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    Biden’s Stimulus Juiced the Economy, but Its Political Effects Are Muddled

    Some voters blame the American Rescue Plan for fueling price increases. But the growth it unleashed may be helping the president stay more popular than counterparts in Europe.The $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package that President Biden signed shortly after taking office has become both an anchor and a buoy for his re-election campaign.The American Rescue Plan, which the Biden administration created and Democrats passed in March 2021, has fueled discontent among voters, in sometimes paradoxical ways. Some Americans blame the law, which included direct checks to individuals, for helping to fuel rapid inflation.Others appear upset that its relief to people, businesses and school districts was short-lived. The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas reported recently that several business contacts in its district “expressed concern about the winding down of American Rescue Plan Act dollars and whether nonprofits and K-12 schools will be able to sustain certain programs without that funding.”Polls show that Americans continue to favor Mr. Biden’s opponent, former President Donald J. Trump, on economic issues. Often, they indicate that only relatively small slices of the electorate believe Mr. Biden’s policies have helped them or their family financially.At the same time, though, the stimulus may be lifting Mr. Biden’s chances for November in ways that pollsters rarely ask about.Economists say the relief package, along with stimulus measures Mr. Trump signed into law in 2020, has helped accelerate America’s recovery from the pandemic recession. The United States has grown and added jobs in a way that no other wealthy nation has experienced after the 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

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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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    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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    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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    Senate Inquiry Finds BMW Imported Cars Tied to Forced Labor in China

    The report also found that Jaguar Land Rover and Volkswagen bought parts from a supplier the U.S. government had singled out for its practices in Xinjiang.A congressional investigation found that BMW, Jaguar Land Rover and Volkswagen purchased parts that originated from a Chinese supplier flagged by the United States for participating in forced labor programs in Xinjiang, a far western region of China where the local population is subject to mass surveillance and detentions.Both BMW and Jaguar Land Rover continued to import components made by the Chinese company into the United States in violation of American law, even after they were informed in writing about the presence of banned products in their supply chain, the report said.BMW shipped to the United States at least 8,000 MINI vehicles containing the part after the Chinese supplier was added in December to a U.S. government list of companies participating in forced labor. Volkswagen took steps to correct the issue.The investigation, which began in 2022 by the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Ron Wyden of Oregon, a Democrat, highlights the risk for major automakers as the United States tries to enforce a two-year-old law aimed at blocking goods from Xinjiang. The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act bars goods made in whole or in part in Xinjiang from being imported to the United States, unless the importer can prove that they were not made with forced labor.In a statement, Mr. Wyden said that “automakers are sticking their heads in the sand and then swearing they can’t find any forced labor in their supply chains.”“Somehow, the Finance Committee’s oversight staff uncovered what multibillion-dollar companies apparently could not: that BMW imported cars, Jaguar Land Rover imported parts, and VW AG manufactured cars that all included components made by a supplier banned for using Uyghur forced labor,” he added. “Automakers’ self-policing is clearly not doing the job.”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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    U.S. and Europe Move Closer to Using Russian Assets to Help Ukraine

    Finance ministers from the G7 nations are hoping to finalize a plan ahead of the group’s leaders meeting next month.The United States and Europe are coalescing around a plan to use interest earned on frozen Russian central bank assets to provide Ukraine with a loan to be used for military and economic assistance, potentially providing the country with a multibillion-dollar lifeline as Russia’s war effort intensifies.Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said in an interview on Sunday that several options for using $300 billion in immobilized Russian assets remained on the table. But she said the most promising idea was for Group of 7 nations to issue a loan to Ukraine that would be backed by profits and interest income that is being earned on Russian assets held in Europe.Finance ministers from the Group of 7 will be meeting in Italy later this week in hopes of finalizing a plan that they can deliver to heads of state ahead of the group’s leaders meeting next month. The urgency to find a way to deliver more financial support to Ukraine has been mounting as the country’s efforts to fend off Russia have shown signs of faltering.“I think we see considerable interest among all of our partners in a loan structure that would bring forward the stream of windfall profits,” Ms. Yellen said during her flight to Germany, where she is holding meetings ahead of the Group of 7 summit. “It would generate a significant up-front amount that would help meet needs we anticipate Ukraine is going to have both militarily and through reconstruction.”For months, Western allies have been debating how far to go in using the Russian central bank assets. The United States believes that it would be legal under international law to confiscate the money and give it to Ukraine, but several European countries, including France and Germany, have been wary about the lawfulness of such a move and the precedent that it would set.Although the United States recently passed legislation that would give the Biden administration the authority to seize and confiscate Russian assets, the desire to act in unison with Europe has largely sidelined that idea.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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    Few Chinese Electric Cars Are Sold in U.S., but Industry Fears a Flood

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

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    U.S. Awards $120 Million to Polar Semiconductor to Expand Chip Facility

    The grant is the latest federal award in a series stemming from the CHIPS and Science Act meant to ramp up domestic production of vital semiconductors.Federal officials will provide up to $120 million in grants to Polar Semiconductor to help the company expand its chip manufacturing facility in Minnesota, the Biden administration announced on Monday, the latest in a string of awards meant to strengthen the U.S. supply of semiconductors.Commerce Department officials said the grant would help Polar upgrade technology and double production capacity at its facility in Bloomington, Minn., within two years. The company produces chips that are critical for cars, defense systems and electrical grids, federal officials said.“We are making taxpayer dollars go as far as possible while crowding in private and state investment to create jobs, secure our supply chains and bolster manufacturing in Minnesota,” said Laurie Locascio, the under secretary of commerce for standards and technology.The funding stems from the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act, which lawmakers passed in 2022 to ramp up the domestic production of commercial semiconductors, the tiny chips crucial for most electronics, including smartphones, computers, cars and weapons systems. The law gave the Commerce Department $39 billion to distribute to companies to incentivize the construction and expansion of new plants in the United States.Scaling up domestic chip production is a major component of President Biden’s economic policy agenda, which largely focuses on bolstering American manufacturing and bringing back jobs that have shifted overseas. Only about 10 percent of the world’s semiconductors are produced in the United States, down from about 37 percent in 1990.Biden administration officials have so far announced awards of more than $29 billion. Last month, the Commerce Department announced up to $6.1 billion in grants to Micron to help the chipmaker build plants in New York and Idaho. Other chipmakers — including Samsung, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company and Intel — have received multibillion-dollar awards. GlobalFoundries, Microchip Technology and BAE Systems received the first three federal awards.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