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    How China Pulled So Far Ahead on Industrial Policy

    For more than half a century, concerns about oil shortages or a damaged climate have spurred governments to invest in alternative energy sources.In the 1970s, President Jimmy Carter placed solar panels on the roof of the White House as a symbol of his commitment to developing energy from the sun. In the 1990s, Japan offered homeowners groundbreaking subsidies to install photovoltaic panels. And in the 2000s, Germany developed an innovative program that guaranteed consumers who adopted a solar energy system that they would sell their electricity at a profit.But no country has come close to matching the scale and tenacity of China’s support. The proof is in the production: In 2022, Beijing accounted for 85 percent of all clean-energy manufacturing investment in the world, according to the International Energy Agency.Now the United States, Europe and other wealthy nations are trying frantically to catch up. Hoping to correct past missteps on industrial policy and learn from China’s successes, they are spending huge amounts on subsidizing homegrown companies while also seeking to block competing Chinese products. They have made modest inroads: Last year, the energy agency said, China’s share of new clean-energy factory investment fell to 75 percent.The problem for the West, though, is that China’s industrial dominance is underpinned by decades of experience using the power of a one-party state to pull all the levers of government and banking, while encouraging frenetic competition among private companies.China’s unrivaled production of solar panels and electric vehicles is built on an earlier cultivation of the chemical, steel, battery and electronics industries, as well as large investments in rail lines, ports and highways.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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    Big Sky, Big Growth: How Montana’s Newcomers Are Shaping Its Senate Duel

    In Montana, a recent influx of wealthy out-of-state transplants has led to a surge in luxury housing developments that obscure the mountain views in places like Bozeman.Soaring prices and cultural clashes are leading some longtime residents, like Dylan Heintz, to consider moving away.The new arrivals are an X-factor in the political landscape as Montana hosts one of this year’s top Senate races. Just how will they vote?Big Sky, Big Growth: How Montana’s Newcomers Are Shaping Its Senate DuelGrowing up in Bozeman, Mont., Dylan Heintz loved the picturesque views of the snow-capped mountains and the small-town charm. Things were cheap: His dad bought the family home for about $80,000.These days, Bozeman feels less quaint. A steady stream of out-of-state transplants to Big Sky Country became a deluge during the pandemic, leading to soaring prices, a boom in luxury apartments that blot out the rustic scenery and a rash of higher-end businesses like Whole Foods. Drawn by Montana’s natural beauty and easy access to outdoor activities, the newcomers have created an affordability crisis and a local backlash that are transforming the state’s economy and politics.“I love this place, but it’s just a tough place to live in,” said Mr. Heintz, 28, an auto body repairman. Rent has doubled in his trailer court, and he and his wife cannot afford to buy a home in town, leaving them considering a move to Florida. “There are a lot of out-of-staters that have some money, and they’re willing to pay above asking price. That definitely hurts people.”The fresh population of wealthier residents — often retirees, technology workers able to do their jobs remotely and other big-city transplants — is one of the largest question marks hanging over Montana’s crucial race for Senate. As Jon Tester, the Democratic incumbent, looks to fend off Tim Sheehy, a businessman and retired Navy SEAL who is expected to capture the Republican nomination, tensions over the exploding growth will be a top issue in November.And how the new Montanans vote could prove decisive.Senator Jon Tester of Montana, a Democrat, faces a tough re-election fight in his conservative state.Haiyun Jiang for The New York TimesTim Sheehy, a businessman and retired Navy SEAL, is expected to be the Republican nominee.Tailyr Irvine for The New York TimesOn the surface, their presence might seem to benefit the embattled Mr. Tester, because a sizable chunk of them — 35 percent of arrivals in 2022 — hail from left-leaning states like California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington, according to census data analyzed by the real estate firm CBRE. Some political experts, though, believe the arrivals could tilt more to the right, noting a broader phenomenon in which conservatives have left their home states in part because of what they see as liberal overreach.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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    G7 Finance Ministers Aim to Use Russia’s Frozen Assets to Help Ukraine

