Fed officials remain committed to wrestling America’s rapid inflation lower, and they have raised interest rates at the quickest pace since the 1980s to try to slow the economy and bring supply and demand into balance — making supersize rate moves of three-quarters of a percentage point at each of their past two meetings. Another big adjustment will be up for debate at their next meeting in September, policymakers have said.

But investors interpreted July’s unexpectedly pronounced inflation slowdown as a sign that policymakers could take a gentler route, raising rates a half-point next month. Stocks soared more than 2 percent on Wednesday, as Wall Street bet that the Fed might become less aggressive, which would decrease the chances that it would plunge the economy into a recession.

“It was as good as the markets and the Fed could have hoped for from this report,” said Aneta Markowska, chief financial economist at Jefferies. “I do think it removes the urgency for the Fed.”

Still, officials who spoke on Wednesday remained cautious about inflation. Neel Kashkari, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, called the report the “first hint” of a move in the right direction, while Charles Evans, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, said that it was “positive” but that price increases remained “unacceptably high.”

Policymakers have been hoping for more than a year that price increases will begin to cool, only to have those expectations repeatedly dashed. Supply chain issues have made goods more expensive, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent commodity prices soaring, a shortage of workers pushed wages and service prices higher and a dearth of housing has fueled rising rents.

toward $4 in July after peaking at $5 in June, based on data from AAA. That decline helped overall inflation to cool last month. The trend has continued into August, which should help inflation to continue to moderate.

But it is unclear what will happen next. The U.S. Energy Information Administration expects that fuel costs will continue to come down, but geopolitical instability and the speed of U.S. oil and gas production during hurricane season, which can take refineries offline, are wild cards in that outlook.

declined in July, perhaps in part because borrowing costs rose. Mortgage rates have increased this year and appear to be weighing on the housing market, which could be helping to drive down prices for appliances.

slow hiring. Wages are still rising rapidly, and, as that happens, so are prices on many services. Rents, which make up a chunk of overall inflation and are closely linked to wage growth, continue to climb rapidly — which is concerning, because they tend to change course only slowly.

Rents of primary residences climbed 0.7 percent in July from the prior month, and are up 6.3 percent over the past year. Before the pandemic, that measure typically climbed about 3.5 percent annually.

Those forces could keep inflation undesirably rapid even if supply chains unsnarl and fuel prices continue to fall. The Fed aims for 2 percent inflation over time, based on a different but related inflation measure.

“The Covid reopening and revenge travel pressures have eased — and are probably going to continue easing,” said Laura Rosner-Warburton, senior U.S. economist at MacroPolicy Perspectives. But she also struck a note of caution, adding: “Under the hood, we’re still seeing pressures in rent. There’s still sticky inflation here.”

And given how high inflation has been for more than a year now, Fed policymakers will avoid reading too much into a single report. Inflation slowed last summer only to speed up again in fall.

“We might see goods inflation and commodity inflation come down, but at the same time see the services side of the economy stay up — and that’s what we’ve got to keep watching for,” Loretta Mester, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, said during a recent appearance. “It can’t just be a one month. Oil prices went down in July; that’ll feed through to the July inflation report, but there’s a lot of risk that oil prices will go up in the fall.”

Ms. Mester said that she “welcomes” a slowdown in some types of prices, but that it would be a mistake to “cry victory too early” and allow inflation to continue without taking necessary action.

For many Americans who are struggling to adjust their lifestyles to rapidly climbing costs at the grocery store and dry cleaners, an annual inflation rate that is still more than four times its normal speed is unlikely to feel like a big improvement, even as lower gas prices and rising pay rates do offer some relief.

Stephanie Bailey, 54, has a solid family income in Waco, Texas. Even so, she has been cutting back on meals at local Tex-Mex restaurants and new clothes because of the climbing prices, which she sees “everywhere.” At Starbucks, she opts for cold, noncoffee drinks, which in some cases are cheaper.

