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The stock market had a really bad day after a major retailer missed their earnings target and raised concerns about the future of the economy. We’ll also look at President Biden facing more pressure to go bold on student loan forgiveness and a push to lift tariffs on China. 

But first, catch up on the results from Tuesday night’s primary elections

Welcome to On The Money, your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line. For The Hill, we’re Sylvan Lane, Aris Folley and Karl Evers-Hillstrom. Someone forward you this newsletter? Subscribe here.

Dow plunges in worst day since March 2020 

Stocks plunged Wednesday as deepening concern about the economic impact of high inflation and rising interest rates drove the Dow Jones Industrial Average to its worst day since March 2020. 

  • The Dow closed with a loss of 1,161 points, dropping 3.6 percent Wednesday for its steepest one-day drop since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.  
  • The S&P 500 closed 4 percent lower and the Nasdaq closed 4.7 percent lower Wednesday. 

“The Charlie Brown shirt market continues, with big moves up and down seemingly every day,” said Ryan Detrick, chief market strategist at LPL Financial. 

“Worries over inflation and a hawkish Fed are nothing new, but now add in worries over profit margins and the impact of inflation on the consumer and you have the recipe for a big down day,” Detrick added. 

What happened: Target shares fell 25 percent Wednesday after the company reported earnings well below Wall Street analysts’ expectations. The retail giant blamed high gas prices, soaring transportation costs and rising employee compensation for its earnings shortfall, following similarly disappointing earnings reports from Walmart and Amazon earlier in the month. 

Shares of Walmart, Amazon, Macy’s, Dollar General and Best Buy also saw steep Wednesday declines, though no sector was spared from the market’s deep sell-off. 

The big picture: Wednesday marked a new low for a stock market in steady decline since the start of the year. While the U.S. economy remains strong by many measures, stock prices have fallen over concerns about the combined impact of high inflation, rising interest rates and a series of obstacles to the Federal Reserve’s fight to stabilize prices. 

Sylvan breaks it down here

LEADING THE DAY 

Warnock says he’s meeting with Biden to push for student loan forgiveness 

Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) on Wednesday said he’ll be meeting with President Biden to push for student loan debt forgiveness that will be enough “to actually make a difference.” 

“I’m meeting with the president later today, and I’m going to push him on this issue. Everywhere I go in Georgia, students and families talk to me about the crush of student debt,” Warnock told The Hill. “And, in this time in which I’m focused on providing relief for families that are feeling the pressure, this couldn’t come sooner.” 

  • Warnock confirmed Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) will also be in attendance at the meeting, following reporting last week that the three reached out to the White House on the matter. 
  • Warren said she is still calling on the White House to set its sights higher, after sources said last month that Biden was considering using executive action to approve at least $10,000 in forgiveness per borrower. Warnock also backed those calls ahead of the meeting on Wednesday, saying: “We certainly need to do more than $10,000.” 
  • Biden supported canceling at least $10,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower during his 2020 presidential campaign, though many in his party have called for him to go further or wipe out the debt entirely. 

According to The Washington Post, the White House has also been looking at applying limits to borrowers eligible for potential forgiveness by income, as Republicans went into attack mode over the forgiveness, which they argue is unfair and will be an extra burden to taxpayers. 

Pressed by reporters about his stance on means testing Wednesday, Warnock said he’d be “open” to the idea. 

Aris has more here

TARIFF RELIEF? 

Retailers press Biden to lift China tariffs to fight inflation 

The National Retail Federation (NRF) on Wednesday urged President Biden to reduce or eliminate tariffs on Chinese goods as a way to help combat red-hot inflation.   

The lobbying group claimed that lifting tariffs on Chinese goods first imposed by the Trump administration could reduce consumer prices by as much as 1.3 percent. 

“Consumers and businesses continue to feel the pain of higher prices across the board from everyday goods and services to rent and groceries and gas,” NRF President Matthew Shay wrote in a letter to Biden. “Removing the harmful China 301 tariff will alleviate some of the inflationary pressure on the U.S. economy.” 

  • The letter comes as Biden administration officials debate whether to provide tariff relief to consumers who are feeling the effects of 40-year high inflation.  
  • While Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is pushing the White House to drop or reduce some of its China tariffs, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai has defended the tariffs as a way to crack down on China’s trade practices.  

Karl has more here

AMAZON UNDER FIRE 

New York accuses Amazon of discriminating against pregnant, disabled workers 

New York state’s human rights watchdog filed a complaint against Amazon on Wednesday, accusing the e-commerce giant of discriminating against pregnant and disabled workers. 

“My administration will hold any employer accountable, regardless of how big or small, if they do not treat their workers with the dignity and respect they deserve,” Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) said in statement.  

“New York has the strongest worker protections in the nation and was one of the first to have protections for workers who are pregnant and those with disabilities,” she added. 

The charges:  

  • The complaint alleges that Amazon, which employs nearly 40,000 New Yorkers, has not reasonably accommodated pregnant or disabled workers who may need their job duties to be modified. 
  • It also claims that Amazon accommodations policy forces some disabled employees to take unpaid medical leave even when in-house staffers determine they could do their jobs with some accommodations. 

Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said that “Ensuring all our employees, including those with disabilities and expectant mothers, feel safe and supported is extremely important” to the company. 

Read more from The Hill’s Chris Mills Rodrigo. 

Good to Know

Entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said that he supports a reported proposal by President Biden to cancel at least $10,000 in student loans per borrower. 

However, Cuban added that he believes the more urgent problem to address is ensuring that universities and colleges cannot continue to charge “ridiculous” fees. 

Here’s what else we have our eye on: 

  • White House officials told a group of Democratic senators this week that the Biden administration is working to temper the uncertainty associated with a federal investigation of solar panel manufacturers
  • Google’s subsidiary in Russia has filed for bankruptcy amid Moscow’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.  
  • Gas prices surpassed $4 in every state for the first time Tuesday, according to data released by AAA. 

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading and check out The Hill’s Finance page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow. 

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