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2021 State of the City: Turner talks resiliency, police reform, affordable housing controversy

Between the Covid-19 pandemic, winter storm in February and Hurricane Nicholas, the city of Houston has faced its fair share of disasters in the past year, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said during his 2021 State of the City address. Approximately 1,500 attendees descended on the sold-out event held at the Hilton Americas-Houston Oct. 13. This year, the mayor's annual address was hosted by Houston First Corp., the city of Houston's destination management organization. Over the past year, Houston….....»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsOct 13th, 2021

Report paints bright picture for construction spending, even better if Biden infrastructure bill passes

Following the steep drops in building activity across New York City in 2020, the next three years are expected to see a resurgence in spending and job creation as the industry continues to advocate for increased public investment. The New York Building Congress’ New York City Construction Outlook 2021-2023 released today forecasts spending... The post Report paints bright picture for construction spending, even better if Biden infrastructure bill passes appeared first on Real Estate Weekly. Following the steep drops in building activity across New York City in 2020, the next three years are expected to see a resurgence in spending and job creation as the industry continues to advocate for increased public investment. The New York Building Congress’ New York City Construction Outlook 2021-2023 released today forecasts spending to increase to $60.6 billion in 2021, up 26 percent from 2020, when non-essential construction was shut down for 11 weeks. The report was released today at the annual Building Congress Construction Industry Breakfast, at which Governor Hochul delivered the keynote address. GOV. CATHY HOCHUL “Each year I travel to every county in New York State, and I see how infrastructure is not just an abstract concept but an integral part of every New Yorker’s life,” said Governor Hochul. “As Governor, I will pursue an ambitious agenda that brings our infrastructure into the 21st century – because it’s in our DNA as New Yorkers to dream big and tackle the impossible. We can’t get that done without strong public-private sector partnerships like with the New York Building Congress, and I look forward to continue working together to build New York’s future.” “Despite the economic impact that COVID-19 has had on New York City since the start of the pandemic, the building industry proves its strength time and time again, as spending and job creation continue on an upward trend from 2020,” said Carlo A. Scissura, President & CEO of the New York Building Congress. “With a long road to economic recovery ahead, the ever-present threats of climate change and infrastructure that’s crumbling, we need meaningful, immediate support from Washington. Investments in the infrastructure are investments in a stable and vibrant city, state and nation.” “Over the last year and a half, the building industry once again demonstrated its dedication to New York City and the amazing people who live here,” said Elizabeth Velez, Chair of the New York Building Congress and President of Velez Organization. “The Construction Outlook report released by the New York Building Congress today shows our industry is ready to lead the way out of the economic crisis brought about by this awful pandemic. In the process, I know we will continue to diversify our own ranks, innovate to meet 21st-Century demands and realities and build a fairer city that works for everyone.” CHERYL McKISSACK DANIEL “No matter what you throw at New York City, we are able to withstand it and come back stronger,” said Cheryl McKissack Daniel, Chair of the New York Building Foundation and President & CEO of McKissack & McKissack. “The New York City Construction Outlook 2021-2023 report is further proof of the building industry’s strength in times of crisis. This should underscore why we need more investment in our infrastructure, as it is one of the best ways to improve our society.” “The essential role of the construction industry to the health and vitality of our communities could not be more clear than in this Construction Outlook report,” said the City of New York’s Senior Advisor for Recovery Lorraine Grillo. “The anticipated robust growth and trajectory for investments in construction jobs, new construction, and our public infrastructure reaffirm the importance of the work by resilient New Yorkers represented by the New York Building Congress in realizing a recovery for all of us.” “It’s clear that confidence in New York City’s construction and real estate industries remains high, and for good reason,” said Gary LaBarbera, President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. “Time and again, it’s been major infrastructure and public works projects that have stimulated economic activity that leads to recovery, and as always, our members are ready to get to work to build back New York stronger and more resilient than ever. It’s critical that we sustain this upward trend in construction activity with the successful passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, which will invest in New York’s future and create tens of thousands of middle-class careers with benefits in the process.” “Real estate and construction represent 10 percent of the city’s GDP and is the fastest way of creating the jobs to rebuild the city’s economy,” said Louis J. Coletti, President and CEO of the Building Trades Employers Association. “As New York builds and rebuilds over the coming years, AIA New York will work with its partners in the building industry to advocate for higher standards of design excellence for public and private projects,” said Benjamin Prosky, Executive Director American Institute of Architects New York (AIANY) Center For Architecture. ”From ambitious designs that enhance public infrastructure to increasing quality affordable housing, modernizing schools, and fostering advancements in energy efficient technology, architects recognize that this is a pivotal  moment for the design, construction, and development community to shape an NYC that is beautiful, efficient and equitable for all.” The data and projections in this report were generated without the once-in-a-generation federal infrastructure bill that is being discussed in the House of Representatives, which would have a massive economic impact on New York City and the entire country. If the $1.2 trillion plan was to pass, it would expedite construction of the Gateway Program– a long-delayed but nationally crucial infrastructure project that could potentially generate $19 billion in economic activity. The Construction Outlook report provides a three-year analysis and forecast of construction spending and employment in New York, while also providing deeper insight into the factors that could shape the industry and the city’s economy in the coming years. The New York Building Congress for the first time also adjusted its projections for inflation, giving a fuller picture of how spending compares historically. The latest report forecasts the second-highest spending period in real dollars, and the fourth highest when adjusted for inflation. Key insights from the report include: ●      Construction Employment to Increase: The industry will likely add 135,000 new jobs to the economy in 2021, but employment will remain at the lowest point since 2014. Employment will likely continue on an upward trend in the coming years, with 140,200 jobs in 2022 and 157,100 jobs in 2023. ●      Overall Spending: Construction spending is expected to total $174.1 billion between 2021 and 2023. Compared to the pre-COVID-19 period of 2017 to 2019, when building was at a high point, spending is forecasted to decrease by just $1.5 billion. When adjusted for inflation, however, the drop is a significantly higher $38.2 billion.   ●      Government Spending: Government spending is up from 2020 – when $21.3 billion was invested by New York City, New York State and major agencies – but will decline in the forecasted period from $23.1 billion in 2021 to $22.2 billion in 2022 and then to $21.1 billion in 2023. While government spending is expected to be higher over this period when compared to 2017 to 2019, public investments is lower now than during the height of the Great Recession when adjusted for inflation. This decline is especially significant given the need for government spending to spur economic recovery. ●      Residential Construction Spending: The Building Congress forecasts $13.6 billion in residential construction spending this year, up 21 percent from 2020. Over three years, spending is expected to total $36.6 billion, which is down 33 percent from 2017 to 2019.   ●      Non-Residential Construction Spending: Non-residential construction spending, which includes office space, education, healthcare, public buildings, sports & entertainment venues and hotels, is projected to total $23.7 billion in 2021, dip to $22.2 billion in 2022 and rise to $25 billion in 2023. ●      Public Transit Spending: The MTA will spend 33 percent more on construction projects over the next three years than the pre-COVID period from 2017 to 2019. When adjusted for inflation, however, this is a more modest increase of 7 percent. The post Report paints bright picture for construction spending, even better if Biden infrastructure bill passes appeared first on Real Estate Weekly......»»

Category: realestateSource: realestateweeklyOct 14th, 2021

Small States Cry Foul on Federal Rental Relief Redistribution

(TNS)—States with small populations say a federal plan to take back unspent emergency rental aid and redistribute it elsewhere is unfair, potentially depriving them and their residents of millions of dollars to address broad affordable housing challenges. Last December’s federal law appropriating $25 billion for emergency rental assistance scattered the money to some 500 grantees […] The post Small States Cry Foul on Federal Rental Relief Redistribution appeared first on RISMedia. (TNS)—States with small populations say a federal plan to take back unspent emergency rental aid and redistribute it elsewhere is unfair, potentially depriving them and their residents of millions of dollars to address broad affordable housing challenges. Last December’s federal law appropriating $25 billion for emergency rental assistance scattered the money to some 500 grantees across all 50 states—but it also authorized the U.S. Treasury Department to recapture unused funds beginning Sept. 30. Under the law, the Treasury can take back money from grantees that failed to spend or allocate at least 30% of their dollars by Sept. 30, and redistribute the money to grantees, potentially in other states, that spent more than 65% of their funds. But grantees and lawmakers in smaller states argue that their sluggish spending pace doesn’t reflect a lack of need. Instead of judging grantees by how fast they are spending the money, they argue, Treasury officials should consider how many tenants are at risk of eviction in their area, and the share of needy applicants who end up receiving help. State allocations were based on population, but the minimum share was $200 million—too much money, critics say, for small states to spend quickly. At the end of August, Virginia, New Jersey and 104 local grantees, including the city of Houston, Prince George’s County in Maryland and Miami-Dade County, had met or surpassed the 65% threshold. At the same time, 204 state and local grantees were under the 30% threshold. Among states, Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, Delaware and Rhode Island, in order, have the lowest expenditure rates. “The clock is ticking,” said Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen during an event in early September with state and local leaders. The White House used the online event to highlight high-performing programs and push slower jurisdictions to pick up the pace. “We need everyone, every state and every community to try to match the spirit of urgency and expediency and to take advantage of the flexibility we’re providing,” Yellen said. Congress approved the Emergency Rental Assistance program to help households earning at or below 80% of their area’s median income. Residents who qualify can get up to 15 months of assistance to cover rent and utility costs. In a Sept. 7 letter to Congress, Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon, a Republican, acknowledged that “the needs of Wyoming renters will never justify the $200 million allocated to the state,” in large part because 70% of Wyoming households own their homes. However, Gordon argued that “Wyoming desperately needs this funding to cure severe shortages in affordable housing across the state.” In Delaware, reaching the 65% standard would have meant spending $130 million by Sept. 30—an unrealistic target for a state with fewer than a million households, said Marlena Gibson, director of policy and planning at the Delaware State Housing Authority, in an interview with Stateline. Delaware spent $16 million, or 8% of its award, by the end of August. But Gibson said the housing authority is in the middle of processing about 5,500 applications for an additional $32.5 million in assistance. “In Delaware we are tracking our performance against estimates of need, on rental delinquency and the number of applications that we have in progress and processing those,” she said. The Treasury Department says it will gradually remove unspent dollars from programs with low spending rates, but that it will strive to keep the money within state borders. However, states with a single grantee—including Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming—might have to forfeit their money to other states. Grantees also can voluntarily reallocate funds to other programs within the same state. In Nebraska, for example, there are five grantees: the state, grantees in the cities of Lincoln and Omaha, and grantees in Douglas and Lancaster counties. The local programs have spent 80% of their awards, compared with 5% spent by the state program. Shannon Harner, executive director at Nebraska’s Investment Finance Authority, which oversees the state program, said she hopes that any unspent money will remain in the state. Harner said 79% of Nebraska’s allocation went to the state program, even though the other four grantees cover more than half of renters in the state. Lorraine Polak, executive director of the South Dakota Housing Development Authority, said many applicants in her state don’t qualify for help because they were not financially affected by COVID-19. Businesses in South Dakota were never officially shut down. However, she said South Dakota officials hope to keep the leftover money to address the need for more affordable housing. “I think every state would love that opportunity,” Polak said, “because what we’re seeing is that there’s definitely a demand for more housing units and not sufficient funding to meet that demand.” ©2021 The Pew Charitable Trusts Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC The post Small States Cry Foul on Federal Rental Relief Redistribution appeared first on RISMedia......»»

Category: realestateSource: rismediaOct 13th, 2021

As the homeless population booms due to sky-high rent prices, we need to think of the California homeless crisis as a refugee crisis

Becoming homeless is not the result of any individual's failings. The unhoused are refugees and victims of an unsustainable economic system. A man lays on a mattress in People's Park in Berkeley, California, on Tuesday, September 28, 2021. Scott Strazzante/San Francisco Chronicle/Getty Images I've reported from refugee camps in Mexico, and the homeless camps in San Francisco feel familiar. Both refugees and unhoused people are forced to leave their homes through no fault of their own. By rethinking the crisis, we can stop blaming our unhoused neighbors and better take care of them. Jack Herrera is an independent reporter writing about immigration, race, and human rights. He is a contributing opinion writer for Insider. This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author. See more stories on Insider's business page. In August, around the same time I realized I could no longer afford the rent of my home in San Francisco, I began speaking with Afghan refugees arriving in California. They had survived a perilous journey - but their struggles were not over. Many were still living in hotels as they diligently worked to find apartments for themselves and their families. In the Bay Area, however, that could prove impossible. Median rent in San Francisco is $3,900 a month for a two-bedroom. To the south, in San Mateo, it's more than $3,200. Oakland, where rents are cheaper than elsewhere in the Peninsula, still has a median rent cost of more than $2,600 for just two bedrooms. For most people working anywhere in the world, those rents are simply not tenable. For Afghan refugees, who had to sell off their possessions in a rush - or simply leave them behind - the basic requirements to get one's family in an apartment are impossible. In the Bay Area, landlords often ask for proof of income three times higher than rent; they also ask for credit checks. Security deposits, which legally can run up to two months rent, can easily put a family back more than $6,000. Something about talking with refugees in the Bay Area crystallized a realization - putting words to an amorphous frustration I have felt. Even before we welcomed these latest Afghan newcomers to the Bay, California's housing crisis has been a kind of refugee crisis. And it's time we think of it that way.Rethinking the housing crisis I was born in San Francisco in the '90s, about three miles from where I live now. In that time, I've seen the number of my unhoused neighbors increase horrifically, year after year. Right now, up to 35,000 people are living on the streets in the Bay Area. When I was a kid going to school in San Mateo, just to the south of San Francisco, it didn't feel like Silicon Valley quite yet. But steadily, tech's tentacles spread throughout every city and suburb. GoPro opened offices on the hill by the community college; a historic hotel was turned into a gauche and self-satisfied start-up incubator. The costs of living skyrocketed. And every year, people leave. Young people decamp to Denver, Austin, and Portland; families flee to "the other valley" - the dry, hot grasslands of the San Joaquin, in towns like Manteca or Fresno. As the years have gone on, community support systems have broken down as neighbors and relatives escape to cheaper cities. Now, there is little infrastructure left to support those who are still here.When I get out on the 16th Street BART in San Francisco's Mission District, I see tents and tarps on the sidewalks. In Oakland, entire encampments spring up, get brutally "sweeped" by the city, and spring up again in an unending cycle. City governments and the state have invested billions in the issue, but when I talk to my unhoused friends and neighbors, they say the shelters aren't safe: Robbery and assault are common.It sometimes shocks me how similar the homelessness "camps" around the Bay Area resemble the refugee camps I've spent time in as a reporter in Northern Mexico. In both, rows of tents, many of them housing families, bear the tender marks of home - a teddy bear, a battered copy of the Bible. These marks are juxtaposed against the precarious tarps, mended with duct tape, pitched on concrete. In both places, local residents regard the inhabitants of the tents with a mix of pity and distrust; I've spoken to Central American asylum-seekers in Mexico who bear scars from robbery and assault by locals. In San Francisco, besides robbery and attacks, unhoused people have to deal with constant police harassment, as their housed neighbors use 911 like a concierge service to come "sweep" their stoops of any evidence of our city's economic brutality. One of my unhoused neighbors, who I share a coffee with every few days, says one of the hardest parts of being unhoused is sleeping - he's woken up countless times every night, often forced to move somewhere else to sleep. Being homeless is like being a refugee Asylum-seekers in Mexico and so many of my unhoused neighbors in the Bay share something else in common: They're fleeing something. Domestic abuse is one of the leading causes of homelessness. But beyond physically dangerous homes, the forcefulness of displacement in a place like the Bay Area and, say, Honduras, have some similarities. In towns like San Pedro Sula in Honduras, gangs have taken control of entire neighborhoods, and these pandillas charge townspeople an impuesto, or a tax - extortion money (typically 80% of income) in exchange for safety. The cost of living becomes untenable; people are forced out of their homes, and, without any guarantees of safety in their hometowns, they often flee northward.In the Bay Area, rents have risen precipitously almost every year (the pandemic caused a sharp dip, but rents have steadily increased in the last few months). In 2019, 13% of all people living on the streets in San Francisco had become homeless because of an eviction; 26% were forced out of their homes after losing their jobs. Speculative real estate has seen national and international moguls buy up huge swaths of housing stock, leaving a shocking number of houses and apartments empty as they wait for their value to appreciate - in San Francisco, there are as many as five empty houses per unhoused resident. Silicon Valley has also disrupted the traditional labor market, for the worse. Increasing numbers of workers, especially janitors and maintenance staff, are no longer salaried employees with benefits and a chance to move up in the company; instead, they're hired as contractors. The result is that greed and brutal economics are valuing profit over basic facets of human well-being, like a roof over one's head. The manic, speculative real estate market has led landlords to charge rents that cannot be survived. While it can get complicated in the law, refugeeism is simple from a moral perspective: People who have been forced to leave their homes through no fault of their own deserve hospitality, and we have an obligation to house and welcome them. Where do we go from here? The homelessness crisis is a social creation, a danger so much larger than any one individual or their choices. The response, then, must take place at the societal level. For both Afghan refugees trying to make a new life for themselves and unhoused people across California, the answer is simple: Massive public investment. The US government had a direct role in the crisis that forced Afghans to flee, so it should be responsible for their rent and any other costs of relocation, now that Afghans are in the country. Likewise, the thousands of people forced out of their homes in the Bay Area have been forced out by the failures of our society at large, rather than any personal failings. The costs here will be massive: A recent report estimated that it would take $11.8 billion investment to end homelessness in the Bay Area alone. To put that in perspective, Governor Gavin Newsom announced the largest ever effort to address homelessness last year, with $1.4 billion designated in the state's budget. However, the costs of homelessness already exist: They're simply being felt by the economic refugees from Hunger Games-esque inequality we've allowed to fester in the Bay. To fix this problem, we will all need to pay our part. In California, this will require levying taxes on the corporations and real estate interests that have created such a horrific housing market in the first place.And on a personal level, my neighbors in this city need to abandon a mindset that blames an unhoused person for their own homelessness. They are refugees from a society and an economic system we created, and our responsibility to help them comes not just from a place of charity, but from moral obligation. We are all part of this society; they are owed our help.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytOct 10th, 2021

NYC"s likely next mayor wants to tackle the housing crisis. "We need to look at those sacred cows like SoHo."

