Wall Street extends its rebound, with the S&P 500 recouping its losses for the week.

The push to make USB-C connectors standard on all mobile devices would primarily affect Apple, which uses proprietary technology for charging.,

S&P 500






Stocks rose on Thursday, with the S&P 500 extending its rebound for a second day after sharp losses earlier in the week. The index rose 1.2 percent, while the Nasdaq composite gained 1 percent.

Wall Street’s recovery began on Wednesday, ending a four-day losing streak that had included the S&P 500’s sharpest daily decline since May. The rally lifted stocks by about 1 percent on Wednesday, and the gains on Thursday mean the index is now on track to end the week higher.

The rise comes as several concerns facing investors early in the week seem to have eased. Notably, investors had been anticipating an update from the Federal Reserve about its plans to “taper” bond purchases that the central bank is making to support the financial system.

Central bank officials signaled on Wednesday that they expected to soon slow the purchases but also that changes to the central bank’s key policy interest rate — the Fed’s more traditional and more powerful tool — were not imminent.

Without the uncertainty about what the Fed might say, “the market is in a happier place than it was at the start of the week,” Fiona Cincotta, an analyst at City Index in London, wrote in a note to clients.

Yields on government bonds were sharply higher on Thursday. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.41 percent, as investors appeared to be pricing in slightly higher economic growth in the American economy.

The stock market shared the bond market’s optimism. The Russell 2000 index small capitalization stocks, whose businesses tend to be more domestically oriented than the global firms in the S&P 500, rose about 1.9 percent.

That may partly reflect growing expectations that Congress is moving toward passage of an infrastructure spending plan. Companies that would potentially benefit from a road, bridge and broadband building boom have risen sharply in recent days. On Thursday, the engineering and construction company Fluor, which has a large government contracting business, jumped 7.8 percent. The engineering and construction firm Aecom rose 6 percent.

Meanwhile, shares of Darden Restaurants jumped 6 percent. The company, which runs Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse, reported quarterly earnings results that beat Wall Street estimates for profit and revenue. Executives hit optimistic notes on a conference call with analysts, including the fact that the company’s higher-priced restaurants have been performing well.

Also dissipating were concerns about the collateral damage that might be caused by China Evergrande, the real estate behemoth that is struggling to pay its debts. Worries about a disorderly default by Evergrande helped set off a 1.7 percent slide in U.S. stocks on Monday amid a global slump in markets.

But leaders of some European banks and the Fed chair, Jerome H. Powell, played down the risk in recent days. On Wednesday, Mr. Powell described Evergrande’s troubles as “particular to China,” and on Thursday, his counterpart at the Bank of England told Reuters that the exposure to British banks and insurance companies was “not material.”

The People’s Bank of China also helped soothe investor worries by pumping 120 billion yuan, or $18.5 billion, into financial markets on Wednesday. The move underscored the state’s goal of keeping concerns about Evergrande from spreading more broadly to other indebted companies, a process known as contagion in financial circles. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 1.2 percent.

“We cannot predict how China will manage Evergrande precisely but we have a high conviction that it will do whatever it takes to prevent contagion across the property sector,” analysts with the economic consulting firm BCA Research wrote.

Oil prices also rallied, with futures on West Texas Intermediate crude climbing 1.4 percent to $73.21 a barrel. The gains lifted the shares of energy companies, with Devon Energy, Marathon Oil and Hess Corporation each rising more than 5 percent and among the best performing stocks in the S&P 500.

Container ships were lined up this week off the coast of Southern California, waiting to deliver cargo at the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach. The backup offered another sign of the supply chain woes bedeviling businesses across the globe.

Sixty-one vessels were anchored offshore on Thursday waiting to unload cargo, down from a record 73 on Sunday, said Capt. J. Kipling Louttit, the executive director of the Marine Exchange of Southern California, a nonprofit that works in partnership with the Coast Guard to provide data on maritime commerce.

In addition to the anchored ships, 29 were adrift up to 20 miles offshore, meaning they were so far from the coast that their anchors could not reach the ocean floor. That’s down from a record of 37 set on Sept. 16, Captain Louttit said, but the traffic is not abating.

