U.S. Objects to World Bank’s Lending Plans for China

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WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has formally objected to the World Bank’s plans to continue lending to China, the latest flash point in a long-running battle between the world’s largest economies.

The objection comes at a delicate moment, as Washington and Beijing try to reach a Phase 1 trade agreement within the next 10 days. President Trump has threatened to impose additional tariffs on about $156 billion of Chinese imports on Dec. 15, a step that would inflame tensions and result in America taxing nearly every product imported from China.

While the two sides continue to negotiate, Washington has begun ratcheting up pressure on China — threatening sanctions over its treatment of Muslims and ethnic minorities and now protesting the World Bank’s financial support of China. The confrontational approach has raised concerns that the trade talks could again be derailed.

On Thursday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told lawmakers on the House Financial Services Committee that the United States had objected to the World Bank’s new five-year framework for lending to China and working on projects there.

Mr. Mnuchin said that he would like to see lending to China curbed as income levels there rise and that he was certain the bank’s leader, David Malpass, a former Treasury Department official, was making it a priority to ensure that China received fewer loans.

World Bank lending to China has declined from about $2.4 billion in 2017 to approximately $1.3 billion this year. But Mr. Mnuchin said he wanted to see that level drop even further.

“We negotiated significant reductions in China lending with a path to get below $1 billion,” Mr. Mnuchin said. “Yesterday we submitted our objection to the current country plan.”

The lending reductions that Mr. Mnuchin referred to were negotiated as part of a $13 billion capital increase that the United States reluctantly supported for the bank last year. The World Bank’s shareholders agreed to lending changes that would raise borrowing costs for countries with higher income levels such as China.

A Treasury Department spokesman would not comment on the nature of the objection or whether the United States voted against the plan.

While the United States is the World Bank’s largest shareholder, it does not have veto power over lending to specific countries. On Thursday, the bank said that it was moving forward with its new five-year Country Partnership Framework, despite the concerns from the United States, and that lending would continue to average between $1 billion and $1.5 billion a year.

“Our engagement will be increasingly selective,” said Martin Raiser, the World Bank country director for China. “Future World Bank lending will primarily focus on China’s remaining gaps in policies and institutions for sustainable graduation.”

The international development organization’s work in China has come under intense scrutiny in recent months amid speculation that a $50 million loan it granted in 2015 for an education project was being used to fund Muslim detention camps. In November, the bank said that it found no evidence to support that speculation, but that it was scaling back work on the project.

The Trump administration has taken a hard line on China and has been pushing the World Bank to reduce lending. Many observers expected the organization to change course once Mr. Malpass — whom Mr. Trump selected to run the bank — was installed in the job. However, in his first eight months, Mr. Malpass has defended the merits of the bank’s continuing work with China and steered clear of discussing its trade dispute with the United States.

The Trump administration pressure comes amid growing anti-China sentiment in Congress. Last month, bipartisan lawmakers in the House and the Senate passed legislation that would force Mr. Trump to impose sanctions on China for its treatment of protesters in Hong Kong. This week, the House passed separate legislation that would punish Chinese officials for its abuse of Muslims and ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region.

Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa and the chairman of the Finance Committee, sent a letter on Wednesday to Mr. Malpass questioning the bank’s continued work in China. On Thursday, Mr. Grassley assailed the bank’s new country framework for China on the Senate floor and said he was introducing an amendment to an appropriations bill that would try to block the World Bank from lending to China.

“I think many Americans would question why so many American tax dollars are going to support low-interest loans to China,” Mr. Grassley said. “I question why a country like China, whose economy has far surpassed the threshold at which it is supposed to graduate from World Bank funding, is still taking loans.”

Representative Anthony Gonzalez, Republican of Ohio, who questioned Mr. Mnuchin about the bank’s work in China, introduced legislation last month that would curb World Bank funding to China by “graduating” it from the World Bank’s International Bank for Reconstruction and Development program, which allows it to take advantage of low-interest loans.

“China’s abuse of the international system needs to be stopped,” Mr. Gonzalez said on Twitter on Thursday.

Congressional pressure poses a problem for the bank because lawmakers have the final say over the United States’ financial contribution and can set conditions on how the money is used. Greater scrutiny over its activities in China also puts Mr. Malpass, who has long called for reduced lending to China, in the difficult position of having to defend the bank’s work there.

“Even though he was a hard-liner at Treasury, he really softened his stance on China at the bank,” said Scott Morris, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development. “Is he going to go to Congress and say, ‘Sorry you’re wrong; there’s a case for the bank to continue to lend to China’?”

Mr. Mnuchin said he supported the idea of curbing lending to China, but he had studiously avoided weighing in on its human rights practices. Pressed at the hearing about whether he would advise Mr. Trump to sign the House legislation to protect China’s Uighurs, he would not answer. He also denied that he had been slow-walking sanctions on Chinese leaders in response to detention camps in Xinjiang, but would not say why they had not yet been imposed.

“I very much am concerned about human rights issues all over the world,” Mr. Mnuchin said.

Mr. Trump said on Monday that Congress’s human rights legislation had not been helpful for trade negotiations, and Chinese officials have condemned the United States for meddling in the country’s internal affairs. The two countries have been struggling to come to terms on a trade deal, including whether to roll back any of Mr. Trump’s tariffs on $360 billion worth of Chinese goods and how to enforce an agreement.

