Business

Rents Are Falling. So Why Isn’t That Showing Up in Inflation Data?
Business

Rents Are Falling. So Why Isn’t That Showing Up in Inflation Data?

The Federal Reserve may have a housing problem. At the very least, it has a housing riddle.Overall inflation has eased substantially over the past year. But housing has proved a tenacious — and surprising — exception. The cost of shelter was up 6 percent in January from a year earlier, and rose faster on a monthly basis than in December, according to the Labor Department. That acceleration was a big reason for the pickup in overall consumer prices last month.The persistence of housing inflation poses a problem for Fed officials as they consider when to roll back interest rates. Housing is by far the biggest monthly expense for most families, which means it weighs heavily on inflation calculations. Unless housing costs cool, it will be hard for inflation as a whole to return sustainably to ...
Claude Montana, Fashion Designer Whose Look Defined the ’80s, Dies at 76
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Claude Montana, Fashion Designer Whose Look Defined the ’80s, Dies at 76

Claude Montana, the audacious and haunted French designer whose exquisite tailoring defined the big-shouldered power look of the 1980s — an erotic and androgynous tough chic that brought him fame and accolades until he was felled by drugs and tragedy in the ’90s — died on Friday in France. He was 76.The Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode confirmed the death but did not specify a cause or say where he died.Mr. Montana was among a cohort of avant-garde Parisian designers, among them Thierry Mugler and later Jean Paul Gaultier, who idealized the feminine form in extravagant, stylized ways that harked back to the screen sirens of old Hollywood, but as reconstituted in outer space. Mr. Mugler, who died in 2022, offered a campier femme fatale than Mr. Montana’s icy vision, though the t...
2 Years Into Russia-Ukraine War, U.S. Campaign to Isolate Putin Shows Limits
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2 Years Into Russia-Ukraine War, U.S. Campaign to Isolate Putin Shows Limits

The Biden administration and European allies call President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia a tyrant and a war criminal. But he enjoys a standing invitation to the halls of power in Brazil.The president of Brazil says that Ukraine and Russia are both to blame for the war that began with the Russian military’s invasion. And his nation’s purchases of Russian energy and fertilizer have soared, pumping billions of dollars into the Russian economy.The views of the president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, encapsulate the global bind in which the United States and Ukraine find themselves as the war enters its third year.When Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, the Biden administration activated a diplomatic offensive that was as important as its scramble to ship weapons ...
Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin Rocket Moves Closer to Launch
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Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin Rocket Moves Closer to Launch

There’s an easy knock against the space dreams of Jeff Bezos and his rocket company, Blue Origin: In its 24th year of existence, the company has yet to launch a single thing to orbit.Blue Origin’s accomplishments to date are modest — a small vehicle known as New Shepard that takes space tourists and experiments on brief suborbital jaunts. By contrast, SpaceX, the rocket company started by the other high-profile space billionaire, Elon Musk, today dominates the launch market.On Wednesday, Blue Origin hopes to change the narrative, holding a coming-out party of sorts for its new big rocket.In the morning, at Launch Complex 36 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, the doors to a giant garage opened. The rocket, as tall as a 32-story building, lay horizontally on the trusses of...
For Michigan’s Economy, Electric Vehicles Are Promising and Scary
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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 me...
Volkswagen and BASF Are Reconsidering Ties to Xinjiang, China
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Volkswagen and BASF Are Reconsidering Ties to Xinjiang, China

Volkswagen Group is reviewing the future of its joint venture in the Xinjiang region of northwestern China and another German industrial giant is starting to sell its stakes there following new international scrutiny of forced labor by predominantly Muslim ethnic groups.Volkswagen said last week that it was in discussions with one of its main joint venture partners in China, the state-owned Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation, in the wake of allegations of human rights violations at their joint venture in Xinjiang.The companies are examining “the future direction of the J.V.’s business activities in Xinjiang,” VW said, adding that “various scenarios are currently being examined intensively.”BASF of Germany, the world’s largest chemical company, disclosed on Feb. 9 that it began moving...
Amazon Argues National Labor Relations Board Is Unconstitutional
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Amazon Argues National Labor Relations Board Is Unconstitutional

In the latest sign of a growing backlash within corporate America to the 88-year-old federal agency that enforces labor rights, Amazon argued in a legal filing on Thursday that the National Labor Relations Board was unconstitutional.The move followed a similar argument by SpaceX, the rocket company founded and run by Elon Musk, in a legal complaint in January, and by Trader Joe’s during a labor board hearing a few weeks later.The labor board consists of a prosecutorial arm, which issues complaints against employers or unions deemed to have violated federally protected labor rights; administrative judges, who hear complaints; and a five-member board in Washington, to which decisions can be appealed.Amazon’s filing was part of a case before an administrative judge in which labor board prosec...
US Agencies Start Inquiry Into Generic Drug Shortages
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US Agencies Start Inquiry Into Generic Drug Shortages

The Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Health and Human Services said on Wednesday that they would examine the causes of generic drug shortages and the practices of “powerful middlemen” that are involved in the supply chain.The federal agencies’ inquiry is aimed at the group purchasing organizations and drug distributors that have been in the spotlight in recent months as drug shortages reached a 10-year peak. The agencies want to examine the companies’ influence on how the drugs are sold to hospitals and other health facilities, assessing whether the middlemen put pressure on pricing and manufacturing that led to breakdowns.During Congressional hearings in the last year, oncology experts have testified about the effects of the shortages, describing difficult decisions that for...
American Firms Invested $1 Billion in Chinese Chips, Lawmakers Find
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American Firms Invested $1 Billion in Chinese Chips, Lawmakers Find

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 ch...
Hate Valentine’s Day? There’s a Market for You, Too.
Business

Hate Valentine’s Day? There’s a Market for You, Too.

Lilly Calman is not in the mood this Valentine’s Day for the flowers, chocolates or a romantic dinner for two, especially after a recent breakup.“I’m very angry,” said Ms. Calman, 26, adding that it had been painful to see all the holiday paraphernalia in store aisles.She found a more fitting outlet for her mood this year: a fund-raiser for the San Antonio zoo that will symbolically name a roach or rodent after an ex and feed it to one of the zoo’s animals.“The visual image of him getting eaten by a Komodo dragon is pretty satisfying,” said Ms. Calman, who donated $25 for the rat option. She is hoping the zoo sends her a video so she can host a screening with a friend. “I love reptiles. I think it’s cool.”The annual campaign has raised over $235,000 since the zoo first ran it in 2020, unde...