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    Few Chinese Electric Cars Are Sold in U.S., but Industry Fears a Flood

    Automakers in the United States and their supporters welcomed President Biden’s tariffs, saying they would protect domestic manufacturing and jobs from cheap Chinese vehicles.The Biden administration’s new tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles won’t have a huge immediate impact on American consumers or the car market because very few such cars are sold in the United States.But the decision reflects deep concern within the American automotive industry, which has grown increasingly worried about China’s ability to churn out cheap electric vehicles. American automakers welcomed the decision by the Biden administration on Tuesday to impose a 100 percent tariff on electric vehicles from China, saying those vehicles would undercut billions of dollars of investment in electric vehicle and battery factories in the United States.“Today’s announcement is a necessary response to combat the Chinese government’s unfair trade practices that endanger the future of our auto industry,” Senator Gary Peters, a Michigan Democrat, said in a statement. “It will help level the playing field, keep our auto industry competitive and support good-paying, union jobs here at home.”On Tuesday, President Biden announced a series of new and increased tariffs on certain Chinese-made goods, including a 25 percent duty on steel and aluminum and 50 percent levies on semiconductors and solar panels. The tariff on electric vehicles made in China was quadrupled from 25 percent. Chinese lithium-ion batteries for electric cars will now face a 25 percent tariff, up from 7.5 percent.The United States imports only a few makes — electric or gasoline — from China. One is the Polestar 2, an electric vehicle made in China by a Swedish automaker in which the Chinese company Zhejiang Geely has a controlling stake. In a statement, Polestar said it was evaluating the impact of Mr. Biden’s announcement.“We believe that free trade is essential to speed up the transition to more sustainable mobility through increased E.V. adoption,” the company said.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Fed Chair’s Confidence in Slowing Inflation Is ‘Not as High’ as Before

    Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, said the central bank was poised to leave interest rates on hold after surprisingly stubborn inflation.Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, reiterated Tuesday that policymakers were poised to hold interest rates steady at a high level as they waited for evidence that inflation is slowing further.Fed officials entered 2024 expecting to make interest rate cuts, having lifted borrowing costs sharply to a more than two-decade high of 5.3 percent between 2022 and the middle of last year. But stubbornly rapid inflation in recent months has upended that plan.Central bankers have been clear that rate cuts this year are still possible, but they have also signaled that they are planning to leave interest rates on hold for now as they wait to make sure that inflation is genuinely coming under control.Speaking during a panel discussion in Amsterdam, Mr. Powell said officials had been surprised by recent inflation readings. The Consumer Price Index inflation measure, which is set for release on Wednesday, came down rapidly in 2023 but has gotten stuck above 3 percent this year. The Fed’s preferred measure, the Personal Consumption Expenditures index, is slightly cooler, but it, too, remains well above the Fed’s 2 percent inflation goal.“We did not expect this to be a smooth road, but these were higher than I think anybody expected,” Mr. Powell said on Tuesday of recent inflation readings. “What that has told us is that we will need to be patient and let restrictive policy do its work.”Mr. Powell said that he expected continued growth and a strong labor market in the months ahead, and that he believed inflation would begin to slow again.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    High Interest Rates Are Hitting Poorer Americans the Hardest

    The economy as a whole has proved resilient amid the highest rates in decades. But beneath the surface, many low- and moderate-income families are struggling.High interest rates haven’t crashed the financial system, set off a wave of bankruptcies or caused the recession that many economists feared.But for millions of low- and moderate-income families, high rates are taking a toll.More Americans are falling behind on payments on credit card and auto loans, even as many are taking on more debt than ever before. Monthly interest expenses have soared since the Federal Reserve began raising interest rates two years ago. For families already strained by high prices, dwindling savings and slowing wage growth, increased borrowing costs are pushing them closer to the financial edge.“It’s crazy,” said Ora Dorsey, a 43-year-old Army veteran in Clarksville, Tenn. “It does make it hard to get out of debt. It seems like you’re only paying the interest.”Ms. Dorsey has been working for years to chip away at the debts she accrued when a series of health issues left her temporarily out of work. Now she is juggling three jobs to try to pay off thousands of dollars in credit card balances and other debts. She is making progress, but high rates aren’t helping.“How am I supposed to retire?” she asked. “I’m not able to save, have that rainy-day fund, because I’m trying to take down the debt that I have.”Ms. Dorsey isn’t likely to get relief soon. Fed officials have indicated that they expect to keep interest rates at their current level, the highest in decades, for months. And while policymakers still say they are likely to cut rates eventually, assuming inflation slows down as expected, they could consider raising them further if prices begin rising faster again. The latest evidence will come on Wednesday when the Labor Department releases data showing whether inflation cooled in April, or remained uncomfortably hot for a fourth straight month.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    What Forecasters Say About Interest Rates (and Why They Disagree)

