Financial – Colchester Camping Fri, 08 Oct 2021 11:07:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Financial – Colchester Camping 32 32 Mortgage Finance Giants to Charge More for Refinancing Fri, 14 May 2021 07:09:05 +0000 Here’s what you need to know: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are instituting a new 0.5% fee to most consumers looking to refinance their mortgages. Credit…J. David Ake/Associated Press The cost of refinancing a mortgage is about to go up and it has nothing to do with the Federal Reserve. Even as the county’s monetary regulators […]]]>
Credit…J. David Ake/Associated Press

The cost of refinancing a mortgage is about to go up and it has nothing to do with the Federal Reserve.

Even as the county’s monetary regulators are keeping interest rates at record lows, two of the nation’s biggest mortgage finance firms said that they would start charging an additional fee on most home loan refinancings. The 0.5 percent fee, announced on Wednesday by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, will mean that the average homeowner will spend an additional $1,400 to refinance a mortgage.

Fannie, Freddie and their regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, are justifying the new fee as a prudent measure to deal with anticipated losses from the pandemic. Also, because the added costs for a borrower can be spread out over the life of a mortgage, it would add only a few dollars a month to the average homeowner’s bill.

Consumer advocates and banking officials denounced the move as an unfair tax on homeowners who are trying to reduce their mortgage bills to free up money for new spending, which the ailing economy could use.

“It is an indefensible tax on consumers,” said Robert Broeksmit, chief executive of the Mortgage Bankers Association, an industry trade group. “One arm of the government is saying it wants credit to be cheap and another arm is saying it will grab it.”

Fannie and Freddie requested and were granted “permission to place an adverse market fee on mortgage refinance acquisitions beginning September 1, 2020 until otherwise directed,” the F.H.F.A. said that in a statement.

Fannie and Freddie, which are sponsored by the government, do not write mortgages. Instead, they buy mortgages from banks and repackage them into mortgage-backed securities that are guaranteed against default. The guarantee allows banks to maintain relatively low rates on such mortgages, the typical size of which is $280,000.

Since the pandemic started, millions of homeowners with mortgages backed by Fannie or Freddie have sought to defer their payments by a year. In April, some in the mortgage industry had predicted that as many as 20 percent of all such borrowers could seek such deferrals, but the number has been lower than expected — one possible reason for the higher refinancing fee. The M.B.A. said that 5.2 percent of mortgages backed by Fannie and Freddie were in forbearance, down from just over 6 percent in recent weeks.

Also in April, the F.H.F.A. had moved to provide long-term relief for the mortgage industry, concerned that a wave of loan payment deferrals would strain financial firms that service loans for investors in mortgage-backed securities. The housing regulator said at the time that mortgage firms had to make just four months of cash payouts to bond investors on mortgages that homeowners have stopped paying. After that period, Fannie and Freddie would assume those obligations, for up to eight more months if necessary.

The new charge on mortgage refinance fees roughly coincides with the start of that commitment by Fannie and Freddie.

Larry Kudlow, the White House chief economic adviser, said “the economy is doing well,” but that it is “not out of the woods yet.”
Credit…Andrew Harnik/Associated Press

Two top White House economic advisers provided starkly different views about the U.S. economy on Thursday, with the acting head of the Council of Economic Advisers warning the recovery will be bumpy and gradual without more fiscal help and President Trump’s top economic adviser saying a strong rebound is already underway.

The comments came as the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers released a report on the impact of the $2.2 trillion relief legislation that Congress passed in March and as lawmakers are struggling to agree on an additional package of measures.

“I think that very substantial headwinds remain,” said Tyler Goodspeed, the acting chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. “What is going to be absolutely essential for a continued economic recovery is a continued recovery in the U.S. labor market.”

In terms of regaining the tens of millions of jobs that have been lost this year, Mr. Goodspeed said, “It remains the case that we have a ways to go.”

Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, said “the economy is doing well,” and that “in general, the jobs story is very good — we’ve had three blockbuster months.” Mr. Kudlow was speaking at the 2020 Washington Conference on the Americas.

Mr. Kudlow acknowledged that the economy was “not out of the woods yet” but he presented a far more sanguine view of the country’s ability to bounce back from the virus-induced recession — even absent more federal help.

“There is clearly a recovery going on, and with demand rising and inventories bare, I think it’s a self-sustaining recovery,” he said. “We’ve come a long way on the virus, in the past four to five months.”

But much of that progress stems from the $2.2 trillion in federal aid that lawmakers approved in March to help support workers and businesses affected by the pandemic. Much of that help has been exhausted, including an additional $600 per week in unemployment benefits that was lifting consumer spending.

People wait to file unemployment insurance claims in Tulsa, Okla. New claims continue to surpass levels never seen before this year.
Credit…Joseph Rushmore for The New York Times

The number of Americans filing for state unemployment benefits fell below one million last week for the first time since March. But layoffs remain exceptionally high by historical standards, even as the pace of rehiring has slowed.

The Labor Department reported on Thursday that 963,000 people last week filed first-time claims for benefits under regular state unemployment programs. Another 489,000 applied under the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which covers independent contractors, self-employed workers and others who don’t qualify for regular state unemployment insurance.

Initial weekly unemployment claims,

both regular and those under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program

Regular claims fell under one million last week for the first time since mid-March

Initial weekly unemployment claims, both regular and those under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program

Regular claims fell under

one million last week for the

first time since mid-March

The number for state claims is seasonally adjusted; the figure for the federal program is not.

Unemployment filings have fallen sharply since late March, when nearly 6.9 million Americans applied for benefits in a single week. But filings still dwarf those in any previous recession: Before the coronavirus pandemic, the worst week on record was in 1982, when 695,000 people submitted claims.

“Even though we’re exiting the worst of the current crisis, we’re still above the worst of the Great Recession,” said Daniel Zhao, senior economist for the career site Glassdoor. Still, he said, it is encouraging to see unemployment filings dropping, especially after progress appeared to stall earlier this summer.

Unlike the temporary layoffs and furloughs that dominated in the first weeks of the crisis, most of the new job losses are likely to be permanent.

“It’s even more frightening now,” said Nick Bunker, economic research director for North America at the Indeed Hiring Lab. “There’s no silver lining of quick recalls like the higher levels that we saw back in March.”

Even as layoffs have slowed, the broader economic recovery has lost momentum. Employers brought back 1.8 million jobs in July, the Labor Department reported last week, well below the 4.8 million in June. More timely data from private-sector sources suggests that the slowdown has continued in August, and economists warn that it could worsen now that key federal programs to help households and businesses weather the pandemic have expired.

Amy Griffin, a theater actor and director, wonders when work will resume in an industry dependent on live audiences.
Credit…Desiree Rios for The New York Times

Even as some parts of the economy have reopened, people in industries particularly vulnerable to the pandemic see little chance of getting back to work anytime soon.

Amy Griffin is a theater actor and director who has appeared on Broadway and in regional productions across the country. But when the pandemic hit, the theater industry shut down, and it shows no sign of reopening.

“It’s pretty terrifying for me and for so many people because it’s just completely gone and you have no idea when it’ll come back,” said Ms. Griffin, who lives in Nyack, N.Y. “You just don’t know when you’re going to return to work in any capacity.”

Ms. Griffin is fortunate — her husband is a college professor and earns enough to cover their basic expenses. But the loss of income has been painful both financially and psychologically for her, especially now that the $600-a-week federal supplement has ended.

Ms. Griffin dismisses the idea that the supplement was discouraging people from working. She wants to work, she said. There simply aren’t any jobs in her industry.

“I feel like I’m going to be competing with Tony Award-winning directors to direct a middle-school play,” she said. “I would give anything to be able to go back to work. When I get to go back to work, it will be the best day of my life.”

Stocks fell on Thursday, as investors weighed new data on unemployment claims and the dimming prospects for a spending deal in Washington that would help many of the newly jobless in the United States.

The S&P 500 dropped less than half a percent, giving up earlier gains. Shares in Europe were also lower.

The trading on Thursday followed a report from the Labor Department that showed that 963,000 people filed new claims for state unemployment benefits last week. That’s the first time since March that filings have dipped below one million, but still staggeringly high.