“We are in our 11th month of managing this record-breaking traffic,” he said. “We’ve never had a problem like this before.”

The delay in getting the container ships to port comes as the easing of pandemic restrictions and an increase in consumer spending have ramped up demand. As a result, manufacturers are struggling to keep pace, and shortages of some products, like semiconductors, have caused slowdowns in production. The problem has been exacerbated by the rise of the Delta variant of the coronavirus, which is causing labor shortages as workers are quarantined.

The Evergrande Royal Scenery housing complex in Beijing on Thursday.Credit…Wu Hong/EPA, via Shutterstock

The possible collapse of the real estate giant China Evergrande shook markets around the world earlier this week. But on Thursday, amid uncertainty over whether it met a critical payment deadline to its lenders, the market rallied.

Evergrande’s Hong Kong listed shares, which have been on a firm downward trajectory, soared by a head-scratching 18 percent. Hong Kong’s broader Hang Seng Index rallied 1.2 percent.

Investors are now taking bets on whether regulators in the world’s second-largest economy, after that of the United States, will step in to save Evergrande, a corporate behemoth that has been struggling under the weight of more than $300 billion in debt.

So far Beijing has remained tight-lipped, while emphasizing that no Chinese company is too big to fail. In recent weeks, however, a steady flow of negative news from Evergrande has prompted panic and raised fears of a possible economic fallout from an Evergrande default.

Unable to sell off parts of its corporate sprawl or raise fresh cash through the sale of new properties, Evergrande is also facing angry suppliers, home buyers and employees, some of whom have protested and demanded their money.

Evergrande said in a vaguely worded statement on Wednesday that it had reached a deal with investors over a bond payment due for mainland Chinese bondholders without giving any details. It offered no guidance on another payment on $83.5 million that was also due on Thursday for foreign bondholders. The company has a 30-day grace period before the missed payment would trigger a default, according to Bloomberg.

Evergrande did not respond to questions seeking clarity.

Evergrande’s fate and what its failure could mean for China’s economy have divided some of the world’s best known investors. The billionaire investor George Soros recently argued that an Evergrande collapse would set off a broader economic crash, while another billionaire investor, Ray Dalio, argued this week that an Evergrande default was “manageable.”

As China’s economic growth has slowed, officials have stepped in to shore up confidence. The central bank said on Wednesday that it had pumped $18.6 billion into markets. It added another $18.6 billion on Thursday, as officials try to circulate more cash into the banking system.

A currency exchange bureau in Istanbul on Thursday. The value of the Turkish lira fell after the country’s central bank cut interest rates by a percentage point.Credit…Erdem Sahin/EPA, via Shutterstock

The Turkish lira fell to a record low on Thursday after the central bank unexpectedly cut its benchmark interest rate, alarming investors who took the move as a sign that policymakers were not serious about defending the currency’s value.

The lira fell as low as 8.8 to the dollar after the central bank cut its main interest rate to 18 percent from 19 percent. The cut puts interest rates below the annual rate of inflation, which was 19.3 percent in August.

Central banks typically raise interest rates in response to fast inflation, and the plummeting value of the lira will ultimately push inflation even higher by raising the cost of imported goods.

But Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who exerts influence over the central bank, has often been willing to risk monetary disaster to maintain easy credit.

The strategy is also politically risky. Inflation has doubled since 2019, hurting ordinary Turks who struggle to buy food and other essentials, eroding Mr. Erdogan’s popularity.

The central bank said in a statement that it remained committed to reducing inflation to its target of 5 percent.

But that is “little more than empty talk,” Maya Senussi, a senior economist at Oxford Economics, said in a note to clients.

“The policy priority is quite clearly now firmly on boosting economic output with an eye on the 2023 elections, with little regard to price or financial stability,” she wrote.

A former top analyst at a large investment firm has been charged in an $8.5 million insider trading scheme that involved misappropriating confidential information from his employer.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan and securities regulators said in charging documents made public on Thursday that Sergei Polevikov had engaged in the illegal trading for a five-year period that ended in October 2019.

