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    For Michigan’s Economy, Electric Vehicles Are Promising and Scary

    Last fall, Tiffanie Simmons, a second-generation autoworker, endured a six-week strike at the Ford Motor factory just west of Detroit where she builds Bronco S.U.V.s. That yielded a pay raise of 25 percent over the next four years, easing the pain of reductions that she and other union workers swallowed more than a decade ago.But as Ms. Simmons, 38, contemplates prospects for the American auto industry in the state that invented it, she worries about a new force: the shift toward electric vehicles. She is dismayed that the transition has been championed by President Biden, whose pro-labor credentials are at the heart of his bid for re-election, and who recently gained the endorsement of her union, the United Automobile Workers.The Biden administration has embraced electric vehicles as a means of generating high-paying jobs while cutting emissions. It has dispensed tax credits to encourage consumers to buy electric cars, while limiting the benefits to models that use American-made parts.But autoworkers fixate on the assumption that electric cars — simpler machines than their gas-powered forebears — will require fewer hands to build. They accuse Mr. Biden of jeopardizing their livelihoods.“I was disappointed,” Ms. Simmons said of the president. “We trust you to make sure that Americans are employed.”Tiffanie Simmons works in Wayne, Mich., at a Ford Motor factory that builds Broncos.Nick Hagen for The New York TimesMs. Simmons’s union has endorsed President Biden, but “I was disappointed” in him, she said.Nick Hagen for 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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    U.S. Awards $1.5 Billion to Chipmaker GlobalFoundries

    The grant will go toward chips for the auto and defense industries, and is the largest award to date from $39 billion in government funding.The Biden administration on Monday announced a $1.5 billion award to the New York-based chipmaker GlobalFoundries, one of the first sizable grants from a government program aimed at revitalizing semiconductor manufacturing in the United States.As part of the plan to bolster GlobalFoundries, the administration will also make available another $1.6 billion in federal loans. The grants are expected to triple the company’s production capacity in the state of New York over ten years.The funding represents an effort by the Biden administration and lawmakers of both parties to try to revitalize American semiconductor manufacturing. Currently, just 12 percent of chips are made in the United States, with the bulk manufactured in Asia. America’s reliance on foreign sources of chips became an issue in the early part of the pandemic, when automakers and other manufacturers had to delay or shutter production amid a dearth of critical chips.The award to GlobalFoundries will help the firm expand its existing facility in Malta, N.Y., enabling it to fulfill a contract with General Motors to ensure dedicated chip production for its cars.It will also help GlobalFoundries build a new facility to manufacture critical chips that are not currently being made in the United States. That includes a new class of semiconductors suited for use in satellites because they can survive high doses of radiation.The money will also be used to upgrade the company’s operations in Vermont, creating the first U.S. facility capable of producing a kind of chip used in electric vehicles, the power grid, and 5G and 6G smartphones. If not for the investment, administration officials said the facility in Vermont would have faced closure.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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    Nature Has Value. Could We Literally Invest in It?

    “Natural asset companies” would put a market price on improving ecosystems, rather than on destroying them.Picture this: You own a few hundred acres near a growing town that your family has been farming for generations. Turning a profit has gotten harder, and none of your children want to take it over. You don’t want to sell the land; you love the open space, the flora and fauna it hosts. But offers from developers who would turn it into subdivisions or strip malls seem increasingly tempting.One day, a land broker mentions an idea. How about granting a long-term lease to a company that values your property for the same reasons you do: long walks through tall grass, the calls of migrating birds, the way it keeps the air and water clean.It sounds like a scam. Or charity. In fact, it’s an approach backed by hardheaded investors who think nature has an intrinsic value that can provide them with a return down the road — and in the meantime, they would be happy to hold shares of the new company on their balance sheets.Such a company doesn’t yet exist. But the idea has gained traction among environmentalists, money managers and philanthropists who believe that nature won’t be adequately protected unless it is assigned a value in the market — whether or not that asset generates dividends through a monetizable use.The concept almost hit the big time when the Securities and Exchange Commission was considering a proposal from the New York Stock Exchange to list these “natural asset companies” for public trading. But after a wave of fierce opposition from right-wing groups and Republican politicians, and even conservationists wary of Wall Street, in mid-January the exchange pulled the plug.That doesn’t mean natural asset companies are going away; their proponents are working on prototypes in the private markets to build out the model. And even if this concept doesn’t take off, it’s part of a larger movement motivated by the belief that if natural riches are to be preserved, they must have a price.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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    This Arctic Circle Town Expected a Green Energy Boom. Then Came Bidenomics.