With millions of Americans unemployed and stimulus benefits now ended, investors are closely watching Washington for signs of how negotiations over a new federal aid bill are playing out. Democrats are pushing for at least $2 trillion in spending, but Republicans have objected to that price tag, with some lawmakers and White House officials saying the economy is beginning to recover and doesn’t need that level of support and others saying that the United States cannot afford to keep piling on debt.

Those positions could further harden given the slight improvement in weekly jobless claims. On Wednesday, the Treasury Department said the budget deficit had reached historic highs of $2.8 trillion, in large part because of spending from the first $2.2 trillion pandemic package that lawmakers approved in March, and some Republicans in Washington have cited the ballooning deficit as a reason to halt further spending.

But economists warn it is too early to withdraw aid, especially given the virus has not abated and the pace of rehiring has slowed. Millions of Americans remain out of work and much of the spending power from the last stimulus package has run out, including an extra $600 per week in unemployment aid.

“It remains quite stunning that Congress has yet to agree on a fresh round of relief legislation with so many Americans hurting financially,” said Mark Hamrick, senior economist at“That focus should not ease because of slight improvement in still extremely elevated new jobless claims.”

David Moniz, an out-of-work chef in California, began collecting unemployment benefits. Then they abruptly stopped.
Credit…Marissa Leshnov for The New York Times

When millions of people lost their jobs in a matter of days last spring, the deluge of unemployment filings overwhelmed state benefits offices. Five months into the crisis, many are still struggling to catch up.

David Moniz started a new job in March as a resident chef at Sur La Table, the kitchen goods retailer, in San Jose, Calif. His timing was terrible: After he spent just one day on the job, the store shut down because of the virus, and he was furloughed.

It took Mr. Moniz, 29, weeks of calling to get through to California’s employment office and file an unemployment claim. Then, after a few weeks, his benefits abruptly stopped. His file is shown as “pending” on the state website and, despite endless hours of calling, he has been unable to get through to address the problem. He hasn’t received a check since June 1.

Without any money coming in, Mr. Moniz has burned through his savings and racked up debt. He says he has $28 left before he hits his credit limit, and owes $200 in late fees and penalties to his bank, Wells Fargo.

“Wells Fargo calls me more than anyone in my family does because of my account right now,” he said.

Overwhelmed state unemployment offices could soon have even more to deal with. President Trump’s move over the weekend to supplement jobless pay through disaster funds would create a new program that states will have to administer. And if Congress eventually reaches a deal to revive a version of the $600 weekly unemployment supplement that expired at the end of July, additional work by the states will be needed to carry it out.

The Fed study found that 39 percent of households with children said they had seen their income decline.
Credit…Karen Ducey/Getty Images

Families with children have taken a comparatively heavy economic hit as the coronavirus pandemic costs households jobs and income, a new analysis from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found.

“Households with children have been more likely to suffer job and income losses, contributing to a greater need to dig into savings, a higher rate of missed rent and debt payments, and food insufficiency,” a group of researchers at the central bank branch wrote in a web post.

The analysis draws on data from the monthly Survey of Consumer Expectations, an internet-based Fed survey that included coronavirus-related questions in its May and June editions.

Single parents, minority households with children, and families living in lower-income neighborhoods reported particularly high levels of hardship.

The authors found that household heads lost jobs in 12.9 percent of families with children since the pandemic took hold, compared with 9.2 percent in households without children. In single-parent households, the share jumped to 23.2 percent.

Likewise, 39 percent of households with children said they had seen their income decline while 42.1 percent of single-parent households said the same.

About 30.8 percent of households over all reported a hit to household income.

Given those losses, a higher share of households with children said they had canceled or postponed a major purchase or vacation, put off doctors visits or cut back spending since the onset of the crisis, the report finds.

Food insecurity has also been a concern.

“Heads of households with children are also more likely to report having trouble finding enough food to eat or to have missed meals, with a larger proportion receiving food donations” since February, the post said.

The end of a $600 weekly supplement to unemployment benefits could make it harder for recipients to pay the rent, leaving some vulnerable to eviction proceedings.
Credit…Angela Weiss/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The weekly report on unemployment claims Thursday showed that tens of millions of Americans were still relying on jobless benefits to buy food and pay rent. But those benefits just got a lot less generous.

The emergency spending bill passed by Congress in March added $600 to recipients’ weekly state unemployment checks. But that money ran out at the end of July, and negotiations between the White House and Democrats to reinstate it have stalled. President Trump announced over the weekend that he would act unilaterally to replace the extra money — at a fraction of its former level — though it remains unclear how that program would work or how long it would take to put in place.

In the meantime, many jobless Americans have seen their weekly income slashed by half or more. State unemployment benefits vary widely: In Massachusetts, some workers can receive more than $900 a week, while in Mississippi, the maximum benefit is just $235. Benefits tend to be less generous in states with larger Black populations.

The loss of the extra benefits could also hurt the broader economy at a time when hiring has slowed. The federal government paid $18.4 billion in unemployment benefits in the first 10 days of August, down from $35.4 billion in the same period in July, according to data from the Treasury Department. (The federal government is still paying for other benefits, including the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which covers people left out of the regular state system.) Research has found that unemployment benefits are a particularly powerful form of stimulus because recipients tend to spend the money rather than saving it.

“Those are the people who from a macroeconomic perspective you want to be targeting the most,” said Alix Gould-Werth, an expert on unemployment insurance at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, a progressive think tank. “Those are the lowest earners — they’re the ones who need the money the most.”

When Thierry Hombert lost his job after the pandemic hit, he had to trade in his car and put his apartment on the market.
Credit…Andrea Mantovani for The New York Times

While millions of employees across Europe have been cast lifelines by government furlough programs meant to limit mass unemployment, legions of other workers on precarious irregular contracts were excluded from that support.

The furlough programs, widely credited with sparing over 60 million people from layoffs in Europe, have a major drawback: They don’t shelter millions of workers who aren’t on company payrolls, including the newly self-employed, freelancers and people on the kind of short-term contracts that employers have used en masse since the 2010 financial crisis to reduce labor costs.

Around 15 million people in the European Union were unemployed in June, a rise of 700,000 since April, according to Eurostat, Europe’s statistics agency. Heavily seeding those ranks are people who had been on work contracts. They account for around four out of 10 workers in the industries hardest by Covid-19, including tourism, catering, restaurants and services where there is direct contact with other people, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

European governments have sought to cushion the blow by expanding some protections for nonstandard workers, easing access to paid sick leave and introducing or increasing unemployment benefits — but that support goes only so far.

  • AMC Entertainment, the largest movie theater chain in the United States, said that 100 of its 600 theaters would reopen on Aug. 20. Tickets on that day will cost 15 cents, the price of admission when AMC was founded in Missouri 100 years ago. AMC said about 300 additional locations would be open by Sept. 3, when Warner Bros. plans to release Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet.” AMC has been closed since March; two previous reopening attempts were canceled because of surging coronavirus cases.

  • The Walt Disney Company will allow the Florida Division of Emergency Management to operate a public testing facility on its Walt Disney World property, ending a standoff with the Actors’ Equity Association, which represents roughly 700 actors, dancers and stunt workers at the theme park complex. When the mega-resort started to call back its workers in late June, Actors’ Equity demanded that Disney provide regular tests, noting that its members worked in jobs where they were unable to wear masks or stay six feet from one another. Disney declined. Disney has not changed its stance on providing employee testing. However, the union appeared to be satisfied with Disney’s offer to host the public facility.

  • The coronavirus pandemic has wiped out business for Lyft, which said Wednesday in an earnings report that its second-quarter revenue was down 61 percent from a year ago, to $339.3 million. Its net loss was $437.1 million. Ridership was down 60 percent in the quarter than ended June 30 from the same period a year ago, Lyft said. Uber has accelerated its food delivery services to offset the impact of the pandemic, but Lyft has remained focused on transportation.