Eric Adams, winner of the Democratic primary for mayor, says it's time for rich, exclusionary neighborhoods to add more homes for the poor. New York City Democratic Mayoral Candidate Eric Adams. TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images New York City's likely mayor wants to solve the housing crisis with denser buildings in rich neighborhoods. Eric Adams' strategy is a major change from decades of zoning for more housing in poorer areas. Upzoning in "sacred cows" like SoHo and other wealthy areas can even the playing field for homebuyers, he told Ezra Klein. See more stories on Insider's business page. New Yorkers in posh neighborhoods like SoHo may end up getting a lot more neighbors if Eric Adams has his way.After a slim victory in the Democratic primary during the spring, Adams is cruising toward becoming New York's second Black mayor ever and first since David Dinkins in the early '90s. The current Brooklyn borough president has carved out a reputation for being friendly to the real-estate industry, and he sounded very pro-development in a recent podcast appearance.Adams says he's offering a change from the policies that entrenched segregation and gentrification under his predecessors.For years, the city government's solution to skyhigh real-estate prices has been to upzone - construct denser residential buildings - in "affordable" areas, but it's clear now that the upzoning fix hasn't worked, Adams said in a recent appearance on Ezra Klein's New York Times podcast.Adams did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.Upzoning in poorer areas did little to actually improve those neighborhoods, while housing remained unattainable in much of the city. The neighborhoods that did improve as a result of upzoning saw poorer residents displaced, Adams said - a trend that's come to be known as gentrification.Instead of building affordable housing in poorer areas, the government should try to level the playing field and target the wealthiest neighborhoods, he added. "I say we need to look at the entire city," Adams said. "We need to look at those sacred cows like SoHo and other parts of the city where we used these methods to keep out groups. We must all share the affordable housing crisis."He said, for example, that upzoning should also apply to neighborhoods "from 34th Street down to 14th Street, from 9th Avenue over to Park Avenue," which would affect the affluent neighborhoods of Chelsea and Gramercy Park, as well as Union Square.Adams' plan hopes to improve more than just New York home affordability. The housing solution "must solve a multitude of problems," including access to schools and grocers, the Democratic candidate said. The lack of affordable housing is central to the city's inequality, and bringing affordable units to market can counter the unevenness that's emerged through the pandemic recovery, Adams said."We're going to integrate access to healthy food, to good transportation," he said. "We are extremely segregated as a city, and our housing plays a major role in that segregation."Upzoning in wealthy neighborhoods is just one part of Adams' housing plan. The likely mayor aims to repurpose government office buildings for affordable housing, as well as allow private offices and hotels to convert into residential buildings. A planned collection of regulatory changes could also create hundreds of thousands of affordable apartments by permitting basement units and single-room apartments, according to Adams' campaign website. Changes are afoot in housing policy beyond New York. Berkeley, California, voted earlier this year to ban single-family residential zoning and pave the way for duplexes on such lots. The Bay Area city introduced the restrictive zoning practice in 1916 but now serves as a first-mover in progressive zoning reform."Part of Berkeley's efforts is acknowledging that what happened was wrong and that we're learning from our past mistakes and we're trying to correct them," Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín told Insider in September.California has since followed suit. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill to eliminate single-family zoning in September, making it just the second state to ban the practice.Adams' extensive fundraising from the city's real-estate industry has been reported on by The City and The New York Times, and his mayorship may open more neighborhoods for development than New York has seen in decades. What will the neighbors think?Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 6th, 2021

Gov. Gavin Newsom signs bill into law allowing for sweeping law enforcement reform in California

The law adjusts qualified immunity - the defense that protects government officials from individual liability- for law enforcement. A man can't hold back his emotions during a Black Lives Matter Los Angeles rally to call for justice in the fatal shooting of Kenneth Ross Jr., who was shot by a Gardena police officer in 2018. Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images California was one of four states without a police decertification process for officers charged with misconduct. The law adjusts qualified immunity for law enforcement. California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the bill on Thursday, September 30. See more stories on Insider's business page. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law on Thursday that aims to increase the accountability of law enforcement in the state of California."I am here as governor mindful that we are in the juxtaposition of being a leader on police reform, and being a laggard on police reform," said Newsom during a ceremony where he signed the bill. Newsom had until October 10 to sign or veto the bill, which passed the final concurrence vote in Senate on Wednesday (28-9). It was previously passed in the state Senate on May 26 with a vote of 26 to 9 and the state Assembly with a vote of 46 to 18 on September 3.The law adjusts qualified immunity - the defense that protects state and local government officials, including law enforcement, from individual liability unless there is a clear violation of constitutional rights - for law enforcement.It will set up a process by which law enforcement officers charged with wrongdoing - including sexual assault, excessive use of force, and perjury - are stripped of their badges.Newsom also signed Assembly Bill 89, raising the legal age for police officers from 18-years-old to 21-years-old."This is a major victory for advocates of public safety," said Senator Bradford in a press release. "California and the nation as a whole has experienced tragedy after tragedy where consequences for egregious abuses of power went unpunished and cries for accountability went unanswered- eroding public trust in law enforcement.""This bill is about coming together to root out and remove systemic racism that lurks within our institutions, preventing more violence against people of color, and increasing safety and equality for all who call California home - that work continues," said Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins in the same statement. "Our work will not end with this bill's passage - and we won't rest until the system changes." The bill, which failed in the California legislature last year, reemerged as a result of the George Floyd protests.California was one of only four states - Hawaii, New Jersey, and Rhode Island are the others - without a decertification process for police officers which meant officers that engage in misconduct could still get jobs in different departments. The California bill, co-authored by state Sen. Toni Atkins, is similar to the decertification process in Massachusetts, which just became law in January 2021."California is able to revoke the certification or licenses of bad doctors, lawyers, and even barbers and cosmetologists, but is unable to decertify police officers who have broken the law and violated the public trust," said Sen. Steven Bradford, also a co-author of the bill, pointed out to Insider in August.Officers accused of misconduct would undergo a fair review process, per the bill, and those convicted of a crime would be registered into the National Decertification Index. This would prohibit them from working in law enforcement in states that have a decertification process. For Bradford, who represents Gardena, California, the implications of the law hit close to home. California Senate Bill 2, or Kenneth Ross Jr. Decertification Act, is named after a 25-year-old Black man who was killed by Gardena Police Officer Michael Robbins on April 11, 2018."No mother should have to live with the kind of pain that I live with every day. This Act gives us the ability to decertify cops who kill and abuse our people. With this Act, my son's spirit lives on and protects our communities from police who bring harm," Fouzia Almarou, Ross Jr.'s mother, said in a written statement.The killing of Kenneth Ross Jr.Police received calls on a Wednesday afternoon in 2018 about a shooting in front of a building on Van Ness Ave. in Gardena, according to a report from then-District Attorney Jackie Lacey. One caller estimated that 20 shots were fired. According to the report, the suspect was described as a Black man with locs near El Segundo Blvd and Van Ness Ave.Several officers responded, including Sergeant Michael Robbins. Ross Jr. was running away when officers shouted commands at him. Robbins, using a department-issued AR-15 rifle, fired two shots as Ross Jr. was running away.Video footage from officer body cameras and dash cameras was released nearly two years later. His mother describes the video of the incident at multiple rallies. She said that after Robbins shot and killed him, they still handcuffed and searched his body.The Gardena Police Department said in a press release that a gun was found on the scene and that he'd fired a gun earlier.The Ross family attorney disputes this claim, however. "They said he had a gun. We have the video of when he fell," Haytham Faraj told local news station KABC. "They then handcuff him to search him. They do search him. They find nothing." -JoJo. (@iamjojo) May 30, 2020The Gardena Police Department did not respond to Insider's request for comment.Robbins was later absolved of all wrongdoing by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office in 2019 - then Lacey's office. The District Attorney's office said in a press release at the time, "It is our conclusion that Officer Robbins acted in self-defense and in an effort to arrest a dangerous fleeing felon."State Sen. Bradford told CapRadio that Robbins had been involved in previous shootings as an officer in Orange County before joining the department in Gardena - a claim that local activists told Insider when pointing to their support of this bill.Los Angeles activists and organizers have been demanding justiceSheila Bates, an organizer with the Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter, told Insider that this is the second year of bringing the bill back "in the names of all of those who we have lost." Pastor James Thomas, right, is hugged after a speech at a Black Lives Matter Los Angeles rally to call for justice in the fatal shooting of Kenneth Ross Jr., who was shot by a Gardena police officer in2 018. Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images Latinos, who make up 39% of the California population, account for 46% of police killings in the state, while the percentage of police killings (15.2%) is more than double the state population of Black people (6.5%), according to Calmatters, a nonprofit newsroom.-Erika Ishii (@erikaishii) June 21, 2020Calmatters estimates that between 100 and 200 people die at the hands of law enforcement in California each year. Local news station KTLA estimates that 885 people have been killed by police in Los Angeles County alone since 2000 - most of whom were Black or Latino. The Los Angeles Times Homicide Report - a free tool that tracks, categorizes, and details the deaths of victims - estimates that 22 people have been killed by law enforcement so far in 2021 in Los Angeles County alone.Albert Corado, a co-founder of People's City Council-LA and a candidate for LA City Council District 13, told Insider that he became an abolitionist when his sister, Mely Corado, was killed by LAPD while doing her job at Trader Joe's in Silver Lake - a neighborhood in Los Angeles."And so, as it stands, because cops have qualified immunity, they can do something, kill someone and then basically move on and go to another department, and move to another city and be hired as a police officer," Corado told Insider.The law aims to hold officers accountable for misconduct The Kenneth Ross Jr. Decertification Act aims to strengthen the accountability of law enforcement.A decertification process would prevent law enforcement who have been convicted of misconduct - ranging from excessive force and sexual assault to dishonesty and falsifying evidence - to continue their career in law enforcement.The Peace Officer Standards Accountability Division, under the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST), would look into "serious misconduct that may provide grounds for suspension or revocation of a peace officer's certification." An advisory board would then make the recommendation about the officer's certification to POST. POST would then act accordingly.Two now-former Torrance police officers, who were relieved of their positions last year, were charged with conspiracy and vandalism on Thursday, August 19, for an incident that involved a spray-painted swastika on the inside of an impounded vehicle.Bradford told Insider that, without a decertification process, these officers could be hired on to a new department and "continue their racist and hateful misconduct." People stand in unity at a Black Lives Matter Los Angeles rally to call for justice in the fatal shooting of Kenneth Ross Jr., who was shot by a Gardena police officer in2 018. Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images "It's incredibly important that the bill gets passed so that we can finally be able to make sure that officers who engage in misconduct aren't able to go to another community in another department and terrorize and kill people in another department and another, in another community from their department," Bates told Insider.What opponents of the bill say Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers walk with community members during a National Night Out event hosted by Melrose Action on August 03, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. LAPD officers lead a one mile `Light The Night Safety Walk' at the event which promoted police-community relationships. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images Qualified immunity was established in 1967 as a result of the Pierson v. Ray US Supreme Court case. The court ruled that so long as the misconduct or violation was executed in "good faith," the law enforcement officer could rely on qualified immunity. Critics of qualified immunity say that it's hard for plaintiffs to get accountability for alleged officer wrongdoing. This specific bill adjusts the Tom Bane Civil Rights Act of 1987 to "make it easier for a family to seek justice if your civil rights have been violated, if you have been falsely arrested or framed or brutalized or denied medical assistance," Bradford told Spectrum News 1.Those who support qualified immunity say it allows officers to do their jobs without worrying about potential individual lawsuits. And the part of the bill that tweaks qualified immunity is opposed by law enforcement groups."If this bill was just about decertification, we'd probably have no issue with it, but it's not, and they call it the decertification bill, but it's much more than that," Shaun Rundle, deputy director for the California Peace Officers' Association, told Spectrum News 1.In a statement to CapRadio, Brian Marvel, President of the Peace Officers Research Association of California, said "SB 2 reaches far beyond the police licensing process and includes policies that would be incredibly burdensome on cities and counties that employ peace officers."The National Police Support Fund, a grassroots pro-police organization, believes that qualified immunity is necessary for police officers to do their jobs."As homicides and other violent crimes continue to rise around the country, qualified immunity is essential for allowing police to do their jobs without fear of baseless legal action that could ruin their reputations and their careers," the organization said in an article on their website."Officers must have room to make mistakes or have moments of bad judgment without worrying about being sued," the National Police Support Fund said on their site.Insider reached out to several California police departments and lawmakers who declined to comment on the bill.The Los Angeles DA's office, now run by George Gascón, however, released a press statement saying it was in support of the bill. Send tips to this reporter at tmitchell@insider.com or on Twitter @taiylersimone.Update 9/10/2021: This article was revised from a previous version to reflect the correct date for the governor to sign the bill. Update 9/30/2021: This article was updated with the news that Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the bill into law.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 30th, 2021

Gov. Gavin Newsom signs bill into law that allowing for sweeping law enforcement reform in California

The law adjusts qualified immunity - the defense that protects government officials from individual liability- for law enforcement. A man can't hold back his emotions during a Black Lives Matter Los Angeles rally to call for justice in the fatal shooting of Kenneth Ross Jr., who was shot by a Gardena police officer in 2018. Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images California was one of four states without a police decertification process for officers charged with misconduct. The law adjusts qualified immunity for law enforcement. California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the bill on Thursday, September 30. See more stories on Insider's business page. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law on Thursday that aims to increase the accountability of law enforcement in the state of California."I am here as governor mindful that we are in the juxtaposition of being a leader on police reform, and being a laggard on police reform," said Newsom during a ceremony where he signed the bill. Newsom had until October 10 to sign or veto the bill, which passed the final concurrence vote in Senate on Wednesday (28-9). It was previously passed in the state Senate on May 26 with a vote of 26 to 9 and the state Assembly with a vote of 46 to 18 on September 3.The law adjusts qualified immunity - the defense that protects state and local government officials, including law enforcement, from individual liability unless there is a clear violation of constitutional rights - for law enforcement.It will set up a process by which law enforcement officers charged with wrongdoing - including sexual assault, excessive use of force, and perjury - are stripped of their badges.Newsom also signed Assembly Bill 89, raising the legal age for police officers from 18-years-old to 21-years-old."This is a major victory for advocates of public safety," said Senator Bradford in a press release. "California and the nation as a whole has experienced tragedy after tragedy where consequences for egregious abuses of power went unpunished and cries for accountability went unanswered- eroding public trust in law enforcement.""This bill is about coming together to root out and remove systemic racism that lurks within our institutions, preventing more violence against people of color, and increasing safety and equality for all who call California home - that work continues," said Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins in the same statement. "Our work will not end with this bill's passage - and we won't rest until the system changes." The bill, which failed in the California legislature last year, reemerged as a result of the George Floyd protests.California was one of only four states - Hawaii, New Jersey, and Rhode Island are the others - without a decertification process for police officers which meant officers that engage in misconduct could still get jobs in different departments. The California bill, co-authored by state Sen. Toni Atkins, is similar to the decertification process in Massachusetts, which just became law in January 2021."California is able to revoke the certification or licenses of bad doctors, lawyers, and even barbers and cosmetologists, but is unable to decertify police officers who have broken the law and violated the public trust," said Sen. Steven Bradford, also a co-author of the bill, pointed out to Insider in August.Officers accused of misconduct would undergo a fair review process, per the bill, and those convicted of a crime would be registered into the National Decertification Index. This would prohibit them from working in law enforcement in states that have a decertification process. For Bradford, who represents Gardena, California, the implications of the law hit close to home. California Senate Bill 2, or Kenneth Ross Jr. Decertification Act, is named after a 25-year-old Black man who was killed by Gardena Police Officer Michael Robbins on April 11, 2018."No mother should have to live with the kind of pain that I live with every day. This Act gives us the ability to decertify cops who kill and abuse our people. With this Act, my son's spirit lives on and protects our communities from police who bring harm," Fouzia Almarou, Ross Jr.'s mother, said in a written statement.The killing of Kenneth Ross Jr.Police received calls on a Wednesday afternoon in 2018 about a shooting in front of a building on Van Ness Ave. in Gardena, according to a report from then-District Attorney Jackie Lacey. One caller estimated that 20 shots were fired. According to the report, the suspect was described as a Black man with locs near El Segundo Blvd and Van Ness Ave.Several officers responded, including Sergeant Michael Robbins. Ross Jr. was running away when officers shouted commands at him. Robbins, using a department-issued AR-15 rifle, fired two shots as Ross Jr. was running away.Video footage from officer body cameras and dash cameras was released nearly two years later. His mother describes the video of the incident at multiple rallies. She said that after Robbins shot and killed him, they still handcuffed and searched his body.The Gardena Police Department said in a press release that a gun was found on the scene and that he'd fired a gun earlier.The Ross family attorney disputes this claim, however. "They said he had a gun. We have the video of when he fell," Haytham Faraj told local news station KABC. "They then handcuff him to search him. They do search him. They find nothing." -JoJo. (@iamjojo) May 30, 2020The Gardena Police Department did not respond to Insider's request for comment.Robbins was later absolved of all wrongdoing by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office in 2019 - then Lacey's office. The District Attorney's office said in a press release at the time, "It is our conclusion that Officer Robbins acted in self-defense and in an effort to arrest a dangerous fleeing felon."State Sen. Bradford told CapRadio that Robbins had been involved in previous shootings as an officer in Orange County before joining the department in Gardena - a claim that local activists told Insider when pointing to their support of this bill.Los Angeles activists and organizers have been demanding justiceSheila Bates, an organizer with the Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter, told Insider that this is the second year of bringing the bill back "in the names of all of those who we have lost." Pastor James Thomas, right, is hugged after a speech at a Black Lives Matter Los Angeles rally to call for justice in the fatal shooting of Kenneth Ross Jr., who was shot by a Gardena police officer in2 018. Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images Latinos, who make up 39% of the California population, account for 46% of police killings in the state, while the percentage of police killings (15.2%) is more than double the state population of Black people (6.5%), according to Calmatters, a nonprofit newsroom.-Erika Ishii (@erikaishii) June 21, 2020Calmatters estimates that between 100 and 200 people die at the hands of law enforcement in California each year. Local news station KTLA estimates that 885 people have been killed by police in Los Angeles County alone since 2000 - most of whom were Black or Latino. The Los Angeles Times Homicide Report - a free tool that tracks, categorizes, and details the deaths of victims - estimates that 22 people have been killed by law enforcement so far in 2021 in Los Angeles County alone.Albert Corado, a co-founder of People's City Council-LA and a candidate for LA City Council District 13, told Insider that he became an abolitionist when his sister, Mely Corado, was killed by LAPD while doing her job at Trader Joe's in Silver Lake - a neighborhood in Los Angeles."And so, as it stands, because cops have qualified immunity, they can do something, kill someone and then basically move on and go to another department, and move to another city and be hired as a police officer," Corado told Insider.The law aims to hold officers accountable for misconduct The Kenneth Ross Jr. Decertification Act aims to strengthen the accountability of law enforcement.A decertification process would prevent law enforcement who have been convicted of misconduct - ranging from excessive force and sexual assault to dishonesty and falsifying evidence - to continue their career in law enforcement.The Peace Officer Standards Accountability Division, under the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST), would look into "serious misconduct that may provide grounds for suspension or revocation of a peace officer's certification." An advisory board would then make the recommendation about the officer's certification to POST. POST would then act accordingly.Two now-former Torrance police officers, who were relieved of their positions last year, were charged with conspiracy and vandalism on Thursday, August 19, for an incident that involved a spray-painted swastika on the inside of an impounded vehicle.Bradford told Insider that, without a decertification process, these officers could be hired on to a new department and "continue their racist and hateful misconduct." People stand in unity at a Black Lives Matter Los Angeles rally to call for justice in the fatal shooting of Kenneth Ross Jr., who was shot by a Gardena police officer in2 018. Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images "It's incredibly important that the bill gets passed so that we can finally be able to make sure that officers who engage in misconduct aren't able to go to another community in another department and terrorize and kill people in another department and another, in another community from their department," Bates told Insider.What opponents of the bill say Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers walk with community members during a National Night Out event hosted by Melrose Action on August 03, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. LAPD officers lead a one mile `Light The Night Safety Walk' at the event which promoted police-community relationships. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images Qualified immunity was established in 1967 as a result of the Pierson v. Ray US Supreme Court case. The court ruled that so long as the misconduct or violation was executed in "good faith," the law enforcement officer could rely on qualified immunity. Critics of qualified immunity say that it's hard for plaintiffs to get accountability for alleged officer wrongdoing. This specific bill adjusts the Tom Bane Civil Rights Act of 1987 to "make it easier for a family to seek justice if your civil rights have been violated, if you have been falsely arrested or framed or brutalized or denied medical assistance," Bradford told Spectrum News 1.Those who support qualified immunity say it allows officers to do their jobs without worrying about potential individual lawsuits. And the part of the bill that tweaks qualified immunity is opposed by law enforcement groups."If this bill was just about decertification, we'd probably have no issue with it, but it's not, and they call it the decertification bill, but it's much more than that," Shaun Rundle, deputy director for the California Peace Officers' Association, told Spectrum News 1.In a statement to CapRadio, Brian Marvel, President of the Peace Officers Research Association of California, said "SB 2 reaches far beyond the police licensing process and includes policies that would be incredibly burdensome on cities and counties that employ peace officers."The National Police Support Fund, a grassroots pro-police organization, believes that qualified immunity is necessary for police officers to do their jobs."As homicides and other violent crimes continue to rise around the country, qualified immunity is essential for allowing police to do their jobs without fear of baseless legal action that could ruin their reputations and their careers," the organization said in an article on their website."Officers must have room to make mistakes or have moments of bad judgment without worrying about being sued," the National Police Support Fund said on their site.Insider reached out to several California police departments and lawmakers who declined to comment on the bill.The Los Angeles DA's office, now run by George Gascón, however, released a press statement saying it was in support of the bill. Send tips to this reporter at tmitchell@insider.com or on Twitter @taiylersimone.Update 9/10/2021: This article was revised from a previous version to reflect the correct date for the governor to sign the bill. Update 9/30/2021: This article was updated with the news that Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the bill into law.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 30th, 2021