Her son, who is in his 20s, has moved back in with his parents. Rent had become out of reach on his salary working at a vitamin manufacturer. He is now teaching at a local high school.

“It’s just so expensive, with housing,” Ms. Bailey said. “He was having a hard time making ends meet.”

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Misplaced European Opposition Undermines Plug-In Hybrids, But U.S. Prospects Stronger

The Plug-in hybrid seems the perfect answer to the electric car dilemma; battery power for all your local needs and a traditional motor for long distances.

European politicians though have taken against the idea and have designed harsh carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions rules to force manufacturers to phase them out. One environmental group calls them “fake electric vehicles”. TeslaTSLA CEO Elon Musk doesn’t like them either, scorning them as amphibians or transitions. Sales in Europe are on the wane, but Americans are buying more plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVS), and their popularity so far hasn’t caught the attention of any grandstanding politicians. Californian regulators, thought by some to be relentless diehards in their pursuit of electric cars, are reportedly showing unexpected support for the benefits of PHEVs in the race to be green, sensibly.

Buyers considering splashing out serious money for an electric car (and a cheap electric car doesn’t exist, yet) will be aware of much negative publicity. Yes, performance sounds exciting and the choice is now huge, but can the technology be trusted? Why not go for a sedan or SUV which allows a serious amount of urban electric-only driving, delivers some saving-the-planet bragging rights, and banishes range anxiety?

PHEVs combine an internal combustion engine (ICE) with a smallish battery and electric motor to make worry-free that occasional long trip to the sun or family reunions. The smaller battery will slash costs and cut the use of potentially harmful minerals like lithium, cobalt, nickel, graphite, and manganese.

I’ve just been driving the DS 4 Cross Rivoli E-Tense 225 PHEV. (DS is the upmarket subsidiary of Stellantis, which owns European brands like Peugeot, Citroen, Opel, Vauxhall, Fiat, Maserati, Alfa Romeo and Lancia, and U.S. ones Jeep, Dodge and Chrysler). Hybrids, as pioneered by the Toyota Prius, combine a gasoline engine and battery to maximize economy and performance. They allow very little battery-only range. The PHEV offers electric-only range of between 30 and 50 miles, with more promised, but includes an ICE for long-distance, worry-free motoring. The DS 4 PHEV’s 12.4 kWh battery is at least 4 times smaller than the typical battery for an all-electric vehicle. Driving it for a week and charging it overnight gave an average battery capacity of 29.3 miles compared with the claim of 38.5 miles. I used about $15 worth of gasoline over 225 miles.

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You might think that this combination would be irresistible but in Europe you’d be wrong. Green lobbyists hate it, and they’ve persuaded European Union and national politicians to effectively ban selling new hybrids by 2035. Britain has banned hybrids by 2030, although there’s an argument building about whether this should include PHEVs as well.

Brussels-based environmental campaigner Transport & Environment (T&E) is vehemently opposed, saying claims of PHEV greenness are exaggerated and they shouldn’t be allowed.

“For years, the emissions of plug-in hybrids were based on unrealistic driving conditions. The new rules (from the EU tightening CO2 emissions in 2035) reflect the reality that PHEVs pollute far more than carmakers claim. Governments which still incentivize the purchases of these fake electric vehicles need to stop those harmful subsidies now,” said T&E emissions engineer Anna Krajinska in a recent publication.

Krajinkska makes a couple of points; the first is a narrow one. True, manufacturers are their own worst enemies with ridiculous claims for PHEV fuel consumption. For instance, DS claims between 193.4 to 153.1 miles per U.S. gallon, which relies on arbitrary assumptions battery use. The only numbers which make sense are the 30-mile battery-only range, and the ICE engine’s about 37.5 miles per U.S. gallon capability on a long run after the battery has emptied. That should last at least 300 miles. The 2nd point concerns European government subsidies provided for PHEVs. This has provoked a scandal, but shouldn’t undermine the case for mass-market buyers. Some corporations have taken advantage of government subsidies to fill their fleets with PHEVs. The trouble is, these company car buyers fill up the tank at someone else’s expense, and have no incentive to use the electric technology. They fill up, then drive with no regard to the electric capability, enabling T&E to say these vehicles are even worse than their ICE equivalent because the added battery and electric motor weight mean CO2 emissions are overall greater.

