• Politics
    Yahoo News

    Trump now says if 100,000 Americans die from coronavirus he will have done 'a very good job'

    The president repeatedly cited a projection that as many as 2.2 million people would have died if the administration had “done nothing” to mitigate COVID-19’s spread.

  • Business
    American City Business Journals

    'He lived life in full throttle': Seattle aerospace pioneer Joe Clark dies hours after final flight

    Seattle aerospace pioneer Joe Clark took his single-engine GameBird aerobatic airplane for a thrilling ride on Monday morning in sunny Southern California. Clark, a co-founder of Aviation Partners who made a fortune perfecting and selling blended winglets later installed on more than 9,000 corporate and Boeing passenger jets around the world and co-founder of Horizon Air before selling it to Alaska Airlines in the 1980s. The multi-millionaire Seattle entrepreneur and philanthropist's sudden passing at his home in Palm Springs after what appears to be a final flight has shocked employees, friends and business associates.

  • Business

    U.K. Lenders Confront Biggest Mortgage Test Since 2008 Crash

    (Bloomberg) -- British mortgage providers, frustrated that sales volumes failed to match the highs before the global financial crisis, spent the last two years cutting margins and taking on riskier buyers. With the pandemic now hanging over house prices, they’re about to find out if their customers are as solid as they thought.Values soared following the 2008 crunch, helped by government programs to boost demand and low borrowing costs. Then lenders relaxed standards in a scramble for business as Brexit deterred buyers, leading Sam Woods, chief executive officer of the Prudential Regulation Authority, to warn last May that regulators should be “watching them like a hawk.”Now Britain’s economy has been upended by the coronavirus: Bloomberg Economics forecasts a recession in the first half. The government and the banks have rushed to help homeowners affected by the crisis, offering mortgage holidays and income support, but home prices are still forecast to fall by as much as 10% this year.“We’ve got the overall stop in the economy, we’ve got the financial crash, and we’ve got people losing their jobs and their earnings,” said Neal Hudson, an independent housing analyst. “In normal times, any one of those would be enough to cause a correction in house prices. This time it’s impossible to know what will happen.”The economic paralysis could cost as many as 700,000 jobs, taking the unemployment rate to 6%, the highest for six years, according to Dan Hanson and Jamie Rush of Bloomberg Economics.The blow will fall hardest on those least able to afford it. The greatest proportion of lending against minimal deposits took place in the north of England, where about half of adults have less than 2,000 pounds (about $2,500) in cash savings, and three-quarters have no investments.The economically deprived region is already vulnerable to shocks like Brexit, backed by a majority of voters in the region despite its reliance on export-oriented manufacturing. The north was swayed by election promises from Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party to boost spending on public services and infrastructure.Home values in northern England historically have been more volatile than in London, tending to fall further and stay down longer. Residential prices in the northeast, the only region in England where prices remain below their 2007 peak, fell 2.6% in January after a 0.5% monthly gain in December, government data show.Slim Deposits(Proportion of small deposit loans by region)Help to BuyA key underpinning of the market after the financial crisis was Help to Buy, a loan program that has advanced about 14.3 billion pounds to buyers with small down payments. It was called “moronic” by Societe Generale SA analyst Albert Edwards when it was introduced because it encouraged over-borrowing, and the regulator warned in February that users of the program were potentially more exposed than others to any deterioration in the economy.Under the plan, also disparaged as Help for Homebuilders because it boosts demand rather than supply, the state provides an interest-free loan of as much as 40% of a new home’s cost for five years in return for a stake in any increase in value during that period. The home must cost 600,000 pounds or less, and sales below the purchase price are allowed.That leaves the government open to losses if prices fall and borrowers decide to move on, either because they can no longer make mortgage payments or because they opt for a similar property at a lower price in a slumping market. More than half of those who used Help to Buy had deposits of 5% or less.The program might make a small loss after inflation, the Department of Housing said last year. That was before the pandemic threatened to push the housing market into turmoil. Losses could spiral if prices fall or interest rates increase, the former head of the Housing and Finance Institute, Mark Boleat, told a parliamentary watchdog committee.Still, the loan program is tiny set against the hundreds of billions of pounds of coronavirus stimulus being offered by the government. And there are other positives: an economic recovery from the current crisis may be rapid, and tougher bank capital requirements have made them better risks than they were before 2008.“Help to Buy made sense between 2013 and 2017,” said Christine Whitehead, an emeritus professor of housing economics at the London School of Economics. “I don’t think there’s very much sense in it after that” because the market stabilized.While Whitehead doesn’t see large numbers of owners selling up, even in a downturn, “property people see prices coming back quickly, but I’m not convinced -- I don’t think anybody knows at this point.” Some homeowners may “sit on the loss until it disappears and, in the north, that could be one hell of a long time,” she said.Zero-Hour MortgagesOther vulnerabilities in the mortgage market could emerge. Banks and customer-owned lenders have been giving mortgages to workers on zero-hour contracts. They’re especially vulnerable now.In September, HSBC Holdings Plc said such workers could apply for a mortgage after finding a job and staying with an employer for a year, compared with two years previously.The changes made it easier for agency workers to get onto the property ladder and meant that “lending would be based on more accurate and up-to-date information,” the bank said in a statement.A property crash could wipe out equity for those with interest-only mortgages, making it more difficult to refinance. Terms expire by the end of this year for 126,000 of them, industry lobby group U.K. Finance said in June.Home loan providers are offering a payment holiday of as long as three months for customers, including those with interest-only mortgages, experiencing money issues as a result of the virus, according to U.K. Finance. Interest still accrues in the period.The market for new sales of British residential mortgage-backed securities has “essentially shut down” after spreads widened to “extreme levels,” Guernsey-based investment fund U.K. Mortgages said in a statement on Monday. The fund is currently trading at a 48% discount to its net asset value on Jan. 31.While many of the riskiest buyers have shunned mortgage borrowing since the financial crisis, “there will be some scandals, no doubt about it,” said Whitehead. For the lenders “there hasn’t been a mechanism of making any money really, so you’ve had to cut into other peoples’ demand,” she said. “So it’s a market share issue, just like it was in 2006, but in a much more frightening environment now.”(Adds HSBC example under Zero-Hour Mortgages sub-headline.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • World
    National Review

