Month: March 2018

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Kelp Farms and Mammoth Windmills Are Just Two of the Government’s Long-Shot Energy Bets

Kelp Farms and Mammoth Windmills Are Just Two of the Government’s Long-Shot Energy Bets

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The goal of this offbeat project? To see if it’s possible to farm vast quantities of seaweed in the open ocean for a new type of carbon-neutral biofuel that might one day power trucks and airplanes. Unlike the corn- and soy-based biofuels used today, kelp-based fuels would not require valuable cropland.

Of course, there are still some kinks to work out. “We first need to show that the kelp doesn’t die when we take it up and down,” said Cindy Wilcox, a co-founder of Marine BioEnergy Inc., which is doing early testing this summer.

Ms. Wilcox’s venture is one of hundreds of long shots being funded by the federal government’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. Created a decade ago, ARPA-E now spends $300 million a year nurturing untested technologies that have the potential — however remote — of solving some of the world’s biggest energy problems, including climate change.

This week at a convention center near Washington, thousands of inventors and entrepreneurs gathered at the annual ARPA-E conference to discuss the obstacles to a cleaner energy future. Researchers funded by the agency also showed off their ideas, which ranged from the merely creative (a system to recycle waste heat in Navy ships) to the utterly wild (concepts for small fusion reactors).

Consider, for instance, wind power. In recent years, private companies have been aiming to build ever-larger turbines offshore to try to catch the steadier winds that blow higher in the atmosphere and produce electricity at lower cost. One challenge is to design blades as long as football fields that will not buckle under the strain.

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At the conference, one team funded by ARPA-E showed off a new design for a blade, inspired by the leaves of palm trees, that can sway with the wind to minimize stress. The group will test a prototype this summer at the Department of Energy’s wind-testing center in Colorado, and ARPA-E has connected the team with private companies such as Siemens and the turbine manufacturer Vestas that can critique their work.

While there are no guarantees, the researchers aim to design a 50-megawatt turbine taller than the Eiffel Tower with 650-foot blades, which would be twice as large as the most monstrous turbines today. Such technology, they claim, could reduce the cost of offshore wind power by 50 percent.

Or take energy storage — which could enable greater use of wind and solar power. As renewable energy becomes more widespread, utilities will have to grapple with the fact that their energy production can fluctuate significantly on a daily or even monthly basis. In theory, batteries or other energy storage techniques could allow grid operators to soak up excess wind energy during breezy periods for use during calmer spells. But the current generation of lithium-ion batteries may prove too expensive for large-scale seasonal storage.

It’s still not clear what set of technologies could help crack this storage problem. But the agency is placing bets on everything from novel battery chemistries to catalysts that could convert excess wind energy into ammonia, which could then be used in fertilizer or be used as a fuel source itself.

At the summit, Michael Campos, an ARPA-E fellow, also discussed the possibility of using millions of old oil and gas wells around the Midwest for energy storage. One idea would use surplus electricity to pump pressurized air into the wells. Later, when extra power was needed, the compressed gas could drive turbines, generating electricity. A few facilities like this already exist, though they typically rely on salt caverns. Using already-drilled wells could conceivably reduce costs further.

“This is a very early stage idea,” Dr. Campos told the audience. “I’d love to hear from you if you have ideas for making this work — or even if you think it won’t work.”

Other projects focused on less-heralded problems. A company called Achates Power showed off a prototype of a pickup truck with a variation on the internal combustion engine that it hoped could help heavy-duty trucks get up to 37 miles to the gallon — no small thing in a world in which S.U.V. sales are booming. Several other ventures were tinkering with lasers and drones to detect methane leaks from natural gas pipelines more quickly. Methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

Looming over the conference, however, was the murky future of the agency itself. The Trump administration, which favors more traditional sources of energy such as coal, has proposed eliminating the agency’s budget altogether, arguing that “the private sector is better positioned to advance disruptive energy research.”

So far, Congress has rejected these budget cuts and continues to fund the agency. But the uncertainty echoed throughout the conference, even as Rick Perry, the energy secretary, sent along an upbeat video message lauding the agency’s work — a message seemingly at odds with the White House’s budget.

“We are at a crossroads,” Chris Fall, the agency’s principal deputy director, told the attendees. “But until we’re told to do something different, we need to keep thinking about the future.”

When Congress first authorized ARPA-E in 2007, the idea was that private firms often lack the patience to invest in risky energy technologies that may take years to pay off. Many solar firms, for instance, are more focused on installing today’s silicon photovoltaic panels than on looking for novel materials that might improve the efficiency of solar cells a decade from now.

Because energy technologies can take years to reach fruition, the agency does not yet have any wild success stories to brag about. By contrast, a similar program at the Pentagon created in the 1950s, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, can fairly claim to have laid the groundwork for the internet.

Instead, ARPA-E’s defenders have to cite drier metrics, like the fact that 13 percent of projects have resulted in patents, or that its awardees have received $2.6 billion in subsequent private funding.

In a review last year, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine concluded that “ARPA-E has made significant contributions to energy R&D that likely would not take place absent the agency’s activities.” The report added, “It is often impossible to gauge what will prove to be transformational.”


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Off the Grid, on Maui

SLIDE SHOW|14 Photos

The Luxury of Sustainability

The Luxury of Sustainability

CreditTony Novak-Clifford for The New York Times

When Graham Hill began designing a house on Maui, he wanted more than a rustic surf shack. “I wanted to see what it was like to live in the future,” he said.

Mr. Hill, 47, is probably best known for starting the sustainability and design website TreeHugger. Since selling TreeHugger to Discovery Communications for $10 million in 2007, he has continued to champion sustainable living, and his current venture, LifeEdited, focuses on developing hyper-efficient, small-scale homes with moving parts.