At one of the last abortion clinics in South Texas, people are learning they"re pregnant when it"s already too late to get an abortion

In Texas' Rio Grande Valley - one of the poorest regions in the country - getting an abortion was already difficult. Now, it's nearly impossible. Protesters hold signs supporting abortion clinic access on March 2, 2016 in Washington, DC. Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images In the Rio Grande Valley, one of the poorest regions in the US, getting an abortion was already hard. After Texas passed a law banning abortions after 6 weeks of pregnancy, it's nearly impossible. The 19th visited the only abortion provider south of San Antonio to see what it's like for people. See more stories on Insider's business page. McAllen, TX - Karla S. knew she was pregnant almost right away. She could tell by the smells: "Everything was rancid," Karla said.She texted her boyfriend, who bought her a test that she took that same night. When the result was positive, she didn't know what to do. "It made me very nervous," said Karla, whose full name has been withheld for privacy. "But it also made me very determined. I was not in any type of way prepared to have a child. I had to be very sure of what I was going to do." Karla, 23, was on birth control - she hadn't been trying to conceive. For two weeks, she sat with the decision of whether or not to have the baby, trying to picture herself with a child. It didn't click. She wants to have children someday, but she wants to finish college first. So she made an appointment at Whole Woman's Health in McAllen, Texas, the only abortion clinic serving the Rio Grande Valley, which spans about 4,250 square miles and includes a large portion of the state's border with Mexico. It was a little over two weeks after Senate Bill 8, Texas' new law banning abortion after six weeks, went into effect.Even before SB 8, Texans were already facing an uphill battle when it came to access. The burden is especially acute in the Valley, a remote part of the state which is one of the poorest areas not just in the state of Texas, but in the entire country.The McAllen clinic is Texas' only abortion provider south of San Antonio, close to 250 miles away. It draws people from all over the region - which is home to almost 1.4 million people, predominantly Latinx - many traveling close to 200 miles each way for an appointment. Every doctor who performs abortions here travels from somewhere else - Austin or Houston or California - and the clinic's appointment schedule depends in large part on when they are able to practice.While clinics in Oklahoma, Kansas, and New Mexico are all reporting surges in Texas-based patients, it's particularly difficult to make the journey from the Valley. The closest out-of-state option from McAllen is in Mexico City, at least two hours on a plane, or close to 600 miles driving. It's a journey that simply isn't feasible for many people who come to Whole Woman's Health. Now that getting an abortion is nearly impossible under the best of circumstances, what happens if something goes wrong? That's what Karla, a lifelong resident of the Valley, had to figure out.Karla lives a city over from McAllen, in Mission. She went to Whole Woman's Health for the first time on September 17, and was still under that gestational limit. Texas requires anyone seeking an abortion to wait 24 hours after their initial consult, so the next day, on Friday, September 18, she went back and was given the set of pills that would induce an abortion: One to take in the clinic, and the other at home.After 24 hours, nothing had happened. Karla didn't bleed or experience cramps or any of the symptoms indicating the abortion had worked. The following Monday, the soonest she could get an appointment, she went to the McAllen clinic and took more pills. Still, nothing happened. Tuesday, she came in one more time, hoping to get a surgical abortion instead. She knew she was running out of time."I'm hoping this will work," she told The 19th that day through tears. "I was already at five weeks. I don't want to get closer to six, or even seven." At Whole Woman's Health, the network of abortion clinics, the procedure and necessary appointments cost at least $800 - far more than what it costs in many other states - and abortions in Texas are rarely covered by health insurance. There are financial resources available that, in theory, would be even better equipped now to offer support. The Frontera Fund, which helps people in the Valley pay for abortions and associated travel, was overwhelmed with donations after the Texas law took effect. But requests for aid have fallen sharply, said Zaena Zamora, the fund's executive director. Before SB 8 went into effect, three to five people would call each day to request help paying for an abortion, she said. Now they get one call a day if they're lucky. Zamora believes that's a byproduct of people being unable to book appointments in the state. And for many, she said, leaving to get an abortion elsewhere isn't possible. They don't have time off from work. They can't risk forgoing the wages. Most of the callers Frontera Fund does get are parents, so going out of state means bringing their kids with them or finding child care. Abortion remains stigmatized, and it's harder to explain where someone is going, and why they might have to leave the state for a few days. And anyone traveling north of McAllen will face immigration checkpoints - a deterrent in particular for people who are undocumented. About 136,000 undocumented people live in the Valley's two largest counties, per the Migration Policy Institute. That means that, for many, there is no point in asking for help to pay for out-of-state travel - they can't go anywhere.I can be broke now, or I can be broke the next 18 years of my life. Karla S."I can't make up for lost wages. I can't find a nanny or someone to take care of your children for you. I can't call your boss and ask for your time off," Zamora said. "And people from the Valley - some of us never leave the Valley. We're a very close, tight-knit community, and some people never leave here."In that way, Karla is one of the lucky ones. Traveling to get an abortion would pose a substantial hardship, to be sure. It would drain her savings, but it would be doable. Right now, she works as a cashier at a grocery store. But she had been feeling sick recently, and that, combined with the time off she sought to recover from her first attempt at an abortion, meant she hadn't worked in more than a week. She wasn't sure she would be put back on the schedule until October - until, the day after her abortion, she received a lucky, unexpected call asking her to come back. If she had had to travel, her boyfriend would accompany her, helping drive to Mexico, or to a clinic in New Mexico. That would require him missing days of work - foregoing income - to say nothing of the money needed for traveling, for housing and for the abortion itself. Though a fund like Frontera could have helped, nobody had told Karla such organizations existed, or helped her get in touch with one. "We would definitely struggle. We would have to play catch up for a while," she said. But compared to the alternative? There's no question, she said. "I can be broke now, or I can be broke the next 18 years of my life."When Karla went in for her appointment, she found she was able to expel the embryo, even without any visible bleeding. The abortion had worked after all.People coming in to the clinic to find out if they're pregnant are learning they're too far along to get an abortion Whole Woman's Health in McAllen, seen here in 2016, is the only abortion clinic serving the Rio Grande Valley, which spans about 4,250 square miles and includes a large portion of Texas's border with Mexico. Ilana Panich-Linsman for the Washington Post via Getty Images In the days before SB 8 took effect, calls to the McAllen's Whole Woman's Health clinic surged - one day, there were close to 50 back-to-back, a clinic staffer recalled.The clinic is open Monday through Saturday, with procedures typically performed on Mondays and Tuesdays and the other days open for follow-ups, counseling and visits from patients seeking medications like the morning-after pill. Before SB 8, between 40 to 50 patients would come in on any given service day for a consultation and then, after the 24-hour waiting period, an abortion. Now, that number has fallen by close to half, said Veronica Hernandez, the clinic director. Maybe 20 to 30 people will come for a consultation. Of those patients, typically half will be able to get an abortion under SB 8."It's heartbreaking," she said. "There are patients you want to help, but you can't. And they're emotional, or they start crying, and you want to help, but your hands are tied." The decline was visible the week of Monday, September 20, when The 19th visited the clinic. That Monday, Hernandez estimated eight patients came for ultrasounds to see how far along in their pregnancy they were. Only two of them were under the six-week mark, and could, if they wanted to, schedule an abortion for the next day. That same day, another 23 patients, who believed they were earlier than six weeks, came in for an initial consultation with the doctor, planning to get an abortion the next day, Hernandez said. Of the 23, only about half qualified. The rest were later in their pregnancy than they realized. More from The 19th Abortion providers ask Supreme Court to quickly intervene in challenge to Texas law The 19th wants to know how the Texas abortion law has impacted you and your community 'We're seeing shock.' Texas abortion clinics are now operating as trauma centers Most of the remaining patients came back the next day for an abortion. Those who couldn't, Hernandez said, either couldn't find child care or get away from work for the appointment.The window of eligibility to get an abortion in Texas is infinitesimal. Functionally, pregnant people have about a one-week window in which an abortion is feasible - even smaller than the two-week period experts initially forecast as a best-care scenario.It has to be late enough in pregnancy that something can show up on an ultrasound, but early enough that the abortion can be done before the six-week deadline. Patients, skittish about the new law, are calling and coming in too early in their pregnancy, undergoing a sonogram that will not show anything, and having to reschedule to return a week later. Laura M. was one of the people able to make it back to the clinic. A 32-year-old teacher and parent to a 5-year-old son, Laura took two days off work, and her boyfriend drove her more than an hour both days to make it to the clinic. When Laura first suspected she was pregnant, her home test came back negative. A week later, on September 8, she went to her doctor, who did a transvaginal ultrasound. Nothing appeared on the screen. But the nagging feeling wouldn't disappear. So on Friday, September 17, she took one more test. This time, it was positive. The previous test and ultrasound had just been too early in the pregnancy to detect anything. She made an appointment for a week later - September 24. But she was worried. It felt like she was waiting too long. So she came earlier. On September 20, she had her initial consultation and ultrasound at Whole Woman's Health, where she learned she was 5.3 weeks pregnant. She just made it. "I had only a few days to work with," she said on September 21, from the clinic's waiting room. "And I know I got really, really lucky."Experts worry more people will buy abortion pills from flea markets or Mexico because they can't legally access care in TexasLaura's journey was one of the easier ones. She had the $800 because she had been saving up for a house, but had she not been, she isn't sure whether the procedure would have been affordable. And in the Valley, an hour-long drive isn't necessarily so far.But for other patients, the distances are far greater. Dr. Blair Cushing, a California-based OB/GYN and one of the main abortion providers at the clinic, saw another patient that Tuesday morning who had traveled more than 100 miles to come to the clinic. Because she lived far away, the patient was eligible to do her initial appointment over the phone the day prior. But she still had to get an ultrasound when she came in. No embryo appeared on the screen. She was still too early in her pregnancy, and had made the two-hour drive - each way - for nothing. Abortion rights activists rally at the Texas State Capitol against SB 8, which prohibits abortions in Texas after a fetal heartbeat is detected on an ultrasound, on September 11, 2021 in Austin, Texas. Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images "Now, she's got to do it all over again with another doctor later this week," Cushing said. "If she doesn't come back until next week when I'm here, that's 10 days from now? Eight days from now? That leaves her open to the possibility she could be too far."Cushing worries that the law has decimated a system that, for many patients in the Valley, was already inaccessible. Even before SB 8, coming to the McAllen clinic meant a particularly long journey and an expensive procedure. "We were already patients' not even their Plan B, their Plan C," Cushing said. "My patients are like, 'I tried emergency contraception and that failed.' And then, 'I went to Mexico and took pills, and that failed. And now I'm here.'"Self-managed abortions are particularly common in the area, in large part because it's a far cheaper option. Medication abortion pills from the nearby flea markets, or from a pharmacy across the border, might cost $40. A 2018 study found that about a third of McAllen-based respondents knew of somewhere other than a medical establishment where they might find abortion pills. Self-managed abortion can be done safely. But patients buying the pills elsewhere frequently get wrong information about how to take the pills - which can in turn result in complications, often in the form of excessive bleeding that results in them having to seek emergency care. And often, pills taken incorrectly won't work to actually end a pregnancy. It's too early to tell if SB 8 is driving more people in the Valley to those self-managed abortions. But evidence suggests it's a strong possibility, said Kari White, an associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin, and the lead researcher for its Texas Policy Evaluation Project.In the spring of 2020, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott temporarily barred abortion providers from practicing in the state, citing the emerging COVID-19 crisis and the need to preserve medical supplies. The order only lasted a month, but in that time, the number of Texans who got abortions fell dramatically, compared to previous years. She anticipates a similar pattern the longer SB 8 stays in effect. "It's possible, because of what we have observed in some of our prior studies, that people may be able to get medications in Mexico or try to access medications online," she said. Through her research, she has interviewed many Texans who buy those pills outside of medical settings. Often, she said, they aren't properly instructed on how to take the medication - putting them at risk of complications, or the abortion simply not working."They may not know how many pills to take or in what time period," she said. "They may get very concerned about how much bleeding they're having or maybe they didn't take as many as they needed to, so it's not effective."The greatest stress test has yet to emerge, Hernandez said. September is usually a slower month. But if the Texas law stays in effect throughout the year - if it's still being enforced come December or January, the busiest time of year for the clinic - she is worried about the implications. The federal Department of Justice has stepped in, suing the state of Texas over the law, which does not appear to comply with the precedent established by the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling. The DOJ is seeking a temporary injunction to block the law. But the case won't be heard until October 1, and a ruling won't come until after that.Even if the law is blocked, the state of Texas is likely to appeal to the next court, the conservative 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. The uncertainty means that Whole Woman's Health hasn't yet decided if it would start offering abortions after six weeks, even with a favorable ruling.Hernandez can't let herself process that reality. It's too hard to think past tomorrow, and maybe the day after."I never expected this to happen," she said. "It's just like everything - everything is crumbling down." Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 27th, 2021

"The Endgame Of Communist Rule Has Begun": Evergrande"s Fall Shows How Xi Has Created A China Crisis

