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    Powell Says Fed Will Not Be a ‘Climate Policymaker’

    In a speech on Federal Reserve independence, Chair Jerome H. Powell emphasized that climate change should be addressed by elected officials.Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, said that to retain its independence from politics, the central bank must “stick to its knitting” — and that means it is not the right institution to delve into issues like mitigating climate change.“Without explicit congressional legislation, it would be inappropriate for us to use our monetary policy or supervisory tools to promote a greener economy or to achieve other climate-based goals,” said Mr. Powell, who delivered his comments at a conference held by Sweden’s central bank. “We are not, and will not be, a ‘climate policymaker.’”Mr. Powell’s comments responded to occasional calls from Democrats for the Fed to take a more active role in policing climate change, and to skepticism from some Republicans that it can guard against climate-related risks to the financial system without overstepping and actively influencing whether industries like oil and gas can access credit.While the central bank is working on ways to better monitor climate-related risks at financial institutions, officials including Mr. Powell have been clear that they should not try to incentivize banks to lend to green projects or discourage them from lending to carbon-producing ones.“Addressing climate change seems likely to require policies that would have significant distributional and other effects on companies, industries, regions, and nations,” Mr. Powell said in his remarks.Inflation F.A.Q.Card 1 of 5What is inflation? More

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    If There Is a ‘Male Malaise’ With Work, Could One Answer Be at Sea?

    Before dawn on a recent day in the port of Seattle, dense autumn fog hugged Puget Sound and ship-to-shore container cranes hovered over the docks like industrial sentinels. Under the dim glimmer of orange floodlights, the crew of the tugboat Millennium Falcon fired up her engines for a long day of towing oil barges and refueling a variety of large vessels, like container ships.The first thing to know about barges is that they don’t move themselves. They are propelled and guided by tugs like the Falcon, which is owned by Centerline Logistics, one of the largest U.S. transporters of marine petroleum. Such companies may not be household names, but the nation’s energy supply chain would have broken under the pandemic’s pressure without the steady presence of their fleets — and their crews.“We’re a floating gas station,” said Bowman Harvey, a director of operations at Centerline, as he stood aboard the Falcon, his neck tattoo of the Statue of Liberty pivoting from the base of his flannel whenever he gestured at a machine or busy colleague nearby. Demand is solid, he said, and the enterprise is profitable. The company’s client list, which includes Exxon Mobil and Maersk, the global shipping giant, is robust. But manning the fleet has become a struggle.Multiyear charter contracts for key lines of business — refueling ships, transporting fuel for refineries and general towing jobs — are locked in across all three coasts, plus Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico, Mr. Harvey said. Yet as pandemic-related staffing shortages have eased in other industries, Centerline is still short on staff. “Hands down,” Mr. Harvey said, “our biggest challenge right now is finding crew.”Safely moving, loading and unloading oil at sea requires both simple and high-skill jobs that cannot be automated. And the labor supply issues in merchant marine transportation are emblematic of the conundrum seen in a variety of decently paying, male-heavy jobs in the trades.Overall Labor Force Participation Has Fallen Among Men

    Note: The overall labor force, as defined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, includes all Americans age 16 and older who are classified as either working or actively looking for work.Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics By The New York TimesOver the past 50 years, male labor force participation, the share of men working or actively looking for work, has steadily fallen as female participation has climbed.Some scholars have a grim explanation for the trend. Nicholas Eberstadt, the conservative-leaning author of “Men Without Work,” argues that there has been a swell in men who are “inert, written off or discounted by society and, perhaps, all too often, even by themselves.” Others, like the Brookings Institution senior fellow Richard V. Reeves, put less emphasis on potential social pathologies but say a “male malaise” is hampering households and the economy.