Mr. Polevikov was arrested Wednesday night at Kennedy International Airport and was scheduled to make his initial appearance in Manhattan federal court on Thursday.

Mr. Polevikov used confidential information about trades that his employer was planning to make for its investment clients so that he could make similar trades in his wife’s brokerage account, according to prosecutors and regulators. He typically closed out the trades on the same day, capitalizing on the price movements created by the large block trades his employer placed, the authorities said.

Mr. Polevikov’s employer was not identified in court papers. A person briefed on the matter but not authorized to speak publicly said Mr. Polevikov’s former employer was OppenheimerFunds, which was acquired by Invesco, a big asset management firm, in May 2019 — a few months before the authorities said the improper trading ended.

A LinkedIn profile for Mr. Polevikov said he worked for OppenheimerFunds from 2004 to October 2019. Mr. Polevikov could not be reached for comment on a cellphone number for him.

The charging documents filed by federal prosecutors and a related civil complaint from the Securities and Exchange Commission said Mr. Polevikov engaged in nearly 3,000 trades using this method. Each generated only a small profit, but they added up over the years.

The S.E.C. said in a statement that its market abuse team had uncovered the scheme “by identifying a consistent pattern of profitable trading” in coordination with the employer’s trades. The commission named Mr. Polevikov’s wife, Maryna Arystava, as a relief defendant — giving it the ability to seek restitution from her in addition to her husband.

The authorities said Mr. Polevikov and his wife lived in a house on Long Island in Port Washington, N.Y. It was not immediately clear if either had retained a lawyer, and no phone number was listed for the couple.







E.U. Plans to Make USB-C Ports Standard for All Mobile Devices

The European Union announced plans to make USB-C connectors standard for all smartphones to reduce environmental waste and make switching between devices simpler. This initiative is likely to affect Apple the hardest.

It’s not at all against innovation, by the way, it’s not against anyone. It is just like everything we do. And like everything I do as a commissioner and everything we do in commission, it’s for the consumers and for other European consumers. It is not against anyone and I think it’s, it’s extremely important to understand that. And by the way, if of course, Apple wants to continue to have their own, jack — we love, we love the ability to do it — there is nothing against again innovation just to make the life of our fellow citizens a little bit more easy, and not to depend, if they want to change also, on one supplier versus another.

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The European Union announced plans to make USB-C connectors standard for all smartphones to reduce environmental waste and make switching between devices simpler. This initiative is likely to affect Apple the hardest.CreditCredit…Tatyana Makeyeva/Reuters

The European Union unveiled plans on Thursday to make USB-C connectors the standard charging port for all smartphones, tablets and other electronic devices sold across the bloc, an initiative that it says will reduce environmental waste but that is likely to hit Apple the hardest.

The move would represent a long-awaited yet aggressive step into product-making decisions by the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm. Apple, whose iPhones are equipped with a different port, has long opposed the plan, arguing that it would stifle innovation and lead to more electronic waste as all current chargers that are not USB-C would become obsolete.

The new legislation is likely to come into effect in 2024 because it first needs to be approved by the European Parliament and then adopted by manufacturers. Besides phones, it would apply to cameras, headphones, portable speakers and video game consoles.

Wireless chargers would not be affected, but the main change would come for iPhones, which currently have a proprietary Lightning charging port.

“What are we offering? More freedom, fewer costs” and less electronic waste, Thierry Breton, the European commissioner for trade, said in a news conference on Thursday.

Many European Parliament lawmakers welcomed the announcement. “It’s completely absurd to ask Europeans to pay for a new charger every time, while our drawers are full of them,” said Saskia Bricmont, a Green lawmaker.

It also received swift criticism from some tech observers. “This is a profoundly stupid way to approach product design and standardization,” a tech analyst, Benedict Evans, said on Twitter. “What happens in 5 years when someone wants to use a better connector?”

Still, if the legislation is enacted as proposed by the European Commission, it will become illegal to sell an electronic device without a USB-C charging port. Apple would have to switch to USB-C for its products sold across the bloc, a commission official said, noting that it already sells new iPads with such charging ports.