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Bill Gates on Climate Change and Adapting to Warmer World Fri, 14 May 2021 07:06:54 +0000 Adapted from “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need,” publishing on February 16 from Alfred A. Knopf. We need to get to zero emissions, and we’re going to need a lot of innovation to do it. But innovation doesn’t happen overnight, and it will take decades for […]]]>

Adapted from “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need,” publishing on February 16 from Alfred A. Knopf.

We need to get to zero emissions, and we’re going to need a lot of innovation to do it. But innovation doesn’t happen overnight, and it will take decades for green products to reach a big enough scale to make a significant difference.

In the meantime, people all over the world, at every income level, are already being affected in one way or another by climate change. Just about everyone who’s alive now will have to adapt to a warmer world. As sea levels and floodplains change, we’ll need to rethink where we put homes and businesses. We’ll need to shore up power grids, seaports, and bridges. We’ll need to plant more mangrove forests and improve our early-warning systems for storms.

I want to tell you about the people I think of first when I think about who will suffer the most from a climate disaster and who deserve the most help adapting to it. They don’t have much in the way of power grids, seaports, or bridges to worry about. They’re the low-income people I meet through my work on global health and development, and for them climate change could have the worst consequences of all. And their stories capture the complexity of fighting poverty and climate change at the same time. 

For example, in 2009, I met the Talam family—Laban, Miriam, and their three children—when I was in Kenya to learn about the lives of farmers with less than four acres of land (or, as they’re known in development parlance, smallholder farmers). I visited their farm a few miles down a dirt road outside Eldoret, one of the fastest-growing cities in Kenya. The Talams didn’t have much, just a few round mud huts with thatched roofs and an animal pen, and their farm covered about two acres, smaller than a baseball field. But what was happening on this small plot of land was drawing hundreds of farmers from miles around to learn what the owners were doing and how they could do it themselves. 

Laban and Miriam greeted me at their front gate and started telling me their story. Two years before, they had been smallholder farmers practicing subsistence farming. Like most of their neighbors, they had been desperately poor. They grew corn (in Kenya, as in many places around the world, it’s known as maize) and other vegetables, some to eat themselves and the rest to sell at market. Laban would work odd jobs to make ends meet. To earn more income, he had bought a cow, which the couple would milk twice a day: They’d sell the morning milk to a local trader to get a small amount of cash, and they’d save the evening milk for themselves and their children. In all, the cow would produce three liters of milk per day; that’s less than a gallon each day to sell and split among a family of five. 

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By the time I met them, life for the Talams had improved dramatically. They now had four cows, which were producing 26 liters of milk every day. They sold 20 liters a day and kept six liters for themselves. Their cows earned them nearly $4 per day, which in that part of Kenya was enough to allow them to rebuild their home, grow pineapples for export, and send their children to school. 

The turning point for them, they said, was the opening of a nearby milk-chilling plant. The Talams and other area farmers would take their raw milk to the plant, where it would be kept cold and eventually be transported nationwide, fetching higher prices than it could locally. The plant also served as a kind of training hub. Local dairy farmers could go there to learn how to raise healthier and more productive livestock, get vaccines for their cows, and even have the milk tested for contaminants to make sure it would bring a good price. If it didn’t measure up, they got tips on how to improve the quality. 

relates to Bill Gates on Adapting to a Warmer World

Bill Gates visits the farm of Miriam and Laban Talam in the village of Kabiyet during a trip to Kenya in 2009.

Source: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Courtesy of Alfred A. Knopf

In Kenya, where the Talams live, roughly one-third of the population works in agriculture. Worldwide, there are 500 million smallholder farms, and about two-thirds of people in poverty work in agriculture. Yet despite their large numbers, smallholder farmers are responsible for remarkably few greenhouse gas emissions, because they can’t afford to use nearly as many products and services that involve fossil fuels. The typical Kenyan produces 55 times less carbon dioxide than an American, and rural farmers like the Talams produce even less. 

But the Talams bought more cattle, and cattle contribute more to climate change than any other livestock. 

In that respect, the Talams weren’t unusual. For many poor farmers, earning more money is a chance to invest in high-value assets, including chickens, goats, and cows—animals that provide good sources of protein and a way to bring in extra cash by selling milk and eggs. It’s a sensible decision, and anyone who cares about reducing poverty would hesitate to tell them not to make it. That’s the conundrum: As people rise up the income ladder, they do more things that cause emissions. This is why we need innovations—so the poor can improve their lives without making climate change even worse. 

The cruel injustice is that even though the world’s poor are doing essentially nothing to cause climate change, they’re going to suffer the most from it. The climate is changing in ways that will be problematic for relatively well-off farmers in America and Europe, but potentially deadly for low-income ones in Africa and Asia. 

East Africa Experiences Worst Locust Swarms In Decades

Cattle in Samburu County, Kenya. Cattle contribute more to climate change than any other livestock. 

Photographer: Fredrik Lerneryd/Getty Images

As the climate gets warmer, droughts and floods will become more frequent, wiping out harvests more often. Livestock eat less and produce less meat and milk. The air and soil lose moisture, leaving less water available for plants; in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, tens of millions of acres of farmland will become substantially drier. Crop-eating pests are already infesting more acreage as they find more hospitable environments to live in. The growing season will also get shorter; at 4 degrees Celsius of warming, most of sub-Saharan Africa could see it shrink by 20% or more. 

When you’re already living on the edge, any one of these changes could be disastrous. If you don’t have any money saved up and your crops die off, you can’t go buy more seeds; you’re just wiped out. What’s more, all of these problems will make food far more expensive for those who can least afford it. Because of climate change, prices will skyrocket for hundreds of millions of people who already spend more than half of their incomes on food. 

As food becomes less available, an already enormous inequity between rich and poor will get even worse. Today, a child born in Chad is 50 times more likely to die before her fifth birthday than a child born in Finland. With growing food scarcity, more kids won’t get all the nutrients they need, weakening their bodies’ natural defenses and making them much more likely to die of diarrhea, malaria, or pneumonia. One study found that the number of additional heat-related deaths could approach 10 million a year by the end of the century (that’s roughly as many people as are killed by all infectious diseases today), with a large majority of the deaths occurring in poor countries. And the children who don’t die will be far more likely to suffer from stunting—that is, to not fully develop physically or mentally. 

In the end, the worst impact of climate change in poor countries will be to make health worse—to raise the rates of malnutrition and death. So we need to help the poorest improve their health. I see two ways to do that. 

One, we need to raise the odds that malnourished children will survive. That means improving primary health-care systems, doubling down on malaria prevention, and continuing to provide vaccines for conditions like diarrhea and pneumonia. Although the COVID-19 pandemic undoubtedly makes all these things harder, the world knows a lot about how to do them well; the vaccine program known as GAVI, which has prevented 13 million deaths since 2000, ranks as one of humanity’s greatest achievements. (The Gates Foundation’s contribution to this global undertaking is one of our proudest accomplishments.) We can’t let climate change undo this progress. In fact, we need to accelerate it, developing vaccines for other diseases, including HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis, and getting them to everyone who needs them.

Then—in addition to saving the lives of malnourished children—we need to make sure that fewer children are malnourished in the first place. With population growth, the demand for food will likely double or triple in regions where most of the world’s poor live. So we need to help poor farmers grow more of it, even when droughts and floods strike. 

I spend a lot of time with people who oversee the foreign aid budgets in rich-world countries. Even some very well-intentioned ones have told me, “We used to fund vaccines. Now we need to make our aid budget climate-sensitive”—by which they mean helping Africa lower its greenhouse gas emissions. 

I tell them, “Please don’t take away vaccine money and put it into electric cars. Africa is responsible for only about 2% of all global emissions. What you really should be funding there is adaptation. The best way we can help the poor adapt to climate change is to make sure they’re healthy enough to survive it. And to thrive despite it.” 

You’ve probably never heard of CGIAR. Neither had I, until a decade or so ago, when I started studying the problems faced by farmers in poor countries. From what I’ve seen, no other organization has done more than CGIAR to ensure that families—especially the poorest—have nutritious food to eat. And no other organization is in a better position to create the innovations that will help poor farmers adapt to climate change in the years ahead. 