Mr. Mnuchin said on Thursday that talks between the United States and China remained on track.

“We’re actively working,” Mr. Mnuchin said, noting that there were deputy-level talks on Wednesday evening. “We’re going to get the right deal and we’re not going to be confused about an arbitrary deadline.”

Mr. Trump remained characteristically noncommittal about the final outcome, including whether his Dec. 15 tariffs would go into effect.

“We’ll have to see. Right now we’re moving along,” he said on Thursday, adding: “We are having very major discussions. On Dec. 15 something could happen, but we are not discussing that yet. We are having very good discussions with China.”

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Health Spending Grew Modestly, New Analysis Finds

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WASHINGTON — The burdensome costs of medical care, prescription drugs and health insurance have become dominant issues in the 2020 presidential campaign. But a new report from the Department of Health and Human Services shows the nation remains in a period of relatively slow growth in health spending.

Health spending in the United States rose by 4.6 percent to $3.6 trillion in 2018 — accounting for 17.7 percent of the economy — compared to a growth rate of 4.2 percent in 2017. Federal officials said the slight acceleration was largely the result of reinstating a tax on health insurers that the Affordable Care Act imposed but Congress had suspended for a year in 2017. Faster growth in medical prices and prescription drug spending were also factors, they said, but comparatively minor.

For decades, national health spending galloped ahead of spending in the overall economy, lowering wages and stressing household budgets. But over the last decade, the pattern has shifted somewhat. Although the country consistently spends more on health care each year than it did the year before, the overall rate of growth has stayed below historical averages. In 2018, health spending grew more slowly than the economy overall, a rare occurrence.

The factors leading to the slowdown are not fully understood. For years, economists thought they were the result of lagging effects of the recession. But as the pattern has continued far into the economic recovery, they increasingly point to changes in the delivery of health care itself.

“Spending has to slow down when it gets so big,” said Paul Hughes-Cromwick, the co-director of sustainable health spending strategies at the research group Altarum. “There’s no question that there are efforts all across the environment to try to control this beast. There’s no question about that, and some of them are working.”

The slower growth may feel at odds with the experience of many Americans, who increasingly report financial duress from health costs. A recent study from the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit health research organization, found that from 2009 through 2018 individuals who got insurance through their employers have been asked to shoulder an ever-higher share of their health bills through premium payments and rising deductibles. A typical employer plan for an individual now comes with a $1,400 deductible, up $900 from 2009.

The new report found that overall growth in household health care spending, including out-of-pocket expenses, premium payments and contributions to Medicare through payroll taxes, remained flat, at 4.4 percent.

Public opinion surveys show that health care — particularly the cost of it — remains a top voter concern, reflected by the Democratic presidential candidates’ focus on Medicare for all and other proposals for expanding coverage to more people with a promise of lower direct costs. Congress is considering bills to help lower prescription drug costs and to eliminate the practice of surprise medical billing, though it is unclear whether either will pass this year.

The Trump administration is pursuing regulatory actions aimed at lowering health costs, including an ambitious rule that would require insurers and health care providers to disclose the prices they negotiate for a wide range of medical procedures and services. That rule, finalized last month, is being challenged in court by hospitals.

In the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, some candidates have been pushing far broader plans to tackle the issue. Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, have proposed establishing a single-payer health care system, where the government would provide generous taxpayer-funded insurance coverage for every American. Others, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden and Mayor Pete Buttigieg, of South Bend, Ind., want to offer an optional government plan and more generous government subsidies for Americans who buy their own insurance.

However modestly it is growing, health spending in the United States is far higher than most other countries. The 2018 estimate of $3.6 trillion comes to more than $11,000 for every person in the country, with 33 percent going to hospital care, 20 percent to doctors and clinical services and 9 percent to retail prescription drugs. Measured as a percentage of gross domestic product, it is nearly double the average of health spending in other developed countries, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Most of those countries achieve lower health costs with universal coverage. In the United States, an estimated 28 million people are uninsured.

Given the public outrage over prescription drug prices, many people may be surprised to find that prices of prescription drugs bought at a pharmacy actually fell by one percent in 2018 for the first time since 1973, economists with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said in a telephone briefing about the new report. President Trump has seized on the slight drop, mentioning it in his rallies and speeches, although some experts warn the method the federal government uses for tracking drug price trends is imperfect.

Overall averages obscure a volatile mix of prices, with some drugs commanding escalating price tags, even as more common generic medications became less expensive.

The report also found that the share of the American population with health insurance fell for a second consecutive year in 2018, with most of the enrollment decline — 1.3 million people — coming in private coverage purchased directly, instead of through a job or the Affordable Care Act marketplace. The Trump administration has repeatedly highlighted this population as victims of rising premium costs under the Affordable Care Act; they generally earn too much to qualify for its premium subsidies.

There was also a slight drop in the number of people with employer-sponsored insurance and slower growth in Medicaid enrollment, although growth in Medicare enrollment remained steady.

Spending for people with private health insurance was $6,199 a person, an increase of 6.7 percent over 2017, the highest per-person growth rate since 2004. That number does not include out of pocket costs.

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OPEC and Russia Agree to Cuts in Oil Production to Push Up Prices

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The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russia agreed on Thursday to make further small cuts in oil production to firm up crude prices and compensate for higher output from the United States and other producers outside the cartel.

