Monday, April 22

Business

Shrinkflation 101: The Economics of Smaller Groceries
Business

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...
Divisions Among Finance Ministers Flare Over Seizing Russian Assets
Business

Divisions Among Finance Ministers Flare Over Seizing Russian Assets

Divisions among the world’s top economic officials over how to use Russia’s central bank assets to support Ukraine spilled into public view on Wednesday when Bruno LeMaire, France’s finance minister, said that seizing the frozen assets would be a violation of international law.The comments, made on the sidelines of the gathering of finance ministers of the Group of 20 nations in Brazil, came a day after Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said that seizing the assets was a possibility and suggested that there was a legal justification for doing so.Officials from the Group 7 advanced economies have been debating for months over whether they could legally seize more than $300 billion in Russian central bank assets stashed in Western nations and use those funds to aid Ukraine. Those discussion...
Housing Costs Are Running Hot, but Is the Data Missing a Cooling Trend?
Business

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 ...
Claude Montana, Fashion Designer Whose Look Defined the ’80s, Dies at 76
Business

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

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 ...
Alabama Says Embryos in a Lab Are Children. What Are the Implications?
Business

Alabama Says Embryos in a Lab Are Children. What Are the Implications?

The Alabama Supreme Court has opened a new front in the legal debate over when human life begins. Embryos created and stored in a medical facility must be considered children under the state’s law governing harmful death, the court ruled.Friday’s ruling was cheered by anti-abortion activists nationwide, who have long argued that life begins at conception. They were thrilled that, for the first time, a court included conception outside the uterus in that definition. But the strongest and most immediate effect of the decision will be on fertility patients trying to get pregnant, not women seeking to end their pregnancies.The Alabama ruling invites states to enact strict new regulations over the fertility industry that could sharply limit the number of embryos created during a cycle of medica...
For Michigan’s Economy, Electric Vehicles Are Promising and Scary
Business

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...
Kam Ghaffarian’s Moonshots – The New York Times
Business

Kam Ghaffarian’s Moonshots – The New York Times

Much of the American space program is run out of nondescript offices in the Washington, D.C., suburbs. That’s where Kam Ghaffarian, the billionaire space entrepreneur, could be found on an auspicious day. Exactly 47 years before, he had immigrated to the United States from Iran. Mr. Ghaffarian, 66, sat at a table made of gently glowing white onyx, also from Iran.Mr. Ghaffarian said he imported the stone because of its unique translucence when lit and because of the energy (spiritual, not physical) that the billion-year-old mineral emits. He is a big believer in the importance of meditating to connect with the energy in the universe, which he has done on a daily basis for decades.“When you touch it, you feel the energy of the stone,” he said. “How many years? Go ahead, touch it.”He was in t...
Amazon Argues National Labor Relations Board Is Unconstitutional
Business

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...
SpaceX Postpones Launch of Intuitive Machines Nova-C Moon Lander
Business

SpaceX Postpones Launch of Intuitive Machines Nova-C Moon Lander

Another month, another try at the moon — but not on Wednesday.SpaceX announced the postponement on Tuesday night of the scheduled launch of a private robotic lunar lander.The spacecraft, built by Intuitive Machines of Houston, is on top the rocket on the launchpad. Weather conditions were favorable but a technical issue led to the delay of its flight by at least a day. The next attempt will be Thursday at 1:05 a.m. Eastern time.If all goes well then, it will set up the first American spacecraft to land softly on the moon’s surface since the Apollo 17 moon landing in 1972. It will also be the latest private effort to send a spacecraft to the moon.Why was the launch postponed?The Intuitive Machines lander, named Odysseus, was scheduled to launch at 12:57 a.m. Eastern on Wednesday on a SpaceX...