CGIAR is the world’s largest agricultural research group: In short, it helps create better plants and better animal genetics. It was at a CGIAR lab in Mexico that Norman Borlaug did his groundbreaking work on wheat, sparking the Green Revolution. Other CGIAR researchers, inspired by Borlaug’s example, developed similarly high-yielding, disease-resistant rice, and in the following years the group’s work on livestock, potatoes, and maize has helped reduce poverty and improve nutrition. 

CGIAR will be indispensable in creating new climate-smart crops and livestock for the world’s poor farmers. One of my favorite examples is its work on drought-tolerant maize. 

Although maize yields in sub-Saharan Africa are lower than anywhere else in the world, more than 200 million households there still depend on this crop for their livelihoods. And as weather patterns have become more erratic, farmers are at greater risk of having smaller maize harvests, and sometimes no harvest at all. 

So experts at CGIAR developed dozens of new maize varieties that could withstand drought conditions, each adapted to grow in specific regions of Africa. At first, many smallholder farmers were afraid to try new crop varieties. Understandably so. If you’re eking out a living, you won’t be eager to take a risk on seeds you’ve never planted before, because if they die, you have nothing to fall back on. But as experts worked with local farmers and seed dealers to explain the benefits of these new varieties, more and more people adopted them. 

The results have been life changing for many families. In Zimbabwe, for example, farmers in drought-stricken areas who used drought-tolerant maize were able to harvest up to 600 more kilograms of maize per hectare than farmers who used conventional varieties. (That’s 500 more pounds per acre, producing enough to feed a family of six for nine months.) For farming families who chose to sell their harvests, it was enough extra cash to send their children to school and meet other household needs. CGIAR-affiliated experts have gone on to develop other maize varieties that grow well in poor soils; resist diseases, pests, or weeds; raise crop yields by up to 30%; and help fight malnutrition. 

relates to Bill Gates on Adapting to a Warmer World

A scientist at CGIAR’S International Potato Center research facility checks the root systems on strains of sweet potatoes they developed. 

Photographer: Chris de Bode/Panos Pictures/Redux

And it’s not just maize. Thanks to CGIAR’s efforts, new types of rice that can tolerate drought are spreading rapidly in India, where climate change is causing more dry spells during the rainy season. They’ve also developed a type of rice—cleverly nicknamed “scuba” rice—that can survive underwater for two weeks. Generally, rice plants respond to flooding by stretching out their leaves to escape the water; if they’re underwater long enough, they expend all their energy trying to escape, and they essentially die of exhaustion. Scuba rice doesn’t have that problem: It’s got a gene called SUB1 that kicks in during a flood, making the plant dormant—so it stops stretching—until the waters recede. 

CGIAR isn’t just focused on new seeds. Its scientists have also created a smartphone app that allows farmers to use the camera on their phones to identify specific pests and diseases attacking cassava, an important cash crop in Africa. It’s also created programs for using drones and ground sensors to help farmers determine how much water and fertilizer their crops need. 

Poor farmers need more advances like these, but to provide them, CGIAR and other agricultural researchers will need more money. Agricultural research is chronically underfunded. In fact, doubling CGIAR’s funding so it can reach more farmers is one of the main recommendations by the Global Commission on Adaptation, which I lead along with the former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the former World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva. There’s no doubt in my mind that this is money well spent: Every dollar invested in CGIAR’s research generates about $6 in benefits. Warren Buffett would give his right arm for an investment that paid off six to one, and saved lives in the process. 

Aside from helping smallholder farmers raise their crop yields, our commission on adaptation makes three other recommendations related to agriculture: 

Help farmers manage the risks from more chaotic weather. For example, governments can help farmers grow a wider variety of crops and livestock so one setback doesn’t wipe them out. Governments should also explore strengthening social-security systems and arranging for weather-based agriculture insurance that helps farmers recover their losses. 

Focus on the most vulnerable people. Women aren’t the only group of vulnerable people, but they are the biggest. For all sorts of reasons—cultural, political, economic—female farmers have it even harder than men. They may not be able to secure land rights, for example, or have equal access to water, or get financing to buy fertilizer, or even be able to get a weather forecast. So we need to do things like promoting women’s property rights and targeting technical advice specifically for them. The payoff could be dramatic: One study by a UN agency found that if women had the same access to resources as men, they could grow 20% to 30% more food on their farms and reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 12% to 17%. 

Factor climate change into policy decisions. Very little money is funneled into helping farmers adapt; only a tiny sliver of the $500 billion that governments spent on agriculture between 2014 and 2016 was directed at activities that will soften the blow of climate change for the poor. Governments should be coming up with policies and incentives to help farmers reduce their emissions while growing more food at the same time. 

Broadly speaking, you can think of adaptation in three stages. The first involves reducing the risks posed by climate change, through steps like climate-proofing buildings and other infrastructure, protecting wetlands as a bulwark against flooding, and—when necessary—encouraging people to relocate permanently from areas that are no longer livable. 

Next is preparing for and responding to emergencies. We need to keep improving weather forecasts and early-warning systems for getting out information about storms. And when disaster does strike, we need well-equipped and well-trained teams of first responders and a system in place for handling temporary evacuations. 

Finally, after a disaster, there’s the recovery period. We’ll need to plan for services for people who’ve been displaced—services like health care and education—as well as insurance that helps people at all income levels rebuild and standards to ensure that whatever gets rebuilt is more climate-proof than what was there before. 

Here are four of the big headlines on adaptation: 

Views of Chongqing as China's Economy Is Proving the Fastest Out of Slump

Greenery grows along pylons at Egongyan Park, located under an elevated highway interchange, in Chongqing, China,

Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

Cities need to change the way they grow. Urban areas are home to more than half the people on earth—a proportion that will rise in the years ahead—and they’re responsible for more than three-quarters of the world’s economy. As they expand, many of the world’s fast-growing cities end up building over floodplains, forests, and wetlands that could absorb rising waters during a storm or hold reservoirs of water during a drought. 

All cities will be affected by climate change, but coastal cities will have the worst problems. Hundreds of millions of people could be forced from their homes as sea levels rise and storm surges get worse. By the middle of this century, the cost of climate change to all coastal cities could exceed $1 trillion . . . each year. To say that this will exacerbate the problems most cities are already struggling with—poverty, homelessness, health care, education—would be an understatement. 

What does climate-proofing a city look like? For one thing, city planners need the latest data on climate risks and projections from computer models that predict the impact of climate change. (Today, many city leaders in the developing world don’t have even basic maps to indicate which areas of town are most prone to floods.) Armed with the latest information, they can make better decisions about how to plan for neighborhoods and industrial centers, build or expand seawalls, protect themselves from the storms that are getting more violent, shore up storm-water drainage systems, and raise wharves so they stay above rising tides. 

To get really specific: If you’re building a bridge across the local river, should you make it 12 feet tall or 18 feet tall? The taller one will be more expensive in the short run, but if you know the odds are high that a massive flood will come along in the next decade, it could be the smarter choice. You’d rather build a more expensive bridge once than a cheaper bridge twice. 

And it’s not just about renovating the infrastructure that cities already have; climate change is also going to force us to consider entirely new needs. For example, cities with extremely hot days and a lot of residents who can’t afford air-conditioning will need to create cooling centers—facilities where people can go to escape the heat. Unfortunately, using more air conditioners also means we’ll be emitting more greenhouse gases, which is another reason why the advances in cooling. 

We should shore up our natural defenses. Forests store and regulate water. Wetlands prevent floods and provide water for farmers and cities. Coral reefs are home to the fish that coastal communities depend on for food. But these and other natural defenses against climate change are rapidly disappearing. Nearly nine million acres of old-growth forest were destroyed in 2018 alone, and when—as is likely—we hit 2 degrees Celsius of warming, most of the coral reefs in the world will die off. 

On the other hand, restoring ecosystems has a huge payoff. Water utilities in the world’s largest cities could save $890 million a year by restoring forests and watersheds. Many countries are already leading the way: In Niger, one local reforestation effort led by farmers has boosted crop yields, increased tree cover, and cut the amount of time women spend gathering firewood from three hours a day to 30 minutes. China has identified about a quarter of its landmass as critical natural assets where it’ll make a priority of promoting conservation and preserving the ecosystem. Mexico is protecting a third of its river basins to preserve the water supply for 45 million people. 