"The Endgame Of Communist Rule Has Begun": Evergrande's Fall Shows How Xi Has Created A China Crisis Authored by Niall Ferguson, op-ed via Bloomberg.com, The developer’s collapse isn’t leading to global contagion, but China’s looming economic disaster might... A major mistake of the Cold War was the tendency of Western observers to overestimate the Soviet Union. I have often wondered if the same mistake is being repeated with the People’s Republic of China. Then again, for every article over the last 10 years that predicted China’s economy would overtake that of the U.S., there were at least two prophesying a “China crisis.” “The endgame of Chinese communist rule has now begun,” wrote David Shambaugh in 2015. Wisely, he added: “Its demise is likely to be protracted.”  That same year, Jim Chanos of Kynikos Associates warned, “We’re getting inexorably to a tipping point in China.” Last week began with yet another China tipping point. The impending collapse of the giant property developer China Evergrande Group, we were warned, could be China’s “Lehman Moment.” For 24 hours, global stock markets retreated by a couple of percentage points. By Tuesday morning, however, the story appeared to be over. The jitters subsided and investors got back to parsing the utterances of U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jay Powell to make sure that nothing he said was surprising. So if the China crisis never happens — no matter how many times China permabears like Chanos predict it — does China eventually overtake the U.S.? Thus far, it has done so only in terms of gross domestic product adjusted on the basis of “purchasing power parity,” which allows for the fact that a meal in Chongqing is quite a bit cheaper than one in Chicago. On a current dollar basis, China’s GDP last year was still just 72% of U.S. GDP, even with Hong Kong included. Will China surpass America? No, I don’t think so. Nearly three years ago, in the heat of a lively debate in Seoul, I bet the Chinese economist Justin Yifu Lin 20,000 yuan (roughly $3,000) that China’s economy — defined as GDP in current dollars — would not overtake that of the U.S. in the next 20 years. I am sticking with that bet, even if the Lehman Moment for the Chinese financial system never comes. Here’s why. Let’s begin by recalling how many experts believed the Soviets would overtake America. In successive editions, the economist Paul Samuelson’s hugely influential economics textbook carried a chart projecting that the gross national product of the Soviet Union would exceed that of the U.S. at some point between 1984 and 1997. The 1967 edition suggested that the great overtaking could happen as early as 1977. By the 1980 edition, the time frame had been moved forward to 2002-2012. The graph was quietly dropped after that. Samuelson was by no means the only American scholar to make this mistake. A late as 1984, Harvard’s liberal guru John Kenneth Galbraith could still insist that “the Russian system succeeds because, in contrast with the Western industrial economies, it makes full use of its manpower.” Economists who discerned the miserable realities of the planned economy, such as G. Warren Nutter of the University of Virginia, were few and far between — almost as rare as historians, such as Robert Conquest, who grasped the enormity of the Soviet system’s crimes against its own citizens. We know now how wrong Samuelson, Galbraith et al. were. After 1945, according to the late Angus Maddison’s estimates, the Soviet economy was never more than 44% the size of that of the U.S. By 1991, Soviet GDP was less than a third of U.S. GDP. China has of course learned lessons from the Soviet experience. Beginning in the late 1970s with Deng Xiaoping, China’s leaders understood that the Communist Party could harness market forces for the perpetuation of their own power, but they must never relax the party’s political grip. If there is one thing the CCP can be relied on never to produce, it is a Chinese Mikhail Gorbachev. In the same way, the Chinese have learned from the American experience. I remember vividly how, in the wake of the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers, eminent Chinese economists visited Harvard (where I taught at the time) and doubtless many other institutions to research the causes of the global financial crisis. Somewhere in President Xi Jinping’s office there must be a copy of the report they subsequently wrote. If there is another thing the CCP can be relied on never to produce, it is a Chinese Lehman Moment. Yet, as the great English historian A.J.P. Taylor once observed of the French Emperor Napoleon III, he “learned from the mistakes of the past how to make new ones.” As I contemplate Xi, I find myself wondering if the Communist Party has inadvertently produced a Chinese version of Napoleon III, whose reign was also marked by rampant real estate development. (The Paris you see today was in large measure the achievement of his prefect of the Seine, Georges-Eugene Haussmann.) Evergrande is mainly significant as an illustration of how the Chinese economic model has evolved over the past decades of urbanization on steroids. It is China’s second-largest property developer, with an estimated $355 billion of assets across 1,300 developments. It has around 200,000 employees, and usually hires 3-4 million laborers a year for construction work. It is also the most-indebted property developer in the world, with on-balance-sheet liabilities equivalent to nearly 2% of China’s annual GDP, and off-balance-sheet obligations equal to another 1%. Among its liabilities are $37 billion in bills and trade payables owed to suppliers and contractors, and an estimated $6 billion in high-yielding wealth management products, which it has sold to more than 80,000 retail investors. Evergrande is just one of many such leveraged real estate companies in China. It just happens to be the most overstretched, so it was the first to get in trouble when the government introduced its “three red lines.” These specified that a property developer’s ratio of liabilities to assets must be below 70%; its ratio of net debt to equity below 100%; and its ratio of cash to short-term debt at least 100%. Evergrande was on the wrong side of all three lines, but it was in good company. Of the country’s 15 biggest developers, only one is fully compliant with the new rules, according to data in the South China Morning Post. When the Chinese government decides to make an example of an over-leveraged player, we know what happens next, and it’s not a global financial crisis — not even a domestic one. There will be some more brinkmanship, as there was last week, with some bondholders (onshore) getting paid and others (offshore) being asked to wait. But at some point soon — probably before the October holiday — the government will force through a formal restructuring and bankruptcy process. Those considered politically important will get off lightly; the politically disposable will lose their shirts; a few top executives will face jail. That was what happened with the travel conglomerate HNA Group Co. in 2018. It was what happened to Baoshang Bank Co. in May 2019. The most sanguine take I read last week came from the always interesting MacroPolo series of papers published by the Paulson Institute, founded by former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson (himself something of an authority on Lehman Moments). According to Houze Song, the Evergrande crisis was the result of a policy error, because “China’s financial regulators … preoccupied with stifling a property and land sales bubble … mandated banks to cut back on mortgage loans.” Fewer mortgages drove down housing prices, pushing Evergrande to the brink of insolvency. However, everything will turn out fine because: 1) The central bank will further relax mortgage policy to alleviate the liquidity crunch for the property sector; 2) Property sales will rebound as demand for housing remains healthy; 3) The more vulnerable firms will be able to sell their assets (e.g., land) to raise cash. “These dynamics will be mutually reinforcing,” he concludes, “and will help to stabilize the property sector as it muddles through this year.” The People’s Bank of China has already taken action. On Thursday, it sought to alleviate the financial stress with the equivalent of $17 billion in the form of seven- and 14-day reverse repurchase agreements, its largest open-market operation since January. Evergrande shares in Hong Kong duly rallied. Crisis over. Stand down the plunge protection team. All this goes to show that a Lehman Moment was never in the cards. China’s state-controlled financial system has state-controlled crises, which are targeted at particular firms “pour encourager les autres”— not to trigger the kind of generalized bank run that drove the global financial system to the point of collapse in the winter of 2008-2009.  Nevertheless, it is possible to avoid financial contagion without necessarily avoiding a more insidious macroeconomic contagion. As the Harvard economist Ken Rogoff showed last year in a paper co-authored with Yuanchen Yang of Beijing’s Tsinghua University, real estate plays an even bigger role in China’s economy today than it did in the U.S. economy on the eve of the financial crisis. The impact of real estate-related activities amounted to 18.9% of U.S. GDP in 2005, its pre-crisis peak. The equivalent figure for China in 2016 was 28.7%. None of the 10 other countries in their sample come close, except Spain on the eve of the financial crisis (28.7% in 2006). The detail is eye-popping. In all, around 27% of Chinese bank loans come from the real estate sector. Real estate is the main form of collateral for loan securitization. In 2017, almost 18% of the urban labor force was employed in real estate and related industries. In 2018, the sale of land by local governments accounted for as much as 35% of their revenues. Much as happened in Japan in the housing bubble of the late 1980s, the market value of China’s housing stock is now more than double that of the U.S. and triple that of Europe. This means that housing wealth forms a significantly larger share of overall assets in China (78%) than it does in the U.S. (35%). Rogoff and Yang conclude that Chinese households’ consumption is therefore “significantly more sensitive to a decline in housing prices” than that of their American and Japanese counterparts. A “20% fall in real estate activity could lead to a 5-10% fall in GDP, even without amplification from a banking crisis, or accounting for the importance of real estate as collateral.” To put it simply, China’s growth has been boosted for many years by the construction of an excess supply of housing units. This has been financed by an unsustainable mountain of debt. As the Beijing-based economist Michael Pettis noted last week, “China’s official debt-to-GDP ratio has soared by nearly 45 percentage points in the past five years, leaving it with among the highest debt ratios for any developing country in history.” Relative to the size of the economy, nonfinancial corporate debt in China is now even bigger than it was in Japan in the late 1980s. And both tower blocks and debts have been going up at a time when the Chinese workforce has begun to come down. With the birthrate falling, the total population is forecast by the United Nations to shrink by around 25% by the end of the century — conceivably even by 50%. The result is not so much the proverbial bridges to nowhere as homes for no one. Between a fifth and a quarter of Chinese housing stock is estimated to be empty. Last week, the Rhodium Group’s Logan Wright estimated that there was enough empty property in China to house more than 90 million people. Of course, no “China crisis” article for the past 20 years has been complete without images of uninhabited ghost cities. But there was always the counterargument: “If you build it, they will come.” Well, they built 15 high-rise apartment blocks in the southwestern city of Kunming back in 2013. Unfortunately, the developer ran out of money and the buildings turned out to be defective. Last month, “Sunshine City II” was spectacularly demolished in a succession of controlled explosions. That one video clip impressed me more than all the ghost city videos I’ve seen over the years. Nothing says “wealth destruction” quite like toppling tower blocks. The crisis in real estate has much wider ramifications than the inevitable restructuring of Evergrande. Other developers are under pressure (the fact that one is called Fantasia says it all). Housing sales are down. So are land sales by local governments. Exposed banks are under pressure, as are the steel producers and iron-ore exporters who for so long grew rich on Chinese construction. And, as falling apartment prices reduce household wealth — just as Rogoff and Yang foresaw — we can expect a significant impact on consumption. The August data already showed a decline in year-on-year retail sales growth from 8.5% in July to 2.5%, though this partly reflected the effects of anti-Covid restrictions. That slowdown seems likely to persist through September and October. For years, Pettis and others have argued that China’s growth rates were artificially inflated and that the steroid-free growth rate was probably half the official target. Some China economists quoted in the press last week suggested a growth rate closer to 4% in the coming decade. Leland Miller, of China Beige Book, even suggested a rate of 1% or 2% 10 years from now. It will be interesting to see if the International Monetary Fund revises down its growth projections for China in next month’s World Economic Outlook. Back in the summer of 2020, the IMF thought China’s economy would grow 9.2% this year and 5.7% next year. The 2021 figure has since been lowered to 8.1%. The most recent 2023 projection was 5.4%. All these numbers look on the high side to me, even allowing for the unreliability of Chinese statistics.  (Thank heavens the managing director of the IMF would never contemplate overstating China’s economic performance! Oh wait, that’s precisely what Kristalina Georgieva is accused of having done when she was at the World Bank.) Many foreign investors have been on the wrong side of all this. In the 15 months through June 2021, they poured $527 billion into Chinese stocks and bonds. A good deal of that money found its way via the offshore dollar bond market into high-yielding real estate debt. Among the funds known to hold Evergrande debt are Fidelity International Ltd., UBS Asset Management, Amundi Asset Management SA, and BlackRock Inc. Last week it fell to Ray Dalio of Bridgewater Associates to rally the China bulls. The Evergrande crisis was “all manageable,” he said. The system would be “protected.” But it Is striking that on Aug. 3, George Soros warned investors in China that they faced “a rude awakening,” and on Sept. 6, he called out “BlackRock’s China Blunder.” When Soros and Kyle Bass are on the same side, things get interesting. (Bass’s fund, Hayman Capital Management, has been short China for years.) “The regime which is destroyed by a revolution is almost always an improvement on its immediate predecessor,” wrote Alexis de Tocqueville in “The Old Regime and the Revolution.” “And experience teaches that the most critical moment for bad governments is the one which witnesses their first steps toward reform.” I often thought of that passage as I watched Gorbachev inadvertently destroy the Soviet Union by trying to reform it. Only recently did it occur to me that it might also apply to Xi, the anti-Gorbachev. Although his reforms go in the opposite direction from Gorbachev’s — turning back the political clock to Marxism-Leninism, rather than forward to liberalism — the effect may be the same. Xi’s crackdown on the property developers is just the latest blow he has struck against “capitalism with Chinese characteristics.” First in line were the big tech companies —  Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Tencent Holdings Ltd. and ride-sharing leader Didi Global Inc. Then it was the turn of the for-profit education sector. All of this reflects Xi’s conviction that China needs to move from “fictional growth” to “genuine growth,” and his determination to make the old CCP slogan of “common prosperity” a meaningful antidote to the rampant inequality of the “get rich quick” era. Investors who have ignored this anticapitalist turn in China have only themselves to blame if they have lost money. Likewise, analysts who continue to predict a Chinese economic takeover of the world have only themselves to blame if they have failed to learn the lessons of the Soviet collapse. Perhaps, to paraphrase Taylor, Xi has learned from the crises of others only how to make a crisis of his own. Tyler Durden Mon, 09/27/2021 - 17:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 27th, 2021

I stayed at a free 10-day quarantine hotel in NYC when I got COVID-19. Programs like these need to be more widespread if we want to get a hold on the virus.

The program was completely free and helped me keep my roommate safe, but very few people know about it and very few cities have a similar program. A scene from the first floor of the USC Hotel on April 27, 20202 where USC medical staff are allowed to self-quarantine after working in high-risk hospital. Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images I discovered the hotel program after testing positive for COVID-19 and researching places to safely quarantine. The program is open to all New Yorkers and tourists who have tested positive, but few people know about it. As the Delta variant spreads, programs like this are a great way to limit transmission. Catherine Morrison is a writer and recent graduate from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author. See more stories on Insider's business page. Dani and his mother Gloria hadn't planned to stay in New York City for long. Traveling from Paraguay, they arrived in New York on June 28. They came to get a vaccination for Dani, 20, an electrical engineering student who is not yet eligible for the COVID vaccine in their home country.The day before they were scheduled to board their flight home, Dani and Gloria found themselves staying in a hotel with scheduled meals, nurses visits, and outdoor breaks. They had tested positive for COVID-19, and the city recommended a stay at a COVID-19 isolation hotel. I met them because I had checked in, too.NYC Health and Hospitals initially implemented the Isolation Hotel Program in April 2020. While the program provides a safe, affordable space for local residents and travelers to quarantine, very few have ever heard of it. So much so that I thought it was an online scam when I was desperately researching places I could stay to avoid infecting my roommate. New York's COVID-19 hotels are a powerful weapon in the arsenal against the pandemic, especially as variants continue to rise.According to a spokesperson for NYC Health and Hospitals, the initial goal of the program was to provide safer spaces for patients suspected or confirmed to be exposed to COVID-19, who had been discharged from inpatient and emergency room settings, and who did not have places to isolate or quarantine. Now, the program is open to any New York residents - individuals who tested positive and their roommates - or out-of-state travelers who have tested positive or have been exposed to the virus.New York operated five hotels at the peak of the pandemic, but hotels were decommissioned as infection rates decreased. Since March 2020, over 24,000 New York residents have checked in, but the hotels have never been at capacity. The Laguardia Plaza Hotel on the afternoon of July 8, captured during a scheduled outdoor break Catherine Morrison While New York's isolation program is not the only one in the country, it is one of the largest. Other major cities like Chicago, Baltimore, San Francisco, Seattle, Dallas, Miami, and cities across California also have programs for those in need of quarantining spaces. More rural areas, however, have yet to implement such programs."We know of no other city that created a hotel program as early or extensively as our own," a spokesperson for NYC Health and Hospitals said.Now that variants have sparked a new wave, officials anticipate the number of patients to increase again, but shouldn't we be doing more to ensure people in need know about this option? Staying in the isolation hotel I checked into the hotel on the same day as Dani and Gloria. I had woken up that morning with a runny nose and a slight cough. To plan for the worst, I made my way to the CityMD walk-in clinic to get a rapid test. As I left the clinic, I got a call from the doctor."I'm sorry, but your result was actually positive," she said. The person I was most worried about infecting was my roommate. After texting her that I was positive, I locked myself in my room until she could go get tested - thankfully she tested negative. Knowing that I wouldn't want to put her at risk by staying in our small apartment, I started looking into options for alternative housing. She was the one who sent me a text about the isolation hotel program. Immediately, I got on the phone and, within three hours, a car was downstairs, ready to drive me off to the hotel - at no charge because they didn't want me to take public transit.Eligible under the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the city offers the program to guests entirely free, including a 10-night stay with three daily meals, a weekly laundry service, and four outdoor breaks a day.During the outdoor breaks, I spoke with the other guests to hear about how they got to the hotel. Everyone I met decided to enroll in fear of getting someone else infected.Dani and Gloria were staying at Dani's aunt's apartment in Astoria, Queens when they got the news. Unsure of what to do, they got a call from the city the next morning informing them of the program and were brought via government-ordered ride share service to the LaGuardia Plaza Hotel."We were scared and we were looking for hotels to go to because we didn't want to infect [Dani's aunt]," Dani said. "And then they called us. We were so relieved." Dani and Gloria on June 30, 2021, two days after arriving in New York City. Catherine Morrison As I met more hotel guests, I questioned why more New Yorkers didn't use this program. Most infected residents probably assume there aren't reasonable alternatives and decide to isolate at home. But as household transmission is responsible for a vast majority of infections, and 77% of those infected with COVID admit they cannot effectively isolate at home, why wouldn't more New Yorkers try to find a safe space to quarantine?While it could be fear of leaving their homes, or being surrounded by other sick guests, or not having the knowledge of the program, it's evident that, in order for these programs to be most successful, the city needs to find ways to make it more accessible and the case for isolating effectively more compelling.No one knows about this programMy classmate who also got infected when I did, Nidhi Upadhyaya, only learned about the program after the city contacted her two days after getting tested, once she had already found alternative accommodation."I was absolutely terrified about infecting my roommate," Upadhyaya said. From social media advertisements to billboards to pamphlets handed out at testing centers around the city, there's so much more the city could do to make individuals aware of the program."The program almost seems intentionally hidden," Jon Orbach, my other classmate who tested positive, said. "There could be advertisements on the subway or online. The only way of knowing about this program would have been word of mouth, so any advertisements would have increased public awareness."A spokesperson from NYC Health and Hospitals explained that the city has released multiple campaigns promoting the hotel program, including on social media - though they have mainly been aimed at individuals with COVID-19 or those who have been exposed. My room at the LaGuardia Plaza Hotel. Catherine Morrison Missing from the hotel were New York's homeless - some of the most vulnerable during the pandemic. Between July 2019 and June 2020, 613 homeless New Yorkers died, a 52% increase from the previous year, indicating the tragic effects of the pandemic. With many of the city's homeless living in shelters, where keeping a safe distance is nearly impossible, COVID was the leading cause of this increase in deaths. However, New York is not alone in facing this problem. With over 580,000 people in the United States experiencing homelessness and COVID breakouts occurring in shelters around the country, it's essential that this community have access to services like hotel isolation programs.A spokesperson from NYC Health and Hospitals told me that people are most commonly referred to the program from a medical setting. Unfortunately, the homeless often don't have access to medical services that would allow for them to access referrals or learn about the isolation program. The spokesperson did say that the Department of Homeless Services also maintains a hotel isolation program. While breakthrough cases were once seen as rare, they are now happening all over the country. As cases continue to increase, it's clear that isolation programs will be even more important. Those living in community living situations, with elderly or sick people in their homes, and those with medical issues themselves benefit tremendously from having a safe place to quarantine.It's important that cities that already have services in place work to better market their programs to reach residents and visitors. As well, it's crucial that they integrate the homeless community into their program to ensure they're able to access the shelter they need to recover.For those cities and states that don't yet have hotel isolation programs at all, it's time to work with cities like New York who have established hotel isolation programs to make quarantining spaces available across the country.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 26th, 2021

