Why Jeffrey Sachs is 'pessimistic' about economic recovery

New York (CNN Business)Two former Goldman Sachs bankers got into an online brawl about reopening the economy.

OK, before you click the back button, stick with us: This particular nerd war perfectly illustrates the conundrum the world faces during the pandemic.
In the right corner: Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman’s former CEO and outspoken critic of continued stay-at-home orders.

    Blankfein tweeted this basic point: We’re all gonna get coronavirus anyway, so we might as well reopen the economy to get millions of out-of-work Americans back on their feet.
    In the left corner: Neel Kashkari, a former Goldmanite turned Minneapolis Fed President.

    Kashkari has advocated for a more gradual reopening — and he’s not having any of his former colleague’s tweets. His counter-punch: Cool, Lloyd, which movie are you going to this evening?

    Genuinely curious, Lloyd: are you going back out to movie theaters, restaurants and commercial planes? Or are you sequestering until there’s a vax since you are in high risk age group? The people will determine the lockdown based on their own sense of safety. https://t.co/befE286ero

    This is the problem that’s vexing our brightest economic minds: How can you reopen when it will make people sick? How can you stay closed when people are suffering?

    There’s no easy answer

    Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin — yet another Goldman alumnus — is solidly in the Blankfein camp. He argued Tuesday that the economy has to reopen now. To drive his point home, he told members of the Senate Banking Committee he was supremely bummed the hearing took place on a video chat, because he wanted to testify in person.
    Kashkari’s kinda-boss Jerome Powell, chairman of the Federal Reserve — who did not work for Goldman btw — also testified Tuesday, taking Kashkari’s side of the argument: The economy is going to reopen gradually whether we want it to or not.

    Here’s the pickle in a nutshell (ew)

    If you opened the entire economy tomorrow, that wouldn’t solve the crisis we’re in: As Kashkari notes, who’s going into restaurants, when indoor, tightly packed, air-conditioned spaces are the most dangerous places to be? Or movie theaters, nail salons or basketball games?
    If you kept the entire economy closed for many more months, that wouldn’t solve the problem either: Coronavirus cases continue to rise across the country despite stay-at-home orders. And as Blankfein notes, business owners and workers are in dire straits. An extended shutdown could further destroy the livelihoods of millions of Americans.

    So which is the least-worst option?

    Well, maybe there’s a third path. It’s isn’t pretty, and it ain’t perfect. But it just might be the best solution we’ve got.
    Powell has advocated for an in-between: Let the government go to town bailing out the most vulnerable workers and businesses while gradually reopening the economy when health experts say that’s wise.
    Congress and the Fed have already allocated trillions of dollars to stimulus checks, business loans, troubled asset purchases, municipal bond buying, and gobs of other programs aimed at keeping the economy from collapse. Some businesses and workers have inevitably fallen through the cracks, but millions of people have received emergency unemployment insurance and thousands of businesses have been granted forgivable loans.
    It’s a Band-Aid, not a cure, for sure. It’s an expensive Band-Aid that we’ll be paying off for quite some time.

      And while it won’t replace paychecks for many Americans, it’s something. The continued — and expanded — government support for workers, businesses and state and local governments could keep people on their feet while flattening the infection curve.
      The former Goldman nerds are all correct. The only path out of this might be the same thing we’re doing right now: Staying at home and spending a ton of money to bail ourselves out of this mess.
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      Why investors buy gold during times of crisis

      London (CNN Business)Venezuela’s central bank is suing the Bank of England to access gold reserves that would help it cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

      The Bank of England had “refused to confirm” that it will give Venezuela access to €930 million ($1 billion) worth of gold held on its behalf, according to papers filed in London’s High Court last week.
      Venezuela had asked the Bank of England liquidate the gold and send the funds to the United Nations Development Programme so that the UN agency could procure “healthcare equipment, medicines and basic foodstuffs,” according to the papers filed by London law firm Zaiwalla & Co.

        Gold nears an eight-year high
        “There is no, or no sufficient, basis for such refusal,” the court documents said. “BoE’s conduct is wrongful.”
        The Bank of England told CNN that it “does not comment on individual customer relationships.”