“Hands down, our biggest challenge right now is finding crew,” said Bowman Harvey, a director of operations at Centerline.Members of the Millennium Falcon crew.Centerline employees are among about 75,000 categorized by the Department of Labor as water transportation workers, a group in which men outnumber women five to one.The State of Jobs in the United StatesEconomists have been surprised by recent strength in the labor market, as the Federal Reserve tries to engineer a slowdown and tame inflation.October Jobs Report: U.S. employers continued to hire at a fast clip, adding 261,000 jobs in the 10th month of the year despite the Fed’s push to cool the economy.A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?: Employees seeking wage increases to cover their costs of living amid rising prices could set off a cycle in which fast inflation today begets fast inflation tomorrow.Disabled Workers: With Covid prompting more employers to consider remote arrangements, employment has soared among adults with disabilities.A Feast or Famine Career: America’s port truck drivers are a nearly-invisible yet crucial part of the global supply chain. And they are sinking into desperation.Though the gender split in the industry is more even for onshore office roles, workers and applicants for jobs on the water are predominantly male. Centerline says it has roughly 220 offshore crew members and about 35 openings. Captains and company managers agree that changing attitudes toward work among young men play a part in the labor shortage. But the strongest consensus opinion is that structural demographic shifts are against them. “We’re seeing a gray wave of retirement,” said Mr. Harvey, who is 38.Even though replacements are needed and, on the whole, lacking, there are new young recruits who are thriving, such as Noah Herrera Johnson, 19, who has joined Centerline as a cadet deckhand, an entry-level role.On a Thursday morning out in the harbor, Mr. Herrera Johnson deftly unknotted, flipped and refastened a series of sailing knots as the crew unmoored from a sister boat that was aiding the refueling of a Norwegian Cruise Line ship. A small crowd of curious cruise passengers peeked down as he bopped through the sequences and the sun’s glare began to pierce the fog, bouncing off the undulating waves.“I enjoy it a lot,” Mr. Herrera Johnson said of his work, as he sliced some meat in the galley later on. (Some kitchen work and cleaning are part of the gig and the fraternal ritual of paying dues.) “I get along with everyone — everyone has stories to tell,” he said. “And I was never good at school.”Mr. Herrera Johnson, who is Mexican American and whose mother is from Seattle, spent most of his life in Cabo San Lucas, in Baja California, until he moved back to the United States shortly after turning 18.Though entry-level roles aboard don’t require college credentials, new regulations have made at least briefly attending a vocational maritime academy a necessity for those who want to rise quickly up the crew ladder. Because he is interested in becoming a captain by his late 20s, he began a two-year program at the nearby Pacific Maritime Institute in March, and he earns course credits for work at Centerline between classes.Noah Herrera Johnson, left, preparing to throw a line to Andrew Nelson, right, as the Millennium Falcon docked in Seattle.Mr. Herrera Johnson, right, joined the Falcon crew as a cadet deckhand, an entry-level role.He got his “first tug” in May: an escapade from New Orleans through the Panama Canal to San Francisco, patched with some bad weather. “Two months, two long months — it was fun,” he said. “We had a few things going on. We lost steering a few times. But it was cool.”In short, the industry needs far more Noahs. Many Centerline employees have informally become part-time recruiters — handing out cards, encouraging seemingly capable young men who may be between jobs, undecided about college or disillusioned with the standard 9-to-5 existence to consider being a mariner instead.“When I’m trying to get friends or family members to come into the business,” Mr. Harvey said, “I make sure to remind them: Don’t think of this as a job, think of it as a lifestyle.”Internet connections aboard are common these days, and there is plenty of downtime for movies, TV, reading, cooking and joking around with sea mates. (On slow days, captains will sometimes do doughnuts in the water like victorious racecar drivers, turning the whole vessel into a Tilt-a-Whirl ride for the crew: sea legs required.)Of course, those leisurely moments punctuate days and nights of heaving lines, tying knots, making repairs, executing multiple refueling jobs and helping to navigate the tugboat: rain or shine, heat or heavy seas.It’s “an adventurous life,” Mr. Harvey said, one that he and others acknowledge has its pros and cons. Mariners in this sector — whether they are entry-level deckhands, midtier mates and engineers, or crew-leading tankermen and captains — are usually on duty at sea in tight quarters and bunk beds for a month or more.On the bright side, however, because of an “equal time” policy, full-time crew members are given roughly just as much time off for the same annual pay.“When I go home, you know, I’m taking essentially 35 days off,” said Capt. Ryan Buckhalter, 48, who’s been a mariner for 20 years. For many, it’s a refreshing work-life balance, he said: None of the nettlesome emails or nagging office politics in between shifts often faced by the average modern office worker trying to get ahead.Still, Captain Buckhalter, who has a wife and a young daughter, echoed other crew members when he admitted that the setup could also be “tough at times” for families, including his own.Capt. Ryan Buckhalter piloted the Millennium Falcon on Elliott Bay.A checklist in the wheelhouse of the tugboat.Crew members say they value knowing that their work, unlike more abstract service jobs, is essential to world trade. And average starting salaries for deckhand jobs are $55,000 a year (or about $26 an hour) and as high as $75,000 in places like the San Francisco area, with higher living costs.The company also offers low-cost health, vision and dental care for employees, and a 401(k) plan with a company match. So the chief executive, Matt Godden, said in an interview that he didn’t feel that wages or benefits were a central reason that his company and competitors with similar offerings had struggled to hire.