How Evergrande Became Too Big To Fail And Why Beijing Will Have To Bail It Out

How Evergrande Became Too Big To Fail And Why Beijing Will Have To Bail It Out While the world is obsessing with the fate of Evergrande, and more importantly when, or if, Beijing will bail it out, another just as interesting question is how did the company many call "China's Lehman" get to the point of no return and become a global systematic risk. For a fascinating look into how we got here, we turn our readers' attention to a recent article from Caixin titled "How Evergrande Could Turn Into ‘China’s Lehman Brothers'," and which provides one of the most comprehensive insights into why Beijing will have to, even if it is kicking and screaming, bail out Evergrande which, at its core, is just one giant shadow-banking black box whose time has finally run out. * * * For the past two months, hundreds of people have been gathering at the 43-floor Zhuoyue Houhai Center in Shenzhen, where China Evergrande Group’s headquarters occupy 20 floors. They held banners demanding repayment of overdue loans and financial products. Police with riot shields had to be on site to keep things under control. The demonstrators are construction workers at the property developer’s housing projects, suppliers providing construction materials and investors in the company’s wealth management products (WMPs). From paint suppliers to decoration and construction companies, Evergrande owes more than 800 billion yuan ($124 billion) due within one year, while it has only a 10th of that amount of cash on hand. As of the end of June, Evergrande had nearly 2 trillion yuan ($309 billion) of debts on its books, plus an unknown amount of off-books debt. The property giant is on the verge of a dramatic debt restructuring or even bankruptcy, many institutions believe. A bankruptcy would amount to a financial tsunami, or as some analysts put it, “China’s Lehman Brothers.” The venerable American investment bank’s 2008 collapse helped trigger a global financial crisis. Certainly Evergrande, one of China’s three biggest developers, has a giant footprint in China. Unfinished residential buildings at Evergrande Oasis, a housing complex developed by Evergrande Group, in Luoyang, China September 16, 2021 Its liabilities are equivalent to about 2% of China’s GDP. It has more than 200,000 employees, who themselves and many of their families have invested billions of yuan in the company’s WMPs. The company has more than 800 projects under construction, more than half of them halted due to its cash crunch. There are thousands of upstream and downstream companies that rely on Evergrande for business, creating more than 3.8 million jobs every year. Like many of China’s “too big to fail” conglomerates, Evergrande’s crisis has fueled speculation over whether the government will step in for a rescue. Several state-owned enterprises, including Shenzhen Talents Housing Group Co. Ltd. and Shenzhen Investment Ltd., both controlled by the Shenzhen State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC), are in talks with Evergrande on its Shenzhen projects, according to people close to the talks. But so far, no deals have been reached. In a statement last week, Evergrande denied rumors that it will go bankrupt. While the developer faces unprecedented difficulties, it is fulfilling its responsibilities and is doing everything possible to restore normal operations and protect the legitimate rights and interests of customers, according to a statement on its website. The company hired financial advisers to explore “all feasible solutions” to ease its cash crunch, warning that there’s no guarantee the company will meet its financial obligations. It has repeatedly signaled that it will sell equity and assets including but not limited to investment properties, hotels and other properties and attract investors to increase the equity of Evergrande and its affiliates. Growth on borrowed money Over the years, Evergrande has faced liquidity pressure several times, but every time it dodged the bullet. This time, the crisis of cash flow and trust is unprecedented. Evergrande shares in Hong Kong plummeted to a 10-year low. Its onshore bonds fell to what investors call defaulted bond level. All three global credit rating companies and one domestic rating company have downgraded Evergrande’s debt. For many years, Chinese developers were driven by the “three carriages” — high turnover, high gross profit and high leverage. Developers use borrowed money to acquire land, collect presale cash before projects even start, and then borrow more money to invest in new projects. In 2018, Evergrande reported record profit of 72 billion yuan, more than double the previous year’s net. But behind that, it spent more than 100 billion yuan a year on interest. Even in good years, the company usually had negative operating cash flow, with not enough cash on hand to cover short-term loans due within a year with and presale revenue not enough to pay suppliers. In addition to borrowing from banks, Evergrande also borrows from executives and employees. When developers seek funds from banks, lenders often require personal investments from the developers’ executives as a risk-control measure, a former employee at Evergrande’s asset management department told Caixin. “At times like this, Evergrande would have an internal fund-raising campaign,” the manager said. “Either the executives would pay out of their own pockets, or they would set a goal for each division.” One crowdfunding product issued to executives was called “Chaoshoubao,” which means “super return treasure.” In 2017, Evergrande tried to obtain project financing from state-owned China Citic Bank in Shenzhen, which required personal investment from Evergrande’s executives. The company then issued Chaoshoubao to employees, promising 25% annual interest and redemption of principal and interest within two years. The minimum investment was 3 million yuan. China Citic Bank eventually agreed to provide 40 billion yuan of acquisition funds to Evergrande. In 2020, Chen Xuying, former vice president of China Citic Bank and head of the bank’s Shenzhen branch from 2012 to 2018, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for accepting bribes after issuing loans. A senior executive at Evergrande said he personally invested 1.5 million yuan and mobilized his subordinates to invest 1.5 million yuan into Chaoshoubao. Some employees would even borrow money to invest in the product because the 25% return was much higher than loan rates. When the Chaoshoubao was due for redemption in 2019, the company asked employees who bought the product to agree to a one-year extension for repayment. Then in 2020, the company asked for another one-year extension. One investor said buyers received an annualized return of 4% to 5% in the last four years, far below the 25% promised return. When Evergrande’s cash flow crisis was exposed, the company chose to repay principal only to current executives. From late August to early September, the company repaid current executives and employees about 2 billion yuan but still owed 200 million yuan to former employees, including Ren Zeping, former chief economist of Evergrande who joined Soochow Securities Co. in March. Evergrande’s wealth division also sells WMPs to the public. Most of these WMPs offer a return of 5% to 10%, with a minimum investment of 100,000 yuan, the former employee at Evergrande’s asset management department said. As the return is higher than WMPs typically sold at banks, many of Evergrande’s employees bought them and persuaded their families and friends to invest, an employee said. Usually, a 20 million yuan WMP could be sold out within five days, the employee said. The company also sells WMPs to construction partners. Evergrande would require construction companies to buy WMPs whenever it needed to pay them, a former employee at Evergrande’s construction division told Caixin. “If the construction companies are owed 1 million or 2 million yuan, we would ask them to buy 100,000–200,000 yuan of WMPs, or about 10% of their receivables,” the former employee said. Although it was not mandatory for construction companies to buy WMPs, they often would do so for the sake of maintaining a good relationship with Evergrande, the former employee said. In addition, Evergrande property owners were also buyers of the company’s WMPs. About 40 billion yuan of the WMPs are now due. “It is difficult for Evergrande to make all of the repayments at once at this moment,” said Du Liang, general manager of Evergrande’s wealth division. Evergrande initially proposed to impose lengthy repayment delays, with investments of 100,000 yuan and above to be repaid in five years. After heated protests by investors, the company tweaked its plan last week, offering three options. Investors can accept cash installments, purchase Evergrande’s properties in any city at a discount, or waive investors’ payables on residential units they have purchased. Some investors opposed the “property for debt” option, as many projects of Evergrande have been halted and there is a risk of unfinished projects in the future. “The proposals are insincere,” a petition signed by some Guangdong investors said. “It’s like buying nonperforming assets with a premium.” The petition urged the government to freeze Evergrande’s accounts and assets and demanded cash repayment of all principal and interest. Some investors chose to accept the payment scheme proposed by Evergrande. They selected Evergrande projects located in hot cities in the hope of making up for losses by resale in the future. As Evergrande owed large amounts to construction companies, more than 500 of Evergrande’s 800-plus projects across the country are now halted. The company has at least several hundred thousand units that have been presold and not delivered. It needs at least 100 billion yuan to complete construction and deliver the units, Caixin learned. Whether and how to repay WMP investors or deliver housing is Evergrande’s dilemma. Debt to construction partners and suppliers In August, the construction company that was contracted to build Evergrande’s Taicang cultural tourism city in Nantong, Jiangsu province, announced the halt of the project due to bills unpaid by Evergrande. The company, Jiangsu Nantong Sanjian Construction Group Co. Ltd., said it put 500 million yuan of its own funds into the project and Evergrande paid it less than 290 million yuan. Sanjian has other construction contracts with Evergrande and its subsidiaries. As of September, Evergrande owes the Nantong company about 20 billion yuan. As of August 2020, Evergrande had 8,441 upstream and downstream companies it was working with. If the flow of Evergrande cash stops, the normal operation of these companies will be disrupted, and some would even face the risk of bankruptcy. In Ezhou, Hubei province, five of Evergrande’s projects have been halted for more than a month, and it owes contractors about 500 million yuan. “Housing delivery involves not only hundreds of thousands of families, but also local social stability,” a banker said. The housing authorities in Guangdong province are coordinating with Evergrande and its construction partners, trying to resume construction, the banker said. Evergrande relies heavily on commercial paper to pay construction partners and suppliers. Among payments it made to Sanjian, only 8% was in cash and the rest in commercial paper. Initially, the commercial paper borrowings were mostly six-month notes with annualized interest rates of 15%–16%. Now most carry interest rates of more than 20%. Holders of such commercial paper can sell the notes at a discount to raise cash. In 2017–18, the discount rate on Evergrande paper could reach 15%–20%. Since May 2021, the few Evergrande notes that could still be sold have been discounted as much as 55%, according to a person familiar with such transactions. For small and medium-sized suppliers, holding a large amount of overdue Evergrande notes is a burden too heavy to bear. In recent months, a number of suppliers sued Evergrande for breach of contract but often settled the cases. A lawyer who represented Evergrande in related cases told Caixin that many plaintiffs chose to negotiate with Evergrande while fighting in court. Evergrande also offered a “property for debt” option to its commercial paper holders. The company said it’s in talks with suppliers and construction contractors to delay payment or offset debt with properties. From July 1 to Aug. 27, Evergrande sold properties to suppliers and contractors to offset a total of 25 billion yuan of debt. Selling assets, but not land Meanwhile, Evergrande has been offloading its assets to raise cash. Its biggest assets are its land reserves. As of June 30, it had 778 land reserve projects with a total planned floor area of 214 million square meters and an original value of 456.8 billion yuan. Additionally, it has 146 urban redevelopment projects. In the past three months, Evergrande has been in talks with China Overseas Land and Investment Ltd., China Vanke Co. Ltd. and China Jinmao Holdings Group Ltd. for possible asset sales. Shenzhen and Guangzhou SASACs have arranged for several state-owned enterprises to conduct due diligence on Evergrande’s urban redevelopment projects, a person close to the matter said. Evergrande has approached every possible buyer in the market, the person said. However, no deals have been reached. Several real estate developers that have been in contact with Evergrande told Caixin that while some of Evergrande’s projects look good on the surface, there are complex creditors’ rights that make them difficult to dispose of. Some potential buyers have said they could consider a debt-assumption acquisition, but Evergrande was reluctant to sell at a loss, Caixin learned. At an emergency staff meeting Sept. 10, the wealth management general manager Du said in a speech that most of Evergrande’s land reserve is not for sale, reflecting the position of his boss, founder and Chairman Xu Jiayin. “In China, land reserves are the most valuable assets,” Du said. “This is Evergrande’s biggest asset and last resort. “For example, for a land parcel, Evergrande’s acquisition cost is 1 billion yuan, and the land itself is worth 2 billion yuan, but the buyer may only offer 300 million yuan,” Du said. “If we sold at a loss, we would have no capital to revive.” For his part, Xu maintained that Evergrande could repay all its debts and recover as long as it turns land into houses and sells them. But even if Evergrande can quickly sell its houses, the revenue would be far from enough to pay down debt. The chance that Evergrande won’t be able to pay interest due in the third quarter is 99.99%, estimated by a banker whose employer has billions of yuan of exposure to the company. As of the end of June, Evergrande had total assets of 2.38 trillion yuan and total liabilities of 1.97 trillion yuan. Of the nearly 2 trillion yuan of debt, interest-bearing debt was 571.7 billion yuan, down about 145 billion yuan from the end of 2020. The decrease in interest-bearing debt was mostly achieved by deferred payables to suppliers. In addition to the 571.7 billion yuan of interest-bearing debt on its books, it’s not a secret that developers like Evergrande have huge off-balance sheet debt. But the amount at Evergrande is not known. In the early stage of projects, developers need to invest a lot of money, which could significantly increase the debt on the balance sheet. Companies often place these debts off their balance sheet through a variety of means. After the pre-sale of the project, or even after the cash flow of the project turns positive, these debts would be consolidated into the balance sheet in the form of equity transfer, according to a property industry insider. For example, 40 billion yuan of acquisition funds Evergrande obtained from China Citic Bank were invested in multiple projects. Among them, 10.7 billion yuan was used by Shenzhen Liangyang Industrial Co. Ltd. to acquire Shenzhen Duoji Investment Co. Ltd. As Evergrande doesn’t have an equity relationship with the two companies, this item was not required to be consolidated into Evergrande’s financial statement. Evergrande used leveraged funds to acquire equities in 10 projects, and none of them were included in its financial statement, the prospectus of its Chaoshoubao shows. Evergrande has sold equity in subsidiaries to strategic investors and promised to buy back the stakes if certain milestones can’t be reached in the future. Such equity sales are actually a form of borrowing, too. In March, Evergrande sold a stake in its online home and car sales platform Fangchebao for HK$16.4 billion ($2.1 billion) in advance of a planned U.S. share sale by the unit. If the online sales unit doesn’t complete an initial public offering on Nasdaq or any other stock exchange within 12 months after the completion of the stake sale, the unit is required to repurchase the shares at a 15% premium. Evergrande’s hidden debts also include unpaid payments to acquire equities. Dozens of small property companies have sued Evergrande demanding cancellation of their equity sales agreements with the company because Evergrande failed to pay them. They are Evergrande’s partners in local development projects. Evergrande usually paid them 30% down for equities but declined to pay the rest even after the project was completed, according to the lawsuits. A plaintiff’s lawyer told Caixin that Evergrande’s project subsidiaries don’t want to go sour with local partners, but they have no money to pay as sales from the projects have been transferred to the parent company. A total of 49 of Evergrande’s wholly owned local subsidiaries have been sued since April, according to Tianyancha, a database of publicly available corporate information. Evergrande also owes land transfer fees to some local governments. Some 20 Evergrande affiliates have not yet made payments to the city government of Lanzhou, the capital of Northwest China’s Gansu province, according to a list of 41 such firms issued in July by the city’s natural resources department. A potential default by Evergrande could spread to markets outside China as it has huge, high-interest offshore bonds. Some of its offshore bonds carry interest rates as high as 15%, a person close to the Hong Kong capital market said. UBS estimates that $19 billion of Evergrande’s liabilities are made up of outstanding offshore bonds. Evergrande has been frantically selling properties at discounts this year. In late May, it offered certain homebuyers 30% to 40% off if they paid entirely in cash. In the first half, the company reported 356 billion yuan of contracted sales, slightly higher than 349 billion yuan for the same period last year. Average selling prices in the first six months declined 11.2%. Meanwhile, payables increased 14.7% to 951 billion yuan, and sales and marketing expenses increased 30% to 17.8 billion yuan. In response to the market environment, the company increased sales commissions and marketing expenses, the company said. Compared with its competitors, Evergrande has higher capital and human costs but lower selling prices, an industry participant said. “How can it make money?” the person said. The developer reported a 29% slide in profit for the first half. Its 10.5 billion yuan of profit mainly reflected an 18.5 billion yuan gain from the sale of some shares and marked-to-market holding in internet unit Henten Networks. It reported a loss in its core property business of 4 billion yuan. Evergrande’s extremely high debt ratio, high financing cost and repeated delays in payments to suppliers, partners and local government show that its liquidity has always been tight, but on the other hand, the fact that it has survived years under this model indicates that it has always been able to generate money, a veteran investor said. Now everyone is watching whether it can dodge the bullet once again. Tyler Durden Mon, 09/20/2021 - 22:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 21st, 2021

We"re Living In A Chaos Economy... Here"s How To End It

We're Living In A Chaos Economy... Here's How To End It Authored by Mark Thornton via The Mises Institute, The Federal Reserve has been increasing the money supply at an explosive rate. The federal budget, deficits, and the trade deficit are record levels. Governments, both foreign and domestic, have locked down people, restricting production and consumption. How should this be viewed by an economist? There is clearly chaos in the economy, and hardly a day goes by when I don’t find unusual if not unprecedented situations in day-to-day economic life. However, many people and economists are either oblivious to the problems or in denial. Things are normal for them. Politicians are mostly in this camp. For economists and investment promotors, inflation is “transitory.” They don’t know how the economy works and they expect near perfection from the economy and entrepreneurs. This view is wrong. The chaos is all too real for most others. Homemakers who spend household income are seeing their purchasing power shrink, their choices disappearing, and more of their time consumed stretching the family budgets. Christmas shopping will be worse than normal. Chaos deniers are further entrenched in their experience by the mainstream media (MSM). The problems are either not reported by the MSM or are masked by aggregate statistics like price inflation, i.e., the Consumer Price Index, low unemployment, wage increases, and extremely high stock markets and real estate, especially housing prices. These stats make people feel good, or at least less nervous. Below the government economists’ radar there is real economic suffering. Small businesses are hurting and going out of business. Based on Help Wanted signs I drive by every day, it is extremely difficult to hire employees or purchase inputs. One local BBQ restaurant recently had a sign that said, “Out of Chicken, Pork and Beef.” Big business is likewise finding roadblocks throughout their supply chains, primarily because of lockdowns and covid restrictions. This government roadblock to economic life is epitomized by the five hundred thousand shipping containers stuck off the port of Long Beach, California. Meanwhile, domestic inventories are dwindling for everything from houses to mayonnaise.  Austrian economics provides an understanding of the causes of this chaos and the way to solve it. The Fed’s actions have been a tidal wave force against the economy. Printing money has given some signs of prosperity, but its main known effect tangible effects are higher prices, malinvestment, and more wealth redistributed from the middle class to the very wealthy. The solution is straightforward. The central bank needs to stop its policy of propping up the markets for government bonds and home mortgages and the perverse effects it is creating on the general loan market in the form of ultralow interest rates. Promises of the Fed “tapering,” where they do fewer asset purchases, is really too little too late. Completely ending assets purchases by the Fed would stop their mischief, limit the damage, and would make stocks, bonds, and homes more affordable for Americans. Lockdowns and restrictions are a great harm to the US and world economies. Why are so many cargo ships sitting waiting for unloading? Why are others going unfilled in the first place? Why aren’t truckers driving product to market? Why isn’t product being placed on shelves? There are millions of details here, but in many cases, workers are not available or are unwilling to comply with covid restrictions and requirements. Production is stuck in a quagmire of government intervention. A big piece of the problem are the restrictions and subsidies in the US labor markets. Special unemployment benefits and stimulus checks from the government mean that not working pays more than working, plus more leisure time for those that accept being on the public dole. In one recent week I engaged with three small businesses. They could not have continued to operate if they had not been able to hire a few new workers who were unwilling to be on the dole or, more likely, had not realized how easy it is to collect unemployment. Locally, McDonalds is offering 50 percent higher than minimum wage for fourteen-year-old kids, and they are still having trouble attracting workers! The bottlenecks, empty shelves, business closures, reduced hours, and “worker wanted” signs are not the direct result of price controls nor are they the fault of the market economy. Rather prices in some areas of the economy need to rise so high and so fast to harmonize supply and demand that entrepreneurs can hardly keep pace in this environment dominated by government interventions and heightened uncertainty. I truly sympathize with entrepreneurs who are trying to save jobs, keep food on our tables, plus pay a huge chunk of taxes. Locally, an ice cream stand that has been successfully in business for almost seven decades had to shut down. It wasn’t the complexity of the business, the lack of product or even the higher prices it charged. They could not find and maintain a workforce through the maze of restrictions of unemployment subsidies. The current owner of this beloved multigeneration family-owned business explained, “We don’t really know what’s going to happen. It just depends on COVID and when people want to start working.” It is unclear what aspect(s) of covid is their primary concern, but the main complaint is that “[n]obody wants to work anymore.” The federal government, in a variety of ways, is what killed this business. It is evident and increasingly clear that unemployment insurance bonuses and government stimulus checks must be stopped for the economy to recover. It’s not just retail products that are not readily available even at higher prices. People who repair and replace things that wear out or break in normal circumstances are also much scarcer. Repair-and-replace service dealers are having a hard time finding parts, replacement models, and workers to make parts and products and to service and replace them in a timely manner. I have had several such companies not answer their phone and not be able to offer appointments or show up on time because of a lack of parts and employees. All of these companies were reliable and showed up on time for repair appointments before the government-caused chaos. Buying a new car or large flat-screen smart TV is a joyous occasion in a family’s material life. We know that we will get years of enjoyment for a good price. How does this compare to going without a refrigerator, hot-water heater, or air conditioner because the product was not available? It should be clear that the cause of our new economic problems is massive across-the-board government intervention here and abroad. Among the negative consequences are these harms and dislocations we face. The solution is to remove those government interventions. Not only have they caused a great deal of interference in economic transactions, but they have destroyed businesses and people’s lives. Many have also even died as a result, from the despair and chaos, not the disease. Meanwhile, social media and internet giants, and pharmaceutical companies, among others, have received an enormous unearned windfall. This is an economic crisis, and it is one of the government’s making. Economic statistics and stock markets (led by a small number of superwinners from the lockdowns) have masked the calamity. The sure remedy is to end the interventions, especially the Fed’s inflationary policy and the restrictions and subsidies on production and consumption. This would help restore the market economy to a functioning state. Tyler Durden Sat, 10/16/2021 - 13:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedge12 hr. 46 min. ago

China Coal Prices Soar To Record As Winter Freeze Spreads Across The Country

China Coal Prices Soar To Record As Winter Freeze Spreads Across The Country One week ago we discussed why the "worst case" scenario for China's property crisis is gradually emerging; to this we can now add that China's worst case energy crisis scenario is also about to be unleashed as cold weather swept into much of the country and power plants scrambled to stock up on coal, sending prices of the fuel to record highs. Electricity demand to heat homes and offices is expected to soar this week as strong cold winds move down from northern China, according to Reuters with forecasters predicting average temperatures in some central and eastern regions could fall by as much as 16 degrees Celsius in the next 2-3 days. Shortages of coal, high fuel prices and booming post-pandemic industrial demand have sparked widespread power shortages in the world's second-largest economy. Rationing has already been in place in at least 17 of mainland China's more than 30 regions since September, forcing some factories to suspend production and further disrupting already broken supply chains. On Friday, the most-active January Zhengzhou thermal coal futures closed at a record high of 2,226 per tonne early. The contract has risen almost 200% year to date. China's three northeastern provinces of Jilin, Heilongjiang and Liaoning - also among the worst hit by the power shortages last month - as well as several regions in northern China including Inner Mongolia and Gansu have started winter heating, which is mainly fuelled by coal, to cope with the colder-than-normal weather. Meanwhile, even though Beijing has taken a slew of measures to contain coal price rises including raising domestic coal output and cutting power to power-hungry industries and some factories during periods of peak demand, so far all measures have failed with coal surging by 40% in just the past three days. Beijing has also repeatedly assured users that energy supplies will be secured for the winter heating season, and went so far as to order energy firms to "secure supplies at all costs." Well, the energy firms heard it, because on that day, thermal coal closed at 1,436 yuan. Two weeks later it is some 800 yuan higher. Unfortunately for Beijing, the power shortages are expected to continue into early next year, with analysts and traders forecasting a 12% drop in industrial power consumption in the fourth quarter as coal supplies fall short and local governments give priority to residential users. Earlier this week, we reported that China undertook its boldest step in a decades-long power sector reform when it allowed coal-fired power prices to fluctuate by up to 20% from base levels from Oct. 15, enabling power plants to pass on more of the high costs of generation to commercial and industrial end-users. read more Steel, aluminium, cement and chemical producers are expected to face higher and more volatile power costs under the new policy, pressuring profit margins. Meanwhile, the latest Chinese "data" on Thursday showed factory-gate inflation in September hit a record high; but since thermal coal is the one commodity that correlates the closest to PPI, absent a sharp drop in coal prices in the next few weeks, expect the next PPI print to be far higher. Meanwhile as the power crisis leads to further shutdowns in domestic production, some banks - such as Nomura - have gone so far to predict that China's GDP is set to shrink in coming quarters. China, which laughably aims to be "carbon neutral" by 2060 even as its president announced he will skip the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, has been "trying" to reduce its reliance on polluting coal power in favor of cleaner wind, solar and hydro. But coal remains the source for some 70% of China's electricity needs. Of course, China is not the only nation struggling with power supplies, which has led to fuel shortages and blackouts in many European countries. and threatens to send US heating bills up as much as 50% this winter. he crisis has highlighted the difficulty in cutting the global economy's dependency on fossil fuels as world leaders seek to revive efforts to tackle climate change at talks next month in Glasgow. China will strive to achieve carbon peaks by 2030, Vice Premier Han Zheng said in a video message at the Russian Energy Week International Forum, according to state-run news agency Xinhua late on Thursday. He also said that China and Russia are important forces leading the energy transition and they should cooperate and ensure smooth progress of major oil and gas pipeline and nuclear power projects. Translation: Russia better save that nat gas and not ship it to Europe as China will soon be needed even BCF Russia an provide. As for China   Tyler Durden Fri, 10/15/2021 - 22:50.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedge17 hr. 2 min. ago