If we can build on these examples, spreading awareness about how much ecosystems matter and helping more countries follow suit, we’ll gain the benefits of a natural defense against climate change. 

Here’s some more low-hanging fruit, so to speak: mangrove forests. Mangroves are short trees that grow along coastlines, having adapted to life in salt water; they reduce storm surges, prevent coastal flooding, and protect fish habitats. All told, mangroves help the world avoid some $80 billion a year in losses from floods, and they save billions more in other ways. Planting mangroves is much cheaper than building breakwaters, and the trees also improve the water quality. They’re a great investment. 

We’re going to need more drinking water than we can supply. As lakes and aquifers shrink or get polluted, it’s getting harder to provide potable water to everyone who needs it. Most of the world’s megacities already face severe shortages, and if nothing changes, by mid-century the number of people who can’t get enough decent water at least once a month will rise by more than a third, to over 5 billion people. 

Technology holds out some promise here. We already know how to take the salt out of seawater and make it drinkable, but the process takes a lot of energy, as does moving the water from the ocean to the desalination facility and then from the facility to whoever needs it. (This means that, like so many things, the water problem is ultimately an energy problem: With enough cheap, clean energy, we can make all the potable water we’ll ever need.) 

One clever idea I’m watching closely involves taking water out of the air. It’s basically a solar-powered dehumidifier with an advanced filtering system so you don’t drink air pollution. This system is available now, but it costs thousands of dollars, far too expensive for the world’s poor, who will suffer the most from water shortages. 

Until an idea like that becomes affordable, we need to take practical steps—incentives that will drive the demand for water down and efforts that will drive the supply up. That includes everything from reclaiming wastewater to just-in-time irrigation, a system that reduces water use dramatically while raising farmers’ yields. 

U.S. Firm Turning Arabian Desert Air Into Bottled Water

 Zero Mass Water Inc. hydropanel drinking water plant in Dubai extracts moisture from the atmosphere.

Photographer: Christopher Pike/Bloomberg

Finally, to fund adaptation projects, we need to unlock new money. I’m talking not about foreign aid for developing countries— although we’ll need that too—but about how public money can attract private investors to get behind adaptation projects. 

Here’s the problem we need to overcome: People pay the costs of adaptation up front, but its economic benefits may not come for years down the road. For example, you can flood-proof your business now, but it may not get hit by a big deluge for 10 or 20 years. And your flood-proofing isn’t going to generate bankable cash flows; customers aren’t going to pay extra for your products because you made sure sewage won’t back up into your basement during a flood. So banks will be reluctant to loan you the money for your project, or they’ll charge you a higher interest rate. Either way, you have to absorb some cost yourself, in which case you may simply decide not to do it. 

Take that single example and multiply it across an entire city, state, or country, and you’ll see why the public has to play a role in both financing adaptation projects and drawing in the private sector as well. We need to make adaptation an attractive investment. 

That starts with finding ways for public and private financial markets to take the risks of climate change into account and to price these risks accordingly. Some governments and companies already screen their projects for climate risks; all of them should. Governments can also put more resources into adaptation, setting goals for how much they’ll invest over time and adopting policies that remove some of the risk for private investors. As the rewards of adaptation projects become more clear, private investment should grow. 

You may be wondering how much all this would cost. There’s no way to put a price tag on everything the world needs to do to adapt to climate change. But the commission I’m involved with priced out spending in five key areas (creating early-warning systems, building climate-resilient infrastructure, raising crop yields, managing water, and protecting mangroves) and found that investing $1.8 trillion between 2020 and 2030 would return more than $7 trillion in benefits. To put that in perspective, spread out over a decade, it’s about 0.2% of the world’s GDP, with a nearly fourfold return on investment. 

You can measure those benefits in terms of bad things that don’t happen: civil wars that don’t break out over water rights, farmers who don’t get wiped out by a drought or flood, cities that don’t get destroyed by hurricanes, waves of people who don’t become climate refugees. Or you can measure them in terms of good things that do happen: children who grow up with the nutrients they need, families who escape poverty and join the global middle class, businesses and cities and countries that thrive even as the climate gets hotter. 

Whichever way you think about it, the economic case is clear, and so is the moral case. Extreme poverty has plummeted in the past quarter century, from 36% of the world’s population in 1990 to 10% in 2015—although COVID-19 was a huge setback that undid a great deal of progress. Climate change could erase even more of these gains, increasing the number of people living in extreme poverty by 13%. 

Those of us who have done the most to cause this problem should help the rest of the world survive it. We owe them that much. 

Adapted from a new book by Bill Gates, “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need,” publishing on February 16 from Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright 2021 by Bill Gates.


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False Claims Act Risk For Lenders: Will P3 Program Risk Compete With Federally Insured Mortgage Programs? Tue, 09 Mar 2021 10:57:30 +0000 Financial institutions have settled several False Claims Act (FCA) cases involving allegations that they failed to comply with Federal Housing Administration (FHA) rules regulating federally insured mortgage programs in 2020. The role of Financial institutions in the distribution of more than $ 522 billion in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and an additional $ 3.7 […]]]>

Financial institutions have settled several False Claims Act (FCA) cases involving allegations that they failed to comply with Federal Housing Administration (FHA) rules regulating federally insured mortgage programs in 2020. The role of Financial institutions in the distribution of more than $ 522 billion in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and an additional $ 3.7 billion in Main Street Lending Program (MSLP) loans created a new FCA risk for lenders.

Recent Developments in FHA Enforcement

Until recently, FCA enforcement actions were the primary tool used by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) to punish lenders who failed to comply with the rules and standards governing mortgage loan programs. of the FHA. From 2009 to 2016 alone, the Justice Department recovered more than $ 7 billion in FCA settlements and judgments relating to housing fraud and financial fraud.1 This risk, along with a lack of transparency in program standards, has acted as a deterrent to lenders from issuing FHA-insured loans.2 So in October 2019, in an effort to encourage lenders to re-participate in FHA loan programs, the Department of Justice and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a Memorandum of Understanding. describing a new common approach to the application of FCA.3 The MoU announced that the FHA loan requirements would be enforced primarily through the HUD administrative procedure process, but warned that the DOJ and HUD would continue to coordinate to determine whether the facts and circumstances certain defaults on FHA insured mortgages warranted application by the FCA. The MOU also mandated new standards for when the HUD can refer an issue to the FCA Enforcement and sets out guidelines on how the HUD and DOJ will cooperate during the investigative, FCA litigation and settlement issues.

Following the issuance of the MOU, DOJ settled a number of important CFA issues that were pending prior to October 2019.4 However, in accordance with the MoU’s new approach to FCA enforcement, the DOJ did not announce the filing of a new FCA lawsuit against a financial institution for the granting of loans insured by the FCA. FHA unqualified only in October 2019. In September 2020, the government initiated civil action against Nutter. Home Loans f / k / a James B. Nutter & Co. for allegedly tampering with certifications and using unqualified underwriters to approve reverse mortgages under the FHA Home Equity Conversion Mortgage Program.5 We expect the DOJ’s more reserved approach to using the FCA to enforce HUD regulations to continue in 2021. However, the change in political direction at DOJ and FHA could bring changes to the protocol. ‘agreement and shape application priorities.