Meeting in Vienna, the cartel and Russia decided to deepen recurring cuts over the last three years by an additional 500,000 barrels a day, the equivalent of a half of one percent of global output, through the end of March 2020.

An official announcement of the decision will come on Friday, but the main outlines of an agreement were told to analysts attending the conference.

Oil prices barely moved on the news, largely because it will take time to see whether producers abide by the agreement.

“A lot of key details are still missing which will help the market determine whether this is a substantial or symbolic cut,” said Helima Croft, the head of global commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets.

Once the powerhouse of the global oil market, OPEC now largely reacts to trends outside its control, particularly American oil production, which has doubled to 12 million barrels a day since 2012.

OPEC production cuts have done little to raise crude prices in recent years, largely because of the steady increase in United States shale oil production, mainly in West Texas. American output is expected to increase more slowly in 2020, but nearly a million new barrels a day are expected to reach global markets from Norway, Brazil, Mexico and Guyana.

This month’s OPEC meeting has drawn attention because it is the first in which the newly appointed oil minister, Saudi Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, the half brother of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was in charge of Saudi energy policy. His chief objective was to firm up oil prices to make the initial public offering of Saudi Aramco as attractive as possible.

On Thursday, Aramco set a price for its shares at a level that will raise $25.6 billion, which is expected to make it the world’s biggest I.P.O.

Saudi Arabia is always the key mover at OPEC meetings. The Kingdom, which produces 10.3 million barrels of oil a day, more than a third of the OPEC members’ total, has made the lion’s share of cuts in recent years and is expected to continue doing so.

A leading proponent for cuts at the meetings has been Iraq, which, along with Nigeria, has regularly cheated on past agreements. Meanwhile, Russia has neglected to abide by its commitments this fall. The cuts in production from Venezuela and Iran have been involuntary, largely due to U.S. oil sanctions and political crises.

Saudi Arabia has been pressuring Iraq to make cuts and has offered Baghdad economic aid, but the recent collapse of the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi and the expected long process to select a successor puts any Iraqi agreement in doubt.

Saudi Arabia and Russia have been at the heart of a three-year alliance of oil producers known as OPEC Plus — which now includes 11 OPEC members and 10 non-OPEC nations — that aims to shore up oil prices with production cuts. Russian delegates at the OPEC meeting pressed for an exclusion of natural gas liquids from their cuts, potentially carving out a loophole that will allow them to pump more even while technically keeping their commitments.

OPEC currently produces 29.7 million barrels a day (about 30 percent of global output), which is 2.6 million barrels a day fewer than a year ago. A little less than half of that reduction comes from OPEC agreements, with the rest of the shortfall coming from Venezuela and Iran.

Rystad Energy, a Norwegian consultancy, has estimated the global oil market will be oversupplied by 800,000 barrels a day because of the new production and slowing economic growth. Bjornar Tonhaugen, Rystad’s head of oil market research, has warned that the global Brent oil benchmark, just above $60 a barrel on Thursday, could dip into the $40 to $50 range “if OPEC and Russia don’t extend and deepen their cuts.’’

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William E. Macaulay, 74, Booster of Tuition-Free Education, Dies

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William E. Macaulay, a billionaire energy investor whose record $30 million gift to the City University of New York has given thousands of select students the same opportunity he was accorded a half-century ago as a middle-class teenager from the Bronx — to graduate tuition free from an elite college — died on Nov. 26 at a hospital in Cleveland. He was 74.

The cause was a heart attack, his daughter Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis said.

Mr. Macaulay made his fortune in energy company buyouts, overseeing the transformation of the First Reserve Corporation, which he acquired in 1983, into one of the field’s largest private-equity firms. He was chief executive until 2015, shared the title until 2017, and had been executive chairman since then.

He and his wife, Linda, also contributed to the American Museum of Natural History (she was a co-chairwoman of the board); the Rogosin Institute, a kidney treatment and research center, at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Cornell Medical College; and the Macaulay Library at the Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology. (The couple were avid bird watchers, logging 6,625 species in 147 countries.)

Mr. Macaulay especially prided himself on what may be his most enduring legacy: the highly selective college, founded in 1999, at which the most promising students from eight of the City University’s senior campuses receive additional academic mentoring and financial support.

The couple’s gift in 2006 endowed the full tuition subsidy and special funding for student research projects and study abroad. It also financed the purchase of a five-story Collegiate Gothic building at 35 West 67th Street in Manhattan as the hub of the selective program, which had been called simply the Honors College and was renamed the William E. Macaulay Honors College.

“I wanted to give back,” Mr. Macaulay said in a 2016 interview with Yahoo News. “It’s that simple. If it weren’t for the City University, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to achieve what I achieved.”

Mr. Macaulay graduated with a degree in economics from the Baruch School of Business at City College in 1966, two years before the business school was spun off as a separate college within the just-established City University system.

“Because CUNY was free, Bill was able to get a high-quality education, which he would not have been able to afford otherwise,” said Professor Macaulay-Lewis, his daughter, who teaches liberal studies and Middle Eastern studies at the Graduate Center of the City University. “He wanted to provide future generations that same opportunity.”