Luongo: "When You Buy Into Fear, You Sell Your Reason"

Luongo: "When You Buy Into Fear, You Sell Your Reason" Authored by Tom Luongo via Gold, Goats, 'n Guns blog, It’s Time For All Good Men to Stop Fearing John Galt “Who is John Galt?" AYN RAND – ATLAS SHRUGGED There comes a point in every person’s life when they have to reckon with the person in the mirror. Who am I? What do I want? Where am I going? Since the beginning of the COVID-9/11 story I’ve watched it break so many people who couldn’t answer these basic questions. The fear of the virus uncovered a lot about all of us. For many, unfortunately, it provoked their inner tyrant. Last year, during the height of the COVID insanity after publicly hanging up on an unhinged Lee Stranahan live on Sputnik Radio I tweeted this out. When you hit someone's existential fear that's when you uncover their inner tyrant. When something is beyond their capacity to understand, that's when they turn to projecting that fear on other people. This is what was done to justify the lockdown. #endthelockdownnow — Tom Luongo (@TFL1728) April 27, 2020 This wasn’t just directed at Lee, but it really was. The hard investigative journalist of February 2020 turned into a sniveling, state-worshipping baby by late April. Fear of death uncovered his Room 101. That incident, among others, eventually took down his radio show with certified stand-up guy, Garland Nixon. Today it’s a shadow of its former self. I don’t know if my action was the catalyst for the changes that came, but I do know after that day nothing was the same. The sad truth is that Lee wasn’t alone. His collapse was just the most public version I ran into personally. When you buy into fear, you sell your reason. Gone is your skepticism as your world collapses. Your eyes focus on your next step too afraid to raise them to the horizon. There is no bigger picture, there is only the moment. For 20 months now, we have lived among people terrorized by a story, not a virus but a story, that told them they are the heroes for being afraid and the skeptics are the villains. To save ourselves we just have to give up our humanity and submit to an authority incapable of telling us the truth. Because the truth is we had very little to actually fear. These are the real villains, the Faucis, Bidens, Schwabs, Psakis, Trudeaus and anyone who still believes their patter. It was never about the disease, it was about control and the real damage being done to our psyches, our bodies and our communities, exactly as I argued to Lee on the radio eighteen months ago before I hung up on him. They created the fear and then manipulated it into something violent. They preyed on our common decency and humanity, twisting it into something evil which is now plain for anyone who lifts his eyes off the ground to see. Because vaccine mandates are the ultimate form of state violence, the death penalty notwithstanding. Once they had a large enough segment so terrorized they would rather die than admit they had been duped, those villains pushed the ultimate Hobson’s Choice on us: get the vaccine against COVID-9/11 and you can have your life back. But it was never their life to take in the first place. We gave it to them, hoping they weren’t as evil as many suspected. It’s amazing how just one year after a summer of looting and burning over police brutality against a black man who overdosed on fentanyl, these same people are making excuses for even worse police violence against people walking around in sunshine unmasked. To them we are the Untermenschen, the unvaxxed, the unclean. And that makes their violence justified because, to them, we are the ones keeping things from getting back to normal. Once the threat from COVID-9/11 was well established, rationality should have returned. But it hasn’t. Too many people are still stuck in Room 101, wedded to their shame over being duped by villains. They now wish death by COVID on those who refuse to get a shot for a virus that has a defined low probability of killing them and for which multiple therapeutic options are available. If they would just shut up, trust the science and let doctor’s practice medicine, life would really return to something close to normal. But it’s increasingly obvious to enough people that these mandates don’t measure up to the threat of the virus. Every day it becomes clearer that this is about their fear of us seizing back the power we gave them. To save themselves from The COVID they wish it on us, just like Winston Smith, who looked in the mirror and betrayed his love to serve a master who hates him as much as he hates himself. It doesn’t matter if the vaccines are ‘safe’ and ‘effective’ or not. I’m not here to argue that. That’s your personal choice, make it as you see fit. No blame. No shame. What’s important is that it is no one else’s choice. Further, it’s not your personal choice to tell me that I can’t partake in civil society if I don’t get the shot or, like Joe Rogan, choose a different path to treating COVID-9/11 than you would. Joe Rogan asks Sanjay Gupta if it bothers him that CNN outright lied about Rogan taking horse dewormer to recover from covid. This is fantastic: pic.twitter.com/PEgJqIXhSD — Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) October 14, 2021 Because Winston always had a choice. He could choose to face his fear and finally become a man, like Joe Rogan. Or he can project his fear onto real men and stay in his personal hell for all the world to laugh at: Hey @joerogan nice to hear you paused from gargling Goat Urine or whatever you did instead of overcoming your fear of the Vaccine, to call me "unhinged" for pointing out what terrified snowflakes you and your clown car of followers are. Here's the video that set off Mr. Afraid: pic.twitter.com/gLOgKiWlGs — Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) October 13, 2021 Watching this man’s Two Minutes of Hate is revealing of everything that is wrong with the COVID-9/11 story. And that same choice is now directly in our path, vaxxed or unvaxxed. COVID-9/11 is never going away. Neither will the flu, the common cold or any other virus endemic to the environment. Life is risk and it belongs to those willing to face those risks to keep the world from breaking. Cower in fear if you like, but scapegoating the unvaxxed won’t save you. I saw this in March 2020 saying we have to be brave and celebrate everyone willing to go to work to make the things we need to treat the sick and protect the healthy. In a real economy, everyone is an essential worker. This is because everyone contributes in their small way to the fully functional world that ensures the shelves are stocked, the energy flows and our meager triumphs over nature’s hostility to our presence remain in place. For months now we have been openly threatened with having our lives taken away because we don’t have our party registration papers up to date. We’ve all wrestled, at some level, with our disbelief that things would degrade this badly and this quickly. The Olbermensch tells us we can be friends again after we just get the damn shot. What he won’t admit is that we know he’s lying. Keith hates us for the mirror we hold up in front of him. Take a long look, that is the face of shame. Because ideals are judges. Those ideals only shame men capable of admitting it. The rest sink into solipsism and insanity. In Rand’s novel, John Galt built the engine that could change the world. But he refused to give it to the world he lived in. The Olbermensches would just use it to perpetuate their power, their evil. Who is John Galt? He’s that best version of ourselves that knows who we are, what we want and where we will end up. And it’s past time we stopped fearing the loss that comes with stating that directly. The strike of the productive and the self-aware Rand envisioned is here. The airline pilots, an Ubermensch class of people if there is one in this sick, sad world, walked out over last weekend taking most of Southwest Airlines’ staff with them. The Olbermensches are furious, openly lying about what happened and castigating anyone who says otherwise. But we shouldn’t care. Just like we shouldn’t care that Sanjay Gupta, after Rogan’s shaming, was forced into a public Struggle Session to retain his place at CNN, proving to all the world that he is a man without principles, ideals or shame. As I write this, on October 15th, vaccine mandates go into effect all around the Davos-controlled world. The choice is now in front of hundreds of millions of people. Becoming your own version of John Galt comes with loss. It means giving up something today to retain not just your integrity but provide strength to those not quite there yet. Everything rests on giving them your consent. The Olbermensches do not negotiate, they bully. Bullies are cowards. Your consent today feeds their addiction to fear. Previously I told you to quietly, “Just Say No” to them. Now I’m telling you that takes the form of withdrawing consent completely, risking today’s comfort for tomorrow’s benefit. The strength you display today is the foundation of a world we build back better than the one that is gone. I had a good gig with Sputnik Radio. But I owed them nothing. But when the mask of civility fell, it was time to go. We all wear that mask at times but only with those worthy of reciprocating. All things come to an end, good and bad. What matters is who we choose to be, what we want and unafraid of where those choices lead us. Note: These images are from the classic DC Comic from the 1980’s The Question, Issue #5, where Vic nearly kills himself over guilt for setting in motion the final collapse of the city he’s sworn to protect, but has sunk into depravity, violence and apathy. *  *  * Join my Patreon if you question your premises. BTC: 3GSkAe8PhENyMWQb7orjtnJK9VX8mMf7ZfBCH: qq9pvwq26d8fjfk0f6k5mmnn09vzkmeh3sffxd6rytDCR: DsV2x4kJ4gWCPSpHmS4czbLz2fJNqms78oELTC: MWWdCHbMmn1yuyMSZX55ENJnQo8DXCFg5kDASH: XjWQKXJuxYzaNV6WMC4zhuQ43uBw8mN4VaWAVES: 3PF58yzAghxPJad5rM44ZpH5fUZJug4kBSaETH: 0x1dd2e6cddb02e3839700b33e9dd45859344c9edcDGB: SXygreEdaAWESbgW6mG15dgfH6qVUE5FSE   Tyler Durden Fri, 10/15/2021 - 21:50.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 15th, 2021

China Coal Prices Soar To Record As Winter Freeze Spreads Cross The Country

China Coal Prices Soar To Record As Winter Freeze Spreads Cross The Country One week ago we discussed why the "worst case" scenario for China's property crisis is gradually emerging; to this we can now add that China's worst case energy crisis scenario is also about to be unleashed as cold weather swept into much of the country and power plants scrambled to stock up on coal, sending prices of the fuel to record highs. Electricity demand to heat homes and offices is expected to soar this week as strong cold winds move down from northern China, according to Reuters with forecasters predicting average temperatures in some central and eastern regions could fall by as much as 16 degrees Celsius in the next 2-3 days. Shortages of coal, high fuel prices and booming post-pandemic industrial demand have sparked widespread power shortages in the world's second-largest economy. Rationing has already been in place in at least 17 of mainland China's more than 30 regions since September, forcing some factories to suspend production and further disrupting already broken supply chains. On Friday, the most-active January Zhengzhou thermal coal futures closed at a record high of 2,226 per tonne early. The contract has risen almost 200% year to date. China's three northeastern provinces of Jilin, Heilongjiang and Liaoning - also among the worst hit by the power shortages last month - as well as several regions in northern China including Inner Mongolia and Gansu have started winter heating, which is mainly fuelled by coal, to cope with the colder-than-normal weather. Meanwhile, even though Beijing has taken a slew of measures to contain coal price rises including raising domestic coal output and cutting power to power-hungry industries and some factories during periods of peak demand, so far all measures have failed with coal surging by 40% in just the past three days. Beijing has also repeatedly assured users that energy supplies will be secured for the winter heating season, and went so far as to order energy firms to "secure supplies at all costs." Well, the energy firms heard it, because on that day, thermal coal closed at 1,436 yuan. Two weeks later it is some 800 yuan higher. Unfortunately for Beijing, the power shortages are expected to continue into early next year, with analysts and traders forecasting a 12% drop in industrial power consumption in the fourth quarter as coal supplies fall short and local governments give priority to residential users. Earlier this week, we reported that China undertook its boldest step in a decades-long power sector reform when it allowed coal-fired power prices to fluctuate by up to 20% from base levels from Oct. 15, enabling power plants to pass on more of the high costs of generation to commercial and industrial end-users. read more Steel, aluminium, cement and chemical producers are expected to face higher and more volatile power costs under the new policy, pressuring profit margins. Meanwhile, the latest Chinese "data" on Thursday showed factory-gate inflation in September hit a record high; but since thermal coal is the one commodity that correlates the closest to PPI, absent a sharp drop in coal prices in the next few weeks, expect the next PPI print to be far higher. Meanwhile as the power crisis leads to further shutdowns in domestic production, some banks - such as Nomura - have gone so far to predict that China's GDP is set to shrink in coming quarters. China, which laughably aims to be "carbon neutral" by 2060 even as its president announced he will skip the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, has been "trying" to reduce its reliance on polluting coal power in favor of cleaner wind, solar and hydro. But coal remains the source for some 70% of China's electricity needs. Of course, China is not the only nation struggling with power supplies, which has led to fuel shortages and blackouts in many European countries. and threatens to send US heating bills up as much as 50% this winter. he crisis has highlighted the difficulty in cutting the global economy's dependency on fossil fuels as world leaders seek to revive efforts to tackle climate change at talks next month in Glasgow. China will strive to achieve carbon peaks by 2030, Vice Premier Han Zheng said in a video message at the Russian Energy Week International Forum, according to state-run news agency Xinhua late on Thursday. He also said that China and Russia are important forces leading the energy transition and they should cooperate and ensure smooth progress of major oil and gas pipeline and nuclear power projects. Translation: Russia better save that nat gas and not ship it to Europe as China will soon be needed even BCF Russia an provide. As for China   Tyler Durden Fri, 10/15/2021 - 22:50.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 15th, 2021

Buchanan: Are The Good Times Over For Joe?

Buchanan: Are The Good Times Over For Joe? Authored by Pat Buchanan, “When sorrows come,” said King Claudius, “they come not single spies but in battalions.” As the king found out. So it seems with President Joe Biden, who must be asking himself the question Merle Haggard asked: “Are the good times really over for good?” Consider the critical issue with voters today: the state of the economy. Inflation in September stood at 5.4% year on year. With prices of food and fuel rising, the supply chains for goods entering the country and headed for stores, shelves and showrooms before Thanksgiving and Christmas are clogged. Container ships are backed up in ports, waiting to unload on both coasts. Many of the trucks to carry the goods to inland markets sit idle for lack of drivers. The latest employment figures show 10.4 million U.S. jobs going begging in August as 4.3 million workers dropped out of the labor force. How are Democrats responding to the return of inflation? By trying to pile a $3.5 trillion social spending package on top of a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package on top of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief act Biden signed in March. Coupled with an easy-money Fed policy, this hand could play out for Biden the way it played out for former President Jimmy Carter. A second issue that appears beyond the capacity of the Biden people to solve is the invasion from across our southern border. Nightly film of border crossers and their encounters with the Border Patrol have riveted the attention of the nation. Lately, there has been a new feature. Sporadic small arms fire at U.S. Border Patrol agents by cartel coyotes who are enriching themselves by steering migrants from all over the world to crossing points on the Rio Grande. By year’s end, some 2 million illegal immigrants will have crossed under the de facto open borders policy of the Biden administration. Entering with them are scores of thousands of “got aways” who have avoided contact with U.S. authorities on the way into our country. Another issue for Biden is the surge of both random and purposeful violence in liberal Democratic cities where knifings, shootings and killings are approaching new records. With almost everyone carrying a phone camera, the daily photos of urban shootings have turned the country against the “defund the police!” crowd and the political party that is associated with them. The George Floyd summer is over. Police departments are being refunded, and cops are being defended and demanded in neighborhoods that have suffered from their resignations, retirements and removal. Then there is the new culture-war issue of race and education and whether America’s children should be taught in their schools about the goodness and greatness of their country or about its sins and crimes. Civic gatherings have erupted, with parents facing off against teachers and school boards in Northern Virginia communities near where historic battles of the Civil War were fought. Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, seeking to regain his office, may have put his campaign in peril by telling parents they have no legitimate role in decisions about what their children should be taught, and not taught, in Virginia’s public schools. “I’m not going to let parents come into schools and actually take books out and make their own decisions,” said McAuliffe. “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” Biden’s political fortunes and his party’s future are likely to hinge upon the fate of his Build Back Better legislation, currently in the custody of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Capitulating to the demands of progressives, Biden and Pelosi agreed to delay passage of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, which had easily passed in the Senate, until the $3.5 trillion social safety net bill could catch up and travel in tandem to approval in both Houses. Biden has wagered his presidency on passage of both the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and as large a share of the $3.5 trillion social safety net program as he can convince Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona to approve. By caving to the both-or-nothing ultimatum the progressives issued to her, which caused Pelosi to hold up certain and swift passage of the infrastructure bill, she may have imperiled them both. Meanwhile, other priority agenda items of both Democratic moderates and progressives appear headed for the boneyard. The $15 minimum wage is gone. A “path to citizenship” for millions of illegal immigrants seems dead. Police reform appears to have been abandoned. Federal legislation to give the Department of Justice veto power over state GOP voting reforms appears no longer viable. With all his chips now in the middle of the table as this session of Congress winds down, Biden’s hand looks weaker and weaker. Wednesday, four polls found that half the nation — and in three of them, more than half — now disapprove of his presidency. In the 10th month of his four-year term, are the good times really over for good — for Joe Biden? Starting to look that way. Tyler Durden Fri, 10/15/2021 - 14:42.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytOct 15th, 2021

Biden concedes Democrats "are not going to get $3.5 trillion" for their social spending bill as Manchin and Sinema force huge cuts

Biden suggested that tuition-free community college could be dropped from the bill. "We're going to come back and get the rest," he said. President Joe Biden speaks during a visit to the Capitol Child Development Center, Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, in Hartford, Conn. AP Photo/Evan Vucci Biden publicly acknowledged that his $3.5 trillion social spending bill will need to be cut. "We'll get less than that, but we're going to get it," he said. He also appeared to suggest some measures like tuition-free community college could be dropped. President Joe Biden conceded on Friday that Congressional Democrats weren't going to get the full $3.5 trillion social spending bill that was outlined earlier this summer, the first time he's publicly acknowledged the price tag needed to be cut in the face of resistance from a small but potent group of centrists in his party."I'm convinced we're going to get it done. We're not going to get $3.5 trillion," he said at a speech at a childcare center in Hartford, Connecticut. "We'll get less than that, but we're going to get it, and we're going to come back and get the rest."Biden also appeared to suggest some measures in the safety-net bill could be dropped entirely. "I don't know if I can get it done, but I've also proposed two years of free community college," he said.The president's remarks illustrate the tenuous state of the negotiations between Democrats and Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona on their safety net bill. It includes childcare subsidies, new Medicare benefits, Medicaid expansion a revamped child tax credit, affordable housing and more. All are on the chopping block with Democrats struggling to resolve major differences on the scale of tax increases and which priorities to fund.Biden has privately floated a $2 trillion price tag as a possible compromise.Many Democrats are growing frustrated with the pair since they want to approve the legislation as quickly as possible so new federal benefits get out the door quickly ahead of next year's midterms. But negotiations are stalling out, partly over Sinema's resistance to lifting tax rates for individuals and large businesses.The party is pushing the spending plan through a process known as reconciliation. That allows Democrats to approve it with a simple majority and skirt unified GOP opposition. But Democrats need both Manchin's and Sinema's votes for the plan to clear the 50-50 Senate, making unanimity in the upper chamber imperative to their success.Biden appeared to suggest that another reconciliation bill could be in the cards, a possibility some House Democrats haven't been ruling out for next year. The White House didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytOct 15th, 2021