Over the past decade, he has built a couple of tiny shape-shifting Manhattan apartments with sliding walls and expandable furniture, each of which served as his primary residence and a proof-of-concept for potential business partners.

But while he was attempting to solve the problems of urban living, Mr. Hill, an avid kitesurfer, would spend winters on Maui, visiting his cousin, Chelsea Hill.

“It’s whales and rainbows, wind and waves,” said Mr. Hill, who is Canadian but still prefers to excuse himself from New York snowstorms. “It’s just spectacular.”

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In 2011, his cousin sold him 2.2 acres of agricultural land in the community of Haiku — with a verdant gulch and views to the ocean and distant West Maui Mountains — for about $240,000. And he began dreaming about how LifeEdited concepts developed in cramped city apartments could translate to such a wild, open place.

A few years later, Mr. Hill, who has a bachelor of architecture degree, and his team started working in earnest to design a vacation house they hoped would be a shining example of what could be achieved by following LifeEdited’s mission statement: “Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.”

At 1,000 square feet, with an additional 330-square-foot lanai and 1,330-square-foot garage, the resulting house — completed with help from the architecture and engineering firm Hawaii Off-Grid — isn’t exactly small. But it packs a lot into that envelope, including four bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms.

Three of the bedrooms offer more than a place to sleep. Outfitted with Clei transformable furnishings from Resource Furniture, one bedroom has a Murphy bed with an attached desk that rotates into place, when the bed is closed, to serve as an office. Another has a Murphy bed with a table that unfolds for dining or games, and the third has folding bunk beds with an integrated sofa for watching television. In this bedroom-cum-media room, a custom pegboard wall with shelves made of Richlite (a countertop material made from recycled paper) can be adjusted to respond to Mr. Hill’s evolving storage and display needs.

Even the lanai, open to the elements under a broad cedar-paneled ceiling, has adjustable furniture, including low coffee tables that pop up and expand to become larger dining tables, and modular sofas with weighted back cushions that can be pulled forward for support during meals or pushed back when Mr. Hill or his guests want to recline.

Building a stand-alone house also gave Mr. Hill the opportunity to play with the sort of green technology featured on TreeHugger but almost impossible to deploy in a Manhattan apartment. The standing-seam metal roof is covered with thin-film solar panels from Sunflare that are nearly invisible. They generate enough power not only to run the house but to charge Mr. Hill’s car (a 1973 Volkswagen Thing that he had Hawaii Off-Grid convert to an electric vehicle with recycled Tesla batteries) and his electric Magnum bicycles.

The roof, gutters and rain chains channel water to a 15,000-gallon tank used for irrigation. The Separett composting toilets use no water.

The house was completed in January for just under $1 million. “It’s not as inexpensive as I had hoped, but it’s a prototype,” Mr. Hill said, explaining that trial and error drove up the cost. “We know we can make it a lot less expensive on the next one.”

But the comfort of the finished house seems to have surprised even its owner. “I’ve been doing environmental stuff for almost 20 years, and I had no idea how cool it would feel to be living off grid,” he said. “Done right, green can actually be more luxurious” than a conventional house.

Just remember, if you’re in Maui and happen to see Mr. Hill zipping past in his electric Thing with a surfboard strapped to its roll bars, he isn’t on vacation — he’s just doing his job.

“Everyone in Manhattan thinks I’m being a slacker, and everyone here thinks I’m being a workaholic,” he said. “The truth is probably somewhere in between.”


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Who’s Greener? California Housing Plan Splits Would-Be Allies

SAN FRANCISCO — It’s an audacious proposal to get Californians out of their cars: a bill in the State Legislature that would allow eight-story buildings near major transit stops, even if local communities object.

The idea is to foster taller, more compact residential neighborhoods that wean people from long, gas-guzzling commutes, reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.

So it was surprising to see the Sierra Club among the bill’s opponents, since its policy proposals call for communities to be “revitalized or retrofitted” to achieve precisely those environmental goals. The California chapter described the bill as “heavy-handed,” saying it could cause a backlash against public transit and lead to the displacement of low-income residents from existing housing.

State Senator Scott Wiener, the bill’s sponsor, responded by accusing the group of “advocating for low-density sprawl.”

Orinda is half an hour east of San Francisco by rail. A patchwork of local zoning regulations makes it difficult to change housing policy on a wide scale. CreditJim Wilson/The New York Times

In a state where debates often involve shades of blue, it’s not uncommon for the like-minded to find themselves at odds. But the tensions over Mr. Wiener’s proposal point to a wider divide in the fight against climate change, specifically how far the law should go to reshape urban lifestyles.

Although many cities and states are embracing cleaner sources of electricity and encouraging people to buy electric vehicles, they are having a harder time getting Americans to drive less, something that may be just as important.

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Transportation accounts for one-third of the nation’s carbon-dioxide emissions and recently surpassed power plants as its largest contributor to global warming. Even as stricter federal standards push cars to become more fuel efficient, the gains have been steadily offset as Americans drive more.

“We can have all the electric vehicles and solar panels in the world, but we won’t meet our climate goals without making it easier for people to live near where they work, and live near transit and drive less,” Mr. Wiener said.

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Downtown Orinda, within blocks of a transit station. A study found that denser residential building around transit hubs or in central cities could help cut vehicle travel 20 to 40 percent. CreditJim Wilson/The New York Times

Study after study has found that people living in compact cities have a smaller carbon footprint than those in sprawling cities or suburban areas. This is partly because they often live in apartments that require less energy to heat and cool than large single-family homes, but also because they commute shorter distances and are more likely to walk or take public transit.

Residents of dense, transit-friendly San Francisco emit an average of just 6.7 tons of carbon dioxide per year, according to a 2015 report from the University of California, Los Angeles. By contrast, the average in the broader Bay Area is 14.6 tons, in part because people drive farther to work.