This could be rectified by tax regulators insisting on maximum use of the electric capacity or installing a geo-fencing capability which might switch off the ICE engine in urban environments. But because CO2 bureaucrats see only negatives and ignore compelling positives, millions of private buyers will be denied access to this technology-bridging concept. In Europe yes, but probably not in America.

Felipe Munoz, global automotive analyst at JATO Dynamics, agrees the regulators are letting down Europe’s car buyers.

“The PHEV issue is another example of how bad politics can ruin an industry, or at least don’t align with the normal development of any industry. The fact that the (EU) Commission decided to ban the plug-in hybrids in the future proves that there’s little connection between the people making the rules in Europe and the people making cars,” Munoz said.

“PHEVs are an excellent alternative for green driving in the city and going further without range issues. Yes, there are drivers that don’t properly use the technology, but the regulation should consider these particular cases instead of punishing the whole community,” Munoz said.

“However, the rules are the rules, and based on this ban, we don’t expect big progress from these cars commercially speaking. In fact, in H1 2022, their registrations in Europe-29 fell by 12%, and were outsold by the pure electric cars. This trend should continue, although the technology is becoming quite important for the sales of premium brands. For example, they made up 37% of Volvo volume in Europe in H1 2022, 27% of Land Rover, 34% of DS, 25% of Seat Cupra and 42% of Jeep, 20% of BMW, 19% of Mercedes,” Munoz said.

In Germany, the subsidies for PHEVs are being wound down, and sales will slide, according to consultants LMC Automotive.

“PHEVs will inevitably be squeezed. That they have a transitory nature has always been the view of LMC, and our Europe-wide PHEV forecast indicates PHEV demand is at, or close to, peak share and will slowly decline over time, eventually becoming redundant or being forced out of existence by (EU) regulation from 2030 onward,” the consultancy said in a report.

Schmidt Automotive Research said electric vehicles captured 57.7% of the BEV/PHEV electrified market in Western Europe in the first half of 2022.

“Pure electric models are expected to continue to drive away from PHEVs as the second half of the year progresses, with BEV production facilities increasing output on the back of a strong BEV order backlog,” Schmidt Automotive said.

The Ford Kuga was the biggest selling PHEV in Western Europe in the first half of 2022 with 22,884 sales, followed by the Peugeot 3008 with 18,529. Most of the other big sellers are premium vehicles like the BMW 3-series, Volvo XC40, and Mercedes GLC, according to Schmidt Automotive.

Investment bank UBS said winding down PHEVs will have a big impact on premium Germans.

“If PHEV (subsidies) are to be phased out at the end of this year, German premium (manufacturers), BMW above all, are likely to be negatively impacted due to their high dependency on this powertrain. PHEV sales have already started to decline and we would expect a significant further drop in 2023,” UBS said in a report.

But in the U.S. the reverse seems to be happening.

The New York TimesNYT reported last week in an article headed “After Losing Favor to Electric Cars, Plug-In Hybrids Gain Ground”, that, according to Wards Intelligence, 176,000 PHEVs were sold in the U.S. last year, up from 69,000 in 2020 and this year could reach 180,000, a year where the overall market is likely to fall by just over 1 million.

The California Air Resources Board is in the process of updating its zero-emission vehicle mandate and seeks to require automakers to ramp up sales of light-duty battery EVs, fuel cell EVs and so-called “strong” PHEVs, reaching 100% in 2035. “Strong” PHEVs will have to meet much tougher requirements starting in 2026, including a long, 55-mile all-electric range.