He was primed, therefore, when the university’s chancellor, Matthew Goldstein, reminded him that he might help restore advantages that they had both valued at City College in the 1960s — the prestige of a City College diploma and a cost-free education — but which had been diluted, largely because of political decisions made in the 1970s.

The university agreed in the early 1970s to accept virtually any New York City high school graduate, an open admissions policy that critics said devalued the stature of a City University degree. (The policy has since been abandoned altogether at four-year colleges, with unprepared students now diverted to community colleges.)

The university imposed tuition a few years later under pressure from outside monitors during the city’s fiscal crisis.

Dr. Goldstein envisioned the Honors College as a means to address both issues and to enhance CUNY’s prestige. He went to Mr. Macaulay to help realize those goals.

Since 2005, nearly 4,800 students have graduated from the honors college. More than half of them were the products of New York City public high schools, and about one in five were the first in their families to attend college. Mr. Macaulay regularly attended commencement ceremonies.

The $30 million gift, the largest single donation received by the university at that time, “enabled the university to help its honor students achieve their full potential,” Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez said in a statement.

William Edward Macaulay was born on Sept. 2, 1945, in Manhattan to John H. Macaulay, an engineer, and Ella (Cook) Macaulay, a homemaker.

After graduating from DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx at 16 and from City College in 1966, he received a master of business administration degree from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and joined Oppenheimer & Company, the brokerage and financial services firm, where he became a protégé of the hedge fund pioneer Leon Levy.

In 1983 he and John Hill, a partner in another buyout firm, acquired First Reserve. As a financial adviser and investment manager, he built the firm into an energy industry specialist that managed some $20 billion in assets at its peak.

In addition to his daughter Elizabeth, Mr. Macaulay, who lived in Greenwich, Conn., is survived by another daughter, Anne Macaulay; his wife, Linda (Rodger) Macaulay; and two grandchildren.

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19 Women Sue Lyft as Sexual Assault Allegations Mount

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Nineteen women sued Lyft this week, joining a growing list of people who say the popular ride-hailing service failed to prevent drivers from sexually assaulting them, then ignored the complaints.

The lawsuit is the latest to accuse Lyft of failing to enact basic safety measures that would have prevented the alleged assaults. After the women reported the attacks, Lyft did not follow up on their complaints or played down the seriousness of what happened, according to the lawsuit, which was filed on Wednesday in the Superior Court of San Francisco.

“It’s not just the fact that these sexual assaults happened. It’s about the cover-up,” said Michael Bomberger, a San Diego-based lawyer who filed the suit. He filed another lawsuit in September, when 14 women came forward to say they had been sexually assaulted by Lyft drivers.

Mr. Bomberger said many of the women he represents had gone to the police only to learn that Lyft, a San Francisco-based company that competes with Uber for drivers and passengers, had refused to provide information that would have helped investigators.

“Lyft doesn’t even tell our clients who the driver is so they can get a temporary restraining order,” Mr. Bomberger said. “What Lyft is doing on so many levels is done with the intent of silencing the victims and protecting their brand.”

Alexandra LaManna, a spokeswoman for Lyft, said on Thursday: “What has been described is something no one should ever have to endure. Everyone deserves the ability to move about the world safely, yet women still face disproportionate risks.”

She added that this year, nearly one in five employees at the company had been dedicated to initiatives strengthening the platform’s safety, and that in recent months it had introduced more than 15 new safety features.

In the wake of the September lawsuit, Lyft announced that it had been screening drivers’ criminal backgrounds daily to find out if they had been arrested. Lyft said it already had effective security measures in place, like a feature that lets passengers tell their friends and family where they are going.

Mr. Bomberger said the company needed to do far more, like installing video and audio surveillance that would let drivers know they are being recorded.

Ann, one of the first women to sue Lyft, said she wanted the company to admit its responsibility for the assaults.

“They just dismiss us,” said Ann, who asked to be identified by her middle name. “I just want them to acknowledge that they need to do something.”

Ann, 39, was out drinking with friends in March 2018 when she used Lyft to go back to her apartment in Marlborough, Mass. She was heavily intoxicated, and the driver helped her walk up the stairs to her apartment.

When she got inside, he spun her around by the shoulders and forced her to perform oral sex on him, she said.

The driver has been charged with one count of rape and has pleaded not guilty.

Ann said she knows he lives in her town and remains terrified she will see him again.

“I can’t shop. I can’t get gas in my own town,” she said. “I can’t do anything.”

More than 200 women have come forward to say they were assaulted by Lyft or Uber drivers, according to Mr. Bomberger and Rachel Abrams, a San Francisco-based lawyer who has also filed a suit against Lyft.

Ms. Abrams said the victims ranged in age between 20 and 40. Many of them were drunk or unconscious when the alleged assaults occurred. One woman who was assaulted is blind, and another has autism, Mr. Bomberger said.

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Nearly a Third of Teens Use One or More Tobacco Products

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Nearly one in three high school students has reported using a tobacco product recently, according to a new federal survey released on Thursday, evidence that concerns over nicotine addiction among teenagers are not limited to e-cigarettes.

For the sixth year in a row, e-cigarettes dominated the students’ choice. Public health officials were concerned that despite wide-scale publicity to deter vaping, not only did the practice continue to surge, but students did not seem to be particularly alarmed about e-cigarettes.

