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    Chinese Exports Are Threatening Biden’s Industrial Agenda

    The president is increasingly hitting back with tariffs and other measures meant to restrict imports, raising tensions with Beijing.President Biden’s trillion-dollar effort to invigorate American manufacturing and speed a transition to cleaner energy sources is colliding with a surge of cheap exports from China, threatening to wipe out the investment and jobs that are central to Mr. Biden’s economic agenda.Mr. Biden is weighing new measures to protect nascent industries like electric-vehicle production and solar-panel manufacturing from Chinese competition. On Wednesday in Pittsburgh, the president called for higher tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum products and announced a new trade investigation into China’s heavily subsidized shipbuilding industry.“I’m not looking for a fight with China,” Mr. Biden said. “I’m looking for competition — and fair competition.”Unions, manufacturing groups and some economists say the administration may need to do much more to restrict Chinese imports if it hopes to ensure that Mr. Biden’s vast industrial initiatives are not swamped by lower-cost Chinese versions of the same emerging technologies.“It is a very clear and present danger, because the industrial policy of the Biden administration is largely focused on not the traditional low-skill, low-wage manufacturing, but new, high-tech manufacturing,” said Eswar Prasad, a Cornell University economist who specializes in trade policies.“Those are precisely the areas where China has upped its own investments,” he said.Both America and China are using large government subsidies to stoke economic growth and try to dominate what they believe will be the most important global markets of this century: the technologies meant to speed a global transition away from fossil fuels in order to avert catastrophic climate change.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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    Wall Street’s Bond ‘Vigilantes’ Are Back

    The financial world has been debating if market appetite for buying U.S. debt is near a limit. The ramifications for funding government priorities are immense.Typically, the esoteric inner workings of finance and the very public stakes of government spending are viewed as separate spheres.And bond trading is ordinarily a tidy arena driven by mechanical bets about where the economy and interest rates will be months or years from now.But those separations and that sense of order changed this year as a gargantuan, chaotic battle was waged by traders in the nearly $27 trillion Treasury bond market — the place where the U.S. government goes to borrow.In the summer and fall, many investors worried that federal deficits were rising so rapidly that the government would flood the market with Treasury debt that would be met with meager demand. They believed that deficits were a key source of inflation that would erode future returns on any U.S. bonds they bought.So they insisted that if they were to keep buying Treasury bonds, they would need to be compensated with an expensive premium, in the form of a much higher interest rate paid to them.In market parlance, they were acting as bond vigilantes. That vigilante mindset fueled a “buyers’ strike” in which many traders sold off Treasuries or held back from buying more.The basic math of bonds is that, generally, when there are fewer buyers of bonds, the rate, or yield, on that debt rises and the value of the bonds falls. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note — the benchmark interest rate the government pays — went from just above 3 percent in March to 5 percent in October. (In a market this large, that amounted to trillions of dollars in losses for the large crop of investors who bet on lower bond yields earlier this year.)Since then, momentum has shifted to a remarkable degree. Several analysts say some of the frenzy reflected mistimed and mispriced bets regarding recession and future Federal Reserve policy more than fiscal policy concerns. And as inflation retreats and the Fed eventually ratchets down interest rates, they expect bond yields to continue to ease.But even if the sell-off frenzy has abated, the issues that ignited it have not gone away. And that has intensified debates over what the government can afford to do down the road.Federal debt compared with the size of the U.S. economy neared peak levels during the pandemicFederal debt held by the public — the amount of interest-generating U.S. Treasury securities held by bondholders — relative to gross domestic product

    Note: Gross federal debt held by the public is the sum of debt held by all entities outside the federal government (individuals, businesses, banks, insurance companies, state governments, pension and mutual funds, foreign governments and more.) It also includes debt owned by the Federal Reserve.Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. LouisBy The New York TimesUnder current law, growing budget deficits increase the amount of debt the federal government must issue, and higher interest rates mean payments to bondholders will make up more of the federal budget. Interest paid to Treasury bondholders is now the government’s third-largest expenditure, after Medicare and Social Security.Powerful voices in finance and politics in New York, Washington and throughout the world are warning that the interest payments will crowd out other federal spending — in the realm of national security, government agencies, foreign aid, increased support for child care, climate change adaptation and more.“Do I think it really complicates fiscal policy in the coming five years, 10 years? Absolutely,” said the chief investment officer for Franklin Templeton Fixed Income, Sonal Desai, a portfolio manager who has bet that government bond yields will rise because of growing debt payments. “The math doesn’t add up on either side,” she added, “and the reality is neither the right or the left is willing to take sensible steps to try and bring that fiscal deficit down.”Fitch, one of the three major agencies that evaluate bond quality downgraded the credit rating on U.S. debt in August, citing an “erosion of governance” that has “manifested in repeated debt limit standoffs and last-minute resolutions.”Yet others are more sanguine. They do not think the U.S. government is at risk of default, because its debt payments are made in dollars that the government can create on demand. And they are generally less certain that fiscal deficits played the leading role in feeding inflation compared with the shocks from the pandemic.Joseph Quinlan, head of market strategy for Merrill and Bank of America Private Bank, said in an interview that the U.S. federal debt “remains manageable” and that “fears are overdone at this juncture.”Samuel Rines, an economist and the managing director at Corbu, a market research firm, was more blunt — laconically dismissing worries that a bond vigilante response to debt levels could become such a financial strain on consumers and companies that it sinks markets and, in turn, the economy.“If you want to make money, yawn,” he said. “If you want to lose money, panic.”Interest payments for Treasuries have increased rapidlyFederal spending on interest payments to holders of Treasuries