“Right now a lot of companies are really hurting,” Captain Buckhalter said. “You kind of got a little gap here with the younger generation not really showing up.”If the labor market, like any other, operates by supply and demand, managers within the maritime industry say the supply side of the nation’s education and training system is also at fault: It has given priority to the digital over the physical economy, putting what are often called “the jobs of the future” over those society still needs.Mr. Harvey adds that his industry is also grappling with increased Coast Guard licensing requirements for skilled roles, like boat engineers or tankermen, who lead the loading and discharging of oil barges. The regulations help ensure physical and environmental safety standards, Mr. Harvey said, but reduce the already limited pool of adequately credentialed candidates.Women remain a rare sight aboard. Some captains make the case that this stems from hesitance toward a life of bunking and sharing a bathroom with a crop of guys at sea — a self-reinforcing dynamic that company officials say they are working to alleviate.“We actually do have women that work on the vessels!” said Kimberly Cartagena, the senior manager for marketing and public relations at Centerline. “Definitely not as much as men, but we do have a handful.”Several economists and industry analysts suggested in interviews that another way for companies like Centerline to add crew members would be to expand their digital presence and do social media outreach. Mr. Godden, Centerline’s chief executive, said he remained wary.“If you did something very simple, like you set up a TikTok account, and you sent somebody out every day to create varied little snippets, and you get viral videos of strong men pulling lines and big waves and big pieces of machinery,” Mr. Godden said, then a company would risk introducing an inefficient churn of young recruits who would “like the idea of being on a boat” but not be a fan of the unsexy “calluses” that come with the job.Crew members say they value knowing their work is essential to world trade. But in the long term, he said, there is reason for optimism. He pointed to the recent establishment of the Maritime High School, which opened a year ago just south of the Seattle-Tacoma airport with its first ninth-grade class.“I think their first class is looking to graduate a hundred people, and then they got goals of getting up to 300, 400 graduates a year,” Mr. Godden said. He has been meeting with the school’s leaders this fall and is convinced they will help create the next pipeline in the profession.“Yes, labor shortages may increase or decrease depending upon how the market works — but I always have this sense that there’s always going to be this sort of built-in group of folks who cannot — just cannot — stand seeing themselves sitting at a desk for 30, 40, 50 years,” he said. “It’s this hands-on business almost like, you know, when you’re a kid and you’re playing with trucks or toys, and then you get to do it in the life-size version.” More

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    David Lipton, Economic Diplomat, Will Step Down From Treasury

    Mr. Lipton, who served in senior roles in the Clinton and Obama administrations and at the I.M.F., is retiring.WASHINGTON — David A. Lipton, a longtime figure in the field of international economics, is stepping down on Wednesday from his job as international affairs counselor to Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen, according to two Treasury Department officials familiar with his plans.Mr. Lipton, one of Ms. Yellen’s closest aides, is departing at a critical moment for the global economy. He has become a key negotiator in some of Ms. Yellen’s biggest policy issues. He was deeply involved in international discussions about a global minimum tax last year and has been at the center of the talks among the Group of 7 nations to impose a cap on the price of Russian oil.An economist by training with a doctoral degree from Harvard, Mr. Lipton, 69, has held senior economic policymaking positions in the Clinton, Obama and Biden administrations. He was also a top official at the International Monetary Fund, where he served as the deputy managing director.Last year, Ms. Yellen recruited Mr. Lipton to return to the federal government to help steer the Treasury Department’s international portfolio while President Biden’s nominees to lead the international affairs division were awaiting Senate confirmation.In a statement, Ms. Yellen described Mr. Lipton as one of her closest advisers and lauded his career.The Biden PresidencyHere’s where the president stands after the midterm elections.Beating the Odds: President Biden had the best midterms of any president in 20 years, but he still faces the sobering reality of a Republican-controlled House.2024 Questions: Mr. Biden feels buoyant after the better-than-expected midterms, but as he turns 80, he confronts a decision on whether to run again that has some Democrats uncomfortable.The ‘Trump Project’: With Donald J. Trump’s announcement that he is officially running for president again, Mr. Biden and his advisers are planning to go on the offensive.Legislative Agenda: The Times analyzed every detail of Mr. Biden’s major legislative victories and his foiled ambitions. Here’s what we found.