While e-cigarettes were by far the most popular product, researchers noted that one in three users, or an estimated 2.1 million middle and high school students, also used an additional tobacco product, such as cigars and cigarettes.

Use of cigarettes and cigars among teenagers remains relatively modest. This is the first year that more high school students reported smoking cigars than traditional cigarettes, 7.6 percent compared to 5.8 percent.

Many said they don’t consider intermittent smoking of any product to be harmful. The National Youth Tobacco Survey, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that despite widespread public health efforts to deter students from vaping or turning to any tobacco product, students still reported being steeped in an environment which promotes tobacco as alluring.

Some 9 out of 10 students said they were routinely exposed to tobacco advertising or promotion. And their interest is being piqued: even among students who never used e-cigarettes, 39 percent said they were curious about using e-cigarettes and 37 percent were curious about smoking cigarettes.

Researchers said they were particularly concerned about the increased possibility of nicotine dependence. Dr. Robert R. Redfield, director of the C.D.C., noted that nicotine can harm the developing brain. “Youth use of any tobacco product, including e-cigarettes, is unsafe,” he said in a statement. “It is incumbent upon public health and health care professionals to educate Americans about the risks resulting from this epidemic among our youth.”

Students reported struggling to stop vaping or smoking: 57. 8 percent reported having given serious thought to quitting, while nearly as many said that managed to do so for at least a day.

The survey was administered to 10,097 high school students and 8,837 middle school students, which is considered a representative national sample.

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Saudi Aramco to Raise $25.6 Billion in Biggest I.P.O. Ever

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Saudi Arabia’s giant state-owned oil company, Saudi Aramco, on Thursday set the price of its initial public offering at a level that will raise $25.6 billion, a sum that is expected to make it the world’s biggest I.P.O., according to two people briefed on the pricing plan.

Saudi Aramco set the initial price at 32 riyals, or about $8.53 a share, the high end of the range it forecast last month, these people said. It plans to sell three billion shares, representing 1.5 percent of the company. At that price, the company would be worth $1.7 trillion.

The amount to be raised by the sale exceeds the $25 billion raised by Alibaba, the Chinese online retail company, in its initial offering five years ago on the New York Stock Exchange.

The total proceeds could grow if additional shares are released for sale. The two people said these additional shares would bring the total raised closer to $30 billion.

The I.P.O. establishes Aramco as one of the world’s most valuable companies, but the $1.7 trillion figure falls short of the Saudi royal family’s hopes of an offering that would value the company at close to $2 trillion.

Global investors proved to be skittish over the earlier valuations offered by the Saudi government. While its filings showed Aramco to be immensely profitable — it posted a profit of $68 billion for the first nine months of the year — its earnings have declined, and risks like global warming and geopolitical instability cast a pall over its prospects.

Aramco will sell its shares on the Riyadh stock market, the Tadawul. Trading is expected to begin Dec. 11.

The I.P.O. process has been agonizingly slow since Prince Mohammed, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, first raised the idea of making the crown jewel of the Saudi economy a public company more than two years ago.

After big early promises, the Saudis have taken a more cautious approach, restricting the listing initially to Saudi Arabia in order to avoid the more rigorous disclosures that would be required in New York or London.

Despite Aramco’s big profits, oil companies are out of favor with some investors, who worry that concerns about the role of fossil fuels in climate change will eventually curb demand for Aramco’s large reserves of oil and gas.

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United C.E.O. Munoz to Step Down, Replaced by Kirby

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Credit…Mike Cohen for The New York Times

The chief executive of United Airlines, Oscar Munoz, will step down next year, the carrier announced Thursday.

J. Scott Kirby, the airline’s president, will become chief executive in May, when Mr. Munoz will move into the position of executive chairman for one year.

The airline said Jane Garvey, the chairwoman, would retire from the board in May as part of the leadership transition.

“With United in a stronger position than ever, now is the right time to begin the process of passing the baton to a new leader,” Mr. Munoz said in a statement Thursday.

Mr. Munoz’s original planed promotion to the role of chairman was scuttled in 2017 after intense public backlash when a passenger, Dr. David Dao, was dragged off a United Airlines flight by a police officer at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. Video of the incident, which captured the rough treatment of Dr. Dao being removed from the overbooked flight to make room for airline employees, went viral on social media.

The airline was harshly criticized for how it handled the crisis. Mr. Munoz then agreed to drop a clause in his contract under which he would become the company chairman while staying on as chief executive.

The Chicago flight followed a previous incident that year when two teenage girls were barred from boarding a flight for wearing leggings.

The string of customer service mishaps continued under Mr. Munoz’s watch into 2018, when a dog died on a flight after it was stored in an overhead compartment. A passenger on that flight told The New York Times that the pet owner was ordered to put the pet carrier in the compartment by a flight attendant.

United has seen continued growth in 2019 and reported third-quarter earnings in October that topped estimates.

Shares in the company were up in trading following the leadership announcement.

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The Chinese Roots of Italy’s Far-Right Rage

PRATO, Italy — Like everyone in her family and most of the people in the factories where she labored in this town nurtured by the textile trade, Roberta Travaglini counted herself an unwavering supporter of the political left.

During her childhood, her father brought her to boisterous Communist Party rallies full of music, dancing and fiery speeches championing workers. When she turned 18, she took a job at a textile mill and voted for the party herself.

