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President Biden is closer than ever to announcing an executive order to forgive some student loan debt. We’ll also look at the latest inflation figures, trouble seizing Russian assets and new sanctions on North Korea.
 

But first, the photos of the week. 

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

Programming note: On the Money will not publish on Monday, May 30, in observance of Memorial Day. Enjoy the holiday weekend!

Biden zeroes in on canceling $10K in student loans 

President Biden is nearing a decision on student loan debt forgiveness, with the president and his team zeroing in on canceling $10,000 per borrower, with some potential caveats. 

Multiple reports indicated Biden considered using the weekend commencement ceremonies to announce some student debt forgiveness, with The Washington Post reporting the timing was changed in the wake of a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that left 19 children dead. A White House official disputed that was the case, however. 

  • White House officials cautioned no decision has been finalized as Biden continues to weigh his options.  
  • The president is scheduled to speak at the Naval Academy’s commencement ceremony on Friday and at the University of Delaware’s ceremony on Saturday. 

Multiple sources told The Hill in late April that Biden was looking at canceling at least $10,000 in student debt, and indications are the White House appears to have settled on that number even as they work through potential limits on who the loan cancellation would benefit. 

The Hill’s Brett Samuels has the latest here. 

PEAK INFLATION?  

Prices rose at slightly slower rate in April, new data shows 

Consumer prices grew at slower yearly and monthly rates in April, according to data released Friday by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. 

  • The personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index, the Federal Reserve’s preferred gauge of inflation, rose 6.3 percent in the 12 months ending in April, down from a 6.6 percent annual inflation rate in March. 
  • The index rose 0.2 percent in April alone, well below the 0.9 percent monthly gain from March. 
  • Without food and energy prices, which tend to be more volatile, the PCE price index rose 4.9 percent annually in April and 0.3 percent between March and April.  

The data was largely in line with economists’ expectations. 

“This is a small step in the right direction, but inflation remains comfortably above the Fed’s target. The good news for the Fed is that most measures of long-term inflation expectations remain consistent with the Fed’s target,” wrote Ryan Sweet, senior director at Moody’s Analytics, in a Friday analysis. 

Sylvan breaks it down here

SECRECY LAWS 

US fights its own secrecy laws to pursue Russian assets 

Some of the biggest obstacles for investigators going after Russian assets amid the country’s now three-month-long invasion of Ukraine are the legal mechanisms for preserving anonymity that are built into the U.S. tax and financial code.  

The most powerful of these rules is the designation known as beneficial ownership, which allows asset owners to remain unregistered on legal documents as long as they name a third party to act on their behalf. 

  • That means beneficial ownership laws can allow billions of dollars’ worth of illicit property to remain invisible to financial investigators.  
  • They’re also one of the main reasons the U.S. now ranks above Switzerland and the Cayman Islands as the most financially secretive country in the world, according to a list published this month by the Tax Justice Network, a U.K.-based nonprofit. 

The Hill’s Tobias Burns has more here

SANCTIONS

US sanctions North Korea in response to latest missile launches 

The Treasury Department will freeze the assets of two North Korean banks, one individual and a trading company working with the country’s rocket ministry following the May 24 launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile and two shorter-range missiles by North Korea. 

The sanctions target supporters of the country’s weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs, as well as foreign financial institutions that “have knowingly provided significant financial services” to the North Korean government, Brian Nelson, head of the Treasury Department’s terrorism and financial intelligence division, said in a statement. 

  • The property of import-export company Air Koryo as well as an individual named Jong Yong Nam were frozen by the order from Treasury for their role in trying to procure “transistors and hydraulic system components” for the North Korean state rocket industry. 
  • The order, administered by the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control, “blocks the property of persons engaged in [WMD] proliferation activities and their support networks.” 

Check out more here from The Hill’s Tobias Burns. 

Good to Know

Soaring gas prices have Americans bracing for an expensive Memorial Day weekend, the traditional start of the summer when vacation-related travel typically spikes.  

Despite the increases — last week, every state had gas prices over $4 for the first time ever — AAA is predicting travel for the three-day weekend will return to near pre-pandemic levels. 

Here’s what else have our eye on: 

  • A group of Senate Democrats asked Apple and Google to prohibit apps available in their app stores from using data mining practices to target people seeking abortion services in letters sent to the tech giants Friday. 
  • Delta Air Lines on Thursday announced that it will cut 100 flights from its daily schedule, primarily in the U.S. and Latin America, as the airline business continues to reel from high petroleum prices and supply chain disruptions. 

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 next week. 

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