    Note: Data is not adjusted for inflation.Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic AnalysisBy The New York TimesThe debate over public debt is as fierce as ever. And it echoes, in some ways, an earlier time — when the term “bond vigilantes” first emerged.In 1983, a rising Yale-trained economist named Ed Yardeni published a letter titled “Bond Investors Are the Economy’s Bond Vigilantes,” coining the phrase. He declared, to great applause on Wall Street, that “if the fiscal and monetary authorities won’t regulate the economy, the bond investors will” — by viciously selling off U.S. bonds, sending a message to stop spending at its heightened levels.On the fiscal side, Washington reined in spending on major social programs. (A bipartisan deal had actually been reached shortly before Mr. Yardeni’s letter.) On the monetary side, the Federal Reserve began a new series of interest rate increases to keep inflation at bay.The Treasury bond sell-off continued into 1984, but by the mid-1980s, bond yields had come down substantially. Inflation, while mild compared with the 1970s, averaged about 4 percent in the following years, a level not tolerable by contemporary standards. Yet interest payments on government debt peaked in 1991 as a share of the U.S. economy and then declined for several years.That sequence of events may be an imperfect guide to the Treasury bond market of the 2020s.This time around, the Peterson Foundation, a group that pushes for tighter fiscal policy, has joined with policy analysts, former public officials and current congressional leaders to push for a bipartisan fiscal commission aimed at imposing lower federal deficits. Many assert that “tough questions” and “hard choices” are ahead — including a need to slash the future benefits of some federal programs.But some economic experts say that even with a debt pile larger than in the past, federal borrowing rates are relatively tame, comparable with past periods.According to a recent report by J.P. Morgan Asset Management, benchmark bond yields will fall toward 3.4 percent in the coming years, while inflation will average 2.3 percent. Other analyses from major banks and research shops have offered similar forecasts.In that scenario, the “real” cost of federal borrowing, in inflation-adjusted terms — a measure many experts prefer — would probably be close to 1 percent, historically not a cause for concern.Adam Tooze, a professor and economic historian at Columbia University, argues that current interest rates are “not a cause for action of any type at all.”At 2 percent when adjusted for inflation, those rates are “quite a normal level,” he said on a recent podcast. “It is the level that was prevailing before 2008.”In the 1990s, when bond vigilantes helped prod Congress into running a balanced budget, real borrowing rates for the government were hovering higher than they are now, mostly around 3 percent. Government yields were historically low before recent riseThe inflation-adjusted rate for the 10-year Treasury note, a key market measure of “real” government borrowing cost, jumped well above its 2010s levels this year.

    Source: Federal Reserve Bank of ClevelandBy The New York TimesIn the broader context of the interest rate controversy, there is disagreement on whether to even characterize U.S. debt as primarily a burden.Stephanie Kelton, an economics professor at Stony Brook University, is a leading voice of modern monetary theory, which holds that inflation and the availability of resources (whether materials or labor) are the key limits to government spending, rather than traditional budget constraints.U.S. dollars issued through debt payments “exist in the form of interest-bearing dollars called Treasury securities,” said Dr. Kelton, a former chief economist for the U.S. Senate Budget Committee. She argues, “If you’re lucky enough to own some of them, congratulations, they’re part of your financial savings and wealth.”That framework has found some sympathetic ears on Wall Street, especially among those who think paying more interest on bonds to savers does not necessarily impede other government spending. While the total foreign holdings of Treasuries are roughly $7 trillion, most federal debt is held by U.S.-based institutions and investors or the government itself, meaning that the fruits of higher interest payments are often going directly into the portfolios of Americans.David Kotok, the chief investment officer at Cumberland Advisors since 1973, argued in an interview that with some structural changes to the economy — such as immigration reform to increase growth and the ranks of young people paying into the tax base — a debt load as high as $60 trillion or more in coming decades would “not only not be troubling but would encourage you to use more of the debt because you would say, ‘Gee, we have the room right now to finance mitigation of climate change rather than incur the expenses of disaster.’”Campbell Harvey, a finance professor at Duke University and a research associate with the National Bureau of Economic Research, said he thinks “there is a lot of misinformation” about current U.S. debt burdens but made clear he views them “as a big deal and a bad situation.”“The way I look at it, there are four ways out of this,” Mr. Harvey said in an interview. The first two — to substantially raise taxes or slash core social programs — are not “politically feasible,” he said. The third way is to inflate the U.S. currency until the debt obligations are worth less, which he called regressive because of its disproportionate impact on the poor. The most attractive way, he contends, is for the economy to grow near or above the 4 percent annual rate that the nation achieved for many years after World War II.Others think that even without such rapid growth, the Federal Reserve’s ability to coordinate demand for debt, and its attempts to orchestrate market stability, will play the more central role.“The system will not allow a situation where the United States cannot fund itself,” said Brent Johnson, a former banker at Credit Suisse who is now the chief executive of Santiago Capital, an investment firm.That confidence, to an extent, stems from the reality that the Fed and the U.S. Treasury remain linchpins of global financial power and have the mind-bending ability, between them, to both issue government debt and buy it.There are less extravagant tools, too. The Treasury can telegraph and rearrange the amount of debt that will be issued at Treasury bond auctions and determine the time scale of bond contracts based on investor appetite. The Fed can unilaterally change short-term borrowing rates, which in turn often influence long-term bond rates.“I think the fiscal sustainability discourse is generally quite dull and blind to how much the Fed shapes the outcome,” said Skanda Amarnath, a former analyst at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the executive director at Employ America, a group that tracks labor markets and Fed policy.For now, according to the Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee, a leading group of Wall Street traders, auctions of U.S. debt “continue to be consistently oversubscribed” — a sign of steady structural demand for the dollar, which remains the world’s dominant currency.Adam Parker, the chief executive of Trivariate Research and a former director of quantitative research at Morgan Stanley, argues that concerns regarding an oversupply of Treasuries in the market are conceptually understandable but that they have proved unfounded in one cycle after another. Some think this time is different.“Maybe I’m just dismissive of it because I’ve heard the argument seven times in a row,” he said. More

