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Fed Officials Debated Rate Liftoff in 2015, Offering Lessons for Today

The Federal Reserve lifted interest rates from near zero in 2015 after years of holding them at rock bottom following the 2008 global financial crisis. Transcripts from their policy discussions, released Friday, show just how fraught that decision was. The debate that played out then is especially relevant now, when the central bank has again slashed interest rates practically to zero, this time to fight the pandemic-induced economic downturn. The concerns that officials voiced over lifting rates in 2015 — that inflation would not pick up, and that the labor market had further to heal — proved prescient in ways that...

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Chinese Solar Companies Tied to Use of Forced Labor

Xiaojing Sun, a senior research analyst at Wood Mackenzie, said solar companies were starting to investigate their exposure to Xinjiang and reconfigure their supply chains to avoid the region if possible. In a note to investors in October, analysts at Roth Capital Partners said the solar sector faced a “heightened risk of disruption” because of its ties to Xinjiang. “Investors are getting nervous,” Ms. Sun said. The Solar Energy Industries Association, the largest industry association in the United States, has called human rights abuses in Xinjiang “reprehensible” and strongly encouraged companies “to immediately move their supply chains out of the region.” Since unfettered on-the-ground...

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Here Are the 8 Chinese Apps Trump Banned

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order prohibiting transactions with eight Chinese software applications, including Alipay, the payment platform owned by Ant Group, and WeChat Pay, which is owned by Tencent. The move, two weeks before the end of Mr. Trump’s term, could help lock in his administration’s harsher stance toward China and is likely to further rankle Beijing. But defining the scope of the order and enforcing it would presumably fall to the incoming Biden administration, which has not clarified whether it will try to enact Mr. Trump’s bans, creating uncertainty about the efficacy of the move. The...

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Chinese electric car company Nio doubles deliveries in 2020 as local competition ramps up for Tesla

A Nio ES6 electric vehicle is on display at an automotive experience area of Wanda Plaza on Nov. 28, 2020 in Beijing, China. BEIJING — China’s homegrown Tesla rivals are racking up sales in the world’s largest auto market. Electric car start-ups Nio, Li Auto and Xpeng each announced in the last few days that deliveries surged in 2020 to close out the year with new monthly highs. The strength in demand reflects the overall recovery in China’s economy and its auto market. In a national push to become a leader in electric vehicle technology, the Chinese government has also supported the industry...

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Trump pressures Georgia top election official to ‘find’ votes and overturn Biden victory in phone call

President Donald Trump, in an extraordinary phone call this weekend, pressured Georgia’s Republican secretary of state to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state by finding votes to shift the count in his favor, according to audio obtained by NBC News. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger resisted pressure from Trump to change Georgia’s election results even as the president made veiled threats about potential criminal prosecution if he was refused. The call took place Saturday. Trump, who has refused to concede the election, said during the call that he wanted “to find 11,780 votes” to change the result in Georgia. He told...

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U.S. could ramp up slow Covid vaccine rollout by giving two half volume doses of Moderna shot, Slaoui says

A worker of the New York City Fire Department Bureau of Emergency Medical Services (FDNY EMS) receives a COVID-19 Moderna vaccine, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., December 23, 2020. The head of the federal government’s Covid-19 vaccine program said Sunday that health officials are exploring the idea of giving a major group of Americans half volume doses of one vaccine to accelerate the rollout. Moncef Slaoui, the head of Operation Warp Speed, said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that one way to speed up immunizations against Covid-19 was to give...

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As Some Deficit Hawks Turn Dove, the New Politics of Debt Are on Display

And while running big deficits might have once stoked fears about inflation — as too many dollars chased too few goods — price gains have been too low for comfort for years. Add to that the emergency needs prompted by the pandemic, and even the Fed’s leader, who had long warned about the nation’s debt load, has said this is a reasonable time to spend money. “As a general rule, it is important to be on a sustainable fiscal path,” the Fed chair, Jerome H. Powell, a Republican, said at a news conference last month. “From my way of thinking and...

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Why Markets Boomed in a Year of Human Misery

The central, befuddling economic reality of the United States at the close of 2020 is that everything is terrible in the world, while everything is wonderful in the financial markets. It’s a macabre spectacle. Asset prices keep reaching new, extraordinary highs, when around 3,000 people a day are dying of coronavirus and 800,000 people a week are filing new unemployment claims. Even an enthusiast of modern capitalism might wonder if something is deeply broken in how the economy works. To better understand this strange mix of buoyant markets and economic despair, it’s worth turning to the data. As it happens, the numbers...

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27 Places Raising the Minimum Wage to $15 an Hour

It started in 2012 with a group of protesters outside a McDonald’s demanding a $15 minimum wage — an idea that even many liberal lawmakers considered outlandish. In the years since, their fight has gained traction across the country, including in conservative states with low union membership and generally weak labor laws. On Friday, 20 states and 32 cities and counties will raise their minimum wage. In 27 of these places, the pay floor will reach or exceed $15 an hour, according to a report released on Thursday by the National Employment Law Project, which supports minimum-wage increases. The movement’s strength —...

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McConnell refuses to budge on $2,000 stimulus checks as Schumer offers separate votes on other Trump demands

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Democrat from New York, holds a virtual meeting with Pete Buttigieg, former mayor of South Bend, not pictured, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday that Democrats would allow for votes limiting a liability shield for tech companies and establishing a commission to examine the 2020 election if Republicans agreed to hold a separate up-or-down vote on sending $2,000 checks to most Americans. “Just give us a vote on the House-passed bill, and we can vote on whatever right-wing conspiracy theory you like,” the...

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