“He will be irreplaceable for the department, but I feel incredibly fortunate to have had his counsel in my first two years,” Ms. Yellen said. “During that time, David has helped shape our international agenda across a wide set of challenges — from the recovery from the pandemic to our response to Russia’s war against Ukraine.”Mr. Lipton first met Ms. Yellen while a graduate student at Harvard, where he took her introductory course in macroeconomics. Lawrence H. Summers, who would serve as Treasury secretary during the Clinton administration, was also in the class, and he and Mr. Lipton became friends.After graduating from Harvard with a Ph.D. in economics in 1982, Mr. Lipton joined the I.M.F., where he worked for eight years on assignments that involved stabilizing the economies of poor countries.In 1993, after a stint working with the economist Jeffrey D. Sachs advising Russia, Poland and Slovenia on their transitions to capitalism, Mr. Lipton joined the Clinton administration’s Treasury Department. He was recruited by Mr. Summers, who was then the deputy Treasury secretary under Robert E. Rubin. He initially focused on Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union before turning his attention to easing turmoil stemming from the Asian financial crisis in 1997.While President George W. Bush was in office, Mr. Lipton worked at Citigroup and at the hedge fund Moore Capital Management. He joined the Obama administration as an economic adviser. In 2011, Christine Lagarde named him her top deputy at the I.M.F. when the fund was spending billions of dollars to prop up Greece’s economy and as the economic tension between the United States and China was intensifying.Mr. Lipton’s second term at the monetary fund was cut short in 2020 when Kristalina Georgieva reshuffled its senior leadership. His position at the fund, which is usually decided by the United States, was filled by Geoffrey Okamoto, a former Trump administration official.A longtime proponent of the benefits of a global economy and multilateralism, Ms. Yellen persuaded Mr. Lipton to join her team as the Biden administration sought to mend international relationships that had been frayed during the Trump era.“David Lipton has been an insufficiently sung hero of the international financial system for the last 30 years,” Mr. Summers said in a text message. “His quiet strength and wisdom both prevented and resolved numerous crises.”Mr. Lipton, who grew up in Wayland, Mass., was a star wrestler in high school, serving as a co-captain for two years. At Harvard, he and Mr. Summers bonded over squash and economics.During remarks introducing Mr. Lipton at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in 2016, Mr. Summers described his former classmate as an economic “fireman in chief” who maintained a “keep hope alive” attitude when economic diplomacy got tough.Known for a dry wit that belies his earnest demeanor, Mr. Lipton expressed appreciation for the high praise but recalled that when he met Mr. Summers on the first day of school he initially had his doubts.“After talking to Larry for about 15 minutes, my reaction was, ‘If they’re all like that, I’m really in trouble,’” Mr. Lipton joked. More

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    Chinese Unrest Over Lockdown Upends Global Economic Outlook

    Growing protests in the world’s biggest manufacturing nation add a new element of uncertainty atop the Ukraine war, an energy crisis and inflation.The swelling protests against severe pandemic restrictions in China — the world’s second-largest economy — are injecting a new element of uncertainty and instability into the global economy when nations are already struggling to manage the fallout from a war in Ukraine, an energy crisis and painful inflation.For years, China has served as the world’s factory and a vital engine of global growth, and turmoil there cannot help but ripple elsewhere. Analysts warn that more unrest could further slow the production and distribution of integrated circuits, machine parts, household appliances and more. It may also encourage companies in the United States and Europe to disengage from China and more quickly diversify their supply chains.Millions of China’s citizens have chafed under a tight lockdown for months as the Communist Party seeks to overcome the spread of the Covid-19 virus, three years after its emergence. Anger turned to widespread protest after an apartment fire last week killed 10 people and comments on social media questioned whether the lockdown had prevented their escape.It is unclear whether the demonstrations flaring across the country will be quickly snuffed out or erupt into broader resistance to the iron rule of its top leader, Xi Jinping, but so far the most significant economic damage stems from the lockdown.“The biggest economic hit is coming from the zero-Covid policies,” said Carl Weinberg, chief economist at High Frequency Economics, a research firm. “I don’t see the protests themselves being a game changer.”