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    U.S. and Mexico Try to Promote Trade While Curbing Flow of Fentanyl

    In her Mexico City visit, Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen sought to deepen economic ties while countering drug trafficking.The United States and Mexico sought to project a united front on Thursday in their efforts to deepen economic ties and crack down on illicit drug smuggling as the Biden administration looks to solidify its North American supply chain and reduce reliance on China.At the conclusion of three days of meetings in Mexico City, Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen announced that the U.S. and Mexico would begin working more closely to screen foreign investments coming into both countries with a new working group to weed out potential national security threats.The collaboration comes as the administration looks to ensure that allies such as Mexico are able to partake of the billions of dollars of domestic energy and climate investments that the United States is deploying. However, as the administration seeks closer cross-border economic integration, it wants to ensure that Mexico is not the recipient of potentially problematic investments from countries such as China.“Increased engagement with Mexico will help maintain an open investment climate while monitoring and addressing security risks, making both our countries safer,” Ms. Yellen said at a news conference on Thursday.In Mexico, Ms. Yellen has had to strike a delicate balance, pushing her counterparts there to work harder to confront fentanyl trafficking into the U.S. while trying to deepen economic ties at a time when China is also investing heavily to build factories there.Ms. Yellen has embraced Mexico, America’s largest trading partner, as a friendly ally during her trip — visiting drug-sniffing dogs and holding talks with top Mexican leaders. But there is growing frustration within the Biden administration over what officials perceive as President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s unwillingness to invest in efforts to combat fentanyl trafficking in the region. An increasing number of U.S. officials have become more outspoken in recent months over the need to pressure Mexico to do more to crack down on fentanyl.“The illicit trafficking of fentanyl devastates families and communities and poses a threat to our national security while also undermining public safety in Mexico,” Ms. Yellen said.Nearly 110,000 people died last year of drug overdoses in the United States, a crisis that U.S. officials say is largely driven by the chemical ingredients for fentanyl getting shipped from China to Mexico and turned into the potent synthetic drug that is then trafficked over the southern border into the United States.Mr. López Obrador has generally rejected the notion that fentanyl is produced in his nation and described the U.S. drug crisis as a “problem of social decay.” He has argued that American politicians should not use his country as a scapegoat for the record number of overdoses in the United States. The growing number of fentanyl-related deaths have fueled calls by Republican presidential candidates to take military action against Mexico.In February, Anne Milgram, the Drug Enforcement Administration administrator, said her agency was still not receiving sufficient information from Mexican authorities about fentanyl seizures or the entry of precursor chemicals in that country, and that the United States was increasingly concerned over the number of laboratories used to produce fentanyl in Mexico.Both Republicans and Democrats are specifically concerned over a port in Manzanillo, Mexico, which they say is a prime hub for fentanyl precursors.Fernando Llano/Associated PressAnd in October, on the eve of Secretary Antony J. Blinken’s visit with President López Obrador in Mexico, Todd Robinson, the State Department’s assistant secretary of the bureau of international narcotics and law enforcement affairs, told The New York Times that the Mexican president was not acknowledging the severity of the drug crisis in the region.The Mexican president would rather be in the category of “someone who has a problem but doesn’t know it,” he said.Mr. Robinson, as well as officials in the Treasury Department, also believe Mexico must do more to bulk up its ports to intercept fentanyl precursors coming from China. Both Republicans and Democrats are specifically concerned over a port in Manzanillo, Mexico, that they say is a prime hub for fentanyl precursors.The United States in the meantime has increasingly relied on the tools of the Treasury Department to target drug organizations in Mexico that are trafficking the dangerous drug to the United States.Brian Nelson, the under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence at the Treasury Department, said in an interview in October that the department would continue to use sanctions to pressure cartel organizations and suppliers of fentanyl chemicals.“We will continue to use our tools to map and trace the network’s suppliers of the precursor drugs that are flowing into Mexico from foreign countries, including China; the money laundering organizations that support the financial flows that enable this criminal enterprise,” Mr. Nelson said.The Treasury Department accelerated those efforts this week with the creation of a new “counter-fentanyl strike force” that will aim to more aggressively scrutinize the finances of suspected narcotics dealers. On Wednesday, Ms. Yellen announced that the Treasury Department was imposing new sanctions against 15 Mexican individuals and two companies that are linked to the Beltrán Leyva Organization, a major distributor of fentanyl into the U.S.At the same time that the Biden administration is trying to curb the flow of drugs coming from Mexico, Ms. Yellen emphasized a desire for more trade between the two countries and noted that the U.S. benefits from imports of Mexican steel, iron, glass and car parts.The 2022 Inflation Reduction Act law in the U.S. allows American consumers to benefit from tax credits for electric vehicles that are assembled in Mexico, and Ms. Yellen said that she wants to see the automobile sector supply chain more tightly integrated between the two countries.“The United States continues to pursue what I’ve called friend-shoring: seeking to strengthen our economic resilience through diversifying our supply chains across a wide range of trusted allies and partners,” Ms. Yellen said.At the news conference, Ms. Yellen pushed back against the idea that the U.S. was encouraging Mexico to adopt more rigorous foreign investment safeguards because it wanted to deter Chinese investment there.“As long as there are appropriate national security screens and those investments don’t create national security concerns for Mexico or the United States, we have absolutely no problem with China investing in Mexico to produce goods and services that will be imported into the United States,” Ms. Yellen said. 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    U.S. Limits China’s Ability to Benefit From Electric Vehicle Subsidies