    Hopes for a steep drop in borrowing costs for consumers and businesses have been dashed. But some experts predict modest reductions in coming months.How soon is soon? Or exactly how much later is later?As the year started, there was a widespread view among economists and on Wall Street that the Federal Reserve would lower interest rates in the first half of the year. Maybe in March, maybe in May, but sooner rather than later.That long-awaited moment, two years after the Fed began ratcheting up rates to their highest level in decades, held the prospect of brightening consumer sentiment, increasing company valuations and improving corporate financing opportunities. It was called “the pivot party,” and everyone was invited.But three months of hotter-than-expected inflation data followed. Financial markets then projected that the Fed would lower rates once, near the end of the year, or not at all — based on a view that the central bank will see little merit in such a move as long as inflation remains a bit elevated and employment is growing.Interest rates for home and car loans tilted up again. And it seems the pivot party has been canceled. But some experts argue that it has only been postponed, leaving forecasters divided about what the rest of the year will bring.Camp 1: Inflation Is Coming Under ControlSome market analysts and bank economists are making the case that rate cuts are still on the table. The April jobs report, which implied a cooling labor market and softer wage growth, gave them some fodder.These analysts generally contend that current measures of inflation are overstated because of lagging indicators, reflecting cost pressures from over a year ago, that will ebb in summer. And they believe that while the diffuse process of stabilizing prices, formally called disinflation, may face setbacks (especially any oil shock), it is on track.After a wild ride, inflation has dropped back to lower levels, according to the Fed’s preferred measure.The annual percent change in the Personal Consumption Expenditures price index

    Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis By The New York TimesA measure of U.S. inflation that excludes an estimate of homeownership costs suggests that price increases are less rapid.The annual percentage change in the Consumer Price Index compared with the change in the Harmonized Index of Consumer Prices. H.I.C.P. is an inflation measure commonly used in other countries that excludes “owners’ equivalent rent,” an estimate of how much it may cost homeowners to rent a similar home.

    Source: Eurostat and Bureau of Labor StatisticsBy The New York TimesWe are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Why Higher Fed Rates Are Not Totally Off the Table

    Fed officials still think their next move will be to cut rates, but they are not entirely ruling out the possibility that they might have to raise them.Investors do not expect the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates again, and officials have made it clear that they see further increases as unlikely. But one important takeaway from recent Fed commentary is that unlikely and inconceivable are not the same thing.After the central bank held rates steady at 5.3 percent last week, the Fed’s chair, Jerome H. Powell, delivered a news conference where what he didn’t say mattered.Asked whether officials might raise interest rates again, he said he thought they probably would not — but he also avoided fully ruling out the possibility. And when asked, twice, whether he thought rates were high enough to bring inflation fully under control, he twice tiptoed around the question.“We believe it is restrictive, and we believe over time it will be sufficiently restrictive,” Mr. Powell said, but he tacked on a critical caveat: “That will be a question that the data will have to answer.”There was a message in that dodge. While officials are most inclined to keep interest rates at their current levels for a long time in order to tame inflation, policymakers could be open to higher interest rates if inflation were to pick back up. And Fed officials have made that clear in interviews and public comments over the past several days.Neel Kashkari, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, said on Tuesday that he was wary about a scenario in which inflation gets stuck at its current level, and hinted that it was possible that rates could rise more.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Walmart Introduces a New Store Brand for ‘Quality Food’