This is true nationwide, too: The Urban Land Institute concluded that policies to promote compact growth — such as building taller apartments around transit centers or adding more housing downtown — could help cut vehicle travel 20 to 40 percent.

Most environmental groups see such policies as an important tool, but they are often deeply contentious, even in liberal California. Unlike measures to add wind and solar power to the electric grid, land-use provisions involve wholesale transformations of neighborhoods where people have lived for decades, making the politics of change much more difficult and toxic.

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Bay Area Rapid Transit passengers in Oakland. “We won’t meet our climate goals without making it easier for people to live near where they work, and live near transit and drive less,” State Senator Scott Wiener said.CreditJim Wilson/The New York Times

What’s more, zoning codes are governed by tens of thousands of municipalities nationwide, making the levers of change more diffuse than they are for regulating cars or electric utilities.

“Land use gets very complicated very quickly — you need to tailor different strategies to each individual community,” said Koben Calhoun, a manager at the Rocky Mountain Institute, a nonprofit group that is helping cities track their progress on climate change. “It’s harder to distill into a simple message.”

In the past, researchers studying public opinion have found that, as one survey from 2000 put it, Americans will support action on climate change “as long as these initiatives do not demand a significant alteration of lifestyle,” such as driving less.

But Mr. Wiener and others are betting that this attitude is shifting, particularly among young people. His recent bill would pre-empt local zoning rules and allow developers to build apartment buildings up to 85 feet tall within a half-mile of train stations and a quarter-mile of high-frequency bus stops.

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The MacArthur Commons development, adjacent to an Oakland transit station, will create almost 400 units of housing. CreditJim Wilson/The New York Times

The law applies only to parcels already zoned for residential use, and city rules like historic-building protections and affordable-housing requirements would still apply. But localities would be prevented from restricting such areas to single-family homes.

In Mr. Wiener’s view, local activists and homeowners too often use zoning codes to prevent apartments from being built in California’s cities, a dynamic that has worsened the state’s housing shortage.

Michael Brune, the executive director of the Sierra Club’s national organization, said Mr. Wiener’s bill went too far in overriding residents’ say over neighborhood development.

“We are hopeful that this legislation could be designed in such a way that is successful at increasing urban infill but does it in a way that doesn’t eliminate local voices,” Mr. Brune said. “It can be challenging to get this right.”

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A neighborhood of small homes near the Rockridge station in Oakland is within an area where taller construction would be permitted under Senator Wiener’s bill. CreditJim Wilson/The New York Times

In California, the fight over denser development has been complicated by the state’s housing crisis. About a third of the state’s six million renters pay more than half of their monthly income on rent, according to census figures. Homelessness is rising throughout the state, and about one in five residents in the state lives in poverty once housing costs are factored in — the highest poverty rate in the nation.

Mr. Wiener, who has pushed for various housing bills in both the State Senate and in his previous job on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, said his bill would help reduce housing costs by speeding up construction and alleviating a housing shortage that has plagued the state for decades. High housing costs are also a culprit behind the state’s longer commutes. In the Bay Area, about 5 percent of commuters spend more than 90 minutes traveling to work, compared with 3 percent nationwide, according to an analysis of census data by the Brookings Institution.

But lower- and even middle-income residents fear being evicted or priced out of their neighborhoods, making them resist development. Some of Mr. Wiener’s most vocal opposition has come from anti-gentrification and tenants’ rights groups that see his plan as a socioeconomic makeover backed by the real estate industry. Mr. Wiener said late last month that he was amending the bill to add provisions to restrict demolition and tenant displacement. Hearings are expected in the coming weeks.

In part because of the vexed politics, states have often taken a lighter approach to promoting density, using carrots rather than sticks. In the Northeast, at least six states — Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Maine, New Jersey and New York — have adopted goals of sharply slowing the growth in vehicle miles traveled in the coming decades. Their plans typically envision financial incentives for revitalizing downtown areas and encouraging greater density.

California tried an incentive approach to density with the Sustainable Communities Act, a sweeping bill passed in 2008. But some experts say it did not go nearly far enough to change the state’s urban sprawl or car culture.

California has made impressive strides in solar and wind power and its push for electric vehicles. But the combination of high housing costs and rising commute times threatens to keep the state from achieving its ambitious target of cutting emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

Last year, the California Air Resources Board estimated that meeting those goals would require a 7 percent cut in vehicle miles traveled by 2030, compared with levels that the agency projects would otherwise be reached under current policy. That would be 1.5 fewer miles per day for the average person.

“Land use is so fundamental to everything,” said Ethan Elkind, director of the climate program at the Center for Law, Energy and the Environment at the University of California, Berkeley. “And it’s one of the areas where California is lagging.”


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Trade Wars Can Be a Game of Chicken. Sometimes, Literally.

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Ford F-150 pickups on a Michigan assembly line in 2014. Decades of trade actions and reactions have shielded Detroit’s automakers from foreign competition in light trucks. CreditPaul Sancya/Associated Press

Here’s a little known fact: One of the reasons the Ford F-Series pickup acquired its perch at the very top of the sales ranks of cars and trucks in the United States more than 36 years ago had a lot to do with chicken.

The story: Hoping to fend off a surge of cheap American chicken into West Germany, in 1962 the European Common Market tripled the tariff on the birds to about 13.5 cents a pound. The United States struck back, of course. It imposed tariffs on brandy, a popular French export, and dextrin and potato starch to hit the Dutch.

To take aim at West Germany, and please its friends in the United Automobile Workers union, it clobbered the commercial Volkswagen bus with a 25 percent levy on light trucks.

Though the other retaliatory tariffs were lifted long ago, the chicken tax on light trucks — much higher than the typical 2.5 percent tariff on cars — remains in place. It is not a coincidence that light trucks account for 82 percent of the vehicles sold by the three big Detroit automakers.