    The Biden administration issued new rules to prevent Chinese firms from supplying parts for electric cars set to receive billions of dollars in tax credits.The Biden administration proposed new rules on Friday aimed at shifting more production of electric vehicle batteries and the materials that power them to the United States, in an attempt to build up a strategic industry now dominated by China.The rules are meant to limit the role that firms in China can play in supplying materials for electric vehicles that qualify for federal tax credits. They will also discourage companies that seek federal funding to build battery factories in the United States from sourcing materials from China or Russia.The rules could encourage shifts in automotive supply chains, which continue to rely heavily on China for materials and components of electric vehicles. Automakers are also facing intense cost pressures as they try to modify their factories to make electric cars, and China offers some of the most advanced and lowest-priced battery technology in the world.The Biden administration is trying to use billions of dollars in new federal funding to change that dynamic and create a U.S. supply chain for electric vehicles.The climate law that President Biden signed in 2022 includes up to $7,500 in tax credits to consumers who buy electric vehicles made in the United States using largely domestic materials. The law also included a general ban on Chinese products. Lawmakers mandated that firms in China, Russia, North Korea and Iran be prohibited from providing certain materials to cars that received those tax breaks.But the law left open several questions, including what constitutes a Chinese or Russian company. Administration officials said those definitions included any entity that was incorporated or had headquarters in China or Russia, as well as any firm in which 25 percent of the board seats or equity interest was held by Chinese or Russian governments.Chinese companies that set up operations outside China appear to be able to benefit from the rules as long as the Chinese government is not a significant shareholder. That provision came as a relief to some automakers, which feared that the Biden administration might bar them from contracting with Chinese-owned mines or factories in the United States or other parts of the world.Lithium hydroxide is processed at a facility in Bessemer City, N.C. American companies are investing in factories and technologies aimed at developing the materials needed for electric vehicle.Travis Dove for The New York TimesThe law also requires battery makers that strike contracts or licensing agreements with Chinese firms to ensure that they are retaining certain rights over their projects. That provision is intended to make sure a Chinese firm is not effectively in control of such a project.Some conservative lawmakers had challenged Ford Motor’s plans to license technology from the Chinese battery giant known as CATL for a plant in Marshall, Mich., arguing that such a partnership should not be eligible for federal tax credits. Some Republican lawmakers suggested on Friday that the Treasury Department’s guidance did not go far enough to lessen the country’s dependence on China.“At a time when China is using massive subsidies to undercut U.S. manufacturers and throttle the global market for battery components, Treasury’s naïve new regulations would open the floodgates for American tax dollars to flow to Chinese companies complicit in trade violations and forced labor abuses,” said Representative Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, chairman of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party. The rules kick in for battery components in 2024, and in 2025 for critical minerals like lithium, cobalt and nickel. They could be adjusted depending on industry comment.The rules could have a profound impact on the U.S. electric vehicle market, which is rapidly growing — battery-powered vehicles made up about 8 percent of new cars sold in the third quarter. Car and battery makers said Friday that they were still reviewing the rules, and that it would take time to determine how many models would qualify for tax credits.Tesla said on Friday that the two least expensive versions of its Model 3 sedan would qualify for only half the $7,500 credit starting in January. The Model Y sport utility vehicle also might not qualify for the full credit after Dec. 31, Tesla said. The Model Y and Model 3 are the top two electric vehicles by sales in the United States. Tesla buys some batteries from CATL.John Bozzella, the chief executive of Alliance for Automotive Innovation, wrote in a blog post Friday that the rules struck “a pragmatic balance,” including by exempting