The first CARB hearing was held June 9, 2022, and the final hearing for an up or down vote will be held on August 25/26. CARB decisions are followed closely by U.S. federal and state authorities.

According to the Mercury News of San Jose, California, the CARB is warming to the role PHEVs can play in the transition to all-electric vehicles. The newspaper said the CARB is likely willing to accept a “limited number of highly-efficient PHEVs”, including roughly 50 miles of real-world all-electric range.

In an article headlined “California Air Resources Board Supports Plug-In Hybrids Beyond 2035”, Mercury News reporter Peter Douglas said the CARB was looking out for motorists without access to home charging and those in remote areas.

“Motorists with no access to home charging may become increasingly unwilling to buy BEVs if public charging availability proves to be inadequate. PHEVs would allow them to continue relying on readily available gasoline. Folks in rural areas who typically drive long distances will also gravitate to PHEVs, knowing that the hybrid’s frugal gas motor will always provide adequate range,” Douglas said.

Europeans may soon be wishing their regulators were that sensible, rather than grandstanding to the more extreme politicians and green lobbyists.

Dr. David Tuttle, Research Fellow, The University of Texas at Austin Energy Institute, agreed PHEVs would be important in rural areas where electric charging might be scarce. The huge use of ICE pickups in agriculture and their towing capability was not easily matched by electric power.

“The key objective is how to reduce actual emissions. Well-designed PHEVs used in the right way can help,” Tuttle said.

DS4 Cross Rivoli E-Tense 225

Engine – 1.6 litre 4-cylinder, direct injection turbo

Power – 180 hp @ 6,000 rpm

Torque – 300 Nm @ 3,000

Electric motor – 110 hp

Torque max – 320 Nm

Battery – 12.4 kWh lithium ion; 8 year, 100,000 mile guaranty

Charging time – 2-1/2 hours with 7 kWh home charger

Combined power – 225 hp @6,000

Torque max – 360 Nm

Gearbox – 8-speed automatic

Claimed battery-only range – 38.5 miles

WintonsWorld test range – 29.3 (average after 6 home charges)

Claimed overall miles per gallon – 232.2 to 183.8 imperial mpg

WintonsWorld estimate 160.7 mpg

Drive – front-wheels

Top speed – 145 mph

Acceleration – 0-60 mph – 7.5 seconds

Price – £42,200 after tax ($51,000)

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Disney’s earnings could define how the media industry views streaming’s future

A performer dressed as Mickey Mouse entertains guests during the reopening of the Disneyland theme park in Anaheim, California, U.S., on Friday, April 30, 2021.

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Disney will put a stamp on how the media industry views streaming’s growth potential — at least for the time being — when it announces its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday.

The possible conclusions are “don’t panic” or “call the doctor.”

Wall Street analysts on average expect that Disney added about 10 million Disney+ subscribers during the period, pushing its total global customers for the service to about 147 million, according to FactSet.

If Disney hits or exceeds that forecast, investors and media executives can file the quarter away as one that showed mixed trends for the industry. It will suggest the global streaming market isn’t nearing saturation. With the right product, in certain regions of the world, Disney can show entertainment companies are still capable of adding many millions of subscribers in a quarter.

That’s particularly important for Disney Chief Executive Officer Bob Chapek, who in February stood by his forecast that Disney+ will have between 230 million to 260 million subscribers by the end of 2024. That gives the company 11 more quarters, including the one reported Wednesday, to reach its goal. Disney will need to add an average of about 8.5 million subscribers a quarter to reach the low end of the range.

Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Chapek reacts at the Boston College Chief Executives Club luncheon in Boston, Massachusetts, November 15, 2021.

Katherine Taylor | Reuters

If Disney+’s net addition are well below 10 million or — even worse — below 8.5 million, the last quarter will go down as disastrous for media and entertainment companies racing to build their streaming businesses.

Don’t panic

With double-digit million net adds for Disney+, Disney would join Paramount Global as relative winners for the past three months. Paramount+ added 3.7 million subscribers, including 1.2 million disconnects in Russia, in the quarter.