“The world will still turn to China for what it makes best and cheapest,” he added.Police officers during a protest in Beijing on Sunday.Kevin Frayer/Getty ImagesAsked how the Biden administration assessed the economic fallout from the latest unrest, John Kirby, coordinator for strategic communications at the National Security Council, said Monday, “We don’t see any particular impact right now to the supply chain.”Concerns about the economic impact of the spreading unrest in China, nonetheless, appeared to be partly responsible for a decline in world markets. The S&P 500 index closed 1.5 percent lower, while the dollar, often a haven in turbulent times, moved higher. Oil prices began the day with a sharp drop before rebounding.The sheer magnitude of China’s economy and resources makes it a critical player in world commerce. “It’s extremely central to the global economy,” said Kerry Brown, an associate fellow in the Asia-Pacific program at Chatham House, an international affairs institute in London. That uncertainty “will have a massive impact on the rest on the world.”China now surpasses all countries as the biggest importer of petroleum. It manufactured nearly 30 percent of the world’s goods in 2021. “There is simply no alternative to what China offers in terms of scale and capacities,” Mr. Brown said.Delays and shortages related to the pandemic prompted many industries to re-evaluate the resilience of their supply chains and consider additional sources of raw materials and workers. Apple, which recently announced that it expected sales to decline because of stoppages at its Chinese plants, is one of several tech companies that have shifted a small portion of their production to other countries, like Vietnam or India.The tilt by some companies away from China predates the pandemic, reaching back to former President Donald J. Trump’s determination to start a trade war with China, a move that resulted in a spiral of punishing tariffs.Yet even if business and political leaders want to be less reliant on China, Mr. Brown said, “the brute reality is that’s not going to happen soon, if at all.”“We shouldn’t kid ourselves that we can quickly decouple,” he added.China’s size is a lure for American, European and other companies looking not only to make products quickly and cheaply, but also to sell them in great numbers. There is simply no other market as big.Tesla, John Deere and Volkswagen are among the companies that have bet on China for future growth, but they are likely to suffer some setbacks at least in the short run. Volkswagen announced last week that its sales in China had stagnated this year, running 14 percent below expectations.A Volkswagen stand at the Auto Shanghai trade show last year. Volkswagen is one of the companies counting on the Chinese market for sales growth.Alex Plavevski/EPA, via ShutterstockThe protests highlight the political risks associated with investing in China, but analysts say the recent wave doesn’t reveal anything that investors didn’t already know.“Many investors will be looking ahead and positioning their portfolios now for the reopening,” said Nigel Green, chief executive of deVere Group, a financial advisory firm. They will be “seeking to take advantage of the country’s transition from an export economy to a consumption one,” he added.Luxury brands continue to stake their future on growth in China.As interconnected as the global economy is, one way in which China’s slowdown may be helping other nations is by keeping down the price of energy. Over the last 20 years, the growth of the Chinese economy has been a primary driver of global demand for oil and hydrocarbons in general.Energy experts say rising numbers of Covid infections and growing doubts that China will ease restrictions in major cities are a major reason that oil prices have dropped over the last three weeks to levels last seen before the Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February.“Chinese demand is the largest single factor in world oil demand,” said David Goldwyn, a senior energy diplomat in the Obama administration. “China is the swing demander.”As the Chinese economy has softened in the grip of the Covid lockdown, fewer oil tankers have sailed into Chinese ports in recent weeks, forcing the major Middle Eastern and Russian oil producers to lower their prices. Now spreading protests create another uncertainty about future demand.Chinese oil demand is expected to average 15.1 million barrels a day this quarter, down from 15.8 million a year ago, according to Kpler, an analytics firm.Barriers at a security checkpoint in Guangzhou, a southern Chinese manufacturing hub, this month.Associated PressAs for supply chain disruptions, Neil Shearing, chief economist at Capital Economics, a research firm, said he thought excessive blame had been heaped on China. “Everything has been framed around supply shortages,” he said, but in China, industrial production increased during the pandemic. The problem was that global demand surged more.For now, the biggest economic impact will be within China, rather than on the global economy. Sectors that depend on face-to-face contact — retail, hospitality, entertainment — will take the biggest hit. Over the past three days, measures of people’s movements have drastically fallen, Mr. Shearing said.He added that more people were quarantined now than at the height of the Omicron epidemic last winter. The wave of infections and the government’s response to it — not the protests — are what’s having “the biggest impact on China’s economy,” he said.Clifford Krauss More

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    Price of Diesel, Which Powers the Economy, Is Still Climbing

    Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is one reason that the fuel is scarce. Another is a series of yearslong, intertwined events that cover the globe.HOUSTON — Gasoline prices have dropped as much as a dollar a gallon since early summer, easing a financial strain on many people. But the price of diesel, the fuel that moves trucks, trains, barges, tractors and construction equipment, has remained stubbornly high, helping to prop up the prices of many goods and services.On Wednesday, a gallon of diesel fuel in the United States cost $5.357 on average, according to AAA. That was down from a record of $5.816 in June but well above the $3.642 it cost a year ago. (A gallon of regular gasoline now averages $3.805.)The surge in diesel costs has not garnered the attention from politicians and the public that the jump in gasoline prices did, because most of the cars in the United States run on gas. But diesel prices are a critical source of pain for the economy because they affect the cost of practically every product.“The economic impact is insidious because everything moves across the country powered by diesel,” said Tom Kloza, the global head of energy analysis at the Oil Price Information Service. “It’s an inflation accelerant, and the consumer ultimately has to pay for it.”Sherri Garner Brumbaugh, the president of Garner Trucking in Findlay, Ohio, said the weekly cost of fueling one of her heavy-duty trucks in September was $1,300, more than double the $600 she paid two years earlier. “A good portion gets passed onto my customers with a fuel surcharge,” she said.Both gasoline and diesel prices are tied to the price of oil, which is set on the global market. The price of each fuel immediately shot up after Russia invaded Ukraine in February. But their paths have diverged sharply. Over the last year, the cost of diesel has ballooned by over 40 percent, compared with 11 percent for gasoline.Diesel prices are high because the fuel is scarce worldwide, including in the United States, which in recent years became a net exporter of oil and petroleum products. Oil analysts said there were simply not enough refineries to meet the demand for diesel, especially after Russia’s energy exports fell when the United States, Britain and some other countries stopped buying them.Diesel inventories are always a bit low in the spring and fall, during agricultural planting and harvesting seasons, but this fall supplies are at their lowest level since 1982, when the government began reporting data on the fuel.The tightest market is in the Northeast, where oil refineries have closed in recent years and where the diesel crunch is complicated by winter demand for heating oil. The two fuels are virtually the same but are taxed differently. An especially cold winter could make the situation worse by increasing the demand for heating oil.In Massachusetts, for example, diesel is selling for more than $5.90 a gallon (about $2.33 more than it did a year earlier). In Texas, it costs $4.73 a gallon.Trucks, trains, barges, tractors and construction equipment all use diesel, and its price affects the cost of practically every product.Jim Watson/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesWhile Russia’s war in Ukraine sent diesel prices soaring, the current situation is partly the result of an interconnected, slow-building series of events that extends across the globe. Some analysts trace the roots of the U.S. diesel shortage to a fire at Philadelphia Energy Solutions in 2019, which forced the refinery to shut down, taking out one of the Northeast’s important diesel producers.But refineries have been closing elsewhere. Over the last several years, 5 percent of U.S. refinery capacity, and 6 percent of European refinery capacity, has been shut down. A few refineries closed or scaled back because of the collapse in energy demand in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic. Some older refineries were shut down because they were inefficient and their profits weren’t large enough for Wall Street investors. Other refineries were closed so that their owners could convert them to produce biofuels, which are made from plants, waste and other organic material.“Because we shut those refineries down, we don’t have enough capacity,” said Sarah Emerson, the president of ESAI Energy, a consulting firm.As much of the global economy recovered in 2021 and 2022, demand for diesel climbed quickly. But then, after Russia invaded Ukraine, the Biden administration banned Russian oil and petroleum imports, which amounted to 700,000 barrels of diesel and other fuels a day, much of it intended for the Northeast.Diesel prices have also soared so much higher than the cost of gasoline in part because of a decision by the International Maritime Organization several years ago to require most oceangoing ships to replace their high-sulfur bunker fuel with less polluting fuels starting in 2020. That has slowly increased demand for diesel over the last two years.“A substantial amount of diesel is needed in the new bunker blends, and that is a hidden demand for diesel molecules,” said Richard Joswick, the head of global oil analysis for S&P Global Platts. He estimated that the global shipping fleet was now consuming half a million barrels of diesel a day, or roughly 2 percent of the world’s supplies.At the same time, while American refiners are now making tidy profits, 30 percent of their production is being exported. Latin America has become a particularly profitable market, as American diesel replaces fuel from Venezuela, where the state-controlled oil sector has been hobbled by corruption, mismanagement and U.S. sanctions. Some American diesel also goes to Europe.The impact of exports on domestic prices has led some analysts to speculate that the Biden administration could eventually restrict exports to boost supplies at home. But energy experts said that might not have the desired effect because diesel had become a globally traded commodity. Denying Latin America fuel could also backfire because many countries in the region sell crude oil to the United States.