New FCA risk posed by Paycheck Protection Program and Main Street Loan Program

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which aimed to address the troubling economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, was enacted on March 27, 2020 and established the PPP and MSLP programs.6

Under the PPP, small businesses can obtain low-interest loans – which may be eligible for a discount – to cover salary costs, rent, and other overhead costs. The Small Business Administration (SBA) is responsible for administering the program: authorizing lenders to distribute PPP loans and reimbursing lenders for amounts canceled. As of August 8, 2020, when the program closed, 5,460 lenders had participated in the program, issuing 5,212,128 loans, for a total of $ 525,012,124.7 The MSLP which, on the other hand, is administered by the Federal Reserve, aims to make loans accessible to small and medium-sized for-profit businesses and non-profit organizations. The MSLP, which does not provide for loan cancellations, has been much less popular than the PPP and has distributed 400 loans totaling $ 3.7 billion as of October 30, 2020.8

The extent of the FCA risk that accompanies participation in PPP and MSLP is not yet clear. As noted above, prior to the issuance of the MOU between the DOJ and the HUD, the DOJ had long used the FCA as a means of punishing lenders who violate the requirements of the FHA program.9 In the absence of similar memoranda of understanding between the DOJ and the SBA and the DOJ and the Federal Reserve, it is not clear whether the DOJ will aggressively employ the FCA against lenders who violate the rules governing PPP and MSLP. . DOJ’s commitment to take enforcement action against COVID-19 fraudsters has been clear from the onset of the pandemic, when DOJ took steps to collect and share tips with other federal agencies, a appointed a coronavirus fraud coordinator in each judicial district and appointed numerous state-wide and region-wide COVID-19 fraud task forces.ten However, there are other indications that FCA enforcement against financial institutions related to participation in PPP and MSLP may not compete with the level of FCA enforcement prior to MOU in programs. federally insured mortgages.

First, the SBA’s PPP rules allow lenders to rely heavily on statements and certifications from borrowers at the initial application and loan cancellation stages. The SBA has indicated that it will “release from any liability any lender who relies on such borrower documents and a certificate from a borrower.”11 Lenders must, however, confirm that borrowers have submitted the correct documents. It is therefore possible that lenders face a significant FCA risk if they ignore borrower fraud red flags, do not collect the required documents or do not comply with anti-money laundering rules, that the PPP rules specify that all lenders must have in place. Lenders under the MSLP should conduct an assessment of the financial condition of a potential borrower and apply their own underwriting standards. However, the Federal Reserve’s FAQ states that lenders can rely on certifications of eligibility and compliance with the borrower’s program requirements, and are not expected to independently verify certifications or monitor ongoing compliance, but must notify the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston if they become aware that a borrower “has made a material misstatement or has otherwise breached a covenant during the term” of an MSLP loan.12

Looking forward

The DOJ-HUD MoU appears to have slowed the flow of FCA cases in the mortgage industry, but the extent of the new FCA risk that financial institutions face as a result of participating in PPP and MSLP programs is still uncertain. not clear. The agency rules governing these programs do not directly relate to DOJ enforcement policies. In the absence of a memorandum of understanding or other clear DOJ policy statement, we will need to continue to monitor DOJ actions in 2021 to determine to what extent the DOJ will use the FCA as a vehicle to control loans. PPP and MSLP.

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Eriksen ready for Inter exit if Spurs agree to ‘expensive loan’ Tue, 09 Mar 2021 10:57:29 +0000 Christian Eriksen is set to leave Inter Milan this summer with Spurs as the most likely destination, according to a report in Italy. The playmaker joined Inter Milan from Tottenham in January for £ 16.9million after reducing his contract to six months. He expected to make a big impact in Italy under Antonio Conte, but […]]]>

Christian Eriksen is set to leave Inter Milan this summer with Spurs as the most likely destination, according to a report in Italy.

The playmaker joined Inter Milan from Tottenham in January for £ 16.9million after reducing his contract to six months.

He expected to make a big impact in Italy under Antonio Conte, but has been limited to just four Serie A starts this season.

OPINION: Premier League winners and losers

Now it looks like the Denmark international will be leaving Inter with a return to Spurs increasingly likely.

Calciomercato describes Eriksen as “on sale” with “the work of some intermediaries on the Premier League front rekindled interest in some English clubs”.

Jose Mourinho is said to “want him on loan” but the main stumbling block will be the finances of any deal.

Inter “understandably do not want to lend Eriksen a free loan to the same club” to which they paid £ 16.9million in the summer.

Calciomercato adds that the 28-year-old “can only return to Spurs with an expensive loan and with the payment of salary, otherwise nothing will be done.”

Meanwhile, Mourinho has insisted that Tanguy Ndombele deserves all the praise for his Tottenham turnaround.

Signing the Spurs record seemed to have a bleak future when Mourinho arrived at the club after struggling to adjust to the Premier League, with the Portuguese regularly criticizing the midfielder’s hunger and fitness.

But this season, the 24-year-old has established himself as a key player on the side of Mourinho and his ‘brilliant’ strikes in 3-1 win at Sheffield United will be remembered for a long time because he produced a daring blow to the head of the keeper fleeing the goal.

It came at a crucial time, restoring the visitors’ two-goal lead after David McGoldrick returned home following first-half goals from Serge Aurier and Harry Kane.

Mourinho gave Ndombele all the credit for his rebirth at the North London club.

He said: “I have coached for so many years, I have had so many players and I have enough experience to say and feel that when a player does not play very well, it is his responsibility. , and when a player changes things and brings their performance to a very high level, it is also their responsibility.

“It’s a great example that with me the door is always open. The door to the team is always open, and when a player is not playing he has to try to figure out why and he has to try to figure out how he can get through that door. He understood, he understood.

“The goal is incredible, but I don’t care about the goal, I care about the performance and the performance was wonderful and I’m really happy he got to this level. He plays very, very well.

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Expression of Interest: Consulting services for the design and construction management of the West End Ferry Terminal Tue, 09 Mar 2021 10:57:29 +0000 The Government of the Virgin Islands (GOVI) has received funding from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) equivalent to USD 65,291,000 for the cost of CDB # 12 / SRF-OR-BVI: Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Loan – Hurricane Irma Project and intends to use a portion of the proceeds from this funding to eligible payments under a contract […]]]>

The Government of the Virgin Islands (GOVI) has received funding from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) equivalent to USD 65,291,000 for the cost of CDB # 12 / SRF-OR-BVI:

Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Loan – Hurricane Irma Project and intends to use a portion of the proceeds from this funding to eligible payments under a contract for which this invitation is issued. Payments by CBD will only be made at the request of GOVI and after approval by CBD and will be subject in all respects to the terms and conditions of the Funding Agreement. The Financing Agreement prohibits the withdrawal from the financing account for the purposes of any payment to persons or entities, or for any importation of goods, if this payment or this import, to the knowledge of the CBD, is prohibited by a decision of the Council. Security Policy taken under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations. No party other than GOVI will derive any rights from the Funding Agreement or claim any proceeds from the Funding.

The Virgin Islands Recovery and Development Agency, the executing agency, is now keen to provide consultancy services for the design and construction management of the West End ferry terminal.

The main objective of this consultancy assignment is to provide architectural, engineering and contract management services for the West End Ferry Terminal project from its planning phase to handover for operation by end users. The consultant will be responsible for involving stakeholders in all phases of the project, leading the planning and development phases and producing the preliminary and final designs required for the construction of the project. The consultancy mission also includes assistance during the call for tenders and the award of construction works, as well as construction supervision and contract management during the implementation of the works. The duration of the mission is planned for a period of 24 months.

For more details, please see the attachment.

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New administration, more forbearance: Biden administration announces extension of COVID-19 forbearance and foreclosure protections for homeowners | Morgan Lewis – All Things FinReg Tue, 09 Mar 2021 10:57:29 +0000 As part of President Joe Biden’s efforts to combat the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on American families, on February 16, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and the US Department of Agriculture (together, the agencies) announcement a coordinated extension and expansion of foreclosure […]]]>

As part of President Joe Biden’s efforts to combat the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on American families, on February 16, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and the US Department of Agriculture (together, the agencies) announcement a coordinated extension and expansion of foreclosure relief and forbearance programs. The announcement extends and extends agency forbearance and foreclosure relief programs until June 30, 2021. The programs were scheduled to expire in March.

As we have previously reported, these programs and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) moratorium discussed below have been repeatedly extended during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, agency assistance programs will extend the moratorium on foreclosures, expand the mortgage forbearance window for borrowers who wish to apply for forbearance, and offer up to six additional months mortgage forbearance, for example. three-month installments, for borrowers who have opted out. no later than June 30, 2020.