trace materials. If the administration had banned all minor Chinese parts from the supply chain, no car models might have qualified for tax credits next year, he said.Many cars have already been disqualified from purchase credits by other rules, like a requirement that vehicles be assembled in North America. Only about 20 vehicles currently qualify for the program out of more than 100 electric vehicles sold in the United States.The rules also raised new questions about whether stricter requirements for supply chains could continue a trend of driving more shoppers to lease, rather than buy, vehicles.The prohibition on sourcing from China applies only to vehicles that are sold, not to those that are leased. Consumers can receive tax credits for electric vehicles they lease from auto dealers, and that has led to a boom in E.V. leasing.Jack Fitzgerald, chairman of Fitzgerald Auto Malls, which operates dealerships in Florida, Maryland and Pennsylvania, said he had seen a spike in customers leasing electric vehicles. But he said concern about electric vehicle range and the availability of chargers, more than price, was holding back electric vehicle sales.“That’s the principal thing,” Mr. Fitzgerald said.Auto industry lobbyists have warned that extremely strict rules could stifle electric vehicle sales, and they have urged the administration to strike more trade deals to secure supplies of scarce battery minerals. But Paul Jacobson, the chief financial officer of General Motors, said the company had structured its electric vehicle operations to be successful regardless of the federal rules.“We’re not anchoring the business on saying this has to happen” with regard to regulations, Mr. Jacobson told reporters on Thursday. If regulations change, he added, “it’s not a backbreaking thing for us.”While the rules may create headaches for automakers, they are likely to benefit companies planning to supply batteries from factories in the United States.“It’s actually good news for us,” said Siyu Huang, chief executive of Factorial, a Massachusetts company that is developing next-generation electric vehicle batteries with support from Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai and Stellantis, the owner of Dodge, Jeep and Ram.Acquiring large amounts of lithium, an essential ingredient in batteries, could be difficult because most of the metal is processed in China, Ms. Huang said. But the rules will encourage investment in U.S.-based refineries, she continued. “Its definitely going to be another incentive to build more domestic supply,” Ms. Huang said.John DeMaio, chief executive of Graphex Technologies, which is building a factory in Michigan to process graphite for batteries, said the rules might temporarily slow electric vehicle sales by making it harder to qualify for the tax credit. But in the long run, he added, they will encourage investment in domestic suppliers.“It might be a hiccup,” he said, “but in general it provides certainty and clarity to get people off the fence.”Wally Adeyemo, the deputy secretary of the Treasury Department, said in a briefing with reporters that the rules would help advance the administration’s goals of building up an American clean energy supply chain while also cutting emissions in the transportation sector.“These changes take time, but companies are making the investments and Americans are buying these cars,” he said.Over the past year, companies have invested $213 billion in the manufacturing and deployment of clean energy, clean vehicles, building electrification and carbon management technology in the United States, according to tracking by the Rhodium Group and the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. That is a 37 percent increase from a year earlier..A lithium mine in northern Quebec. A majority of the world’s lithium and cobalt is processed in China.Brendan George Ko for The New York TimesStill, the global electric vehicle industry remains heavily anchored in China, which is the world’s largest producer and exporter of electric vehicles. China produces about two-thirds of the world’s battery cells, and refines most of the minerals that are key to powering an electric vehicle.The rules also restrict automakers from sourcing nickel used in their batteries from Russia, which is one of the world’s largest nickel producers.One of the challenges for automakers will be developing systems to track all the components of their battery through a long, and often opaque, supply chain.Vehicles that are reported incorrectly will be subtracted from an automaker’s eligibility for tax credits, Treasury said, and automakers that commit fraud or intentionally disregard the rules could be declared ineligible for the credit in the future. More