    Western economic officials projected a united front, and braced for retaliation, as they prepped tougher sanctions and tariffs.Top finance officials from the world’s advanced economies moved toward an agreement on Saturday over how to use Russia’s frozen central bank assets to aid Ukraine and warned against China’s dumping of cheap exports into their markets, aiming to marshal their economic might to tackle twin crises.The embrace of more ambitious sanctions and protectionism came as finance ministers from the Group of 7 nations gathered for three days of meetings in Stresa, Italy. The proposals under consideration could deepen the divide between the alliance of wealthy Western economies and Russia, China and their allies, worsening a global fragmentation that has worried economists.Efforts by the Group of 7 to influence the two powerful adversaries have had limited success in recent years, but rich countries are making a renewed push to test the limits of their combined economic power.In a joint statement, or communiqué, released on Saturday, policymakers said they would stay united on both fronts as geopolitical crises and trade tensions have emerged as the biggest threats to the global economy.“We are making progress in our discussions on potential avenues to bring forward the extraordinary profits stemming from immobilized Russian sovereign assets to the benefit of Ukraine,” the statement said.Regarding China, the finance ministers expressed concern about its “comprehensive use of nonmarket policies and practices that undermines our workers, industries, and economic resilience.” They agreed to monitor the negative effects of China’s overcapacity and “consider taking steps to ensure a level playing field.”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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    G7 Finance Ministers Close Ranks as Tensions with Russia and China Fester

    Western economic officials projected a united front, and braced for retaliation, as they prepped tougher sanctions and tariffs.Top finance officials from the world’s advanced economies moved closer to an agreement on Saturday over how to use Russia’s frozen central bank assets to aid Ukraine and pledged to unite against China’s dumping of cheap exports into their markets, aiming to marshal their economic might to tackle twin crises weighing on the global economy.The embrace of more ambitious sanctions and protectionism came as finance ministers from the Group of 7 nations gathered for three days of meetings in Stresa, Italy. The proposals under consideration could deepen the divide between the alliance of wealthy Western economies and Russia, China and their allies, worsening a global fragmentation that has worried economists.Efforts by the Group of 7 to influence the two powerful adversaries have had limited success in recent years, but rich countries are making a renewed push to test the limits of their combined economic power.In a joint statement, or communiqué, that was set to be released on Saturday, policymakers said they would stay united on both fronts as geopolitical crises and trade tensions have emerged as the biggest threats to the global economy.“We are making progress in our discussions on potential avenues to bring forward the extraordinary profits stemming from immobilized Russian sovereign assets to the benefit of Ukraine,” the statement, which was reviewed by The New York Times, said.Regarding China, the finance ministers expressed concern about its “comprehensive use of nonmarket policies and practices that undermines our workers, industries, and economic resilience.” They agreed to monitor the negative effects of China’s overcapacity and “consider taking steps to ensure a level playing field.”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 Trump 2.0 Could Mean for the Federal Reserve

    A second Trump administration could shake up personnel and financial regulation at America’s central bank, people close to his campaign said.Former President Donald J. Trump relentlessly criticized the Federal Reserve and Jerome H. Powell, its chair, during his time in office. As he competes with President Biden for a second presidential term, that history has many on Wall Street wondering: What would a Trump victory mean for America’s central bank?The Trump campaign does not have detailed plans for the Fed yet, several people in its orbit said, but outside advisers have been more focused on the central bank and have been making suggestions — some minor, others extreme.While some in Mr. Trump’s circles have floated the idea of trying to limit the Fed’s ability to set interest rates independent of the White House, others have pushed back hard on that idea, and people close to the campaign said they thought such a drastic effort was unlikely. Curbing the central bank’s ability to set interest rates without direct White House influence would be legally and politically tricky, and tinkering with the Fed so overtly could roil the very stock markets that Mr. Trump has frequently used as a yardstick for his success.But other aspects of Fed policy could end up squarely in Mr. Trump’s sights, both former administration officials and conservative policy thinkers have indicated.Mr. Trump is poised to once again use public criticism to try to pressure the Fed. If elected, he would also have a chance to appoint a new Fed chair in 2026, and he has already made it clear in public comments that he plans to replace Mr. Powell, whom he elevated to the job before President Biden reappointed him.“There will be a lot of rhetorical devices thrown at the Fed,” predicted Joseph A. LaVorgna, the chief economist at SMBC Nikko Securities America, an informal adviser to the Trump campaign and the chief economist of the National Economic Council during Mr. Trump’s administration.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 Minutes Show Officials Were Wary About Inflation at May Meeting