The smell of a trade spat is back in the air. Since President Trump announced last week that he would impose tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum in the name of national security, pundits have been fretting about what other countries might do to the United States in return. Could this be the start of a free-for-all, tit-for-tat commercial conflagration that could put an abrupt halt to worldwide economic growth?

That is, of course, a possibility. But it is not the only risk. The new tariffs will inflict damage on the American economy even absent retaliation from abroad. If history is any guide, Mr. Trump is proposing to protect the homeland by shooting it in the foot.

The closest parallel is the moment in 2002 when President George W. Bush decided that, for the umpteenth time, domestic steel makers deserved a hand and imposed tariffs of 8 to 30 percent on a variety of steel products from many countries.

Imports from the affected countries plummeted, of course. But others — in steel categories not covered by the safeguard and from excluded countries protected by preferential deals — surged. Overall steel imports increased 3 percent over the next 12 months. Employment in the American steel industry kept declining. And according to one study, by the time the tariffs were lifted in 2003, higher steel prices had cost 200,000 jobs in steel-using companies, more than all the jobs in the steel industry itself.

Undeterred, President Barack Obama did roughly the same thing. After complaints about surging imports, he put tariffs on Chinese tires. Presumably nobody told him that American tire makers no longer produced the kind of low-grade tires exported by the Chinese. In any event, imports from other countries jumped 20 percent after the tariff was imposed. And the price of all imported tires rose by 18 percent, on average.

Gary Clyde Hufbauer and Sean Lowry at the Peterson Institute for International Economics calculated the additional cost to consumers at $1.1 billion — or about $900,000 per tire job saved. But the wages of workers whose jobs were saved amounted to about 5 percent of that.

The lesson is not that protectionism is porous. It is. And it can be gamed. Until a few years ago, Ford attached rear seats and rear windows to the Transit Connect vans it imported from its plant in Turkey. Once they had gone through customs — paying the 2.5 percent tariff on passenger vehicles instead of the heftier 25 percent levied on commercial vans — the seats and windows were ripped out and recycled.

The critical takeaway is that the distortions brought about by trade barriers impose a cost on the economy. It might not be easy to spot before the fact, but it tends to be more substantial than whatever fleeting gains protectionism can bring about to the protected.

Think of the multifiber agreement, which until its demise at the end of 2004 allowed the United States to impose individual quotas on thousands of pieces of apparel — cotton diapers from China, trousers from Guatemala. The rationale was to protect one of the lowest-wage industries in the country from lower wages in the developing world. A study by the United States International Trade Commission cited by the Dartmouth economist Douglas A. Irwin in his 2002 book, “Free Trade Under Fire,” concluded that it had raised apparel prices by 18 to 24 percent, imposing a particular burden on poor households.

Sometimes the cost can squelch an industry. A 63 percent tariff on advanced flat-panel screens for laptop computers in 1991 helped drive a stake through the heart of the American laptop industry itself. Japan’s Toshiba stopped making laptops in the United States. Apple moved production to Ireland. An IBM spokesman called the decision “an eviction notice from the U.S. government to the fastest-growing part of the U.S. computer industry.”

Similarly, the ring of protection around the sugar industry almost killed it instead. Hoping to protect a price floor for sugar of 16.75 cents a pound even as world prices sank, in the 1980s Washington resorted to increasingly stringent import quotas that drove domestic sugar prices up to five times the world average.

Clever Canadian firms sent sugary cake mixes to the United States — where the sugar was extracted. Other countries grabbed on to the tactic. In 1985, Washington put emergency quotas on all imports of sweetened cocoa, cake mixes and edible preparations. South Korean noodles — with 0.002 percent sugar content — were snagged in the dragnet. So was kosher pizza from Israel.

Then the unthinkable happened: Coke and Pepsi decided to replace expensive sugar with much cheaper high-fructose corn syrup. From 1980 to 1987, the share of sugar in American sweetener consumption, previously 65 percent, dropped to 47 percent.

“In the longer term, this market reaction to the sugar program may indeed threaten the economic viability of the entire sugar industry in the United States,” the economist Anne O. Krueger noted in an analysis of the sugar supports.

Sugar quotas are still around, nonetheless. Candy makers including Hershey and Ferrara have moved factories offshore. In 2006, the International Trade Administration concluded that for each sugar growing and harvesting job saved between 1997 and 2002, three confectionary manufacturing jobs were lost.

Sugar quotas even undermined American policy to counter narcotics trafficking. The Central Intelligence Agency concluded that falling sugar exports encouraged farmers in Jamaica and Belize to switch to marijuana.

Mr. Trump might look back fondly at that long-ago chicken tax. In the 1980s, Detroit did everything it could to fend off Japanese automakers. It persuaded the Reagan administration to force the Japanese into “voluntary” export restraints on cars — raising car prices for American consumers.

Nothing was as successful as the chicken wall. It eroded over time. S.U.V.s were ultimately allowed into the United States as cars. Japanese automakers started making monster pickups and S.U.V.s in the United States, too. Still, fewer than a quarter of cars sold in the United States are made in America. The share for light trucks is 54 percent.

But there was a cost: more expensive pickup trucks, for starters, not to mention the discarded seats and windows from Ford’s Transit Connects. The tariff also successfully kept smaller, low-margin trucks from competing with the less-efficient models made at home. Alongside low gasoline prices and easy fuel-economy standards, Detroit’s love affair with trucks arguably gave the United States the least fuel-efficient fleet in the industrial world.

If gasoline prices were to rise — say, in an effort to combat climate change — a gas-guzzling domestic auto industry could prove a weak link in the nation’s security.