The legislative proposal is the latest setback in Europe for Apple, which European Union regulators have accused of maintaining unfair fees on rival music-streaming services like Spotify that depend on the App Store to reach customers. It is also facing an inquiry into its Apple Pay service, which is the only payment service available on Apple products and which E.U. officials have said could violate the bloc’s competition rules.

Daniel Ives, the managing director of equity research at Wedbush Securities, called the E.U. proposal a “gut punch to Apple” that would force the company to adapt its design and supply chain, and cost up to $1 billion.

“It kicks the battle between Apple and the European Union to the next level,” Mr. Ives said. “It’s like forcing Netflix to provide VCR screening alongside streaming.”

European Union officials and lawmakers at the European Parliament have been advocating a common charger since 2009, when there were more than 30 charging options on the market, now down to three. They have argued that fewer wires would be more convenient for users and better for the environment, as mobile phone chargers are responsible for 11,000 tons of electronic waste per year across the bloc, according to estimates by the European Commission.

But Apple has also argued that if the European Union had imposed a common charger in 2009, it would have restricted innovation that led to USB-C and Lightning connectors. In a statement, Apple said that although it welcomed the European Commission’s commitment to protecting the environment, it favored a solution that left the device side of the charging interface open for innovation.

Mr. Breton said on Thursday that he was familiar with Apple’s concerns. “Every time we try to put a proposal, such companies start to say, ‘It will be against innovation,'” he said.

“It’s not at all against innovation. It’s not against anyone,” he added. “It’s for European consumers.”

Mr. Breton said manufacturers, including Apple, could choose to offer two charging ports on their devices if they wanted to keep a non-USB-C connector. But that is highly unlikely, as one of Apple’s main arguments in favor of its Lightning connector has been its small size on iPhones.

“The time it’s taken to move forward with this project says a lot about Apple’s power, which until now has managed to delay the process while all the other manufacturers accepted to use USB micro-B, and now USB-C, connectors,” said Ms. Bricmont, the European lawmaker.

But critics have also charged that the European Union’s action is coming too late, because of the decline in the types of connectors in recent years. Half the charging cables sold with mobile phones in 2018 had a USB micro-B connector, while 29 percent had a USB-C and 21 percent a Lightning connector, according to study published by the European Commission in 2019. The share of USB-C charging ports is most likely to have since increased as most Android phones are now sold with it.

The European Commission said it would also require manufacturers to sell devices without chargers: If a bundled option remains available, an unbundled option of the same product would have to be offered, it said.

Adam Satariano contributed reporting.

The Bank of England, in London. The central bank said the main causes of inflation remained transitory, but how long that period might last has become uncertain.Credit…Matt Dunham/Associated Press

As Britain’s economy strains under supply and worker shortages, the end of some pandemic support and higher energy bills, the Bank of England held interest rates at record-low levels and continued its huge bond-buying program on Thursday.

But the central bank raised its expectations for inflation, which is forecast to peak at double its target, and cut its forecast for economic growth in the third quarter.

Like other major central banks, the Bank of England is having to balance rising inflation against supporting the economy through the latter, trickier stages of its recovery from the pandemic. And so the central bank telegraphed more signals that the era of vast pandemic stimulus measures is coming to an end.

Minutes from the Bank of England’s meeting said economic developments in the past month and a half had strengthened the case for “some modest tightening of monetary policy over the forecast period.”

After the minutes were published, the British pound and bond yields rose as traders moved up their expectations for the central bank’s first rate increase to the first quarter of next year. On Wednesday, Federal Reserve officials indicated that they expected to slow asset purchases, possibly as soon as November, and that they might raise the benchmark interest rate next year. Two weeks ago, the European Central Bank said it would slow down its pandemic-era bond-buying program.

The Bank of England’s nine-person Monetary Policy Committee voted unanimously to keep interest rates at 0.1 percent and maintain its bond-buying program until the end of the year. However, two policymakers, Dave Ramsden and Michael Saunders, voted to end the bond-buying program as soon as practically possible.