    In Mo i Rana, a small Norwegian industrial town on the cusp of the Arctic Circle, a cavernous gray factory sits empty and unfinished in the snowy twilight — a monument to unfulfilled economic hope.The electric battery company Freyr was partway through constructing this hulking facility when the Biden administration’s sweeping climate bill passed in 2022. Perhaps the most significant climate legislation in history, the Inflation Reduction Act promised an estimated $369 billion in tax breaks and grants for clean energy technology over the next decade. Its incentives for battery production within the United States were so generous that they eventually helped prod Freyr to pause its Norway facility and focus on setting up shop in Georgia.The start-up is still raising funds to build the factory as it tries to prove the viability of its key technology, but it has already changed its business registration to the United States.Its pivot was symbolic of a larger global tug of war as countries vie for the firms and technologies that will shape the future of energy. The world has shifted away from decades of emphasizing private competition and has plunged into a new era of competitive industrial policy — one in which nations are offering a mosaic of favorable regulations and public subsidies to try to attract green industries like electric vehicles and storage, solar and hydrogen.Mo i Rana offers a stark example of the competition underway. The industrial town is trying to establish itself as the green energy capital of Norway, so Freyr’s decision to invest elsewhere came as a blow. Local authorities had originally hoped that the factory could attract thousands of employees and new residents to their town of about 20,000 — an enticing promise for a region struggling with an aging population. Instead, Freyr is employing only about 110 people locally at its testing plant focused on technological development.“The Inflation Reduction Act changed everything,” said Ingvild Skogvold, the managing director of Ranaregionen Naeringsforening, a chamber of commerce group in Mo i Rana. She faulted the national government’s response.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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    American Firms Invested $1 Billion in Chinese Chips, Lawmakers Find

    A congressional investigation determined that U.S. funding helped fuel the growth of a sector now viewed by Washington as a security threat.A congressional investigation has determined that five American venture capital firms invested more than $1 billion in China’s semiconductor industry since 2001, fueling the growth of a sector that the United States government now regards as a national security threat.Funds supplied by the five firms — GGV Capital, GSR Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures, Sequoia Capital and Walden International — went to more than 150 Chinese companies, according to the report, which was released Thursday by both Republicans and Democrats on the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party.The investments included roughly $180 million that went to Chinese firms that the committee said directly or indirectly supported Beijing’s military. That includes companies that the U.S. government has said provide chips for China’s military research, equipment and weapons, such as Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation, or SMIC, China’s largest chipmaker.The report by the House committee focuses on investments made before the Biden administration imposed sweeping restrictions aimed at cutting off China’s access to American financing. It does not allege any illegality.In August, the Biden administration barred U.S. venture capital and private equity firms from investing in Chinese quantum computing, artificial intelligence and advanced semiconductors. It has also imposed worldwide limits on sales of advanced chips and chip-making machines to China, arguing that these technologies could help advance the capabilities of the Chinese military and spy agencies.Since it was established a year ago, the committee has called for raising tariffs on China, targeted Ford Motor and others for doing business with Chinese companies, and spotlighted forced labor concerns involving Chinese shopping sites.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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    For First Time in Two Decades, U.S. Buys More From Mexico Than China