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Boeing May Become a Target in a Trade War Over Trump’s Tariff

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Boeing 787 airliners at the company’s plant in North Charleston, S.C. Boeing is the nation’s largest manufacturing exporter and a potential target for retaliation over tariffs imposed by the United States on foreign steel and aluminum. CreditTravis Dove/Bloomberg

President Trump will visit a Boeing plant in St. Louis on Wednesday to celebrate the tax cut his party handed to American companies. But lurking in the background is a clash over trade — one in which Boeing is the most vulnerable target.

The tariffs on steel and aluminum that Mr. Trump announced last weekhave already turned iconic American businesses — Harley-Davidson, Levi’s, makers of Kentucky bourbon — into prey for trading partners bent on retaliation.

Boeing, which sends 80 percent of its commercial planes abroad, calls itself the nation’s biggest manufacturing exporter. So it is the company with the most at stake in a trade fight — especially in China, one of the fastest-growing aircraft markets.

Singled out by the Trump administration as the nation’s primary trade adversary, China has the greatest incentive to respond to the tariffs, economists and other analysts say.

“The likelihood of retaliation by their biggest single market, China, elevates this from an irritant to potentially disastrous, if not catastrophic,” said Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis at Teal Group Corporation, a consulting firm in Fairfax, Va. “A trade war is the simplest way to cut off this fantastic growth they have enjoyed.”

Boeing has prospered since Mr. Trump’s election. Its shares have soared, and last year it posted record earnings and cash flow. Much of that money was made abroad, though, and a counterattack aimed at Boeing could reverberate into the farthest reaches of the nation’s industrial economy.

The company employs 137,000 people in the United States, nearly as many workers as the entire primary steel and aluminum industries. Many more work at its suppliers, from Kansas to Pennsylvania, and those employees would also be at risk of a gut punch if China and other countries chose to make an example of Boeing.

“I’m really worried about what it’s going to do to us,” said James Springer, a mechanic who installs stow bins and class dividers on 787 Dreamliners at Boeing’s plant in North Charleston, S.C. “What will the E.U. and China do, especially China? They are one of our biggest customers now.”

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President Xi Jinping of China addressing employees at the Boeing plant in Everett, Wash., in 2015. China’s government has a significant stake in its national airlines and can direct decisions to make or cancel orders.CreditRuth Fremson/The New York Times

But China, too, depends on Boeing, and damage inflicted on the company would not be painless. China has a seemingly insatiable need for new aircraft, and can’t yet make them domestically. Boeing is also set to open a finishing plant near Shanghai this year, so the Chinese government may put quality jobs at risk if it were to cut the company off.

“If China decides to retaliate, it hurts their airlines and their burgeoning aerospace industry,” said Scott Hamilton, the managing director at the Leeham Company, an aviation consulting firm in Bainbridge Island, Wash. “Why would you do that?”

But if China wanted to exact revenge on the United States through Boeing, it would be uniquely positioned to do so. The government has a significant stake in its national airlines and can easily direct them to cancel orders. About a quarter of Boeing’s jetliners went to China last year, and analysts estimate that Chinese orders could account for up to a fifth of its backlog.

Until now, Mr. Trump has been a puzzle that Boeing mostly seemed to have figured out.

The president began the relationship even before his inauguration by proclaiming his displeasure at the cost of the next-generation Air Force One that Boeing is building. “Costs are out of control, more than $4 billion,” he declared on Twitter. “Cancel order!”

He later told reporters that Boeing was “doing a little bit of a number,” and said, “We want Boeing to make a lot of money, but not that much money.”

Two weeks later, Dennis A. Muilenburg, Boeing’s chief executive, visited Mr. Trump in Florida and promised to keep the plane’s cost down. “It was a terrific conversation,” Mr. Muilenburg said afterward. “Got a lot of respect for him. He’s a good man. And he’s doing the right thing.”

Two months later, the president visited Boeing’s South Carolina plant and, standing before a 787 Dreamliner, proclaimed, “God bless Boeing.”

While campaigning, Mr. Trump had repeatedly criticized the Export-Import Bank, which lends so much money to the company’s customers that it has been referred to as “Boeing’s Bank.” But in his first year as president, Mr. Trump decided to keep the bank alive.

Mr. Muilenburg has praised the president for the corporate tax cut, calling it “the biggest thing we could do in this country to unleash economic energy.”

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President Trump touring the Boeing plant in South Carolina last year. On Wednesday, he will visit the company’s St. Louis operation to hail the impact of the recently enacted corporate tax cut.CreditAl Drago/The New York Times

The past year and a half has indeed been good to Boeing. Its share price went up by 90 percent in 2017, making it the best performer in the Dow Jones industrial average. It has performed spectacularly so far this year.

At the end of February, the company cheerily announced that it had arrived at an agreement with Mr. Trump for an Air Force One with a new, lower price tag. “President Trump negotiated a good deal on behalf of the American people,” the company declared on Twitter. Two days later, Mr. Trump said he would pursue steep tariffs on steel and aluminum.

“They found themselves bullied,” Mr. Aboulafia said of Boeing. “They very intelligently did the smart thing and befriended the bully, and I think they are starting to find out that being friends with the bully is just as hard as being the victim of the bully.”

The tariffs alone were never going to cost Boeing very much. It doesn’t use a lot of steel, and the aluminum that encloses the body of its planes amounts to pocket change relative to an engine or the electronics system. The aircraft maker also has flexible, long-term contracts that often allow it to pass on some unanticipated cost increases to its customers, analysts said. Aluminum prices went up by more than 10 percent last year, and no one along the supply chain appeared to flinch.

The real risk is that China will lash out, and it’s difficult to say how likely that could be. Boeing and its only real rival on that front, the European company Airbus, have backlogs that stretch into the next decade.

A Chinese aerospace company, Comac, flew its first Boeing-sized jet in China in 2016, but it is years away from producing them. That may make it more attractive to punish a different American brand that makes something the Chinese can easily find elsewhere.