    The Better Goods store brand will carry plant-based, gluten-free and higher-end food and could help the retailer attract more affluent shoppers.When prices for grocery staples surged in 2021 and 2022, some Americans who had not regularly shopped at Walmart increasingly turned to the retailer, which is known for its affordable prices. Now, the company is trying to keep those new customers and attract others with a new selection of plant-based, gluten-free and deluxe culinary fare.On Tuesday, the retailer unveiled a new store brand that it said would make “quality food accessible.” Executives described the brand, Better Goods, as its largest foray into the private-label food business in 20 years.Better Goods items will include oat-milk frozen desserts, plant-based macaroni and cheese, and frozen appetizers like chicken curry empanadas and Brie Phyllo Blossoms. More than 70 percent of the products will cost less than $5, the retailer said.“All of our research tells us that the customer expects these types of goods,” said Scott Morris, a senior vice president of private food and consumables brands at Walmart. “They expect to have these elevated ingredients and offerings that we provide, and they are also looking for those healthier options.”The retailer says it is seeing growth in its store brands across all demographics, particularly shoppers from Generation Z, a group that includes people born in the late 1990s and early 2000s.Analysts are eager to find out if, as inflation eases, the retailer can retain higher-income individuals who started shopping at Walmart in the last few years. The company is taking a number of steps to make itself more attractive to customers. Walmart has said it plans to open new stores and to remodel existing ones. It has also changed signs, displays and other visual merchandising in ways that analysts say should make stores more appealing to affluent shoppers.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    High Fed Rates Are Not Crushing Growth. Wealthier People Help Explain Why.

    High rates usually pull down asset prices and hurt the housing market. Those channels are muted now, possibly making policy slower to work.More than two years after the Federal Reserve started lifting interest rates to restrain growth and weigh on inflation, businesses continue to hire, consumers continue to spend and policymakers are questioning why their increases haven’t had a more aggressive bite.The answer probably lies in part in a simple reality: High interest rates are not really pinching Americans who own assets like houses and stocks as much as many economists might have expected.Some people are feeling the squeeze of Fed policy. Credit card rates have skyrocketed, and rising delinquencies on auto loans suggest that people with lower incomes are struggling under their weight.But for many people in middle and upper income groups — especially those who own their homes outright or who locked in cheap mortgages when rates were at rock bottom — this is a fairly sunny economic moment. Their house values are mostly holding up in spite of higher rates, stock indexes are hovering near record highs, and they can make meaningful interest on their savings for the first time in decades.Because many Americans feel good about their personal finances, they have also continued opening their wallets for vacations, concert tickets, holiday gifts, and other goods and services. Consumption has remained surprisingly strong, even two years into the Fed’s campaign to cool down the economy. And that means the Fed’s interest rate moves, which always take time to play out, seem to be even slower to work this time around.“Household finances broadly still look pretty good, though there is a group feeling the pain of high interest rates,” said Karen Dynan, an economist at Harvard and a former chief economist at the Treasury Department. “There are a lot of households in the middle and upper part of the distribution that still have a lot of wherewithal to spend.”We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Inflation Is Stubborn. Is the Federal Budget Deficit Making It Worse?

    Economists are divided over whether the growing amount of federal borrowing is fueling demand and driving up prices.A crucial question is hanging over the American economy and the fall presidential election: Why are consumer prices still growing uncomfortably fast, even after a sustained campaign by the Federal Reserve to slow the economy by raising interest rates?Economists and policy experts have offered several explanations. Some are essentially quirks of the current economic moment, like a delayed, post-pandemic surge in the cost of home and auto insurance. Others are long-running structural issues, like a lack of affordable housing that has pushed up rents in big cities like New York as would-be tenants compete for units.But some economists, including top officials at the International Monetary Fund, said that the federal government bore some of the blame because it had continued to pump large amounts of borrowed money into the economy at a time when the economy did not need a fiscal boost.That borrowing is a result of a federal budget deficit that has been elevated by tax cuts and spending increases. It is helping to fuel demand for goods and services by channeling money to companies and people who then go out and spend it.I.M.F. officials warned that the deficit was also increasing prices. In a report earlier this month, they wrote that while America’s recent economic performance was impressive, it was fueled in part by a pace of borrowing “that is out of line with long-term fiscal sustainability.”The I.M.F. said that U.S. fiscal policies were adding about a half a percentage point to the national inflation rate and raising “short-term risks to the disinflation process” — essentially saying that the government was working at cross-purposes with the Fed.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More