    The United States bought more goods from Mexico than China in 2023 for the first time in 20 years, evidence of how much global trade patterns have shifted.In the depths of the pandemic, as global supply chains buckled and the cost of shipping a container from China soared nearly twentyfold, Marco Villarreal spied an opportunity.In 2021, Mr. Villarreal resigned as Caterpillar’s director general in Mexico and began nurturing ties with companies looking to shift manufacturing from China to Mexico. He found a client in Hisun, a Chinese producer of all-terrain vehicles, which hired Mr. Villarreal to establish a $152 million manufacturing site in Saltillo, an industrial hub in northern Mexico.Mr. Villarreal said foreign companies, particularly those seeking to sell within North America, saw Mexico as a viable alternative to China for several reasons, including the simmering trade tensions between the United States and China.“The stars are aligning for Mexico,” he said.New data released on Wednesday showed that Mexico outpaced China for the first time in 20 years to become America’s top source of official imports — a significant shift that highlights how increased tensions between Washington and Beijing are altering trade flows.The United States’ trade deficit with China narrowed significantly last year, with goods imports from the country dropping 20 percent to $427.2 billion, the data shows. American consumers and businesses turned to Mexico, Europe, South Korea, India, Canada and Vietnam for auto parts, shoes, toys and raw materials.Imports from China fell last yearU.S. imports of goods by origin

    Sources: U.S. Census Bureau; U.S. Bureau of Economic AnalysisBy 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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    Fed Chair Powell Says Officials Need More ‘Good’ Data Before Cutting Rates

    Federal Reserve officials are debating when to lower rates. An interview with Jerome H. Powell confirms a move is coming, but not immediately.Jerome H. Powell, the chair of the Federal Reserve, made clear during a “60 Minutes” interview aired on Sunday night that the central bank is moving toward cutting interest rates as inflation recedes, but that policymakers need to see continued progress toward cooler price increases to make the first move.Mr. Powell was interviewed on Thursday, after the Fed’s meeting last week but before Friday’s blockbuster jobs report. He reiterated his message that lower borrowing costs are coming. But he also said that the Fed’s next meeting in March is probably too early for policymakers to feel sure enough that inflation is coming under control to reduce rates.“We think we can be careful in approaching this decision just because of the strength that we’re seeing in the economy,” Mr. Powell said during the interview, based on a transcript released ahead of its airing. He added that officials would want to see a continued moderation in price increases, even after several months of milder readings.The progress on inflation “doesn’t need to be better than what we’ve seen, or even as good. It just needs to be good,” Mr. Powell said.His remarks reaffirm that lower borrowing costs are likely coming this year — a change that could make mortgages, car loans and credit card debt cheaper for Americans. They also underscore how much better today’s economic situation is proving to be than what economists and Fed officials expected just a year ago.Many forecasters had predicted that the Fed’s rapid campaign of interest rate increases, which pushed borrowing costs from near zero to a range of 5.25 to 5.5 percent from March 2022 to July 2023, would slow the economy so much that it might even spur a recession. Central bankers themselves — including Mr. Powell — believed that some economic pain would probably be needed to cool consumer and business demand enough to prod businesses to stop raising prices so quickly.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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    For Biden, a Sunny Economy Could Finally Be a Potential Gain

    Recession fears have eased. Growth and job gains are beating expectations. Inflation is cooling. Consumers are happier. The president is waiting to benefit.A run of strong economic data appears to have finally punctured consumers’ sour mood about the U.S. economy, blasting away recession fears and potentially aiding President Biden in his re-election campaign.Mr. Biden has struggled to sell voters on the positive signs in the economy under his watch, including rapid job gains, low unemployment and the fastest rebound in economic growth from the pandemic recession of any wealthy country.For much of Mr. Biden’s term, forecasters warned of imminent recession. Consumers remained glum, and voters told pollsters they were angry with the president for the other big economic development of his tenure: a surge of inflation that peaked in 2022, with the fastest rate of price growth in four decades.Much of that narrative appears to be changing. After lagging price growth early in Mr. Biden’s term, wages are now rising faster than inflation. The economy grew 3.1 percent from the end of 2022 to the end of 2023, defying expectations, including robust growth at the end of the year. The inflation rate is falling toward historically normal levels. U.S. stock markets are recording record highs.The Federal Reserve, which sharply raised interest rates to tame price growth, signaled this week that it was likely to start cutting rates soon. “This is a good economy,” Jerome H. Powell, the Fed chair, whose central bank is independent from the White House, declared at a news conference this week.The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index has jumped in each of the past two months. A key component of it, in which consumers rate their current economic situations, is closing in on its recent high from February 2020, on the eve of the coronavirus pandemic.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