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    Bidder Aims to Save Bankrupt Trucking Firm Yellow

    The plan would put Yellow back on the road with thousands of unionized drivers, but would force the government to wait longer for a loan repayment.When Yellow abruptly shuttered its operations in the summer and filed for bankruptcy protection, few thought that a buyer would emerge and try to revive the long-troubled trucking giant.Now a prominent trucking executive has assembled a last-minute plan to acquire Yellow out of bankruptcy — a proposal that seeks not only to rehire many of the company’s employees but also to work with their union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, to create a healthy business.The plan rests on getting the Treasury Department to allow Yellow to postpone repayment of a $700 million rescue loan that it made to the company in 2020. The Treasury may not accept the plan because there are legal obstacles to extending the loan. And it stands to be repaid sooner under the plan that Yellow has already filed in the Delaware bankruptcy court, which involves selling the company’s terminals and other assets to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in cash. Some trucking analysts say reviving Yellow will be hard because many customers will have moved on to other trucking companies that are much better run than the old Yellow.But Sarah Riggs Amico, the trucking executive leading the deal, said only her plan could bring back thousands of jobs, adding that she had the experience to build a leaner company in partnership with the Teamsters and assemble an executive team that can win back customers.“Restructuring Yellow provides an opportunity to bring back tens of thousands of fair-wage, union truck-driving jobs while bolstering America’s supply chain,” said Ms. Riggs Amico, the executive chairwoman of Jack Cooper, a private auto-hauling trucking company. “Who wouldn’t find that a worthy effort?”Under the proposal, Ms. Riggs Amico’s group would extend the Treasury loan so that it would be repaid in 2026 instead of next year, according to a person familiar with the bid. The group would also borrow $1.1 billion to pay off other secured creditors and bankruptcy lenders, and provide the new company with cash to operate. And it would issue $1.5 billion of preferred shares to unsecured creditors — the biggest of which is the Central States Pension Fund — that don’t get all their claims paid in bankruptcy. The Central States fund would get some $500 million of the preferred shares, according to the plan, far less than the $4.8 billion that Yellow owes it.Ms. Riggs Amico’s bid will be submitted to the bankruptcy court on Tuesday, when an auction to sell Yellow’s assets will take place.Ms. Riggs Amico and other female executives would own 51 percent of the new company, which would be separate from Jack Cooper. The new Yellow plans to employ some 15,000 people, according to the person familiar with the plan, down from 30,000 earlier this year.“The Teamsters have a framework agreement to lay the foundation for good union jobs, fair wages and strong benefits once a new company is in place,” Kara Deniz, a Teamsters spokeswoman, said in a statement.Government labor market data suggest that roughly 10,000 Yellow employees have found jobs elsewhere, said Avery Vise, vice president of trucking at FTR, a forecasting firm that focuses on the freight industry.That implies that some 20,000 Yellow employees are still looking for work. “I have a lot of friends that are still without jobs,” said Mark Roper, a former Yellow driver from McDonough, Ga., who found a job at another trucking company. “I have a lot of friends that are on the verge of losing their house.”Sarah Riggs Amico, the trucking executive leading a bid for Yellow, ran in a U.S. Senate primary in 2020.Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, via Associated PressThough bringing back lost trucking jobs and resurrecting a unionized company may appear attractive goals to the labor-friendly Biden administration, the Treasury may not believe it has the legal authority to extend the loan — it was made under the CARES Act, passed to provide relief early in the pandemic — and it may have qualms about further backing a company that struggled for years.“There is no clear authority for Treasury to compromise the claim in any way that does not maximize returns for the U.S. government,” said Adam Levitin, a law professor at Georgetown University who specializes in bankruptcy.In a statement, a Treasury spokesperson said: “Treasury is one of several creditors taking part in the bankruptcy process. We will continue to work to ensure taxpayers, and impacted workers and their families are treated fairly.”Thomas Nyhan, the executive director of the Central States Pension Fund, said on Sunday that the fund was trying to determine the financial benefit of each plan as the terms of the rescue bid changed. And he said there may be a legal obstacle: The Employee Retirement Income Security Act generally prevents a pension fund from owning securities issued by companies contributing to the fund — the preferred stock under the Yellow rescue plan — though there can be exemptions. “This is a very complicated problem,” Mr. Nyhan said. “We haven’t come to a conclusion, mainly because the deal keeps evolving.”Members of Congress from both parties have written to the Treasury, urging it to consider extending its loan, including Senators Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, and Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts. Mr. Hawley wrote this month that assisting the sale of Yellow to an acquirer was “a common-sense step to keep Yellow’s trucks on the road, and keep its work force gainfully employed.”The Treasury’s loan came from a pot of money to help companies designated as crucial to national security. It drew scrutiny because of the links between Yellow and the Trump administration, and because the Justice Department had sued the company, accusing it of overcharging the Department of Defense for freight services. Yellow last year agreed to pay a $7 million fine to resolve the case.Yellow was a big player — another is Old Dominion — in the less-than-truckload sector, in which a truck will carry goods for more than one customer. Companies in the sector often have a network of terminals and warehouses to store goods between shipments and typically travel shorter distances than truckload companies, whose vehicles carry goods for one customer over longer distances.Analysts say Yellow underperformed because it failed to effectively integrate big acquisitions and because it had higher costs, which some attribute in part to the unionization of its work force.Ms. Riggs Amico, a Democratic primary candidate in Georgia for the U.S. Senate in 2020, has experience restructuring Teamster trucking companies. She oversaw Jack Cooper’s acquisition of two auto-hauling trucking companies with Teamster work forces, and her plan for Yellow envisions hiring executives who specialize in the less-than-truckload business. (Jack Cooper, whose employees belong to the Teamsters, itself filed for bankruptcy in 2019.)Some of Yellow’s rivals are interested in snapping up its terminals under the current plan in Delaware bankruptcy court. Estes Express has submitted a stalking horse bid — an offer intended to set a minimum price for assets — of $1.53 billion for Yellow’s shipment centers. That sum would provide enough cash to pay off the Treasury and a secured loan of around $500 million now held by Citadel, a Wall Street firm. Ms. Riggs Amico’s plan would pay off Citadel but ask the Treasury to extend its loan. Some experts say this would mean taxpayers were taking a back seat to Wall Street.“It’s helping private parties make money off of a distressed-debt investment, and there’s no real reason for Treasury to do that,” Mr. Levitin, the Georgetown professor, said.Citadel declined to comment.In Congress, those open to Ms. Riggs Amico’s bid acknowledge that other creditors would be getting ahead of Treasury but think the compromise a necessary evil to save jobs.But it is not clear whether there would be much room left for a resurrected Yellow. Trucking experts say the market is gradually coping with the loss of the company, which once accounted for roughly 12 percent of drivers in the less-than-truckload sector. Mr. Vise, the trucking analyst, said Yellow’s exit had pushed trucking rates higher as customers scrambled to find other carriers. But he expects the sector to heal soon.“Yellow’s shutdown did not seriously disrupt the less-than-truckload market,” he said. More

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    Janet Yellen, U.S. Treasury Secretary, Will Meet With Chinese Counterpart

