealth tax. But the Treasury secretary suggested that she might support closing some loopholes in the tax code, including carried interest and, intriguingly, the “stepped up” basis of estate transfers.
On crypto: Ms. Yellen dismissed Bitcoin, calling it an “extremely inefficient way of conducting transactions.” But she said it “makes sense” to consider a so-called digital dollar run by the central bank, in the first comments she has appeared to make about the idea. This could lead to “faster, safer and cheaper payments,” she said, an important statement of intent for crypto regulation in the coming years.
Highlights from the other sessions yesterday:
“It’s not my objective to run Amazon out of town.” The attorney general of New York, Letitia James, talked about protecting people against powerful business interests, including her recent suit against Amazon over workplace safety during the pandemic. “These big tech companies stifle competition, innovation, creativity,” she said.
“Our product is missed.” The C.E.O. of Delta, Ed Bastian, spoke about the future of travel and about when the airline would start selling middle seats again. “The pent-up need and urge and desire to travel is like never before,” he said, though he noted that virus fears would make international travel slower to recover than domestic flights.
“It is troubling to me — very troubling — that people don’t believe government numbers.” Microsoft’s former chief, Steve Ballmer, founded the nonprofit USAFacts to make economic data more accessible and understandable. In a chart-filled chat, he ran down the numbers on economic growth, jobs and more in an attempt to identify priorities for stimulus spending, minimum-wage policies and the like.
To watch video replays of all the sessions, visit our live briefing.
HERE’S WHAT’S HAPPENING
The U.S. reaches a grim pandemic milestone. More than 500,000 people have died from Covid-19, the worst absolute death toll in the world. President Biden marked the moment with a solemn ceremony at the White House.
Donald Trump loses a final bid to shield his tax returns. The Supreme Court rejected the former president’s effort to prevent Manhattan’s district attorney, Cyrus Vance, from obtaining his financial records. Just as important, Mr. Vance could get access to additional records from Mr. Trump’s accountants.
Facebook and Australia reach a compromise over sharing news stories. The social network agreed to restore users’ ability to post news links after Australia agreed to minor concessions on a law that would require tech platforms to pay for articles that appear on their sites.
BlackRock clarifies its climate change goals. A spokesman for the money-management giant told The Times’s Peter Eavis and Cliff Krauss that its “ambition” was to have its entire investment portfolio reach net zero emissions by 2050. But many corporate giants either haven’t set emissions targets or are struggling to meet their stated goals.
SoftBank nears a settlement with Adam Neumann of WeWork. The Japanese tech giant is close to an agreement to buy half as much of Mr. Neumann’s stake in WeWork than previously agreed….
Read More:Janet Yellen Drops Hints