What’s Up? (Sept. 12-18)
Civilians in Space
A SpaceX rocket carrying four Americans blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday. The orbital spaceflight was the first to carry only passengers who weren’t professional astronauts, a milestone for the space tourism industry. In addition to SpaceX, which Elon Musk founded, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic plan to offer commercial spaceflights. But the latest flight differed from the short jaunts that Mr. Bezos and Mr. Branson took to space in July. The crew orbited the planet for three days.
The First Draft on Taxes
House Democrats on Monday released a plan for financing President Biden’s $3.5 trillion proposal to strengthen the social safety net — or at least some of it. The proposed tax measures could raise as much as $2.9 trillion over 10 years, but stop short of more aggressive measures previously proposed by Mr. Biden and Senate Democrats. Included in the plan: an increase in the top tax rate for married couples who have a taxable income over $450,000 and single people who make more than $400,000, to 39.6 percent from 37 percent; an increase in the top capital gains rate to 25 percent from 20 percent; a new surtax of 3 percent for Americans with an adjusted gross income above $5 million; and a graduated rate structure that would raise taxes for larger companies and cut them for small businesses. Progressive senators criticized the plan for targeting income rather than wealth. The approach aims at the very rich instead of those with vast fortunes.
The Latest From Apple
Apple introduced new versions of its iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch on Tuesday. Its prices for these products remained mostly the same, as did most of the devices themselves. The company hopes that by adding features and making slight design improvements, customers will keep buying its products. The new iPhones have brighter screens, longer battery life and more powerful cameras and computer processors, but largely perform like last year’s models. The Apple Watch has a larger display area and changes to make it more durable, and the iPad lineup got a more significant update. So far the strategy is working: iPhone sales have exploded during the pandemic.
What’s Next? (Sept. 19-25)
The Debate About Booster Shots
Last month, President Biden announced a plan to offer a third shot of Covid-19 vaccine to most Americans as early as Sept. 20. But the plan has been in flux as scientists debated whether booster shots are necessary. The administration already delayed plans to offer boosters to recipients of the Moderna vaccine after regulators said they needed more time to decide the proper dosage for the third shot. On Friday, advisers to the Food and Drug Administration, the agency responsible for authorizing vaccines, unanimously recommended a booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine for Pfizer vaccine recipients who are 65 or older or at high risk of severe Covid-19. Earlier Friday, the advisory panel voted against a broader recommendation that the booster shot be available to people 16 and older. Although the F.D.A. is not required to follow its advisers’ recommendations, it typically does. The agency is expected to make a decision in the coming days.
Signals From the Fed
The Federal Reserve meets this week to discuss monetary policy, and this meeting could be an important one. Many economists expect the Fed to reveal details about how and when it plans to begin winding down its bond-buying program, one of several policies it created to reduce the economic impact of the pandemic. John C. Williams, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, hinted this month that the central bank might begin the process before the end of the year, even if job market gains slow. The Fed will also release new economic projections, which will signal how much and how quickly it expects high inflation to fade.
Market Treads Lightly
After a streak of record highs, the stock market has looked more indecisive this month. That’s understandable, given big questions that are likely to be answered in the coming weeks, including whether the Fed will begin pulling back its economic support, whether Congress will raise the federal borrowing limit before a potential default and the final details of the infrastructure spending package — and how it will be funded.
Senator Elizabeth Warren asked the Fed to break up Wells Fargo. Walmart will begin testing a self-driving delivery service with Ford Motor. People in the United States are spending $40 billion a year on bird-watching. And the 73rd Emmy Awards for the best television programs airs this Sunday on CBS.
Read More: The Week in Business: A Milestone in Space Tourism