        The United Nations has included Venezuela in a list of 135 countries for which it is seeking to secure supplies of key medical equipment as part of a global humanitarian response plan to Covid-19.
        Venezuela’s healthcare infrastructure is fragile, and the country has been placed under further pressure by stringent US sanctions since 2019. It has recorded 824 cases of coronavirus and 10 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
        “Venezuela is in the midst of an economic meltdown and a dire humanitarian crisis that has prompted 5.1 million Venezuelans to go abroad — mostly to other Latin American and Caribbean countries — as refugees and migrants, as a power struggle between President Nicolás Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaidó drags on,” the UN said in a statement Wednesday.
        Trump orders Chevron to halt oil production in Venezuela
        The British government, along with the US government and dozens more worldwide, recognizes Guaidó, rather than Maduro, as Venezuela’s legitimate leader. Venezuela’s political turmoil stems from presidential elections in 2018, in which Maduro secured another six-year term in a process widely viewed as a sham.

          The Bank of England blocked a similar attempt by the Venezuelan government to gain access to its gold in late 2018, according to the Financial Times.
          The bank holds around 400,000 bars of gold in its vaults, worth over £200 billion ($244.6 billion), according to its website. That makes it the second largest keeper of gold in the world after the New York Federal Reserve.
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          Why can't I get Facebook Avatar? New cartoon characters not working for some users

          FACEBOOK has launched new personalised cartoon characters called Avatars – but not everyone is having an easy time making them.

          The fun feature isn't working for some users, with a handful complaining on social media that they can't create an Avatar at all.

          Why can't I get Avatars?

          To access Avatars, Facebook users can hit the three horizontal lines in the top right of the Facebook app.

          The option to create one appears under the "see more" section.

          However, some users have reported on Reddit that they can't see the new feature.

          One way to fix this is to make sure you have the latest version of Facebook installed on your phone.

          On Android, head to the Google Play store and select menu. Tap my apps and games and scroll down to Facebook to update.

          On an iPhone, you can head to App Store and go to your Apple account by hitting the icon in the top right. Scroll down to Facebook and tap update.

          If that doesn't grant you access to Avatars, some users have reported finding a workaround in Messenger.

          On Reddit, user

          Reddit user briaugar said: “Open your last message and click on the smiley face in the comment bar.

          “Once it opens ‘stickers,’ click on what looks like the Angry Bird on the bottom towards the left. It will open the Avatar creator.”

          Apparently, you can also access Avatars by going to stickers and selecting the purple face, which should allow you to customise your character.

          Users may also go to bookmarks and look for Avatars under "see more".

          Finally, it's possible that Avatars simply haven't been rolled out to your account yet, so sit tight and be patient for the update to arrive.

          What are Facebook Avatars?

          Avatars are Facebook's answer to Bitmoji – a similar tool that was bought up by Snapchat in 2016.

          You can design the cartoon-y characters to look however you like and share them in Facebook comments and on Messenger.

          Once you've created an Avatar, you'll be able to share them in different poses or scenes.

          It's designed to spice up Facebook, and likely a bid to attract younger users back to the app.

          "The Avatars feature lets you customise your own personal avatar for use in stickers across comments and Messenger," Facebook explained.

          "It lets people create a new persona, allowing them to share across Facebook and Messenger in a more personal, light-hearted way."

          Avatars have been out in the UK for several months but launched in the US last week.

          How to use Facebook Avatars

          You should start to see a new smiley-face button when you go to post a comment on the News Feed.

          It'll also appear within the Messenger sticker selection tab.

          If you tap it, you'll be able to create a Facebook Avatar that looks however you want.

          It starts with a gender-neutral face, which can be customised 18 different traits.

          You can also edit body shape, hairstyle, outfit and more.

          Once your Avatar has been created, you can share it across Facebook and Messenger.

          In other news, Facebook recently unveiled a new logo that is appearing across WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger too.

          Facebook has redesigned its main app with a special 'News' feed that shows zero posts from pals or family.

          And read about some of the genius Facebook Messenger tricks you can try today.

          Have you created a Facebook avatar? Let us know in the comments!