The main message from the central bank was that it still believed the forces driving inflation higher globally would be transitory. But how long that period might last has become uncertain. The central bank said that the sharp rise in wholesale natural gas prices in Europe could push inflation higher than its forecasts, and that “most other indicators of cost pressures have remained elevated.”

The bank raised expectations for inflation this year, saying the annual rate of consumer price growth would peak “slightly above” 4 percent. In August, the rate climbed to 3.2 percent, above expectations.

“Global inflationary pressures have remained strong, and there are some signs that cost pressures may prove more persistent,” the central bank said.

While higher inflation expectations might normally push the bank toward reducing stimulus, there are reasons to maintain support. There is mounting evidence that the recovery is getting harder to sustain, and the central bank said the institution’s staff had cut its forecast for economic growth by one percentage point for the third quarter of 2021; last month, the bank forecast about 3 percent growth in the third quarter.

But long delays in deliveries for supplies, shortages of materials and workers, and a depletion of inventories are weighing on the economic recovery. Even as momentum has picked up in services, output remains “well below” pre-Covid levels, the minutes said.

Britain is just a week away from the end of its government-sponsored furlough program, which is still subsidizing more than a million jobs. That could lead to higher unemployment levels, even though many industries are complaining of labor shortages caused partly by a mismatch between skills required for a job and people’s training.

That said, the shortages in some industries, such as trucking and hospitality, are pushing up wages, another risk for higher inflation. Companies like the supermarket chain Tesco are offering large bonuses to new drivers, and the coffee-and-sandwich chain Pret A Manger has raised its wages 5 percent.

Overall, the central bank said, uncertainty about the future of the labor market has increased.

Adding to the sense of economic uncertainty, an IHS Markit index of activity in the manufacturing and services industries slumped to a seven-month low this month. In the manufacturing sector, growth for new orders was down and input costs were higher as companies grappled with supply chain disruptions. The services sector had a brighter outlook as staycations supported hotels and restaurants, but it also faced higher costs and in turn raised prices at the fastest pace since the survey began in July 1996.

And these factors take some of the pressure off central banks, according to Jai Malhi, a strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management.

“High inflation but against a backdrop of potentially softer demand is likely to mean central banks take a gradual approach to rolling back some of the stimulus they have provided over the last year,” Mr. Malhi wrote in a note to clients.

The chassis of an electric car at a factory near Ningbo, China, in April.Credit…Lorenz Huber for The New York Times

China’s push for self-sufficiency in a wide range of industries is dividing foreign companies, with some welcoming it as another chance to invest there while others worry that it will cause risks to the country’s trading partners and its own economy.

Two influential groups of foreign businesses in China issued very different reports on Thursday. They revealed a striking divide on whether international companies support China’s push to replace imports with a self-reliant emphasis on domestic production.

China has been heavily subsidizing its manufacturers of semiconductors, commercial aircraft, electric cars and other products as part of a national effort to achieve greater self reliance. The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China contended in its report on Thursday that these policies were discouraging foreign investment in China. They are also causing China to spend heavily to develop its own versions of products that are more efficiently made elsewhere, the group said.

“There are troubling signs that China is increasingly turning inwards, as can be seen in its 14th five-year plan,” the report said, referring to an economic blueprint the government released this year. “This tendency is casting considerable doubts over the country’s future growth trajectory.”

The Trump administration was strongly critical of China’s emphasis on replacing imports with domestic production, an outgrowth of the country’s recent “Made in China 2025” manufacturing policy. But American companies with operations in China are, conversely, more supportive of Beijing’s policies.

A separate survey report issued by the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai found that a third of the chamber’s members thought China’s self-reliance strategy would help their revenue. Almost none thought they would be hurt. The rest saw little effect or said it was too soon to know.

American companies that favor the strategy reasoned that the factories and other businesses they own in China would post greater sales to Chinese customers. They were much less worried about harm to their exports from the United States, which are often modest. Not one of the surveyed American companies had any plans to move operations back to the United States, despite efforts by the Trump and Biden administrations to encourage investment at home.