Disney is already taking steps to ensure Disney+ growth continues. It plans to launch a cheaper advertising-supported tier by the end of the year. Last month, Disney also raised the price of ESPN+ 43% to $9.99 per month but kept its bundled offering of ESPN+, Disney+ and Hulu stable at $13.99 per month.

That price increase should move more solo ESPN+ subscribers to the bundle, increasing Disney+ customers. Disney also launched Disney+ in 42 new countries and 11 territories in June, which should help boost adds both its fiscal third quarter and its current quarter.

Adding 10 million subscribers in the quarter and forecasting another 10 million adds in the next will help convince investors that Netflix’s sudden stalled growth is not reflective of the entire entertainment industry. Netflix reported a loss of 1 million subscribers in the quarter and forecast a gain of just 1 million subscribers for its third quarter. Netflix has 221 million subscribers worldwide.

There’s some evidence Netflix investors believe the company has hit a temporary bottom rather than an extended slowdown. Netflix shares have risen 19% since the company announced its quarterly earnings on July 19. The gain suggests there’s belief that Netflix will be able to reinvigorate subscriber and revenue growth in coming quarters, spurred by a cheaper Netflix advertising-supported tier, a password sharing crackdown and the company’s push into video games.

Call the doctor

An underwhelming Disney quarter, by contrast, would be more evidence for the argument that streaming’s growth is waning.

Comcast’s NBCUniversal followed Netflix’s earnings by reporting no subscriber gains for Peacock, and Warner Bros. Discovery reported last week HBO Max and Discovery+ gained just 1.7 million subscribers, combined.

If streaming growth worldwide is slowing, it’s possible far fewer households are interested in subscribing to more services than previously thought. Netflix, for example, has said it expects the total addressable market for subscribers is 800 million to 900 million homes globally outside of China.

Already, analysts are predicting Disney may have to lower its 230 million to 260 million guidance, especially after the company didn’t renew streaming rights to the Indian Premiere League, the top Indian cricket league, for Disney+ Hotstar.

“At some point, we believe Disney may have to cut its streaming guidance,” Barclays media analyst David Joyce wrote in a note to clients. “However, it may be a bit early for the company to walk back on Disney+
guidance (ex Hotstar) even if the company was planning to do that.”

A poor Disney quarter could potentially mark this quarter as a turning point for the entire industry, when the biggest media and entertainment companies realized chasing streaming subscribers was no longer a winning plan.

Disclosure: Comcast’s NBCUniversal is the parent company of CNBC.

WATCH: Streaming is hard when you’re levered as much as Warner Bros. Discovery, says analyst

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Serena Williams announces her retirement from tennis

Serena Williams of the US waves as she walks off the court after losing against Japan’s Naomi Osaka during their women’s singles semi-final match on day eleven of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 18, 2021.

William West | AFP | Getty Images

Tennis legend Serena Williams announced her retirement in a Vogue article published Tuesday.

“I have never liked the word ‘retirement,'” Williams wrote. “Maybe the best word to describe what I’m up to is ‘evolution.’ I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me.”

Williams, who turns 41 next month, has 73 career singles titles, 23 career doubles titles and over $94 million in career winnings.

Williams is widely hailed as one of the greatest athletes of all time. In her Vogue piece, she noted that some of her detractors point out that she hasn’t won the most Grand Slam titles in women’s tennis history, however. 

“There are people who say I’m not the GOAT because I didn’t pass Margaret Court’s record of 24 grand slam titles, which she achieved before the ‘open era’ that began in 1968,” Williams wrote. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want that record.”

She said she will retire after the U.S. Open, which will run from late August into September. A victory there would tie her with Court’s Grand Slam record.

“I don’t know if I will be ready to win New York. But I’m going to try,” Williams wrote about the tournament, which is played in Queens.