“We have a symbiotic relationship with Latin America on diesel and crude,” said Ms. Emerson of ESAI Energy. “We can disrupt that, but it doesn’t immediately fix the problem.”The global diesel shortage was also exacerbated by labor strikes at French refineries this fall. And utilities in Europe have been stockpiling diesel in case they cannot find enough natural gas to fuel their power plants.Russian diesel has continued to flow to Europe since the war began, but stricter sanctions that the European Union plans to impose on Russia in February could potentially cause havoc to the diesel business of traders, banks, insurance companies and shippers.Still, some energy experts said prices could soon begin to ease.Help may be on the way from an unlikely source: China. In recent months, China has been loosening export controls on diesel. Its exports rose from 200,000 barrels a day in August to 430,000 barrels a day in September, and the country has the capacity to sell even more, according to estimates by ESAI Energy.Nearly a third of Chinese diesel exports went to the Netherlands in recent months, taking some pressure off the European market. And oil refineries being built in Kuwait and China could come online as early as next year, further increasing supply.Demand for diesel and its price could also fall if much of the world slides into a recession next year, as some economists and policymakers are expecting.“A deep recession would certainly cut into diesel demand,” said Mr. Joswick of S&P Global Platts. “We don’t forecast a recession, but that is certainly a possibility.” More

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    How Finnair’s Huge Bet on Faster Flights to Asia Suddenly Came Undone

    Nestled near Europe’s rooftop, Finland spent decades leveraging its location to become a popular gateway for Asian travelers. Its flagship airline, Finnair, offered flights from Tokyo, Seoul and Shanghai to Helsinki that, by crossing over Russia, were hours shorter than flights to any other European capital. Airport chiefs invested nearly $1 billion in a new terminal with streamlined transfers. There were signs in Japanese, Korean and Chinese, and hot water dispensers for the instant noodle packets favored by Chinese tourists.Then Russia sent troops across Ukraine’s border on Feb. 24, and overnight the carefully constructed game table was overturned.Russia closed its airspace to most European carriers in response to bans on Russian planes. What was once a nine-hour flight to Helsinki when routed over Russia’s 3,000-mile expanse would now take 13 hours and as much as 40 percent more fuel because it had to swoop around borders.Finnair’s competitive advantage as the fastest connection from Asia and a travel hub for Europe vanished in a wisp.The sudden disintegration of Finnair’s business model is part of the wide-ranging economic upheaval that the war in Ukraine is causing for businesses around the globe.Companies that invested or traded heavily with Russia were immediately affected, and more than 1,000 have withdrawn operations from Russia, according to a database compiled by the Yale School of Management.Juho Kuva for The New York TimesNearly $1 billion was spent to build a terminal in the Helsinki, Finland, airport to streamline transfers for passengers from outside Europe.When Russia closed its airspace, Finnair could no longer pitch itself as the fastest connection from Asia.“The Asia strategy had been 20 years in the making,” Topi Manner, Finnair’s chief executive, said.High energy prices have blitzed a wider range. The Hungarian Opera House’s Erkel Theater will temporarily close because it cannot pay its energy bill. Hakle, one of the largest manufacturers of toilet paper in Germany, declared insolvency because of soaring energy costs, while ceramic, glass, chemical, fertilizer and other factories across Europe have been forced to scale back or shut down.The snack food industry, unable to get sufficient supplies of sunflower oil from Ukraine, has had to scramble for substitutes like palm oil, forcing manufacturers to rejigger supply chains, production and labeling, since they could no longer boast that their products were “nonallergenic” and “non-G.M.O.”The closed airspace caused Japan Airlines and ANA to cancel flights to Europe. And this month Virgin Atlantic said it was ceasing all traffic to and from Hong Kong because of Russia’s ban. For Finnair, though, the fallout has been extreme.“The Asia strategy had been 20 years in the making,” Topi Manner, Finnair’s chief executive, said from the company’s headquarters, next to the Helsinki terminal in Vantaa. Services were tailored to meet the tastes of its Asian customers. Half of its in-flight movies are dubbed or subtitled in Japanese, Korean and Chinese. Meal offerings include crispy chicken in Chinese garlic and oyster sauce and Korean-style stir-fried pork in spicy sauce with bok choy and steamed rice. The airline’s ground staff in Helsinki are fluent in the region’s native languages.Market Square in central Helsinki.Before the coronavirus pandemic, half of the airline’s revenue was generated by travelers from Asia. Passengers that used Helsinki as a hub to transfer to other destinations accounted for 60 percent of the revenue.But with “no end in sight” to the war, Mr. Manner said, the airline’s management quickly concluded “that Russian airspace will remain closed to European carriers for a long time and we need to adapt to that reality.”This summer, Finnair operated 76 flights between Helsinki and Asia, compared to 198 in the summer of 2019. Overall, the airline is going at 68 percent of its capacity. Operating losses in the first half of this year amounted to 217 million euros.