But that was before everything changed — before China emerged as a textile powerhouse, undercutting local businesses; before she and her co-workers lost their jobs; before she found herself, a mother of two grown boys, living off her retired parents; before Chinese immigrants arrived in Prato, leasing shuttered textile mills and stitching up clothing during all hours of the night.

In last year’s national elections, Ms. Travaglini, 61, cast her vote for the League, an extreme right-wing party whose bombastic leader, Matteo Salvini, offered a rudimentary solution to Italy’s travails: Close the gates.

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Credit…Gianni Cipriano for The New York Times

Denigrating Islam, and warning of an “invasion” that threatened Italians with “ethnic cleansing,” he vowed to bar boats bringing migrants from North Africa. He presented himself as an unapologetic nationalist who would rescue the dispossessed from what had become of the Italian left, long since metamorphosed into a distant elite.

To Ms. Travaglini’s ear, Mr. Salvini was speaking to people like her, and offering a coherent explanation for what had happened to their lives: Shadowy global forces and morally reprobate immigrants had stolen their Italian birthright — the promise of a comfortable life. Artisans and hardworking laborers had rescued Italy from the wreckage of World War II, constructing a prosperous nation, before wicked elements plundered the bounty.

“We are in the hands of the world elites that want to keep us poorer and poorer,” Ms. Travaglini says. “When I was young, it was the Communist Party that was protecting the workers, that was protecting our social class. Now, it’s the League that is protecting the people.”

The rise of the League — now exiled from the government, yet poised to lead whenever national elections are next held — is typically explained by public rage over immigration. This is clearly a major factor. But the foundations of the shift were laid decades ago, as textile towns like Prato found themselves upended by global economic forces, and especially by competition from a rapidly evolving China.

It is a story with parallels to the American industrial Midwest. As China rapidly ascended as an export power, joblessness and despair grew in the manufacturing heartland of the United States. Anger over decades of trade liberalization played a key role in putting Donald J. Trump in the White House.

Italy has proved especially vulnerable to competition from China, given that many of its artisanal trades — textiles, leather, shoemaking — have long been dominated by small, family-run operations lacking the scale to compete with factories in a nation of 1.4 billion people. Four Italian regionsTuscany, Umbria, Marche and Emilia-Romagna — that were as late as the 1980s electing Communists, and then reliably supporting center-left candidates, have in recent years swung sharply toward the extreme right.

Many working-class people say that delineation is backward: The left had already abandoned them.

“So many Italian families are struggling,” says Federica Castricini, a 40-year-old mother of two who works at a shoemaker in Marche, and who has dumped the left for the League. “The left doesn’t even see the problems of Italian families right now.”

Despite its Marxist trappings and solidarity with the Soviet Union, the Italian Communist Party was never devoted to the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism. It was left wing in the same way as Nordic countries like Sweden, its leaders intent on equitably distributing the gains of economic growth.

“The left has always been able to govern during expansionary moments, during the construction of the economy after World War II,” says Nadia Urbinati, an Italian political theorist at Columbia University in New York. “They could govern by promising good salaries, a pension system and health care. When there was an expansive economy, the left was strong, because the left offers you jobs.

“But when there are no jobs,” Ms. Urbinati continues, “the left doesn’t have an alternative to the capitalist system. The right has an effective emotional short-term response, showing that it has the ability to use the state apparatus to impose law and order.”

Italy’s official unemployment rate has exceeded 10 percent for most of the last decade. High public debt combined with European rules limiting deficits have prevented the government from spending to promote growth. Banks choked with bad loans have held back lending. The population is aging, tax evasion is rampant, the economy is stagnant, and talented young people are leaving.

People in cities like Prato, next to Florence in the heart of Tuscany, have come to see the left as a tribe of effete technocrats, prescribing globalization as the solution to every problem.

“In the past, all the left-wing governments were saying there are no simple answers to complex problems,” says Riccardo Cammelli, an author of books about history and politics in Prato. “What Salvini is saying now is that there are simple answers to complex problems.”

By the time World War II ended, Civitanova Marche was shattered. The town alongside the Adriatic Sea had attracted relentless allied bombing aimed at taking out bridges.

“The city was on its knees,” recalls Cesare Catini, 81. The oldest of three boys, Mr. Catini had to work to help support his family. At 12, he left school and started making shoes with his uncle, beginning a career that would trace the arc of Italy’s national progression.

In 1961, when Mr. Catini was only 22, he started his own business, making women’s shoes in his garage. His two younger brothers joined him. They bought leather from tanneries in Naples and Milan and made 50 pairs of shoes a day, selling their stock at street markets.

They invested their profits into adding machinery and workers. By the 1980s, they had hired a designer from Milan, and their factory employed 70 people, selling its shoes in the United States and West Germany. His two children completed high school. He and his wife, who handled the factory’s books, bought a brick house on a hilltop looking out on the glittering sea.

But by the 1990s, danger was brewing. At trade fairs in Milan and Bologna, where he displayed his wares to foreign buyers, Mr. Catini noticed visitors from China taking photos of his designs. “Why are they coming to fairs and not buying anything?” he wondered.

The following decade revealed the answer. German customers were canceling orders, suddenly able to buy increasingly high-quality shoes at cut-rate prices from Chinese suppliers.