Futures Surge As Banks Report Stellar Earnings; PPI On Deck

Futures Surge As Banks Report Stellar Earnings; PPI On Deck US equity futures, already sharply higher overnight, jumped this morning as a risk-on mood inspired by stellar bank earnings, overshadowed concern that supply snarls. a China property crunch, a tapering Fed and stagflation will weigh on the global recovery. Nasdaq futures jumped 1%, just ahead of the S&P 500 which was up 0.9%. 10-year Treasury yields ticked lower to about 1.5%, and with the dollar lower as well, oil jumped. Bitcoin and the broader crypto space continued to rise. Shares in Morgan Stanley, Citi and Bank of America jumped as their deal-making units rode a record wave of M&A. On the other end, Boeing shares fell more than 1% after a Dow Jones report said the plane maker is dealing with a new defect on its 787 Dreamliner. Here are some of the biggest other U.S. movers today: Occidental (OXY US) rises 1.6% in U.S. premarket trading after it agreed to sell its interests in two Ghana offshore fields for $750m to Kosmos Energy and Ghana National Petroleum Plug Power (PLUG US) rises 3.3% premarket, extending gains from Wednesday, when it announced partnership with Airbus SE and Phillips 66 to find ways to harness hydrogen to power airplanes, vehicles and industry Esports Entertainment (GMBL US) shares rise 16% in U.S. premarket trading after the online gambling company reported its FY21 results and reaffirmed its FY22 guidance Perrigo  (PRGO US) gains 2.8% in premarket trading after Raymond James upgrades to outperform following acquisition of HRA Pharma and recent settlement of Irish tax dispute AT&T (T US) ticks higher in premarket trading after KeyBanc writes upgrades to sector weight from underweight, saying it seems harder to justify further downside from here Avis Budget (CAR US) may be active after getting its only negative rating among analysts as Morgan Stanley cuts to underweight with risk/reward seen pointing toward downside OrthoPediatrics (KIDS US) dipped 2% Wednesday postmarket after it said 3Q revenue was hurt by the surge in cases of Covid-19 delta variant and RSV within children’s hospitals combined with staff shortage Investors continue to evaluate the resilience of economic reopening to supply chain disruptions, a jump in energy prices and the prospect of reduced central bank support. In the earnings season so far, executives at S&P 500 companies mentioned the phrase “supply chain” about 3,000 times on investor calls as of Tuesday -- far higher than last year’s then-record figure. “Our constructive outlook for growth means that our asset allocation remains broadly pro-risk and we continue to be modestly overweight global equities,” according to Michael Grady, head of investment strategy and chief economist at Aviva Investors. “However, we have scaled back that position marginally because of growing pains which could impact sales and margins.” Europe's Stoxx 600 index reached its highest level in almost three weeks, boosted by gains in tech shares and miners. The Euro Stoxx 50 rose over 1% to best levels for the week. FTSE 100 rises 0.75%, underperforming at the margin. Miners and tech names are the strongest sectors with only healthcare stocks in small negative territory. Here are some of the biggest European movers today: THG shares advance as much as 10%, snapping a four-day losing streak, after a non-executive director bought stock while analysts at Goldman Sachs and Liberum defended their buy recommendations. Steico gains as much as 9.9%, the most since Jan., after the insulation manufacturer reported record quarterly revenue, which Warburg says “leaves no doubt” about underlying market momentum. Banco BPM climbs as much as 3.6% and is the day’s best performer on the FTSE MIB benchmark index; bank initiated at buy at Jefferies as broker says opportunity to internalize insurance business offers 9%-16% possible upside to 2023 consensus EPS and is not priced in by the market. Hays rises as much as 4.3% after the recruiter posted a jump in comparable net fees for the first quarter. Publicis jumps as much as 3.7%, the stock’s best day since July, with JPMorgan saying the advertising company’s results show a “strong” third quarter, though there are risks ahead. Kesko shares rise as much as 6.1%. The timing of this year’s third guidance upgrade was a surprise, Inderes says. Ubisoft shares fall as much as 5.5% after JPMorgan Cazenove (overweight) opened a negative catalyst watch, citing short-term downside risk to earnings ahead of results. Earlier in the session, Asian stocks advanced, boosted by a rebound in technology shares as traders focused on the ongoing earnings season and assessed economic-reopening prospects in the region. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained as much as 0.7%, as a sub-gauge of tech stocks rose, halting a three-day slide. Tokyo Electron contributed the most to the measure’s climb, while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. closed up 0.4% ahead of its earnings release. India’s tech stocks rose following better-than-expected earnings for three leading firms in the sector. Philippine stocks were among Asia’s best performers as Manila began easing virus restrictions, which will allow more businesses in the capital to reopen this weekend. Indonesia’s stock benchmark rallied for a third-straight day, as the government prepared to reopen Bali to tourists. READ: Commodities Boom, Tourism Hopes Fuel Southeast Asia Stock Rally Ilya Spivak, head of Greater Asia at DailyFX, said FOMC minutes released overnight provided Asian markets with little direction, which may offer some opportunity for recouping recent losses. The report showed officials broadly agreed last month they should start reducing pandemic-era stimulus in mid-November or mid-December. U.S. 10-year Treasury yields stayed below 1.6%, providing support for tech stocks.  “Markets seemed to conclude the near-term narrative is on pause until further evidence,” Spivak said. Shares in mainland China fell as the country reported factory-gate prices grew at the fastest pace in almost 26 years in September. Singapore’s stock benchmark pared initial losses as the country’s central bank unexpectedly tightened policy. Hong Kong’s equity market was closed for a holiday In rates, Treasuries were steady to a tad higher, underperforming Bunds which advanced, led by the long end.  Fixed income is mixed: gilts bull steepen with short dates richening ~2.5bps, offering only a muted reaction to dovish commentary from BOE’s Tenreyro. Bunds rise with 10y futures breaching 169. USTs are relatively quiet with 5s30s unable to crack 100bps to the upside. Peripheral spreads widen slightly. In FX, the Turkish lira was again the overnight standout as it weakened to a record low after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan fired three central bankers. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell and the greenback slipped against all of its Group-of-10 peers apart from the yen, with risk-sensitive and resource-based currencies leading gains; the euro rose to trade above $1.16 for the first time in a week.  The pound rose to more than a two-week high amid dollar weakness as traders wait for a raft of Bank of England policy makers to speak. Sweden’s krona temporarily came off an almost eight-month high against the euro after inflation fell short of estimates. The euro dropped to the lowest since November against the Swiss franc as banks targeted large option barriers and leveraged sell-stops under 1.0700, traders said; Currency traders are responding to stagflation risks by turning to the Swiss franc. The Aussie advanced to a five-week high versus the greenback even as a monthly jobs report showed employment fell in September; the jobless rate rose less than economists forecast. The kiwi was a among the top performers; RBNZ Deputy Governor Geoff Bascand said inflation pressures were becoming more persistent China’s yuan declined from a four-month high after the central bank signaled discomfort with recent gains by setting a weaker-than-expected reference rate. In commodities, crude futures extend Asia’s gains with WTI up ~$1 before stalling near $81.50. Brent regains a $84-handle. Spot gold drifts through Wednesday’s highs, adding $4 to print just shy of the $1,800/oz mark. Base metals are well bid with LME copper and aluminum gaining as much as 3%.  Looking at the day ahead, we’ve got central bank speakers including the Fed’s Bullard, Bostic, Barkin, Daly and Harker, the ECB’s Elderson and Knot, along with the BoE’s Deputy Governor Cunliffe, Tenreyro and Mann. Data releases from the US include the September PPI reading along with the weekly initial jobless claims. Lastly, earnings releases will include UnitedHealth, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, US Bancorp and Walgreens Boots Alliance. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 0.6% to 4,382.50 STOXX Europe 600 up 0.9% to 464.38 MXAP up 0.7% to 196.12 MXAPJ up 0.6% to 642.66 Nikkei up 1.5% to 28,550.93 Topix up 0.7% to 1,986.97 Hang Seng Index down 1.4% to 24,962.59 Shanghai Composite little changed at 3,558.28 Sensex up 0.7% to 61,190.63 Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.5% to 7,311.73 Kospi up 1.5% to 2,988.64 Brent Futures up 1.0% to $83.98/bbl Gold spot up 0.2% to $1,796.13 U.S. Dollar Index down 0.25% to 93.84 German 10Y yield fell 1.5 bps to -0.143% Euro little changed at $1.1615 Brent Futures up 1.0% to $84.13/bbl Top Overnight News from Bloomberg A flattening Treasury yield curve signals increasing concern Federal Reserve efforts to keep inflation in check will derail the recovery in the world’s largest economy China’s factory-gate prices grew at the fastest pace in almost 26 years in September, potentially adding to global inflation pressure if local businesses start passing on higher costs to consumers. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan fired monetary policy makers wary of cutting interest rates further, driving the lira to record lows against the dollar with his midnight decree Singapore’s central bank unexpectedly tightened its monetary policy settings, strengthening the local dollar, as the city-state joins policymakers globally concerned about risks of persistent inflation Shortages of natural gas in Europe and Asia are boosting demand for oil, deepening what was already a sizable supply deficit in crude markets, the International Energy Agency said A tropical storm that’s lashing southern China mixed with Covid-related supply chain snarls is causing a ship backlog from Shenzhen to Singapore, intensifying fears retail shelves may look rather empty come Christmas A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk A constructive mood was seen across Asia-Pac stocks with the region building on the mild positive bias stateside where the Nasdaq outperformed as tech and growth stocks benefitted from the curve flattening, with global risk appetite unfazed by the firmer US CPI data and FOMC Minutes that suggested the start of tapering in either mid-November of mid-December. The ASX 200 (+0.5%) traded higher as tech stocks found inspiration from the outperformance of US counterparts and with the mining sector buoyed by gains in underlying commodity prices. The Nikkei 225 (+1.5%) was the biggest gainer amid currency-related tailwinds and with the latest securities flow data showing a substantial shift by foreign investors to net purchases of Japanese stocks during the prior week. The KOSPI (+1.5%) conformed to the brightening picture amid signs of a slowdown in weekly infections, while the Singapore’s Straits Times Index (+0.3%) lagged for most of the session following weaker than expected Q3 GDP data, and after the MAS surprisingly tightened its FX-based policy by slightly raising the slope of the SGD nominal effective exchange rate (NEER). The Shanghai Comp. (U/C) was initially kept afloat but with gains capped after slightly softer than expected loans and financing data from China and with participants digesting mixed inflation numbers in which CPI printed below estimates but PPI topped forecasts for a record increase in factory gate prices, while there was also an absence of Stock Connect flows with participants in Hong Kong away for holiday. Finally, 10yr JGBs were higher after the recent curve flattening stateside and rebound in T-notes with the US longer-end also helped by a solid 30yr auction, although gains for JGBs were capped amid the outperformance in Tokyo stocks and mostly weaker metrics at the 5yr JGB auction. Top Asian News Chinese Developer Shares Fall on Debt Crisis: Evergrande Update Japan’s Yamagiwa Says Abenomics Fell Short at Spreading Wealth China Seen Rolling Over Policy Loans to Keep Liquidity Abundant Malaysia’s 2020 Fertility Rate Falls to Lowest in Four Decades Bourses in Europe have modestly extended on the upside seen at the European cash open (Euro Stoxx 50 +1.1%; Stoxx 600 +0.9%) in a continuation of the firm sentiment experienced overnight. US equity futures have also conformed to the broader upbeat tone, with gains seen across the ES (+0.7%), NQ (+0.8%), RTY (+0.8%) and YM (+0.7%). The upside comes despite a lack of overly pertinent newsflow, with participants looking ahead to a plethora of central bank speakers. The major indices in Europe also see a broad-based performance, but the periphery narrowly outperforms, whilst the SMI (Unch) lags amid the sectorial underperformance seen in Healthcare. Overall, the sectors portray somewhat of a cyclical tilt. The Basic Resources sector is the clear winner and is closely followed by Tech and Financial Services. Individual moves are scarce as price action is largely dictated by the macro picture, but the tech sector is led higher by gains in chip names after the world's largest contract chipmaker TSMC (+3.1% pre-market) reported strong earnings and upgraded its revenue guidance. Top European News German 2021 Economic Growth Forecast Slashed on Supply Crunch U.K. Gas Shipper Stops Supplies in Another Blow to Power Firms Christmas Toy Shortages Loom as Cargo Clogs a Major U.K. Port Putin Is Back to Building Financial Fortress as Reserves Grow In FX, the Dollar and index by default have retreated further from Tuesday’s 2021 peak for the latter as US Treasury yields continue to soften and the curve realign in wake of yesterday’s broadly in line CPI data and FOMC minutes that set the schedule for tapering, but maintained a clear differential between scaling down the pace of asset purchases and the timing of rate normalisation. Hence, the Buck is losing bullish momentum with the DXY now eying bids and downside technical support under 94.000 having slipped beneath an early October low (93.804 from the 5th of the month vs 93.675 a day earlier) and the 21 DMA that comes in at 93.770 today between 94.090-93.754 parameters before the next IJC update, PPI data and a heavy slate of Fed speakers. NZD/AUD - No real surprise that the Kiwi has been given a new lease of life given that the RBNZ has already taken its first tightening step and put physical distance between the OCR and the US FFR, not to mention that the move sparked a major ‘sell fact’ after ‘buy rumour’ reaction. However, Nzd/Usd is back on the 0.7000 handle with additional impetus via favourable tailwinds down under as the Aud/Nzd cross is now nearer 1.0550 than 1.0600 even though the Aussie is also taking advantage of the Greenback’s fall from grace to reclaim 0.7400+ status. Note, Aud/Usd may be lagging somewhat on the back of a somewhat labour report overnight as the employment tally fell slightly short of expectations and participation dipped, but the jobless rate fell and full time jobs rose. Moreover, RBA Deputy Governor Debelle repeated that circumstances are different for Australia compared to countries where policy is tightening, adding that employment is positive overall, but there is not much improvement on the wage front. CAD/GBP/CHF - The next best majors in terms of reclaiming losses vs their US counterpart, with the Loonie also encouraged by a firm bounce in oil prices and other commodities in keeping with a general recovery in risk appetite. Usd/Cad is under 1.2400, while Cable is now over 1.3700 having clearly breached Fib resistance around 1.3663 and the Franc is probing 0.9200 for a big figure-plus turnaround from recent lows irrespective of mixed Swiss import and producer prices. EUR/JPY - Relative laggards, but the Euro has finally hurdled chart obstacles standing in the way of 1.1600 and gradually gathering impetus to pull away from decent option expiry interest at the round number and just above (1.5 bn and 1 bn 1.1610-20), and the Yen regrouping around the 113.50 axis regardless of dovish BoJ rhetoric. In short, board member Noguchi conceded that the Bank may have little choice but to extend pandemic relief support unless it becomes clear that the economy has returned to a pre-pandemic state, adding that more easing may be necessary if the jobs market does not improve from pent-up demand, though he doesn't see and immediate need to top up stimulus or big stagflation risk. In commodities, WTI and Brent front month futures are continuing the grind higher seen since the European close yesterday as the risk tone remains supportive and in the aftermath of an overall bullish IEA oil market report. The IEA upgraded its 2021 and 2022 oil demand forecasts by 170k and 210k BPD respectively, which contrasts the EIA STEO and the OPEC MOMR – with the former upping its 2021 but cutting 2022 forecast, whilst the OPEC MOMR saw the 2021 demand forecast cut and 2022 was maintained. The IEA report however noted that the ongoing energy crisis could boost oil demand by 500k BPD, and oil demand could exceed pre-pandemic levels in 2022. On this, China has asked Russia to double electricity supply between November-December. The morning saw commentary from various energy ministers, but perhaps the most telling from the Russian Deputy PM Novak who suggested Russia will produce 9.9mln BPD of oil in October (in-line with the quota), but that Russia has no problem in increasing oil output which can go to 11.3mln BPD (Russia’s capacity) and even more than that, but output will depend on market situation. Long story short, Russia can ramp up output but is currently caged by the OPEC+ pact. WTI Nov extended on gain about USD 81/bbl to a current high of USD 81.41/bbl (vs 80.41/bbl low) while its Brent counter topped USD 84.00/bbl to a USD 84.24/bbl high (vs 83.18/bbl low). As a reminder, the weekly DoEs will be released at 16:00BST/11:00EDT on account of the Columbus Day holiday. Gas prices have also moved higher in intraday, with the UK Nat Gas future +5.5% at the time of writing. Returning to the Russian Deputy PM Novak who noted that Nord Stream 2 will be ready for work in the next few days, still expects certification to occur and commercial supplies of gas via Nord Stream 2 could start following certification. Elsewhere, spot gold and silver have been drifting higher as the Buck wanes, with spot gold topping its 200 DMA (1,7995/oz) and in striking distance of its 100 DMA (1,799/oz) ahead of the USD 1,800/oz mark. Over to base metals, LME copper is again on a firmer footing, owing to the overall constructive tone across the market. Dalian iron ore meanwhile fell for a second straight day in a continuation of the downside seen as Beijing imposed tougher steel output controls for winter. World Steel Association also cut its global steel demand forecast to +4.5% in 2021 (prev. forecast +5.8%); +2.2% in 2022 (prev. forecast 2.7%). US Event Calendar 8:30am: Sept. PPI Final Demand MoM, est. 0.6%, prior 0.7%; YoY, est. 8.6%, prior 8.3% 8:30am: Sept. PPI Ex Food and Energy MoM, est. 0.5%, prior 0.6%; YoY, est. 7.1%, prior 6.7% 8:30am: Sept. PPI Ex Food, Energy, Trade MoM, est. 0.4%, prior 0.3%; YoY, est. 6.5%, prior 6.3% 8:30am: Oct. Initial Jobless Claims, est. 320,000, prior 326,000; Continuing Claims, est. 2.67m, prior 2.71m 9:45am: Oct. Langer Consumer Comfort, prior 53.4 Central Banks 8:35am: Fed’s Bullard Takes Part in Virtual Discussion 9:45am: Fed’s Bostic Takes Part in Panel on Inclusive Growth 12pm: New York Fed’s Logan Gives Speech on Policy Implementation 1pm: Fed’s Barkin Gives Speech 1pm: Fed’s Daly Speaks at Conference on Small Business Credit 6pm: Fed’s Harker Discusses the Economic Outlook DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap Inflation dominated the conversation yet again for markets yesterday, after another upside surprise from the US CPI data led to the increasing realisation that we’ll still be talking about the topic for some time yet. Equities were pretty subdued as they looked forward to the upcoming earnings season, but investor jitters were evident as the classic inflation hedge of gold (+1.87%) posted its strongest daily performance since March, whilst the US dollar (-0.46%) ended the session as the worst performer among the G10 currencies. Running through the details of that release, headline US consumer prices were up by +0.4% on a monthly basis in September (vs. +0.3% expected), marking the 5th time in the last 7 months that the figure has come in above the median estimate on Bloomberg, though core prices were in line with consensus at +0.2% month-over-month. There were a number of drivers behind the faster pace, but food inflation (+0.93%) saw its biggest monthly increase since April 2020. Whilst some pandemic-sensitive sectors registered soft readings, housing-related prices were much firmer. Rent of primary residence grew +0.45%, its fastest pace since May 2001 and owners’ equivalent rent increased +0.43%, its strongest since June 2006. These housing gauges are something that Fed officials have signposted as having the potential to provide more durable upward pressure on inflation. The CPI release only added to speculation that the Fed would be forced to hike rates earlier than previously anticipated, and investors are now pricing in almost 4 hikes by the end of 2023, which is over a full hike more than they were pricing in just a month earlier. In response, the Treasury yield curve continued the previous day’s flattening, with the prospect of tighter monetary policy seeing the 2yr yield up +2.0bps to a post-pandemic high of 0.358%, whilst the 10yr decreased -4.0bps to 1.537%. That move lower in the 10yr yield was entirely down to lower real rates, however, which were down -7.4bps, suggesting investors were increasingly concerned about long-term growth prospects, whereas the 10yr inflation breakeven was up +3.3bps to 2.525%, its highest level since May. Meanwhile in Europe, 10yr sovereign bond yields took a turn lower alongside Treasuries, with those on bunds (-4.2bps), OATs (-4.0bps) and BTPs (-2.3bps) all falling. Recent inflation dynamics and issues on the supply-side are something that politicians have become increasingly attuned to, and President Biden gave remarks last night where he outlined efforts to address the supply-chain bottlenecks. This followed headlines earlier in the session that major ports in southern California would move to a 24/7 schedule to unclog delivery backlogs, and Mr. Biden also used the opportunity to push for the passage of the infrastructure plan. That comes as it’s also been reported by Reuters that the White House has been speaking with US oil and gas producers to see how prices can be brought lower. We should hear from Mr. Biden again today, who’s due to give an update on the Covid-19 response. On the topic of institutions that care about inflation, the September FOMC minutes suggested staff still remained optimistic that inflationary pressures would prove transitory, although Committee members themselves were predictably more split on the matter. Several participants pointed out that pandemic-sensitive prices were driving most of the gains, while some expressed concerns that high rates of inflation would feed into longer-term inflation expectations. Otherwise, the minutes all but confirmed DB’s US economists’ call for a November taper announcement, with monthly reductions in the pace of asset purchases of $10 billion for Treasuries and $5 billion for MBS. Markets took the news in their stride immediately following the release, reflecting how the build-up to this move has been gradually telegraphed through the year. Turning to equities, the S&P 500 managed to end its 3-day losing streak, gaining +0.30% by the close. Megacap technology stocks led the way, with the FANG+ index up +1.13% as the NASDAQ added +0.73%. On the other hand, cyclicals such as financials (-0.64%) lagged behind the broader index following flatter yield curve, and JPMorgan Chase (-2.64%) sold off as the company’s Q3 earnings release showed muted loan growth. Separately, Delta Air Lines (-5.76%) also sold off along with the broader S&P 500 airlines index (-3.51%), as they warned that rising fuel costs would threaten earnings over the current quarter. European indices posted a more solid performance than the US, with the STOXX 600 up +0.71%, though the sectoral balance was similar with tech stocks outperforming whilst the STOXX Banks index (-2.05%) fell back from its 2-year high the previous session. Overnight in Asia equities have put in a mixed performance, with the KOSPI (+1.17%) and the Nikkei (+1.01%) moving higher whilst the Shanghai Composite (-0.25%) and the CSI (-0.62%) have lost ground. Those moves follow the release of Chinese inflation data for September, which showed producer price inflation hit its highest in nearly 26 years, at +10.7% (vs. +10.5% expected), driven mostly by higher coal prices and energy-sensitive categories. On the other hand, the CPI measure for September came in slightly below consensus at +0.7% (vs. +0.8% expected), indicating that higher factory gate prices have not yet translated into consumer prices. Meanwhile, equity markets in the US are pointing to a positive start later on with S&P 500 futures up +0.32%. Of course, one of the drivers behind the renewal of inflation jitters has been the recent surge in commodity prices across the board, and we’ve seen further gains yesterday and this morning that will only add to the concerns about inflation readings yet to come. Oil prices have advanced yet again, with Brent Crude up +0.69% this morning to be on track to close at a 3-year high as it stands. That comes in spite of OPEC’s monthly oil market report revising down their forecast for world oil demand this year to 5.8mb/d, having been at 5.96mb/d last month. Elsewhere, European natural gas prices were up +9.24% as they continued to pare back some of the declines from last week, and a further two energy suppliers in the UK collapsed, Pure Planet and Colorado Energy, who supply quarter of a million customers between them. Otherwise, copper (+4.4x%) hit a 2-month high yesterday, and it up a further +1.01% this morning, Turning to Brexit, yesterday saw the European Commission put forward a set of adjustments to the Northern Ireland Protocol, which is a part of the Brexit deal that’s caused a significant dispute between the UK and the EU. The proposals from Commission Vice President Šefčovič would see an 80% reduction in checks on animal and plant-based products, as well as a 50% reduction in paperwork by reducing the documentation needed for goods moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It follows a speech by the UK’s David Frost on Tuesday, in which he said that Article 16 of the Protocol, which allows either side to take unilateral safeguard measures, could be used “if necessary”. Mr. Frost is due to meet with Šefčovič in Brussels tomorrow. Running through yesterday’s other data, UK GDP grew by +0.4% in August (vs. +0.5% expected), and the July number was revised down to show a -0.1% contraction (vs. +0.1% growth previously). The release means that GDP in August was still -0.8% beneath its pre-pandemic level back in February 2020. To the day ahead now, and on the calendar we’ve got central bank speakers including the Fed’s Bullard, Bostic, Barkin, Daly and Harker, the ECB’s Elderson and Knot, along with the BoE’s Deputy Governor Cunliffe, Tenreyro and Mann. Data releases from the US include the September PPI reading along with the weekly initial jobless claims. Lastly, earnings releases will include UnitedHealth, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, US Bancorp and Walgreens Boots Alliance. Tyler Durden Thu, 10/14/2021 - 08:29.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 14th, 2021