On February 9, the FHFA announcement the following updates:

  • Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the GSEs) will extend the moratoriums on foreclosures and evictions of single-family homes until March 31, 2021 (the current moratoria were due to expire on February 28, 2021).
    • The FHFA foreclosure moratorium only applies to single-family mortgages backed by GSE. The moratorium on evictions applies to properties that have been acquired by a GSE through foreclosure or a deed in lieu of foreclosure transactions (real estate properties (REO)).
  • Borrowers with a GSE-backed mortgage may be eligible for an additional three-month forbearance.
  • The COVID-19 payment deferral for these borrowers can cover up to 15 months of missed payments.
    • COVID-19 deferral allows these borrowers to repay their missed payments when the home is sold, refinanced or when the mortgage matures.

Currently, the FHFA predicts that spending of $ 1.5-2 billion will be borne by GSEs due to the existing COVID-19 lockdown moratorium and its extension.

The Biden administration said the agency relief programs as well as the FHFA relief are expected to cover 70% of existing mortgages for single-family homes. The administration said its priorities are to provide immediate assistance to U.S. homeowners, support hard-hit communities of color, and provide a centralized source of housing assistance.

We will continue to monitor the effects of the pandemic on the mortgage industry and provide updates as developments occur. For more information on what agents need to know about handling COVID-19 mortgage forbearance, please see our LawFlash.

[View source.]

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Refinance an FHA Loan? Here’s all you need to know Tue, 09 Mar 2021 10:57:28 +0000 Did you know that it is possible to refinance an FHA loan? Here’s what you need to know before you get started. (iStock) When buying a home, many buyers end up choosing an FHA loan. An FHA loan is a mortgage insured by the Federal Housing Administration. This government support allows these loans to have […]]]>

Did you know that it is possible to refinance an FHA loan? Here’s what you need to know before you get started. (iStock)

When buying a home, many buyers end up choosing an FHA loan. An FHA loan is a mortgage insured by the Federal Housing Administration. This government support allows these loans to have a down payment and more flexible credit requirements than conventional loans, making them a good choice for those with lower credit scores or less money in the bank.

However, FHA loans aren’t just for first-time home buyers – it’s also possible to refinance into an FHA home loan. If you think an FHA refinance loan might be right for you, read on below. We’ve outlined the information you need to know before you get started.

What Are the Different Types of FHA Refinance Loans?

There are different types of FHA mortgages that can be used in a refinance transaction. They are as follows:

  1. FHA streamline
  2. Simple FHA
  3. FHA collection

1. FHA streamline

FHA Simplified Refinance is a simplified version of the refinancing process for existing FHA borrowers. Typically, an assessment is not required and neither is a credit check, making it a good option for people with poor credit histories.

2. Simple FHA

If you do not qualify for FHA Simplified Refinance, you may consider FHA Simple Refinance. This type of mortgage is typically used to lower your interest rate or switch from a variable rate mortgage to a fixed rate loan. Unlike the simplified option, it requires all the usual refinancing documentation.

3. FHA collection

With cash refinancing, you can borrow more money than you owe on the house, and the difference between what you owe and what you borrow is returned to you in cash. Typically, people use this type of loan to cover major expenses like renovations or medical debts.

Visit Credible to explore your mortgage refinancing options and to compare rates and lenders.


Advantages and Disadvantages of Refinancing an FHA Loan

It’s no surprise that refinancing an FHA loan has both advantages and disadvantages.


  • Reduce your monthly payment: The biggest benefit of refinancing your mortgage is the ability to lower your monthly payment, usually by lowering your interest rate.
  • Change your loan type: However, you can also change the type of loan you have by refinancing. For example, if you currently have an adjustable rate mortgage, you can refinance to a fixed rate option to add more stability to your payments.
  • Pay off your loan sooner: Finally, refinancing your loan can allow you to pay off your loan sooner if you go from a 30-year loan to a 15-year option.

Credible lets you compare multiple lenders to make sure you meet your personal financial goals, whether it’s lowering your monthly payments, changing your interest rate, or beyond. Find out how much you could save on your loan amount by refinancing now.


The inconvenients

  • FHA closing costs: There are closing costs associated with refinancing a loan with the FHA. Typically, these costs are between 2% and 5% of the loan amount. However, in this case in particular, you will have to redo your initial payment and your mortgage protection insurance (MPI).
  • Loan limits on cash refinancing: The FHA limits the amount you can borrow against your home. The maximum loan-to-value ratio that you can achieve with a cash-out refinancing is 80%.

When you are ready to compare loans, Credible can be of great help. They can help you secure pre-qualified rates in just a few minutes.


How To Qualify For An FHA Refinance Loan

  • FHA streamline: The FHA Simplified Refinance Program is for those who already have an existing FHA mortgage. You also need to be up to date with your mortgage, which means you are up to date with all of your payments. Finally, there must be a “net tangible benefit” to refinancing, which is another way of saying that there must be a significant benefit to refinancing.
  • Simple FHA: As noted above, both a borrower’s credit rating and history are factored into loan eligibility on an FHA Simple Refinance.
  • FHA collection: In order to do a cash refinance with the FHA, you must retain at least 20% of the equity in your home.

What are the mortgage rates today?

It is important to note that interest rates are currently at historic lows. According to Freddie Mac, the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan is currently only 2.79%. .

If you think refinancing your mortgage can help save you money, use an online refinance calculator to help you get a feel for what your new monthly cost might be. Credible can also help you calculate the numbers.


The bottom line

If you think refinancing into an FHA insured loan is the right choice for you, your first step should be to talk to a lender. They can look at the specifics of your financial situation and tell you what type of FHA refinance is best for you.

Visit Credible to be put in touch with experienced mortgage agents who can answer all of your mortgage questions.


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Federal Reserve adds another program to help loans to businesses and households Tue, 09 Mar 2021 10:57:27 +0000 The Federal Reserve is adding another weapon in its efforts to ensure households and businesses get the financing they need as the economy grapples with the coronavirus crisis. In the central bank’s latest effort to keep credit markets fluid, the Fed announced a primary merchant credit facility, which will provide up to 90 days. Offers […]]]>

The Federal Reserve is adding another weapon in its efforts to ensure households and businesses get the financing they need as the economy grapples with the coronavirus crisis.

In the central bank’s latest effort to keep credit markets fluid, the Fed announced a primary merchant credit facility, which will provide up to 90 days. Offers will begin on Friday and the program will be in place for at least six months, the Fed said in a press release issued at the end of the day.

While the overarching intention of the facility is to move money through the economy, it is specifically aimed at “major brokers” or the top 24 institutions in the country that buy government securities directly through the government. government intermediary instead of an intermediary. Brokers offer various securities in exchange for funding.

“The global coronavirus epidemic has contributed to significant volatility in financial markets,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. “The creation of a PDCF will help address illiquidity, ease disruptions in funding markets, support the smooth functioning of the market, and facilitate the availability of credit for American workers and businesses.”

The program emerged during the financial crisis and provided funds to some of the country’s largest banks that were struggling due to toxic assets on their balance sheets. In total, the facility provided nearly $ 9 trillion in loans to the banks that used it.

Funding is most often done on a day-to-day basis and is similar to the repo funding that institutions provide for short-term operations.

Such programs are managed in conjunction with the Treasury Department, which provides guarantees against the loss by the Fed of the money it provides to institutions.

This is last minute news. Check back here for updates.

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The AICPA Offers Recommendations for Loan Cancellations Under the Paycheck Protection Program Tue, 09 Mar 2021 10:57:26 +0000 PPP loan remission I. Loan forgiveness documents for employers 1. Payroll Tax Reports: 2020 IRS Forms 941, state income and unemployment tax returns that include the 8 week period covered. (See the recommendation below for the 8 week period covered.) If your organization contracts with a payroll service provider or professional employer organization (PEO), you […]]]>

PPP loan remission


Loan forgiveness documents for employers


Payroll Tax Reports: 2020 IRS Forms 941, state income and unemployment tax returns that include the 8 week period covered. (See the recommendation below for the 8 week period covered.) If your organization contracts with a payroll service provider or professional employer organization (PEO), you can provide other documents, such as reports reflecting the employment income tax returns filed.