    Wuhan Residents Dismiss Official Coronavirus Death Toll: ‘The Incinerators Have Been Working Around the Clock’

    Wuhan residents are increasingly skeptical of the Chinese Communist Party’s reported coronavirus death count of approximately 2,500 deaths in the city to date, with most people believing the actual number is at least 40,000."Maybe the authorities are gradually releasing the real figures, intentionally or unintentionally, so that people will gradually come to accept the reality," a Wuhan resident, who gave only his surname Mao, told Radio Free Asia.A city source added that, based on the aggregation of funeral and cremation numbers, authorities likely know the real number and are keeping it under wraps."Every funeral home reports data on cremations directly to the authorities twice daily," the source said. "This means that each funeral home only knows how many cremations it has conducted, but not the situation at the other funeral homes."The city began lifting its lockdown on Saturday after two months of mandatory shutdown, with a complete lift of restrictions set for April 8. Funeral homes in Wuhan have been handing out the cremated remains to families every day, but rumors began circulating after one funeral home received two shipments of 5,000 urns over the course of two days, according to photos reported by Chinese media outlet Caixin, which were later censored.Reports of the funeral’s crematoriums working nonstop also raised questions."It can't be right … because the incinerators have been working round the clock, so how can so few people have died?" a man surnamed Zhang told RFA.Wuhan residents said the government was paying families 3,000 yuan for "funeral allowances" in exchange for silence."There have been a lot of funerals in the past few days, and the authorities are handing out 3,000 yuan in hush money to families who get their loved ones' remains laid to rest ahead of Qing Ming," Wuhan resident Chen Yaohui said, in a reference to the traditional grave tending festival on April 5.“During the epidemic, they transferred cremation workers from around China to Wuhan keep cremate bodies around the clock," he added.China has used state propaganda in an attempt to avoid blame for the spreading of COVID-19, despite reports showing how the government suppressed initial reports of human-to-human transmission and gagged Wuhan labs that discovered the novel virus resembled the deadly SARS virus of 2002-2003.

  • World
    Yahoo News UK

    Coronavirus: North Korea claims to have no cases, but what is really happening?

    North Korea banned tourists and quarantined thousands of people in its efforts to fight coronavirus.