Ker Gibbs, the president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, said he was surprised by the views of his own chamber’s members. More than European companies, he said, American companies tend to focus mainly on the next quarter’s financial results, which are usually best served by staying in China.

“This gives them a short-term focus that serves them poorly when looking at a market like China,” Mr. Gibbs said. “They are right to focus on market growth and opportunities, but China’s push for self-reliance could limit opportunities in the long term.”

The construction site of a project developed by China Evergrande Group in Taicang, a city in China’s Jiangsu province.Credit…Aly Song/Reuters

Fears of the fallout from Evergrande’s potential collapse faded somewhat on Thursday as Chinese regulators reportedly instructed the embattled real estate developer to repay some of its debts and China’s central bank injected money into the country’s financial system.

Evergrande’s stock jumped nearly 20 percent, even as large holders said that they might dump their stakes and doubts swirled around an $83 million interest payment on a dollar bond due on Thursday.

Market watchers are assessing the implications of a potential restructuring of Evergrande’s $300 billion in debt, the DealBook newsletter reports. A full-blown bailout is unlikely, analysts say, but Beijing has the means to limit the damage if the company fails. “We believe that Evergrande is an exceptional case that is unlikely to lead to a broader systemic crisis in the property sector,” Houze Song of the Paulson Institute wrote in a recent report.

International investors in Evergrande’s bonds are preparing for turmoil — and in some cases buying more. Evergrande’s debt is in the portfolios of many major investment firms, and some hedge funds have been adding more to their holdings as prices have tumbled. A group of bondholders has tapped restructuring advisers at Kirkland & Ellis and at Moelis. For its part, Evergrande has hired the firms Houlihan Lokey and Hong Kong Admiralty Harbour Capital.

U.S. institutional investors are largely invested in Evergrande’s offshore bonds, which are worth a relatively small portion of the company’s overall debt. Those securities are linked to various private and public companies separate from Evergrande’s property business, such as an electric-vehicle division. The units could still have value even if the real estate business defaults, and bonds issued by Evergrande’s Cayman Islands-based units are governed by different rules than the debt issued in mainland China.

Beijing’s intentions are unclear, especially when it comes to prioritizing debt holders at home and abroad. In the bankruptcy of Dubai World, in which confidence in a country’s financial system was similarly wrapped up in a single company, the company managed to pay back its creditors. But Dubai is a big borrower that relies on international credit markets, quite unlike China, which has recently discouraged local companies from listing abroad, among related measures.

Despite all the uncertainty, with prices on some of Evergrande’s offshore dollar bonds that mature within months trading below 30 cents on the dollar, bargain hunters with a big appetite for risk see a bet worth taking.

A crowd in Times Square viewing the market debut of Robinhood, which was valued at $29 billion at the close of trading.Credit…Sasha Maslov for The New York Times

The trading app Robinhood has grown explosively, gone public and, for good measure, is now getting into crypto wallets. But internal exchanges between company managers revealed in a new legal filing — featuring Robinhood’s chief executive, Vlad Tenev — highlight the tensions between fast growth and consumer protection.

A class-action lawsuit brought by Robinhood users alleges that the company was negligent during a period of extreme market volatility in late January, knowing it had insufficient capital to handle all the trading by new and existing users. That led the company to impose limits on trading in meme stocks like GameStop and AMC, the subject of subsequent congressional hearings.

Here’s a glimpse inside Robinhood in the days before it limited trading in meme stocks:

Jan. 23: As Robinhood discussed how to manage the risks of the frenzied trading in GameStop, a company insider wrote that “the process outlined above covers firm risk well, but from a public perception POV, we may want to consider the risks our customers face. Is there a comms need or other action we should consider?”

Jan. 25: Company engineers and executives chatted about surging trading volumes. “There are internal things that are starting to buckle under pressure,” a software engineer wrote. An engineering executive noted that a “code yellow” could be declared, putting all other work at the company on hold. “Only the paranoid survive,” Tenev responded. “One who panics first panics best,” added the company’s head of data science. “Joy,” said Tenev.