Compensation and FTE: In general, payroll reports which will include the following: a. Gross salary of each employee for the following: I. During the 8 week covered period ii. In the last full trimester before the 8 week period covered b. Identify employees who, during any period in 2019, received an annualized salary in excess of $ 100,000 and also employees whose primary place of residence is outside the United States vs. State and local employer taxes assessed on an employee’s remuneration (i.e. SUTA) during the 8 week period covered D. The average number of full-time equivalents (FTEs) per month for the following: I. During the 8 week covered period ii. From February 15 to June 30, 2019 iii. From January 1 to February 29, 2020 Note: the borrower chooses the period, ii or iii, to compare with i. e. For seasonal businesses, use the average number of FTEs per month for the period February 15, 2019 to June 30, 2019. 3. Group health care benefits: Documentation showing the total costs paid for all health care benefits, including insurance premiums paid by the organization under a group health care plan. a. Include all employees and business owners. b. Do not include employee deductions for their share of plan contributions. 4. Pension plan benefits: Documentation showing the sum of all pension plan funding costs paid by the organization. a. Include funding for all employees and owners of the business. b. Do not include employee deductions for their share of plan contributions. 5. Other documents: canceled checks, receipts, account statements or other payment documents for other eligible costs incurred and paid during the period covered, such as mortgage interest, rental payments, utility payments. II. For sole proprietors, independent contractors and self-employed workers 1. Schedule C of Form 1040 2019 to verify net income (line 31) for the owner’s income replacement calculation. 2. If you have employees, provide payroll documents as outlined above, including documentation of health care costs and pension benefits. Exclude the owner from health and pension costs. 3. Checks, receipts, account statements or other payment documents canceled for other eligible costs incurred and paid during the period covered such as mortgage interest, lease payments, utility payments. Note: These types of expenses must have been deducted from Schedule C of Form 1040 2019 to be eligible for the rebate. III. Forgiveness recommendations The following four general recommendations are provided to encourage a consistent and effective approach to loan cancellation that aligns with the borrower’s operations and the intent of the PPP. 1. Recommendation: Align the start of the 8 week covered period with the start of a pay period, rather than the date the loan proceeds are received.
  • We recommend starting the calculation of the 8 week covered period as either the start of the pay period in which the funding was received or the start of the next pay period, at the borrower’s discretion. . For example, if funding is received on April 10 and the borrower’s normal pay cycle is bi-monthly, the borrower could choose to start the 8-week covered period on April 1 or April 16. Using this approach, rather than starting the period covered when funding is received, will provide borrowers with more opportunities to use P3 funds for their primary purpose – keeping employees on the payroll. Additionally, using an approach that aligns with the borrower’s operations will result in a more efficient and consistent approach.

2. Recommendation: Begin the 8 week covered period when operating restrictions are lifted, rather than the date of receipt of loan proceeds.
  • If a borrower receives PPP funding while their operations are closed due to shelter-in-place orders or critical trade restrictions, etc., we recommend that the start of the 8 week covered period be based on when the restrictions are lifted and the borrower is allowed to operate – using either the start of the pay period in which the operating restrictions were lifted or the start of the next pay period, at the discretion of the ‘borrower. This allows the financing to be used to get the borrower back on their feet quickly, rather than limiting the use of the funds to a period when they are not allowed to operate.

3. Recommendation: Define full-time equivalents
  • Since the CARES Act does not define how to calculate a Full Time Equivalent (FTE), we recommend that you follow the Affordable Care Act (ACA) definition of 30 hours.

  • Additionally, since hours are not always collected for certain types of employees (e.g. salaried workers or those paid by the piece), we recommend using a salary-based proxy to determine FTEs.

  • If hours worked are not available, employees would be considered a FTE if earnings are over $ 217.50 – federal minimum wage x 30 hours per week [$7.25 x 30 = $217.50]. Employees earning less than $ 217.50 / week would be considered a pro-rated FTE; for example, an employee earning $ 200 / week would count as 0.92 of an FTE ($ 200 / $ 217.5 = 0.92).

  • This approach allows for a simple calculation that consistently measures the number of FTEs based on the federal minimum wage and a standard definition of the number of hours worked to qualify as a FTE.

  • It is important to recognize that any metric used to determine FTEs will work since it is not the metric, but the comparison of the measured results of the two time periods that will result in a reduced potential discount. Therefore, it is essential to select a measure that is simple, consistent and easily applicable to all types of employees and in all periods.

  • We strongly believe that this recommendation achieves this goal by being very simple. Any reduction in remuneration is not taken into account in this data point. Therefore, this simple approach leads to a result that identifies any downsizing of employees when applied consistently across different time periods.

4. Recommendation: The calculation of the payroll reduction should be made on the basis of the average payroll per employee per week rather than the total compensation per employee over an 8 week period from the previous quarter.
  • The CARES Act includes a provision for a reduction in loan forgiveness for any employee whose pay has decreased by more than 25% from the 12-week quarter and 8-week covered period. However, 8 weeks will naturally have 33% less payroll due to the lower number of weeks in the time period.

  • Additionally, people who were employed in the last full quarter may be unable or reluctant to return to work.

  • We strongly recommend using a comparison of average payroll per employee per week as this approach complies with the intent of the CARES Act and provides a clear indication if an employee’s pay has been cut.

  • We also strongly recommend that this calculation exclude employees who are not active employees during the entire period covered. For example, if someone worked from January 1 to March 31 and changed jobs in April, their salary during the period covered appears to have been reduced by more than 25% from the base period. Any downsizing is measured separately; therefore, we recommend including only those employees who have been active for the entire 8 week period covered.

NOTE: The AICPA requested further clarification on how the discount reductions should be applied.
  • Clarity needed on how discount reductions are to be applied

  • Some of the discount requirements result in a dollar reduction while others result in a percentage reduction. The order in which they are applied can have a significant impact on the amount of the discount.

  • Clarification is needed as to whether the Act lists the discount reductions in the intended order of application.

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Air France must reduce its emissions, domestic flights for aid: Minister Tue, 09 Mar 2021 10:57:26 +0000 PARIS (Reuters) – Air France will have to reduce its carbon emissions and domestic flights as conditions for government financial support, France’s finance minister said on Wednesday. FILE PHOTO: French Economy and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire listens to French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe deliver a speech to present the French government’s plan to unravel […]]]>

PARIS (Reuters) – Air France will have to reduce its carbon emissions and domestic flights as conditions for government financial support, France’s finance minister said on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: French Economy and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire listens to French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe deliver a speech to present the French government’s plan to unravel the country’s coronavirus lockdown imposed to slow down the rate of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the National Assembly in Paris France, April 28, 2020. David Niviere / Pool via REUTERS

With the airline industry among the worst affected by the fallout from the coronavirus crisis, the government on Friday offered the airline a € 7 billion ($ 7.6 billion) package made up of guaranteed bank loans by the state and loans directly from the state.

Aid was extended on the condition that the airline chart a path to profitability and set itself the goal of becoming the most environmentally friendly carrier in the world.

Specifying these conditions, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told the Economic Committee of the Lower House of Parliament that the airline should halve its carbon emissions per passenger and per kilometer by 2030, compared to the levels of 2005.

For flights specifically to mainland France, emissions should be halved by 2024, which, according to Le Maire, means that domestic flights would be “considerably reduced” to focus on serving the hubs for transfers.

In another condition, 2% of the fuel used by its planes is expected to come from alternative and sustainable sources by 2025.

“Finally, investments will have to be directed in the years to come towards the renewal of the fleet of long and medium-range planes to fight more effectively against emissions”, declared Le Maire.

Previously, Le Maire had said on LCI television that the carrier should be a “good customer for Airbus”, adding that the government could also support the European aircraft manufacturer “massively when needed”.

Airbus said on Wednesday that the coronavirus pandemic triggered the “most serious crisis the aerospace industry has ever seen” as it highlighted savings plans after spending € 8 billion in the first quarter.

The Mayor told lawmakers that support for Airbus could take the form of expanded aid to finance exports and state-subsidized holidays, as well as the renewal of the airline fleet, starting with Air France.

Meanwhile, the government was considering creating a sector fund to support the aerospace supply chain, which could include the involvement of banks, he added.

($ 1 = 0.9216 euros)

Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Alex Richardson

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