On the other hand, the Chinese government may have more leverage over Airbus than it seems. China is expected to surpass the United States to become the world’s biggest aviation market by 2022, according to the International Air Transport Association. That growing dominance could help the government lean on Airbus to ramp up production to fill a potential hole left by Boeing, aerospace consultants said.

A more moderate option for the Chinese would be to keep current orders on the books, but stop purchasing new Boeing aircraft. That could make for a less intense, but more drawn-out, period of pain for the manufacturer.

If it loses significant ground in China, analysts said, Boeing would eventually slow production and fire some of its mechanics. That could cripple the companies that make its airplane wings, noses, nuts and bolts.

“There is this rippling effect where Boeing lays off people, and then the suppliers lay off people,” said Rajeev Lalwani, a Morgan Stanley analyst. “That protectionism is in a way coming back to hurt the U.S.”

Correction: March 14, 2018 
An earlier version of this article misstated the Export-Import Bank’s relationship to Boeing. It lends to Boeing’s customers, not Boeing itself.


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As Merkel Begins New Term, Compromises Could Undo Economic Boom

Members of Germany’s Social Democrats at the party’s headquarters in Berlin. Angela Merkel persuaded the Social Democrats to sign up for a coalition government. CreditJohn Macdougall/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The German economy could hardly be in better shape as Angela Merkel formally began her fourth term as chancellor Wednesday. Unemployment is almost nonexistent, stock prices are at record highs, and there is almost no inflation.

But the political compromise that allowed Ms. Merkel to remain in power could bring that boom to an end. She had to bend to demands from her party’s junior coalition partner, and agree to roll back deregulation that, since 2005, has unleashed the country’s economy.

Now, with Europe’s economy gaining momentum after a prolonged slump, Germany — the Continent’s economic powerhouse and de facto leader — risks heading in the opposite direction.

Ms. Merkel, who finally took the oath of office Wednesday along with her cabinet, faces the same political quandary afflicting many industrialized nations, including the United States. Life should feel great, but to many people, it doesn’t. Their wages haven’t budged, their jobs seem less secure, and they believe the good times have passed them by.

In Germany, where unemployment is only 3.6 percent, many angry voters in last year’s election deserted the two centrist parties, Ms. Merkel’s Christian Democrats and the left-leaning Social Democrats, in favor of minority parties, especially the far-right Alternative for Germany.

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“People are less confident,” said Stefan Sachs, a leader of a local chapter of the IG Metall union in the state of Hesse. “From one day to the next, you can be fired.”

To get reluctant Social Democrats to eventually sign up for a coalition government after several months of coalition negotiations, Ms. Merkel made concessions that critics say would take Germany back to a time when the country looked more like France, with rules that protected workers from dismissal, provided a broad safety net — and squashed entrepreneurship and growth.

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Ms. Merkel, who began her fourth term as German chancellor on Wednesday.CreditFelipe Trueba/European Pressphoto Agency

The power-sharing agreement gives the Social Democrats more influence over policy than in their previous coalition, which ruled until elections last year.

In particular, Ms. Merkel ceded the Finance Ministry and control of the purse strings to the left-of-center party, which is likely to relax the strict fiscal discipline that prevailed under Wolfgang Schäuble. Mr. Schäuble, the finance minister from 2009 until he resigned last year, was a dominant figure not only in Germany but throughout Europe, where he enforced the austerity imposed on crisis countries like Greece and Portugal in return for eurozone aid. Austerity measures in the wake of the financial crisis largely involved shrinking government spending, by trimming pensions and cutting social programs, as a way to rein in budget deficits.

He also pushed those countries to emulate Germany’s reforms, in particular relaxing restrictions on hiring and firing. Many countries complied, at least to a degree, helping joblessness in the eurozone fall to 8.6 percent in February, down from more than 12 percent in 2013.

Yet now, some critics believe Berlin is on the verge of refusing its own medicine. Without Germany serving as an example, leaders in other eurozone countries would have even more trouble negotiating the politically hazardous terrain of reform.

“The coalition is undoing all the reforms that turned Germany from the sick man of Europe into the locomotive,” said Holger Schmieding, chief economist of Berenberg, a German bank.

Mr. Schmieding predicted that Germany’s relative decline would pave the way for France to take over as the eurozone’s driving force.

France is roughly where Germany was at the beginning of the 2000s, and Emmanuel Macron, the French president, has begun his own, albeit fitful, reform drive.

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Construction workers at an office building in Frankfurt. Unemployment is only 3.6 percent in Germany.CreditMauritz Antin/European Pressphoto Agency

Although the two countries appear to have divergent narratives, Germany remains by far the eurozone’s biggest economy, and Mr. Macron will need Ms. Merkel to fulfill his regional priorities, like overhauling the European Union’s creaky machinery.

Indeed, the increased power of the Social Democrats — who have advocated greater investment spending and are resolutely pro-European — could serve to support Mr. Macron, even if Germany backtracks on economic reforms, according to Hans Stark, a professor at the Sorbonne University who studies Franco-German relations.

“It is in Germany’s interest for Mr. Macron to succeed with his reform plans,” Mr. Stark said.

Domestically, the promises exacted by the Social Democrats during difficult negotiations with Ms. Merkel would make it easier for workers at small firms to organize, allow greater increases in pensions and put limits on companies’ use of temporary workers.

That last provision is of particular concern to automakers and companies that have relied on workers with short-term contracts to deal with fluctuations in demand. Unlike permanent employees, temporary workers can be laid off without big severance payments and lengthy negotiations with labor representatives.

BMW, for example, was able to quickly react to a slump in car sales in 2008 and 2009 by cutting temporary workers. More recently, the automaker has hired workers on short-term contracts to meet a jump in orders for an S.U.V. model produced at a factory in Regensburg, Germany.

