Dispatches > The Buzz

Ups & Downs of the Week

Issue: "Supreme arrogance," July 8, 2000

CONSUMER CONFIDENCE: Rising interest rates and soaring gasoline prices dropped the Consumer Confidence Index for a loss in June-showing that, psychologically at least, the Federal Reserve Board's actions to cool the once-hot economy are having the desired effect. The Fed governors themselves seemed to believe they had done the job, declining last week to kick up interest rates again. Wall Street investors breathed a sigh of relief after the meeting of the central bankers, who have boosted rates six times in the last year and placed interest rates at levels unseen since the early 1990s recession. THE TEMPERATURE: Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, who is feeling heat of a political variety, predicted rolling blackouts on the West Coast, saying the heatwave settling into the western United States showed the stress on the nation's power grid as summer starts. Some California companies lost power repeatedly last week; the state's major supplier issued an alert that power reserves dropped below the five percent mark. Congress is considering legislation that would deregulate the heavily government controlled power industry, a $230 billion a year sector.

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