    The high-level meetings in San Francisco will lay the groundwork for talks between President Biden and China’s top leader, Xi Jinping.Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen will hold two days of high-level meetings with her Chinese counterpart, Vice Premier He Lifeng, this week, as the United States and China look to build upon an effort that started earlier this year to improve communication between the world’s two largest economies.The meetings will take place on Thursday and Friday in San Francisco ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, which begins on Saturday. The meetings will help lay the groundwork for expected talks at the summit between President Biden and China’s top leader, Xi Jinping. The Treasury Department said that the United States hoped Ms. Yellen’s meetings would “further stabilize the bilateral economic relationship” and make progress on key economic issues.The revival of economic diplomacy between the two countries comes at a fraught moment for the global economy, which is grappling with sluggish output and wars in Ukraine and the Middle East.A senior Treasury Department official said the Biden administration continued to seek a better understanding of China’s economic policies. Ms. Yellen is expected to talk to Mr. He about issues like debt relief for developing countries and the financing of international efforts to combat climate change. The discussions are also intended to address any misunderstandings from recent national security actions that the Biden administration has taken, such as restrictions on investments that Americans can make in Chinese industries.The talks in San Francisco follow Ms. Yellen’s trip to Beijing in July. After that visit, the Treasury Department established financial and economic working groups to promote more regular dialogue between the United States and China.As Treasury secretary, Ms. Yellen has been trying to help the United States diversify its supply chains so that it relies more on allies and domestic production and less on China, which over the past decade has similarly worked to become less reliant on imports.In a speech at the Asia Society last week, Ms. Yellen said that the United States would continue to respond to China’s economic practices while seeking ways to work together where possible. But she also made clear that she opposed efforts to sever economic ties with China.“A full separation of our economies, or an approach in which countries including those in the Indo-Pacific are forced to take sides, would have significant negative global repercussions,” Ms. Yellen said. “We have no interest in such a divided world and its disastrous effects.” More

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    Yellen Says U.S. Is Considering New Sanctions on Iran and Hamas

    Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said on Wednesday that the Israel-Gaza war was a potential concern for the global economy and signaled that additional U.S. sanctions could be coming in response to the attack on Israel by Hamas.Questions about the economic impact of the war were growing as Ms. Yellen offered a forceful defense of Israel and pushed back on the notion that U.S. sanctions against Iran — a key backer of Hamas — have become too lenient. Ms. Yellen said the Treasury Department continued to review its sanctions on Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group that is also a longtime adversary of Israel.“We have not in any way relaxed our sanctions on Iranian oil,” Ms. Yellen said at a news conference on the sidelines of the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Marrakesh, Morocco. “We have sanctions on Hamas, on Hezbollah, and this is something that we have been constantly looking at and using information as it becomes available to tighten sanctions.”She added: “We will continue to do that.”The Treasury secretary also did not rule out reversing a decision made last month — to unfreeze $6 billion of Iranian funds in exchange for the release of American hostages — if it is determined that Iran was involved in the attack by Hamas.At the time of the exchange, the United States informed Iran that it had transferred about $6 billion in Iranian oil revenue from South Korea to a Qatari bank account. The money is supposed to be used only for food, medicine and other humanitarian goods.“These are funds that are sitting in Qatar that were made available purely for humanitarian purposes, and the funds have not been touched,” Ms. Yellen said, adding: “I wouldn’t take anything off the table in terms of future possible actions.”The crisis in Israel poses a new challenge for the world economy and the Biden administration, which has spent the last year working to combat inflation in the United States and to corral energy prices that have become volatile because of Russia’s war in Ukraine. Another war in the Middle East complicates those efforts by threatening to constrain oil supplies and send prices higher.Ms. Yellen said geopolitical “shocks” continued to pose risks to the world economic outlook.“Of course, the situation in Israel poses additional concerns,” she said.Economic officials across the Biden administration are closely tracking developments in global oil markets this week. Global oil prices jumped on Monday after the terrorist attacks in Israel but were falling slightly on Wednesday. Administration officials are concerned that a sustained increase in the cost of crude could hurt economic growth and dent Mr. Biden’s approval rating, by pushing up the price of gasoline for American drivers.Ms. Yellen said she continued to believe that the U.S. economy could achieve a so-called soft landing — where inflation eases without a recession — but was closely watching for any economic fallout from the new conflict in the Middle East.“While we’re monitoring potential economic impacts from the crisis, I’m not really thinking of that as a major driver of the global economic outlook,” Ms. Yellen said. “We will see what impact it has. Thus far, I don’t think we’ve seen anything suggesting it will be very significant.”International policymakers gathered in Morocco for a week of meetings, as the global economic recovery is losing momentum. The prospect of a new regional conflict gave other policymakers more reason to feel anxious about a sluggish world economy that has been battered by war, a pandemic and inflation in recent years. Central banks around the globe have been raising interest rates to tame rapid inflation, and investors had begun to hope that a recent slowdown in price gains could signal an end to those rate increases.“I think central bank governors are concerned about what might happen to energy prices if the Israel-Gaza conflict were to turn into a bigger regional conflict and have implications for supply of oil on markets,” Gita Gopinath, the first deputy managing director of the I.M.F., said in an interview on Wednesday.Ms. Gopinath added that higher oil prices could elevate prices more broadly, complicating interest rate decisions for central bankers. She suggested that it was too soon to say how the economic impact of the conflict in the Middle East might compare with the effects of the war in Ukraine, but that overlapping crises were a headwind.“The geopolitical risks are certainly piling up in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and we’re seeing now in Israel and Gaza,” she said.That sentiment was echoed on Wednesday by Ajay Banga, the World Bank president, who said at a news conference that he now expected interest rates to be “higher for longer” despite signs that inflation was cooling.“I believe that wars are completely and extremely challenging for central banks who are trying to find their way out of a very difficult situation,” Mr. Banga said.It is not yet clear what steps the Biden administration would take to contain oil prices if the Israel-Gaza war intensifies or how that might affect its efforts to curb Russia’s oil revenues.Ms. Yellen suggested on Wednesday that the “price cap” policy that the Group of 7 devised last year, which forbids Russia to sell oil over $60 a barrel using Western banking and insurance services, had been successful.“Global energy prices have been largely unchanged while Russia has had to either sell oil at a significant discount or spend huge amounts on its alternative ecosystem,” she said.Jim Tankersley More