In 2001, China secured entry to the World Trade Organization, gaining easy access to markets around the globe. In subsequent years, exports by Italian footwear manufacturers plummeted by more than 40 percent.

In a desperate bid to survive, Mr. Catini reluctantly struck a deal to make shoes for a trendy Italian fashion brand. He borrowed about 300,000 euros ($331,000) and used the money to establish a factory in Romania to make the uppers for the new shoes at a fraction of his costs in Italy.

Soon, the Italian brand pressed him to lower his prices, asserting that it could buy the same shoes for half the cost in China. But the reduced price would not have covered his expenses.

One morning in early 2008, Mr. Catini gathered his employees on the factory floor. He had known many of them for decades. He had attended their weddings, their children’s christenings, funerals for their relatives. He had advanced them pay to allow them to buy homes. Now, he told them that they were all losing their jobs.

“I dream of this every night,” he says, his ruddy cheeks contorting in pain. “The workers were part of the family, from the first to the last.” He crushes his brown twill cap in his hands, prompting his wife to reach over and gently take it away.

In the nearby hilltop town of Montegranaro, some 600 footwear companies have dwindled to about 150, prompting locals to embrace the League and its harsh words about immigrants.

“When people do not feel secure economically, they cannot stand the fact that guarantees are given to people who come from abroad,” says Mauro Lucentini, a League member who holds a seat on Montegranaro’s council.

His burly frame is clad in a blue sweater embroidered with an American flag. “Because I love America!” he says. “I love Trump!” He waves a blue and white scarf with the letters “Italians First,” along with the logo for the League — a warrior wielding a sword and shield.

Mr. Lucentini makes his living as a real estate agent. Over the past decade, housing prices have dropped by half, he says. Between 1996 and 2008, he sold about 100 apartments a year, he says. This year, he has sold 10.

As he wanders the village on a recent morning, navigating streets looking out on autumn-tinged pastures dotted with cypress trees, Mr. Lucentini indicates the landmarks of decline. His mother’s furniture store has been devastated by Ikea, which draws heavily on low-cost suppliers in Asia. Sheets of cardboard cover the glass doors of a failed retailer that sold shoelaces and other footwear accessories. A shop that sold tools and machinery is empty. A three-story factory that once employed 120 people sits abandoned, its paint peeling.

Mr. Lucentini greets an elderly woman, kissing her on both cheeks. The perfume shop she has operated for more than half a century is barely hanging on. He tickles the face of a newborn baby in a stroller.

“That’s very unusual,” he says later. “This is not a place where people are inclined to have children.”

The town’s population has dropped from about 14,000 two decades ago to 13,000, with about 1,000 new immigrants — Albanians, Africans and Chinese. He uses racist language to describe the recent arrivals, claiming that dark-skinned foreigners have degraded his community.

“When immigration was at its peak, there were many cases of violence,” he says. “Especially the Nigerians, who are very wild, very savage.”

This sort of talk has become increasingly common. Five years ago, in elections for the European Parliament, the League captured only 3 percent of the vote in Marche. This year, it garnered 38 percent. The center-left Democratic Party saw its support plunge from 45 percent to 22 percent.

The reasons for his community’s troubles are many, Mr. Lucentini concedes. The global financial crisis of 2008 was especially brutal in Italy. Existential worries about the euro currency lifted borrowing rates, tightening credit. Russians used to arrive in town with wads of cash to buy shoes, but American and European sanctions have stopped that.

Still, he maintains, the League is correct to focus on halting immigration as a solution to economic troubles, along with lowering taxes. Many migrants are not really fleeing war and poverty, he contends, contradicting reality, yet in a way widely shared by League supporters.

“We can’t help the last person in Africa and not help our neighbor,” he says.

As long ago as the 12th century, people were making fabric in Prato, exploiting the availability of water via canals erected by the Romans.

The modern boom came after World War II, as people poured into the city to work in the mills. By the 1980s, Italy’s premier fashion houses were sending designers to Prato, as local producers yielded material for Armani, Versace, and Dolce & Gabbana. Textile operations stayed small and specialized, using workshops tucked into homes, enabling them to pivot quickly to satisfy changing fashion tastes. Local entrepreneurs watched runway models wearing their creations on catwalks in Paris and Milan and felt indomitable.

“We thought we were the best in the world,” says Edoardo Nesi, who spent his days running the textile factory started by his grandfather, and his nights penning novels. “Everybody was making money.”

The Communist Party controlled the town, using their power to deliver public works — a contemporary art museum, a library inside an abandoned mill, a textile museum.

Mr. Nesi’s father was a lover of Beethoven, literature and timely payment. He bestowed to his son a lucrative arrangement: He sent wool to overcoat manufacturers in West Germany, and they unfailingly sent back money 10 days later. His father assured him that this was a formula for enduring success. Be honest, produce quality fabric, “and you will be as happy as I am.”

“We lived in a place where everything had been good for 40 years,” Mr. Nesi says. “Nobody was afraid of the future.”

In retrospect, they should have been. By the 1990s, the Germans were purchasing cheaper fabrics woven in Bulgaria and Romania. Then, they shifted their sights to China. The German customers felt pressure to find savings because enormous new retailers were carving into their businesses — brands like Zara and H&M, tapping low-wage factories in Asia.