“We really have to regroup,” Mr. Manner said.In some respects, Finnair has been regrouping ever since the pandemic hit in early 2020 and virtually halted world travel. China’s “zero Covid” policy, which continued to lock down Shanghai and other major cities this year, sharply reduced East-West traffic, hampering Finnair’s recovery compared with airlines that have large domestic markets or operate in other regions. Finnair, half of which is owned by the government, fought to survive by furloughing employees, cutting costs and raising 3 billion euros in new financing.Juho Kuva for The New York TimesThe new terminal was expected to draw 30 million passengers by 2030, a projection that has been thrown out by the uncertainty now facing Finnair’s Asia strategy.The project aimed to improve services for the connecting passengers from Asia who would never leave the airport.A 2017 publicity campaign by the state-owned company that runs Finland’s terminals primarily targeted customers from China.“We created a path through the pandemic,” Mr. Manner said, but it always was intended to lead “back to the Asia strategy.”No longer. Last month, the company officially announced an about-face.“We started to pivot our network toward the West,” Mr. Manner said, expanding its partnership with American Airlines, British Airways and other carriers. In the spring, it launched four new weekly flights from Dallas-Fort Worth and three from Seattle. New routes from Helsinki to Stockholm, Copenhagen, Mumbai, India, and Doha, Qatar, have also been unveiled. As jet fuel prices skyrocket, the airline is also renting out planes and crews to other airlines, and it plans to shrink the size of its fleet and staff, and to slash costs.Finnair, which has lost 1.3 billion euros over the past three years, said it hoped to return to profitability in 2024.“It will take some time before the company gets to see if this is the right decision,” said Jaakko Tyrväinen, an airline analyst with SEB, a Nordic financial services group.For the new Helsinki terminal — which opened in June — a strategy shift was also needed.Central Helsinki.An estimated 30 million passengers were expected by 2030, up from the nearly 22 million that the existing terminals handled in 2019. Those projections are now irrelevant, and airport officials say the situation is too uncertain to make any meaningful update to that figure. Next year, 15 million travelers are expected to pass through.Perhaps more pointedly, the project, begun nearly a decade ago, was designed to improve services for transfer passengers from Asia — a majority of whom would never leave the airport.A multimedia publicity campaign that Finavia, the state-owned company that runs the country’s airline terminals, rolled out in 2017 for Helsinki airport — code letters HEL — primarily targeted customers from China. With a nod to the 2004 film “The Terminal,” the campaign, “Life in HEL,” featured Ryan Jhu, a popular Chinese actor and social media influencer, living for a month in the terminal.Now, Helsinki has an expansive new terminal dedicated to non-European transfer traffic but very few travelers.Juho Kuva for The New York TimesThe project to build the new terminal was begun nearly a decade ago.The spacious aukio, or meeting plaza, includes a wraparound video installation depicting Finnish landscapes.The upshot to the changes forced upon Finnair is vastly fewer connecting passengers in a terminal designed for them.On a recent weekday afternoon, the long, snaking lanes created to handle crowds at passport control were deserted. The spacious aukio, or meeting plaza, where passengers could sit and watch a wraparound video installation depicting Finnish landscapes, hosted a lone woman with a backpack. Moomin Shop, which sells merchandise related to the Finnish cartoon characters — particularly popular with Japanese visitors — had no customers. The Moomin cafe, farther down the main hallway, was mostly deserted.“Mornings are normally slow,” said Liccely Del Carpio, who works at the Moomin store, adding that business often picks up later in the afternoon. “All in all, it’s been OK.”The European terminal was bustling, but most of the shops and cafes that stretched along this terminal’s long hall were empty. Several other spaces were unleased or shuttered.Sami Kiiskinen, the vice president of airport development at Finavia, said that the hundreds of millions of euros in loans used to construct the airport would ultimately be repaid, but that “the schedule of paybacks must be reconsidered.” Negotiations are happening, he said.Yet, despite the likelihood that the war in Ukraine will drag on and Russian airspace will remain closed to European traffic, Mr. Kiiskinen is optimistic.“We still believe in our strategy,” he said. Major infrastructure developments like airports are designed on a 50-year horizon, he said. “Putin is not going to be there forever.”Juho Kuva for The New York TimesOn a recent weekday afternoon, a cafe branded for Moomin merchandise, cartoon characters popular with Japanese visitors, was mostly deserted.Sami Kiiskinen of Finavia, which runs the terminal, acknowledged the problems facing the project’s finances but remained optimistic over the long run: “Putin is not going to be there forever.”The new terminal at the Helsinki airport is just one of numerous commercial ventures across Europe that have been affected by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. More