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    Fragile Global Economy Faces New Crisis in Israel-Gaza War

    A war in the Middle East could complicate efforts to contain inflation at a time when world output is “limping along.”The International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday that the pace of the global economic recovery is slowing, a warning that came as a new war in the Middle East threatened to upend a world economy already reeling from several years of overlapping crises.The eruption of fighting between Israel and Hamas over the weekend, which could sow disruption across the region, reflects how challenging it has become to shield economies from increasingly frequent and unpredictable global shocks. The conflict has cast a cloud over a gathering of top economic policymakers in Morocco for the annual meetings of the I.M.F. and the World Bank.Officials who planned to grapple with the lingering economic effects of the pandemic and Russia’s war in Ukraine now face a new crisis.“Economies are at a delicate state,” Ajay Banga, the World Bank president, said in an interview on the sidelines of the annual meetings. “Having war is really not helpful for central banks who are finally trying to find their way to a soft landing,” he said. Mr. Banga was referring to efforts by policymakers in the West to try and cool rapid inflation without triggering a recession.Mr. Banga said that so far, the impact of the Middle East attacks on the world’s economy is more limited than the war in Ukraine. That conflict initially sent oil and food prices soaring, roiling global markets given Russia’s role as a top energy producer and Ukraine’s status as a major exporter of grain and fertilizer.“But if this were to spread in any way then it becomes dangerous,” Mr. Banga added, saying such a development would result in “a crisis of unimaginable proportion.”Oil markets are already jittery. Lucrezia Reichlin, a professor at the London Business School and a former director general of research at the European Central Bank, said, “the main question is what’s going to happen to energy prices.”Ms. Reichlin is concerned that another spike in oil prices would pressure the Federal Reserve and other central banks to further push up interest rates, which she said have risen too far too fast.As far as energy prices, Ms. Reichlin said, “we have two fronts, Russia and now the Middle East.”Smoke rising from bombings of Gaza City and its northern borders by Israeli planes.Samar Abu Elouf for The New York Times Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, the I.M.F.’s chief economist, said it’s too early to assess whether the recent jump in oil prices would be sustained. If they were, he said, research shows that a 10 percent increase in oil prices would weigh down the global economy, reducing output by 0.15 percent and increasing inflation by 0.4 percent next year. In its latest World Economic Outlook, the I.M.F. underscored the fragility of the recovery. It maintained its global growth outlook for this year at 3 percent and slightly lowered its forecast for 2024 to 2.9 percent. Although the I.M.F. upgraded its projection for output in the United States for this year, it downgraded the euro area and China while warning that distress in that nation’s real estate sector is worsening.“We see a global economy that is limping along, and it’s not quite sprinting yet,” Mr. Gourinchas said. In the medium term, “the picture is darker,” he added, citing a series of risks including the likelihood of more large natural disasters caused by climate change.Europe’s economy, in particular, is caught in the middle of growing global tensions. Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, European governments have frantically scrambled to free themselves from an over-dependence on Russian natural gas.They have largely succeeded by turning, in part, to suppliers in the Middle East.Over the weekend, the European Union swiftly expressed solidarity with Israel and condemned the surprise attack from Hamas, which controls Gaza.Some oil suppliers may take a different view. Algeria, for example, which has increased its exports of natural gas to Italy, criticized Israel for responding with airstrikes on Gaza.Even before the weekend’s events, the energy transition had taken a toll on European economies. In the 20 countries that use the euro, the Fund predicts that growth will slow to just 0.7 percent this year from 3.3 percent in 2022. Germany, Europe’s largest economy, is expected to contract by 0.5 percent.High interest rates, persistent inflation and the aftershocks of spiraling energy prices are also expected to slow growth in Britain to 0.5 percent this year from 4.1 percent in 2022.Sub-Saharan Africa is also caught in the slowdown. Growth is projected to shrink this year by 3.3 percent, although next year’s outlook is brighter, when growth is forecast to be 4 percent.Staggering debt looms over many of these nations. The average debt now amounts to 60 percent of the region’s total output — double what it was a decade ago. Higher interest rates have contributed to soaring repayment costs.This next-generation of sovereign debt crises is playing out in a world that is coming to terms with a reappraisal of global supply chains in addition to growing geopolitical rivalries. Added to the complexities are estimates that within the next decade, trillions of dollars in new financing will be needed to mitigate devastating climate change in developing countries.One of the biggest questions facing policymakers is what impact China’s sluggish economy will have on the rest of the world. The I.M.F. has lowered its growth outlook for China twice this year and said on Tuesday that consumer confidence there is “subdued” and that industrial production is weakening. It warned that countries that are part of the Asian industrial supply chain could be exposed to this loss of momentum.In an interview on her flight to the meetings, Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said that she believes China has the tools to address a “complex set of economic challenges” and that she does not expect its slowdown to weigh on the U.S. economy.“I think they face significant challenges that they have to address,” Ms. Yellen said. “I haven’t seen and don’t expect a spillover onto us.” More