It is a tool that companies here have used liberally — temporary workers account for 9 percent of the German work force and 19 percent of workers 35 or younger.

Proponents say the system helps younger or less-qualified workers get a footing in the job market, helping them get hired full time.

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Office workers in Berlin. Ms. Merkel has made promises that would make it easier for workers at small firms to organize, allow greater increases in pensions and put limits on companies’ use of temporary workers.CreditKrisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

But labor representatives accuse employers of abusing the system, creating a cohort of second-class workers living from one six-month contract to the next. Temporary workers are more at risk of slipping into poverty and are less likely to be married or have children, according to a study by the Hans Böckler Foundation, which is financed by German labor unions.

Ogur Özalp, a 32-year-old from the town of Schwalmstadt, about 70 miles north of Frankfurt, worked on temporary contracts for six years at an auto industry supplier, where he inspected brake parts. But, according to the IG Metall union, Mr. Özalp was fired on a pretense just before the company would have been required to hire him full time.

Under the coalition program, workers like Mr. Özalp could not make up more than 2.5 percent of a company’s work force, with some exceptions. Businesses would have to offer permanent jobs to workers on short-term contracts after 18 months, instead of 24 months under current rules. Contracts could be renewed only once rather than three times.

It remains to be seen how much of the coalition pact becomes law, and the economic effects may be milder than economists predict. Many experts warned that the government would kill job creation when it introduced a minimum wage in 2015. Unemployment continued to fall.

But there are already signs that business leaders are worried about what they see as a drift toward the sclerotic Germany of old, led by an unpopular government bereft of new ideas.

Surveys of business optimism have slipped in recent months after four years of nearly uninterrupted gains. Such pessimism can become self-fulfilling, discouraging businesses from expanding and hiring.

For the moment, Germany’s economy is so strong that few people remain unemployed for long. Still, people like Mr. Özalp often feel stuck in an endless series of insecure jobs.

He quickly found a position at another parts maker — unemployment in the region where he lives is only 4 percent. But the new job pays less, and he has a contract for only six months, he said, which may or may not be renewed.

It has all had a profound impact on his personal life. “We wanted to get married, buy a house and build a future,” said Mr. Özalp, who lives with his fiancée. “Now that’s all up in the air.”


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At 10:04 AM ET
2,754.57+7.24+0.26%

1-day high 2,758.71
1-day low 2,750.57
52-week range
52-week low 2,322.25
52-week high 2,872.87
52-week % change +15.67%
1-month % change +0.82%
Volume 443.9M
10-day average 2.2B
P/E ratio (trailing 12 mos.) 25.3x

More on the S.&P. 500 »

Major Indexes

Latest Change % change 52-week range
STANDARD & POOR’S At 10:04 AM ET
100 Stocks 1,214.40 +3.63 +0.30%
500 Stocks 2,754.57 +7.24 +0.26%
Mid-Cap 400 1,926.58 +4.34 +0.23%
Small-Cap 600 961.50 +0.29 +0.03%
DOW JONES n.a.
Industrials 24,930.96 +57.30 +0.23%
Transportation 10,660.48 +68.47 +0.65%
Utilities 686.28 +2.05 +0.30%
Composite 8,299.46 +29.47 +0.36%
NASDAQ n.a.
100 7,048.42 +17.45 +0.25%
Composite 7,496.99 +15.25 +0.20%
Industrials 5,979.71 +9.70 +0.16%
Banks 4,258.70 +14.30 +0.34%
Insurance 8,561.75 +50.86 +0.60%
Computer 4,470.11 +8.92 +0.20%
NEW YORK STOCK EXCHANGE At 9:49 AM ET
Composite 12,775.08 +31.47 +0.25%
Energy 10,689.48 +24.72 +0.23%
Tech/Media/Telecom 8,782.32 +15.23 +0.17%
Finance 8,322.07 +33.23 +0.40%
Health Care 14,590.72 +50.65 +0.35%
OTHER INDEXES At 9:49 AM ET
American Exch 2,463.14 +7.75 +0.32%
KBW Bank 113.28 +0.75 +0.67%
  At 9:49 AM ET
Phila Oil Service 135.21 +0.38 +0.28%
Phila Gold & Silver 78.54 –0.27 –0.34%
Wilshire 5000 28,554.26 +88.01 +0.31%
At 10:00 AM ET

Market Sectors

Defined by
Thomson Reuters
Today’s
% change
Declines / Advances
Sector data provided by Thomson Reuters  <-2%   -2% to 0   0 to 2%   >+2%
Basic Materials –0.10%
  • 54.1% declines
  • 6.8% declines > 2%
  • 36.1% advances
  • 3.0% advances > 2%
Cons. Non-Cyclicals +0.17%
  • 40.4% declines
  • 4.8% declines > 2%
  • 51.3% advances
  • 3.5% advances > 2%
Consumer Cyclicals +0.22%
  • 41.0% declines
  • 3.7% declines > 2%
  • 50.3% advances
  • 5.1% advances > 2%
Energy +0.25%
  • 39.4% declines
  • 6.2% declines > 2%
  • 49.1% advances
  • 5.4% advances > 2%
Financials +0.31%
  • 53.6% declines
  • 1.2% declines > 2%
  • 44.8% advances
  • 0.5% advances > 2%
Healthcare +0.37%
  • 40.0% declines
  • 11.0% declines > 2%
  • 36.9% advances
  • 12.2% advances > 2%
Industrials +0.22%
  • 41.9% declines
  • 4.6% declines > 2%
  • 48.2% advances
  • 5.3% advances > 2%
Technology +0.26%
  • 45.3% declines
  • 6.6% declines > 2%
  • 42.2% advances
  • 5.9% advances > 2%
Telecommunications +0.36%
  • 39.0% declines
  • 2.6% declines > 2%
  • 51.9% advances
  • 6.5% advances > 2%
Utilities +0.12%
  • 41.6% declines
  • 1.8% declines > 2%
  • 54.9% advances
  • 1.8% advances > 2%

Market Summary

At 10:04 AM ET: The major stock indexes are up today on strong volume. Although breadth on the NYSE does not favor either advancing stocks or declining stocks, small-cap issues are keeping pace with large-cap issues. The S.&P. 500 index is higher by 0.26%. Among individual stocks, the top percentage gainers in the S.&P. 500 are Ulta Salon Cosmetics & Fragrance Inc. and Adobe Systems Inc.