          Source: Read Full Article

          Coronavirus stimulus cash: Why some military members had payments snatched, reduced

          What the military is doing to prevent coronavirus from spreading among troops

          A military expert says the Roosevelt is making ‘great progress’ in its testing efforts and discusses quarantine measures for military members. Defense Secretary Mark Esper later says the military is doing whatever possible to assist coronavirus patients while also practicing social distancing.

          Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox.  Sign up here.

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          While tens of millions of Americans throughout the U.S. received their economic impact payments this week, some have reported glitches – including members of the U.S. military.

          USAA, a financial company that caters to military members and veterans, has suspended a policy that had resulted in members having their stimulus checks used to offset existing debts.

          In a statement to FOX Business, USAA confirmed that it had paused collection of negative account balances.

          “For members with negative deposit account balances, USAA will pause the collection of a negative account balance existing at the time their stimulus payment was deposited for 90 days,” the spokesperson said. “This will allow members access to their full stimulus payment to help cover the costs of rent, food and other important necessities.”


          The policy will be applied retroactively and will be implemented as early as this week. That means any members who may not have received their full payment will be made whole.

          USAA had initially defended the practice under legal guidelines.

          For those in need of further aid, the group does have special assistance available to military members and their families, including returning money to auto policyholders, 90-day credit card payment deferral and mortgage assistance.

          The IRS also announced on Friday that veterans will receive their checks automatically, even if they are not required to regularly file tax returns.


          As previously reported by FOX Business, there have been concerns raised regarding the payments and Americans who have outstanding debt.

          In a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin this week, a group of 25 state attorneys general requested that the government stipulate that the coronavirus relief payments would not be subject to garnishment by creditors and debt collectors.

          In some cases, debt collectors obtain a court order whereby they are permitted to take money from them through various means – including directly from bank accounts.

          The administration has, so far, not weighed in.


          More than 80 million Americans were expected to receive the economic impact payments via direct deposit this week.

          The payments are $1,200 per adult for those with adjusted gross incomes of up to $75,000. The threshold for married couples is $150,000 – they are eligible for $2,400 and $500 per child.

          The IRS is expected to begin processing paper checks next week.

          Late Monday, the government also got approval from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to issue the payments on prepaid cards – as a potentially safer and faster alternative to paper checks. The method has been advocated for reaching underbanked individuals.

          For more information on the payments, click here.


          Source: Read Full Article

          Why official rushed to McDonald's with $3.4M for medical supplies

          San Francisco (CNN Business)Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey says he’s dedicating more than a quarter of his wealth to a new fund for charitable causes, with the immediate focus on coronavirus relief efforts.

          Dorsey will transfer $1 billion of his equity in Square (SQ) — the digital payments company he also co-founded — to a limited liability company called Start Small, he said in a series of tweets on Tuesday. Dorsey said that amount accounts for around 28% of his wealth.
          The first of those grants from Start Small, for $100,000, will go to America’s Food Fund to provide meals to those impacted by the coronavirus, according to a Google Doc he shared for tracking all the grants.

            Dorsey did not specify how much of the $1 billion commitment will be directed toward coronavirus relief as opposed to other charitable efforts after the pandemic ends.
            Google is donating $800 million to help with the coronavirus crisis
            “After we disarm this pandemic, the focus will shift to girl’s health and education, and UBI,” he said, referring to the concept of universal basic income. “I believe they represent the best long-term solutions to the existential problems facing the world.”

            Dorsey’s announcement follows similar efforts by other big tech players. Amazon (AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos and Microsoft (MSFT) co-founder Bill Gates — the world’s two wealthiest people — have each pledged $100 million toward coronavirus relief.

              Some of the industry’s biggest companies are also putting their immense resources behind the fight against the global pandemic.
              Google (GOOGL) last month committed $800 million — much of it in ad grants to small businesses and healthcare organizations. Facebook (FB) has adopted a similar ad credit strategy, while working with global authorities to fight misinformation on its platforms. Apple (AAPL), SoftBank (SFTBF) and Alibaba (BABA) are collectively donating millions of respirator masks to healthcare workers.
              Source: Read Full Article