Paradigm Shift? Aussie Cop Quits, Refuses To Enforce COVID Tyranny, Says "Majority" Of Cops Feel The Same

Paradigm Shift? Aussie Cop Quits, Refuses To Enforce COVID Tyranny, Says "Majority" Of Cops Feel The Same Authored by Matt Agorist via The Free Thought Project, A female officer with Victoria Police, who served for 16 years, has resigned in protest against the use of police to enforce Covid-19 rules, saying in an interview that a “great majority” of her colleagues shared her sentiments. Acting Senior Sergeant Krystle Mitchell has appeared on The Discernible Interviews channel on YouTube on Friday, wearing her dark-blue uniform and revealing that she had been “troubled” by how police resources have been applied during the pandemic by state authorities. Victoria Police has been tasked with making sure that people in one of Australia’s most populous states abide by the lockdown restrictions, and with curbing illegal protests against the health rules and vaccination mandates, which often turn violent, resulting in numerous arrests and accusations of police brutality. Melbourne, Victoria’s capital city, holds the world record for longest lockdown. Mitchell, who had been working with the gender equality and inclusion command, said that “all of my friends that are police officers that are working the front line and are suffering every day enforcing CHO (Chief Health Officer) directions, that certainly the great majority don’t believe in and don’t want to enforce.” The law enforcers were “scaring people in the community,” and she herself felt uneasy when encountering officers in the street while off-duty and wearing civilian clothes, she confessed. Some rough behavior by the police during the pandemic might be partially explained by the enforcement approach taken by Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews, Mitchell suggested.  “I think that the reason, or the issue, in why perhaps police [are] feeling more emboldened to act the way they are in relation to these harsher actions is because of the messaging that comes from Dan [Andrews],” who tells the law enforcers what to do “on a daily basis,” she said. “The consequences of me being here today, is that I will be resigning from Victoria Police, effective the end of this interview because the consequences of me coming out publicly would be dismissal,” Mitchell announced. I can’t remedy in my soul any more the way in which my organization, that I love to work for, is being used and the damage that it’s causing in the reputation of Victoria Police and .. to the community. Victoria Police confirmed that Mitchell used to be one of their officers, but stressed that her comments in no way reflected the views of the whole force. “Victoria Police cannot pick and choose what laws it enforces,” it said in a statement on Saturday, adding that the police “looks forward to the easing of restrictions and the eventual return to pre-COVID life,” just like ordinary residents do. As for Mitchell, she would be the subject of a professional standards command investigation over her revelations, according to the statement. Several instances of police brutality in the state of Victoria went viral in September at the height of the protests against Covid-19 restrictions in Melbourne. One of the viral clips that caused outrage featured police violently tossing an elderly woman to the ground and pepper-spraying her. In another incident, an officer was filmed slamming a demonstrator onto the pavement, allegedly rendering him unconscious. Tyler Durden Wed, 10/13/2021 - 22:05.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 13th, 2021

Build Back Better Bill: What’s In It for Real Estate?

As two enormous spending bills percolate in Congress stalled by political maneuvering, intra-party disputes or partisan non-cooperation, there is very little certainty about the future of the legislation—whether it will pass at all, or what provisions will survive ongoing negotiations. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which is focused mostly on so-called “hard infrastructure” like […] The post Build Back Better Bill: What’s In It for Real Estate? appeared first on RISMedia. As two enormous spending bills percolate in Congress stalled by political maneuvering, intra-party disputes or partisan non-cooperation, there is very little certainty about the future of the legislation—whether it will pass at all, or what provisions will survive ongoing negotiations. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which is focused mostly on so-called “hard infrastructure” like roads and energy is less relevant to the real estate industry, though it would certainly have broad ramifications if passed. The Build Back Better Act, introduced last month in the House, has a much broader reach and includes more than $300 billion for housing. While Congress attempts to find a way forward on the bills, here are some of the current proposals in the Build Back Better that are very likely to affect the real estate industry—again, with no guarantee that any will survive to final passage, at least as they are proposed. $90 Billion for Section 8  These monies would go directly into the Section 8 program. A large portion—around $72 billion—would go to the voucher program which subsidizes very low-income renters or those who are at an immediate risk of homelessness, domestic violence or human trafficking. Other amounts would be steered toward landlords to create or rehab rental housing in areas where people are likely to be displaced or already struggle to find housing. The bill does not include any requirements or mandates that landlords accept Section 8 voucher assistance—something the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has opposed. Those utilizing Section 8 often face discrimination when looking for housing. $80 Billion for Public Housing The Build Back Better bill would provide a large investment in the current Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs that fund the majority of affordable housing, income-restricted across the country, mostly through public-private partnerships. Much of that program has focused on rehabilitation or repurposing existing housing, though this money can also be used for maintenance, upgrades, energy efficiency improvements and homeownership programs. A letter to Congress that was signed by over 100 housing advocates and organizations including NAR voiced strong support for “investing in the rental and homeless portions of the Budget Reconciliation Bill,” as well as urging Congress not to “[sacrifice] one part of the marketplace for another.” $10 Billion for First-Time Homebuyers In the current form, much of the money would go directly to homebuyers as down payment grants. It would be restricted to people whose parents were not homeowners—though this criteria and other aspects of the program have already been publicly debated by Democrats. About $7 billion would go to state governments and $2.25 billion would be provided to non-government entities through a “competitive” process, who would then disburse the money. The amount of down payment per homebuyer would not exceed either $20,000 or 10% of the purchase price. If the homebuyer abandons the property within five years, they will have to repay the grant. NAR spoke favorably about proposals for first-time homebuyer tax credits when they were initially discussed early this spring, and signed a letter this month urging Congress to support this proposal. Real estate agents have also generally felt positively about down payment assistance programs, with Florida REALTORS® recently lobbying to enshrine monies for affordable housing (including down payment assistance) in the state’s constitution. $5.3 Billion for Rural Housing NAR has lobbied in the past for “federal programs for home loans, rental development and rental assistance.” The bill splits funds, with about $1 billion for mortgage assistance in rural communities and about $4.3 billion to “revitalize” rentals in these areas. $4.3 Billion for the “Unlocking Possibilities Program” Meant to encourage better land use and planning, these monies would go as grants to state or local governments and regional authorities to come up with strategies to further fair housing goals, focused specifically on growth, reducing concentrations of poverty, finding efficiencies and removing barriers. This can explicitly include things like zoning reform—part of executive action and policy taken by the Biden’s administration earlier this year that NAR explicitly supported. $4 Billion for Distressed Multifamily Housing This money would be provided as forgivable loans that explicitly could only be used for “necessary physical improvements” to a distressed multifamily property. Loans can be forgiven at the discretion of the Secretary of HUD. Owners of these properties must also make their rents affordable for 30 years if they participate in the program. NAR generally supports multifamily loan programs, and has stated that it supports federal involvement in multifamily mortgage markets and the rehabilitation or refinancing of rental housing projects. $4 Billion for Flood Resilience One billion would go directly to homeowners based on financial need to offset the cost of their flood insurance—especially timely now as premiums are likely to rise for many homeowners over the next few years. The other $3 billion would go toward larger projects such as risk assessments and flood mapping. $2.8 Billion for Minority-Owned Businesses Of the total funding, $1.5 billion would go as direct grants to businesses owned by underrepresented groups, which includes people from low-income communities, those with disabilities, veterans, refugees, members of native tribes and people who have served prison time. The rest of the money would fund an agency that would permanently serve minority-owned businesses, opening centers across the country and holding forums with government agencies. Minority-owned real estate businesses would almost certainly be included in these programs based on the current language. Other Takeaways The Build Back Better bill also includes significant money for transportation improvements, re-routing streets and removing lead paint from housing, all of which could have significant effects on real estate markets. Twenty-five billion is also going to the Small Business Administration including money for the popular 7(a) microloan program, which serves many real estate businesses. Also notable is what the house bill did not end up including. The bill fails to close two tax loopholes—the so-called carried interest loophole and like-kind exchanges. The carried interest loophole allows taxpayers to pay a much lower rate on capital gains compared to straight income, and like-kind exchanges involve deferring taxes when exchanging investment properties. NAR has lobbied against changing these practices, which largely benefit very wealthy individuals, arguing that they are not loopholes and promote business growth, while some politicians on both sides of the aisle see them as contributing to massive wealth inequality. This is a developing story. Stay tuned to RISMedia for updates.Jesse Williams is RISMedia’s associate online editor. Email him your real estate news ideas to jwilliams@rismedia.com. The post Build Back Better Bill: What’s In It for Real Estate? appeared first on RISMedia......»»

Category: realestateSource: rismediaOct 13th, 2021

Mexico"s war on cartels has created 400 new gangs that are taking on the police and cartels that are left

That proliferation has been a challenge and asset for major cartels, but it has overwhelmed Mexican law enforcement. A bullet-riddled wall bearing the initials of the criminal group Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG) at the entrance of the community of Aguililla, state of Michoacan, Mexico, April 23, 2021. ENRIQUE CASTRO/AFP via Getty Images Mexico's criminal landscape has shifted over the past decade, with hundreds of gangs and splinter groups emerging. Those groups partner with and fight against the few remaining major cartels that control much of the drug trade. That proliferation has been a challenge and asset for major cartels, but it has overwhelmed Mexican law enforcement. Ciudad Juarez, MEXICO - Over the past 10 years, the makeup of Mexico's criminal landscape has shifted from a handful of big cartels and some splinter groups to more than 400 gangs operating all over the country, many of them with ties to the US.A 2008 intelligence report by the Mexican army detailed the first fragmentation of what then was Mexico's ruling cartel: Arturo Beltran Leyva's split from "The Federation of Sinaloa," which was run by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman and Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada.Beltran Leyva founded his own cartel, naming it after himself, but by the end of 2009, Mexican Marines working with US agents had located Arturo Beltran, killing him in a raid in the resort city of Cuernavaca, just south of Mexico City.The fragmentation has continued since then. Now more than 400 gangs operate in Mexico, according to the most recent report by Lantia Intelligence, a Mexican consulting agency specializing in criminal organizations and security analysis. Police officers at a crime scene where gunmen killed at least 13 Mexican police officers in an ambush, in Coatepec Harinas, Mexico, March 19, 2021. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido "Today most of these 400 criminal cells are coalitions more than independent groups," according to Eduardo Guerrero, director of Lantia, which maintains a database on gangs updated monthly.Guerrero said the fragmentation was a direct consequence of the "war against cartels" that right-wing Mexican President Felipe Calderon escalated soon after taking office in 2006."The DEA advised Calderon to start a strategic fragmentation between cartels, but Mexico police forces were not prepared, and the narcos bought the police [at] every level," Guerrero said, referring to pervasive corruption.American officials have also pointed to that US-supported strategy as a driver of violence in recent years.The Sinaloa and Jalisco Nueva Generacion cartels "are the biggest players in Mexico today, with a lot of partners," Guerrero told Insider.The Sinaloa Cartel has split into more than 37 "small and medium sized cells," according to the Lantia report obtained by Insider. Forensic technicians at a crime scene where assailants left the bodies of a woman and a man, in Ciudad Juarez, September 22, 2021. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez The Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion, which was formed by a faction of the Sinaloa Cartel, operates with more than 36 cells around the country.Major criminal groups mostly have horizontal rather than hierarchical structures, Guerrero said. The Sinaloa Cartel in particular is believed to be more adaptable because it operates as a group of cooperating factions."But in some cases, especially with those small gangs, they do have a chain of command," Guerrero said.Not all cells cooperate with the larger group to which they're linked. Cartel Nueva Plaza, a Jalisco cartel cell with strong ties to Asia and the US, is believed to have challenged the Jalisco cartel on its home turf in Guadalajara, spurring a wave of bloodshed there in 2018.The Lantia report also describes once-powerful organizations like Los Zetas, the Gulf Cartel, Beltran Leyva, and Familia Michoacana as almost nonexistent, having fragmented into about 50 different groups with operations in 16 of Mexico's 32 states.'Local alliances' Mexican Federal Police outside the Puente Grande prison in Zapotlanejo in Jalisco state, August 9, 2013 HECTOR GUERRERO/AFP via Getty Images The proliferation of small gangs and the presence of powerful criminal organizations have overwhelmed Mexican law enforcement, according to security experts."The criminal organizations in Mexico are extremely empowered by the fact that they think there is no threat to them by the Mexican state," said Manelich Castilla, who was the head of Mexico's Federal Police before it was folded into the country's new National Guard in 2019.Castilla acknowledged that Mexico's law-enforcement authorities are actively participating in organized crime and that "there are no solid authorities, especially at a local level.""The fentanyl business changed everything. Since it is so profitable and it moves in such small quantities, fentanyl made cartels much more empowered and rich, overwhelming all levels of authorities," he said. Castilla said the small gangs proliferating in Mexico are not a threat to established cartels but rather support their power."They work under their directions, not against them. The roughest threat is for Mexican local authorities. Cartels that might not have had a strong local presence in many cities now do, and this is totally overwhelming," he said. Larger cartels might also be empowered by having local alliances in cities where they operate. A Sinaloa Cartel operative in Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa state, said the cartel didn't feel a threat from gangs or small organized groups. Cartel gunmen on a street during clashes with police after the detention of a son of drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, in Culiacan, October 17, 2019. REUTERS/Jesus Bustamante "They will never be a threat. We are the ones paying their bills, asking them to support our organizations, and what they get in return more than money is the support of a strong organization like the Sinaloa," the operative told Insider, speaking anonymously to avoid retaliation.The operative said that these local gangs "look for us to have a brand behind them. Otherwise they are on their own."Criminal organizations have gained "a lot of power" and co-opted officials at many levels in recent years, but they aren't able to threaten the power of the Mexican state, Castilla said."It is a lie to believe that some of these organizations overpower the capacity of the Mexican state. They don't have the infrastructure or the training as Mexican law enforcement does," Castilla told Insider.The issue, Castilla said, is the approach that Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has taken to fighting organized crime.López Obrador, elected in 2018, has been criticized for adopting a non-confrontational security strategy, which he has referred to as "hugs not guns."López Obrador "is trying to pacify the country with other ways than confrontation, and this has been very much used by criminals to get stronger," Castilla said.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytOct 13th, 2021