Jan. 28: Robinhood limits trading in meme stocks during the peak of the short squeeze, facing inquiries from the National Securities Clearing Corporation about whether it had enough capital to cover the trading risk. In an internal chat, Robinhood’s chief operating officer, David Dusseault, wrote that the company was “to [sic] big for them to actually shut us down.”

Maurice Pessah, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said that the communications showed that Robinhood executives had been willing to put investors and markets at risk to advance their own interests. A Robinhood spokeswoman said in a statement that the company stood by its decisions and that “communications cited by the plaintiffs are entirely consistent with Robinhood’s communications and actions on Jan. 28.”

Credit…Tom Grillo

When the Biden administration announced a mandate that employees be vaccinated or tested regularly at companies with 100 or more employees, business leaders responded with a barrage of questions. Among smaller companies, one loomed especially large: Why 100?

It’s an appealingly round, easy-to-remember number, and it captures a broad section of the American work force. President Biden estimated that his order would apply to 80 million employees and cover two-thirds of all workers.

But as a dividing line between a “big” business and a “small” one, it’s a threshold not found in any other major federal or state law. There was no explanation for how or why the number was chosen. And for entrepreneurs who employ a smattering of workers, that’s an increasingly common challenge: Every time lawmakers invent a new regulation, they also make up a new definition of which businesses count as small.

The Affordable Care Act set 50 as the number of workers after which employers would be required to offer health insurance. That edict, which took full effect in 2016, led to an intense, vocal backlash from owners who feared that the requirement would bankrupt them, with some even paring back their business to keep their employee roster under the limit.

The mandate’s actual costs turned out to be fairly muted for most — the law helped stabilize insurance prices in the notoriously erratic market for small-group plans — and, after surviving many legal and political efforts to dismantle it, the health care law has become a bedrock piece of federal policy. So why not use 50 employees as the boundary for the vaccination mandate?

The White House isn’t saying; officials did not respond to repeated questions about the 100-person criterion. The Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which is responsible for drawing up the rules, has not yet explained how and when the mandate will be enforced.

A report projects that it will take government subsidies focused on developing a domestic supply chain and increasing demand for U.S.-made vehicles to avoid job losses in the transition to electric motors.Credit…Kelsey McClellan for The New York Times

As President Biden’s multitrillion-dollar jobs plan, which included nearly $175 billion in spending to encourage Americans to buy electric vehicles, wends its way through Congress, a liberal think tank has tried to flesh out the number of jobs to be gained or lost in the transition away from internal-combustion vehicles.

The report, released Wednesday by the Economic Policy Institute, concluded that it would take government subsidies focused on developing a domestic supply chain and increasing demand for U.S.-made vehicles to avoid job losses, The New York Times’s Noam Scheiber reports.

It found that without additional government investment, the industry could lose about 75,000 jobs by 2030, the year by which Mr. Biden wants half the new vehicles sold in the country to be electric.

By contrast, the report said, if government subsidies were targeted to increase the portion of electric vehicle components that are manufactured domestically, and to increase the market share of U.S.-made vehicles, the industry could add about 150,000 jobs by the end of the decade.

Looming over the transition to electric vehicles is the fact that they have substantially fewer moving parts than gasoline-powered ones and require less labor to manufacture — about 30 percent less, according to figures from Ford Motor. The vehicle-manufacturing industry employs a little under one million people domestically, including suppliers.

  • Facebook said on Wednesday that Mike Schroepfer, the chief technology officer and a longtime executive, planned to step down from his position next year, in a rare change to the top ranks of the social network. Mr. Schroepfer, who has worked at Facebook for more than 13 years, plans to transition into a role as a senior fellow, which he said would allow him to focus on activities outside the company.

  • The Federal Reserve chair, Jerome H. Powell, said on Wednesday that the central bank’s rules governing the types of assets that Fed officials can invest in would need to be updated, noting that the rules are “clearly seen as not adequate to the task of really sustaining the public’s trust in us.” His comments addressed concerns about securities trading that two of Mr. Powell’s colleagues — Robert Kaplan, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, and Eric Rosengren, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston — engaged in last year, when the Fed was carrying out a sweeping market rescue in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

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