Wednesday, May 22

Business

Fed Minutes Show Officials Were Wary About Inflation at May Meeting
Business, Economy

Fed Minutes Show Officials Were Wary About Inflation at May Meeting

Federal Reserve officials were wary about the recent lack of progress on inflation and remained willing to lift interest rates if conditions made it necessary as of their two-day meeting that ended on May 1.Minutes from the gathering, released Wednesday, showed that “many” officials expressed uncertainty about how much today’s interest-rate setting — 5.3 percent, up sharply from near zero in early 2022 — was weighing on the economy.Officials have been clear that they expect to leave interest rates unchanged for now, hoping that they are tapping the brakes on economic growth enough to quash inflation over time. And central bankers have repeatedly emphasized that they expect the next move on interest rates to be a reduction, not an increase.But policymakers have stopped short of ruling out a...
Scarlett Johansson Said No, but OpenAI’s Virtual Assistant Sounds Just Like Her
Business, Economy

Scarlett Johansson Said No, but OpenAI’s Virtual Assistant Sounds Just Like Her

Days before OpenAI demonstrated its new, flirty voice assistant last week, the actress Scarlett Johansson said, Sam Altman, the company’s chief executive, called her agent and asked that she consider licensing her voice for a virtual assistant.It was his second request to the actress in the past year, Ms. Johannson said in a statement on Monday, adding that the reply both times was no.Despite those refusals, Ms. Johansson said, OpenAI used a voice that sounded “eerily similar to mine.” She has hired a lawyer and asked OpenAI to stop using a voice it called “Sky.”OpenAI suspended its release of “Sky” over the weekend. The company said in a blog post on Sunday that “AI voices should not deliberately mimic a celebrity’s distinctive voice — Sky’s voice is not an imitation of Scarlett Johansson...
A Loss at Mercedes-Benz Slows U.A.W.’s Southern Campaign
Business, Economy

A Loss at Mercedes-Benz Slows U.A.W.’s Southern Campaign

After suffering a setback at two Mercedes-Benz plants in Alabama on Friday, the United Automobile Workers union’s efforts to organize other auto factories in the South are likely to slow and could struggle to make headway.About 56 percent of the Mercedes workers who voted rejected the U.A.W. in an election after the union chalked up two major wins this year. In April, workers at a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee voted to join the union, the first large nonunion auto plant in the South to do so. Weeks later, the union negotiated a new contract bringing significant pay and benefit improvements for its members at several North Carolina factories owned by Daimler Truck.“Losing at Mercedes is not death for the union,” said Arthur Wheaton, director of labor studies at Cornell University School of ...
Mercedes Workers in Alabama Reject Union
Business, Economy

Mercedes Workers in Alabama Reject Union

Workers at two Mercedes-Benz factories near Tuscaloosa, Ala., voted on Friday against joining the United Automobile Workers, a stunning blow to the union’s campaign to gain ground in the South, where it has traditionally been weak.The defeat, based on an unofficial union tally, came after Kay Ivey, Alabama’s governor, and other Republican leaders argued that a pro-union vote would choke off the investment that has transformed the state into a major auto producer. Hyundai and Honda also have large factories in Alabama that the U.A.W. is trying to organize.The vote took on national significance as a test of whether the U.A.W. could build on a string of recent victories and gain ground in a state whose elected officials have been hostile to organized labor. The union has said it wants to orga...
Inside the Rent Inflation Measure That Economics Nerds Love to Hate
Business, Economy

Inside the Rent Inflation Measure That Economics Nerds Love to Hate

There’s a three-letter abbreviation that economists have started pronouncing with the energy of a four-letter word: “O.E.R.”It stands for owner’s equivalent rent, and it has been used to measure American housing inflation since the 1980s. As its name suggests, it uses a combination of surveys and market data to estimate how much it would cost homeowners to rent the house they live in.But three years into America’s price pop, it has become almost cliché for economists to hate on the housing measure. Detractors blast if for being so slow-moving that it does not reflect up-to-date conditions in the economy. Critics argue that it uses convoluted statistical methods that make little sense. The most intense haters insist that it is giving a false impression about where inflation stands.“It’s jus...
Biden Will Raise Tariffs on Chinese Electric Vehicles, Chips and Other Goods
Business, Economy

Biden Will Raise Tariffs on Chinese Electric Vehicles, Chips and Other Goods

President Biden will announce on Tuesday that he is raising tariffs on an array of Chinese imports, including electric vehicles, solar cells, semiconductors and advanced batteries, in what he calls an effort to protect strategic American industries from a new wave of competitors that are unfairly subsidized by Beijing.The president will also officially endorse maintaining tariffs on more than $300 billion worth of Chinese goods that were put in place by President Donald J. Trump. Mr. Biden criticized those tariffs as taxes on American consumers during his 2020 run for the White House.Mr. Biden’s moves are the latest trade-war escalation from a president who initially pledged to repeal at least some of the Trump tariffs but now refuses to cede any ground to his rival in a tough-on-China app...