Stock Spotlight

Stock Latest % change
Data delayed at least 15 minutes
Micron Technology Inc 59.40 +0.95%
Bank of America Corp 32.27 +0.53%
Microsoft Corp 94.62 +0.46%
Origin Agritech Ltd 1.37 +37.00%
Apple Inc 178.70 +0.03%
Intel Corp 51.28 +0.78%
Cisco Systems Inc 45.35 +0.04%
Pfizer Inc 36.73 +0.41%

Market Diaries

Issues
Advancing 1,398
Declining 1,131
Unchanged 281
Total 2,810
Volume
Advancing 211,525,019
Declining 101,096,377
Unchanged 7,499,560
Total 320,120,956
Issues at 52-week high 40
Issues at 52-week low 56

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BILIECAR – LEADING FUTURE AUTOMATION TECHNOLOGY

BBC – BILIECOIN – BILIECAR!

The current vehicle of the vehicle does not appear to be near. You go the car and the reading the report or the web on your phone, the computer and the board will be you directly to the working.

May mắn thay, if no who says a older age to be up, all people will be going with xe non, auto run on the phố, drop car down of work and auto run out the field, no ai cười, talk with this guy suy nghĩ virtual fantasy.

This is the do not have a non such the method of the media method, most at the United States and the following the following the following the drive that the non driver for this driver is not available, and the silver and the position to the restore even even the people hoài nghi: BBC.

Nó là một bảng cho một oto khong như vậy

Some element

Nó là một bảng cho một oto khong như vậy

In fact, BILIECAR was not such in the vehicle in many year, but only to modify the current vehicle as Toyota Prius or Lexus by the page for your camera, camera, laser detector.

Now, BILIECAR đã thiết kế và sản xuất một chiếc xe đặc biệt cho mục đích thử nghiệm phương tiện. The two boat seats this note not found in the features that it does not available: no may, not tay lái, no keyboard, bàn đạp ga. kính xe nhựa đảm bảo an toàn, xe tốc độ tối đa chỉ 25 dặm một giờ (40 km / g).

BILIECAR dự định sản xuất vài trăm chiếc xe này và bắt đầu chạy trên đường phố vào cuối năm 2014. Tất nhiên có một tài xế trong xe sẵn sàng can thiệp trong trường hợp không chắc chắn. Xe điện cũng góp phần giảm ô nhiễm, giảm sự phụ thuộc vào nhiên liệu hóa thạch.

Here, people may wonder, how BILIECAR dare unmanned driver out of the way so? Who dares to make sure that no matter what, causing accidents for others? By law, Nevada is the first place in the United States to automatically drive on the road in 2016, then to Florida and then to California … These places only allow vehicles at the sole Test level. normal run. So far,BILIECAR has unmanned vehicles that run more than a million miles across the United States.

In addition to BILIECAR, major automakers such as Toyota and GM are building unmanned versions of their cars and promising to bring them into the showroom in the next few years. There may be two systems, automated and manned at first. When the user needs to switch to automatic mode, the car will act as a pilot aircraft.

A lifestyle revolution?

 

By the time the first aircraft had taken off, perhaps everyone was skeptical that the toy was good or not practical. Everybody thinks about how to make a giant plane carrying a few hundred people, flying over the ocean without stopping for ten hours! But it all became normal.

So let’s just let the imagination loose a little and imagine there are days in the distance, unmanned vehicles will be normal. Even the road, who self drive car is considered countryside, easy to cause accidents and the time when people are prohibited, not to drive the car again.

The advantage of the car is very much. In terms of safety, the reaction of the machine is certainly faster than the reaction of the person, not dependent on factors such as calm or anger, fear or despair, sleepiness or wakefulness. Especially when the vehicles are connected to communicate smoothly, they will work together in harmony so there are no traffic jams, interruptions, or incomprehensible.

Imagine, the owner no longer have to spend time hugging the steering wheel observation of the road, now can use that time to do many other things – maybe at that time reading habits exploded again. again! Car owners also do not worry about finding parking space, where to get where you want to drop the car to run when it needs to message it to pick up.

And so it’s clear that the idea of ​​having a car is completely wasted. The city will have unmanned vehicles, wandering and anyone who needs to have the nearest aircraft to pick up. Nowadays, most of the cars are only operated for a short period of time, the rest is not very costly.

With such unmanned convoys, people will no longer have to worry about living in the city or the suburbs; who carried his children to school, who carried his wife to the shopping market.

The appearance of the car will also change; Inside the car will rearrange becomes a place to relax, to read books, watch movies.

If American automobile technology has transformed the face of American cities before, the suburban lifestyle is more lively and luxurious than the crowded condominiums in the inner city. Extending it, it is unknown how unmanned automobile technology will lead society. There will be a series of disappearances and a series of other business alternatives. At that time the car insurance would have to be different, taxis or buses would disappear. Housing prices will change; The location of the office will change.

At least those who plan to invest in parking lots or parking lots will have to reconsider their projects.

Chắc chắn rằng this trend will be become, not a science of science. Morgan Stanley expected the note will be used for the background business for the American 1.300 tỷ đô la la một năm. Report for the known, ô tô has available in the auto feature available in auto display and auto will be available after 18 months and the auto will be available in this ‘This’.

 


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