She has counted sponsorships from companies including Nike, Audemars Piguet, Away, Beats, Bumble, Gatorade, Gucci, Lincoln, Michelob, Nintendo, Wilson Sporting Goods, and Procter and Gamble.

“I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family. I don’t think it’s fair,” Williams wrote. “If I were a guy, I wouldn’t be writing this because I’d be out there playing and winning while my wife was doing the physical labor of expanding our family.”

Williams focused on her family in the announcement, writing that her nearly five-year-old daughter wants to be an older sister. Williams is married to Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian.

“I have to focus on being a mom, my spiritual goals and finally discovering a different, but just exciting Serena. I’m gonna relish these next few weeks,” Williams wrote in an Instagram post Tuesday.

Professionally, she looks to expand Serena Ventures, a small investment firm of six people that was one of the first investors in MasterClass. Her firm raised $111 million in outside financing this year.

Williams wrote that only 2% of venture capital goes to women and that “in order for us to change that, more people who look like me need to be in that position, giving money back to themselves.”

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Policymakers in Washington are promoting electric vehicles as a solution to climate change. But an uncomfortable truth remains: Battery-powered cars are much too expensive for a vast majority of Americans.

Congress has begun trying to address that problem. The climate and energy package passed on Sunday by the Senate, the Inflation Reduction Act, would give buyers of used electric cars a tax credit.

But automakers have complained that the credit would apply to only a narrow slice of vehicles, at least initially, largely because of domestic sourcing requirements. And experts say broader steps are needed to make electric cars more affordable and to get enough of them on the road to put a serious dent in greenhouse gas emissions.

would eliminate this cap and extend the tax credit until 2032; used cars would also qualify for a credit of up to $4,000.

With so much demand, carmakers have little reason to target budget-minded buyers. Economy car stalwarts like Toyota and Honda are not yet selling significant numbers of all-electric models in the United States. Scarcity has been good for Ford, Mercedes-Benz and other carmakers that are selling fewer cars than before the pandemic but recording fat profits.

Automakers are “not giving any more discounts because demand is higher than the supply,” said Axel Schmidt, a senior managing director at Accenture who oversees the consulting firm’s automotive division. “The general trend currently is no one is interested in low prices.”

Advertised prices for electric vehicles tend to start around $40,000, not including a federal tax credit of $7,500. Good luck finding an electric car at that semi-affordable price.

Ford has stopped taking orders for Lightning electric pickups, with an advertised starting price of about $40,000, because it can’t make them fast enough. Hyundai advertises that its electric Ioniq 5 starts at about $40,000. But the cheapest models available from dealers in the New York area, based on a search of the company’s website, were around $49,000 before taxes.

Tesla’s Model 3, which the company began producing in 2017, was supposed to be an electric car for average folks, with a base price of $35,000. But Tesla has since raised the price for the cheapest version to $47,000.

pass the House, would give buyers of used cars a tax credit of up to $4,000. The used-car market is twice the size of the new-car market and is where most people get their rides.

But the tax credit for used cars would apply only to those sold for $25,000 or less. Less than 20 percent of used electric vehicles fit that category, said Scott Case, chief executive of Recurrent, a research firm focused on the used-vehicle market.

The supply of secondhand vehicles will grow over time, Mr. Case said. He noted that the Model 3, which has sold more than any other electric car, became widely available only in 2018. New-car buyers typically keep their vehicles three or four years before trading them in.

SAIC’s MG unit sells an electric S.U.V. in Europe for about $31,000 before incentives.

New battery designs offer hope for cheaper electric cars but will take years to appear in lower-priced models. Predictably, next-generation batteries that charge faster and go farther are likely to appear first in luxury cars, like those from Porsche and Mercedes.

Companies working on these advanced technologies argue that they will ultimately reduce costs for everyone by packing more energy into smaller packages. A smaller battery saves weight and cuts the cost of cooling systems, brakes and other components because they can be designed for a lighter car.