    Federal Reserve policymakers were still willing to raise rates if the economy surprised them, notes from their most recent meeting suggested.Federal Reserve officials were wary about the recent lack of progress on inflation and remained willing to lift interest rates if conditions made it necessary as of their two-day meeting that ended on May 1.Minutes from the gathering, released Wednesday, showed that “many” officials expressed uncertainty about how much today’s interest-rate setting — 5.3 percent, up sharply from near zero in early 2022 — was weighing on the economy.Officials have been clear that they expect to leave interest rates unchanged for now, hoping that they are tapping the brakes on economic growth enough to quash inflation over time. And central bankers have repeatedly emphasized that they expect the next move on interest rates to be a reduction, not an increase.But policymakers have stopped short of ruling out a future rate increase, allowing that it’s a possibility if inflation proves surprisingly rapid. The minutes underscored that caveat.“Various participants mentioned a willingness to tighten policy further” if needed, the release showed.Stock indexes fell after the release of the minutes, as investors fretted that the Fed’s wariness about inflation could keep interest rates higher.Fed officials have received some comforting news since their last gathering: Inflation cooled slightly in April, a sign that the surprisingly stubborn price pressures at the beginning of the year will not necessarily become a permanent trend. Policymakers have continued to emphasize that they are happy to keep interest rates at today’s levels for an extended period as they wait to make sure that price increases are fully decelerating.“We’re just going to need to accumulate more information,” Loretta Mester, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, said in an interview this week at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s Financial Markets Conference in Florida. She noted that improvements to supply chains lowered inflation quite a bit last year and said that was unlikely to repeat itself this year.When it comes to stamping out price increases enough to lower rates, “I do think it’s going to take longer than I had thought,” Susan Collins, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, said in an interview, also in Florida. “I think policy is restrictive, but I think it’s only moderately restrictive.” More

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    Rent Is Harder to Handle and Inflation Is a Burden, a Fed Financial Survey Finds

    The Federal Reserve’s 2023 survey on household financial well-being found Americans excelling in the job market but struggling with prices.American households struggled to cover some day-to-day expenses in 2023, including rent, and many remained glum about inflation even as price increases slowed.That’s one of several takeaways from a new Federal Reserve report on the financial well-being of American households. The report suggested that American households remained in similar financial shape to 2022 — but its details also provided a split screen view of the U.S. economy.On the one hand, households feel good about their job and wage growth prospects and are saving for retirement, evidence that the benefits of very low unemployment and rapid hiring are tangible. And about 72 percent of adults reported either doing OK or living comfortably financially, in line with 73 percent the year before.But that optimistic share is down from 78 percent in 2021, when households had just benefited from repeated pandemic stimulus checks. And signs of financial stress tied to higher prices lingered, and in some cases intensified, just under the report’s surface.Inflation cooled notably over the course of 2023, falling to 3.4 percent at the end of the year from 6.5 percent going into the year. Yet 65 percent of adults said that price changes had made their financial situation worse. People with lower income were much more likely to report that strain: Ninety-six percent of people making less than $25,000 said that their situations had been made worse.Renters also reported increasing challenges in keeping up with their bills. The report showed that 19 percent of renters reported being behind on their rent at some point in the year, up two percentage points from 2022.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 Opens the Year With Stronger Sales and Profit

    The NewsWalmart, the largest retailer in the United States, on Thursday reported higher sales and profit in the first quarter, giving insight into how consumer spending is weathering the high-interest-rate environment.Walmart has performed better than retailers dependent on apparel sales, in part because it sells essential goods like groceries.Cj Gunther/EPA, via ShutterstockThe Numbers: Sales grew in stores and especially online.Walmart said its comparable-store sales in its U.S. business rose 3.8 percent from the quarter a year earlier. Its global e-commerce business jumped 21 percent. Walmart has performed better than retailers dependent on apparel sales, in part because it also sells essential goods like groceries. Consumers are continuing to find places to cut back on their purchasing.Transactions were up 3.8 percent, while the average ticket price showed with each visit people were spending about the same as they did this time last year. The retailer said consumers from “upper-income households” helped it gain market share, reiterating a trend it has noted since Americans started navigating high inflation a couple of years ago.Walmart’s quarterly profit, of $5.1 billion, was triple the result a year earlier.The retailer’s stock rose in premarket trading, as investors reacted to last quarter’s results and the company’s upgraded forecast for growth this year.What They’re Saying: Smooth sailing on a choppy sea.“In a sea of challenged and volatile and confusing consumer spending,” said David Silverman, a retail analyst at Fitch Ratings, “what’s interesting is how strong and consistent this quarter and many of Walmart’s last few quarters have been.” He said Walmart’s focus as a value-oriented retailer had been a strength during this period.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