Chinese factories were buying the same German-made machinery used by the mills in Prato. They were hiring Italian consultants who were instructing them on the modern arts of the trade.

Some companies adapted by elevating their quality. One local mill, Marini, followed the American clothing brands that were its customers as they gravitated to China, shipping its fabric there. But this was clearly the exception. From 2001 to 2011, Prato’s 6,000 textile companies became 3,000, as those employed in the industry dropped to 19,000 from 40,000, according to Confindustria, an Italian trade association.

Mr. Nesi tried making clothes for Zara, which constantly demanded lower prices. “You started to work on how to pervert your own quality in order to sell it to Zara,” he says. “They wanted the best look. It had to be something that looks like your quality without actually being it. That’s more or less a description of what they wanted our life to become. Something that looks like your life but is of lesser quality.”

Eventually, he sold the business to spare his father from “an old age full of shame.”

As Prato’s factories went dark, people began arriving from China to exploit an opportunity.

Most were from Wenzhou, a coastal city famed for its entrepreneurial spirit. They took over failed workshops and built new factories. They imported fabric from China, sewing it into clothing. They cannily imitated the styles of Italian fashion brands, while affixing a valuable label to their creations — “Made in Italy.”

Today, more than a tenth of the city’s 200,000 inhabitants are Chinese immigrants here legally, plus, by varying estimates, perhaps 15,000 who lack proper documents.

Chinese groceries and restaurants have emerged to serve the local population. On the outskirts of the city, Chinese-owned warehouses overflow with racks of clothing destined for street markets in Florence and Paris.

Among Italian textile workers who have veered to the right, the arrival of the Chinese tends to get lumped together with African migration as an indignity that has turned Prato into a city they no longer recognize.

“I don’t think it’s fair that they come to take jobs away from Italians,” says Ms. Travaglini, the laid-off textile worker. She claims that Chinese companies don’t pay taxes and violate wage laws, reducing pay for everyone.

Since losing her job at a textile factory nearly three years ago, Ms. Travaglini has survived by fixing clothes for people in her neighborhood. “There are no jobs, not even for young people,” she says.

Chinese-owned factories have jobs, she acknowledges, but she will not apply. “That’s all Chinese people,” she says, with evident distaste. “I don’t feel at ease.”

The concept of multiculturalism is anathema to her. She insists that Italy is for Italians — a term that can never be extended to Chinese people, not even to Italian-born, Italian-educated, Italian-speaking Chinese people.

“They are Italianized,” she says, “but they are still not Italian.”

Within the Chinese community, people protest that their contributions to the local economy are typically dismissed in a haze of racist accusations.

“These warehouses were empty before Chinese people came,” says Marco Weng, 20, whose parents arrived from China three decades ago. “Chinese people didn’t take jobs. We have created jobs.” He is about to open a chain of Korean fried chicken restaurants with a partner.

Marco Hong, 23, a second-generation Chinese Italian, oversees production at the clothing company started by his parents. Operating under the Distretto 12 brand, the company buys fabric from Prato mills, sewing sleek, modern clothes that land on shelves in Spain and Germany. Some 35 people work at the factory, roughly half of them Italians.

“People who know the sector know that work has increased since the Chinese arrived,” he says.

What Ms. Travaglini knows is downward mobility. She buys groceries with cash from her parents. Her younger son is about to move to Dubai to look for work, seeing no future in Prato.

Her older son used to consider himself a Communist, worshiping Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. Now, he is active with the League.

She can no longer afford to shop at the clothing boutiques in the medieval city center. On a recent afternoon, she goes to a Chinese-run outlet and surveys the inventory, much of it made in Prato by Chinese companies — fake fur winter coats, leather jackets, lacy bras.

“They are pretty things,” she says, “and they are not too expensive.”

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United Airlines C.E.O. to Step Down

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Credit…Mike Cohen for The New York Times

The chief executive of United Airlines, Oscar Munoz, will step down next year, the carrier announced Thursday.

J. Scott Kirby, the airline’s president, will become chief executive in May, when Mr. Munoz will move into the position of executive chairman for one year.

The airline said Jane Garvey, the chairwoman, would retire from the board in May as part of the leadership transition.

“With United in a stronger position than ever, now is the right time to begin the process of passing the baton to a new leader,” Mr. Munoz said in a statement Thursday.

Mr. Munoz’s original planed promotion to the role of chairman was scuttled in 2017 after intense public backlash when a passenger, Dr. David Dao, was dragged off a United Airlines flight by a police officer at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. Video of the incident, which captured the rough treatment of Dr. Dao being removed from the overbooked flight to make room for airline employees, went viral on social media.

The airline was harshly criticized for how it handled the crisis. Mr. Munoz then agreed to drop a clause in his contract under which he would become the company chairman while staying on as chief executive.

The Chicago flight followed a previous incident that year when two teenage girls were barred from boarding a flight for wearing leggings.

The string of customer service mishaps continued under Mr. Munoz’s watch into 2018, when a dog died on a flight after it was stored in an overhead compartment. A passenger on that flight told The New York Times that the pet owner was ordered to put the pet carrier in the compartment by a flight attendant.

United has seen continued growth in 2019 and reported third-quarter earnings in October that topped estimates.

Shares in the company were up in trading following the leadership announcement.

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