You can actually decrease everything else,” said Justin Mirro, chief executive of Kensington Capital Acquisition, which helped the battery maker QuantumScape go public and is preparing a stock market listing for the fledgling battery maker Amprius Technologies. “It just has this multiplier effect.”

$45 million in grants to firms or researchers working on batteries that, among other things, would last longer, to create a bigger supply of used vehicles.

“We also need cheaper batteries, and batteries that charge faster and work better in the winter,” said Halle Cheeseman, a program director who focuses on batteries at the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, part of the Department of Energy.

Gene Berdichevsky, chief executive of Sila Nanotechnologies, a California company working on next-generation battery technology, argues that prices are following a curve like the one solar cells did. Prices for solar panels ticked up when demand began to take off, but soon resumed a steady decline.

The first car to use Sila’s technology will be a Mercedes luxury S.U.V. But Mr. Berdichevsky said: “I’m not in this to make toys for the rich. I’m here to make all cars go electric.” 

A few manufacturers offer cars aimed at the less wealthy. A Chevrolet Bolt, a utilitarian hatchback, lists for $25,600 before incentives. Volkswagen said this month that the entry-level version of its 2023 ID.4 electric sport utility vehicle, which the German carmaker has begun manufacturing at its factory in Chattanooga, Tenn., will start at $37,500, or around $30,000 if it qualifies for the federal tax credit.

Then there is the Wuling Hongguang Mini EV, produced in China by a joint venture of General Motors and the Chinese automakers SAIC and Wuling. The car reportedly outsells the Tesla Model 3 in China. While the $4,500 price tag is unbeatable, it is unlikely that many Americans would buy a car with a top speed of barely 60 miles per hour and a range slightly over 100 miles. There is no sign that the car will be exported to the United States.

Eventually, Ms. Bailo of the Center for Automotive Research said, carmakers will run out of well-heeled buyers and aim at the other 95 percent.

“They listen to their customers,” she said. “Eventually that demand from high-income earners is going to abate.”

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Consumer confidence in the housing market hits the lowest point in over a decade

A sign stands outside an upscale home for sale in the Lake Pointe Subdivision of Austin, Texas.

Ed Lallo | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Consumer confidence in the housing market dropped to the lowest level since 2011, as both prospective buyers and sellers have become more pessimistic, according to a monthly survey released Monday by Fannie Mae.

Just 17% of those surveyed in July said now is a good time to buy a home, down from 20% in June. Even more telling, however, is that the share of sellers who think it’s a good time to list their homes dropped to 67% in July from 76% two months prior.

Far fewer consumers now think home prices will rise, while the share of those who think prices will fall jumped from 27% to 30%.

Fannie Mae’s Home Purchase Sentiment Index consists of six components: buying conditions, selling conditions, home price outlook, mortgage rate outlook, job loss concern and change in household income. Overall, the index fell two points in July to 62.8. It’s down 13 points from a year earlier. It hit an all-time high of 93.7 in summer 2019, before the pandemic.

“Unfavorable mortgage rates have been increasingly cited by consumers as a top reason behind the growing perception that it’s a bad time to buy, as well as sell, a home,” Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s senior vice president and chief economist, wrote in a release.

The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage started this year around 3% and then began rising steadily, briefly crossing the 6% line in June, according to Mortgage News Daily. It fell back slightly since then but is still in the mid-5% range.

Just 6% of those surveyed think mortgage rates will fall, while 67% said they expect rates to rise further.

Sales of both new and existing homes have been falling sharply over the last few months, as affordability weakens and consumers worry about inflation and the broader economy.

Big losses in the stock market have also caused demand for higher-end homes to drop. More supply is coming on the market, which is helping a little bit, but inventory is still well below historical norms, especially at the entry level.

“With home price growth slowing, and projected to slow further, we believe consumer reaction to current housing conditions is likely to be increasingly mixed: Some homeowners may opt to list their homes sooner to take advantage of perceived high prices, while some potential homebuyers may choose to postpone their purchase decision believing that home prices may drop,” added Duncan.

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