Monday, March 4

Economy

How 33-Year-Olds, the Peak Millennials, Are Shaping the U.S. Economy
Economy

How 33-Year-Olds, the Peak Millennials, Are Shaping the U.S. Economy

I have covered economics for 11 years now, and in that time, I have come to the realization that I am a statistic. Every time I make a major life choice, I promptly watch it become the thing that everyone is doing that year.I started college in 2009, in the era of all-time-high matriculation rates. When I moved to a big coastal city after graduation, so did a huge crowd of people: It was the age of millennial urbanization. When I lived in a walk-in closet so that I could pay off my student loans (“The yellow paint makes it cheerful!”, Craigslist promised), student debt had recently overtaken auto loans and credit cards as the biggest source of borrowing outside of housing in America.My partner and I bought a house in 2021, along with (seemingly and actually) a huge chunk of the rest of the...
Shrinkflation 101: The Economics of Smaller Groceries
Economy

Shrinkflation 101: The Economics of Smaller Groceries

Grocery store shoppers are noticing something amiss. Air-filled bags of chips. Shrunken soup cans. Diminished detergent packages.Companies are downsizing products without downsizing prices, and consumer posts from Reddit to TikTok to the New York Times comments section drip with indignation at the trend, widely known as “shrinkflation.”The practice isn’t new. Sellers have been quietly shrinking products to avoid raising prices for centuries, and experts think it has been an obvious corporate strategy since at least 1988, when Chock Full o’Nuts cut its one-pound coffee canister to 13 ounces and its competitors followed suit.But outrage today is acute. President Biden tapped into the angst in a recent video. (“What makes me the most angry is that ice cream cartons have actually shrunk in siz...
Donna Summer’s Estate Sues Ye for Sampling ‘I Feel Love’
Economy

Donna Summer’s Estate Sues Ye for Sampling ‘I Feel Love’

When Ye and Ty Dolla Sign asked last month for permission to sample Donna Summer’s 1977 song “I Feel Love,” the disco singer’s estate firmly told them no. Yet when their joint LP, “Vultures 1,” was released weeks ago, a song with strong similarities to Summer’s famous tune was there on the track list.A copyright infringement lawsuit detailing that timeline was filed against Ye, the rapper once known as Kanye West, and Ty Dolla Sign on Tuesday by Summer’s husband and executor, Bruce Sudano. Summer, known as the “Queen of Disco,” had three consecutive double albums reach No. 1 in the late 1970s and died of cancer in 2012.The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Los Angeles, said that Summer’s estate “wanted no association with West’s controversial history.”Ye, once one of the biggest music sta...
Housing Costs Are Running Hot, but Is the Data Missing a Cooling Trend?
Economy

Housing Costs Are Running Hot, but Is the Data Missing a Cooling Trend?

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 ...
Zong Qinghou, Beverage Tycoon in China, Dies at 79
Economy

Zong Qinghou, Beverage Tycoon in China, Dies at 79

Zong Qinghou, a self-made beverage entrepreneur who was once the richest person in China, died on Sunday.His death was announced by his company, Wahaha Group, which said that Mr. Zong had died from an unspecified illness and gave his age as 79. The company statement provided no further details.Mr. Zong’s rags-to-riches story had made him prominent in China even before a public feud with his foreign business partner considerably raised his profile — and his wealth. He founded a beverage company in the 1980s, and in the 1990s, he partnered with Danone, the French food giant, to launch one of the best-known food and beverage brands in China.But tensions erupted in 2007 when Danone accused Mr. Zong of running secret companies selling virtually identical products that siphoned off as much as $1...
What Is Your Housing Situation? We Want to Hear From You.
Economy

What Is Your Housing Situation? We Want to Hear From You.

“No society can be fully understood apart from the residences of its members.”I have that quote (from “Crabgrass Frontier,” the seminal history of America’s suburbs) taped to a wall behind my desk. It summarizes why I love covering housing for The New York Times and seem never to run out of things to write about. Housing is everything. It’s where we live and raise our families. It is most people’s largest store of wealth. Whether you own, you rent, or you sleep outside, where you hang your head defines much of your existence.Over the past few decades, and especially since the pandemic, housing has gone from a symbol of American strength to an everyday crisis. Aspiring homeowners are becoming forever renters. People live in increasingly crowded households, the supply of illegal housing has ...
New Freighters Could Ease Red Sea Cargo Disruptions
Economy

New Freighters Could Ease Red Sea Cargo Disruptions

After the Houthi militia started attacking container ships in the Red Sea last year, the cost of shipping goods from Asia soared by over 300 percent, prompting fears that supply chain disruptions might once again roil the global economy.The Houthis, who are backed by Iran and control northern Yemen, continue to threaten ships, forcing many to take a much longer route around Africa’s southern tip. But there are signs that the world will probably avoid a drawn-out shipping crisis.One reason for the optimism is that a huge number of container ships, ordered two to three years ago, are entering service. Those extra vessels are expected to help shipping companies maintain regular service as their ships travel longer distances. The companies ordered the ships when the extraordinary surge in worl...
Will Food Prices Stop Rising Quickly? Many Companies Say Yes.
Economy

Will Food Prices Stop Rising Quickly? Many Companies Say Yes.

Few prices are as visible to Americans as the ones they encounter at the grocery store or drive-through window, which is why two years of rapid food inflation have been a major drag for U.S. households and the Biden administration.Shoppers have only slowly regained confidence in the state of the economy as they pay more to fill up their carts, and President Biden has made a habit of shaming food companies — even filming a Super Bowl Sunday video criticizing snack producers for their “rip off” prices.But now, the trend in grocery and restaurant inflation appears to be on the cusp of changing.After months of rapid increase, the cost of food at home climbed at a notably slower clip in January. And from packaged food providers to restaurant chains, companies across the food business are report...
‘Most Wanted’ Man Pleads Guilty in Cyberattack That Upended Vermont Hospital
Economy

‘Most Wanted’ Man Pleads Guilty in Cyberattack That Upended Vermont Hospital

A Ukrainian man pleaded guilty in federal court on Thursday to his leadership role in two cyberattack schemes that caused tens of millions of dollars in losses and temporarily crippled a Vermont hospital in 2020, according to the Justice Department.Prosecutors said that Vyacheslav Igorevich Penchukov, 37, was a leader for an organization that in May 2009 began to infect thousands of computers at corporations with malicious software, and that he helped lead a separate malware scheme that began around November 2018.Mr. Penchukov, of Donetsk, pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court in Nebraska to one count of conspiracy to commit an offense that violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He was arrested in Switzerland in...
Amazon Argues National Labor Relations Board Is Unconstitutional
Economy

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...