IRS Announces Permanent Expansion of Free Online Tax Filing Program

The IRS’s trial of a free online tax filing program this year is set to become a permanent fixture, with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen revealing plans for its expansion. Dubbed “Direct File,” this digital platform will undergo integration with state tax systems and a broadening of its capabilities beyond its current limited deductions processing, as announced by Yellen and IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel.

“We’re making Direct File — the new product we piloted this year — permanent,” affirmed Yellen, citing the increased IRS funding from the Inflation Reduction Act as a contributing factor.

Werfel indicated that while the scale of the expansion remains undecided, it will progressively accommodate a broader range of tax scenarios over the forthcoming years, with a particular focus on those pertinent to “working families.”

Presently, the system can only handle income received in the form of W2 wages, the predominant payment method for most U.S. workers, alongside a select few credits such as the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit. Werfel highlighted various tax scenarios where there was a notable demand for inclusion in Direct File, including health care and retirement tax credits.

“The premium tax credit — under the Affordable Care Act, those that get their health insurance in the affordable care act marketplace and therefore receive a premium tax credit. That was something that was not in our eligibility scope this year,” explained Werfel, adding, “There were other refundable tax credits that were out of scope. There was certain retirement income that was out of scope.”

Senator Ron Wyden, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, lauded the development as “tremendous news for taxpayers all over the country who are tired of getting ripped off by the big tax prep companies that routinely upcharge for unnecessary services, oversell the quality of their products and offer crummy customer service.” Wyden commended Werfel and Secretary Yellen for their approach, noting the careful testing and development of the service before its expansion.

In contrast, Republicans and the private tax preparation software industry have criticized the initiative. House Republicans moved to defund Direct File shortly after assuming control of the lower chamber in 2023. Senate Finance Committee ranking member Mike Crapo expressed concerns about the IRS’s legal authority to implement such a program without congressional authorization in a statement last year.

Thursday’s announcement did not delve into additional types of income that could become eligible for Direct File, such as investment returns, rental property income, or independent contractor income filed on 1099-Ks.

The process of expanding Direct File will commence with the identification of additional states to be included beyond the initial 12 where it was accessible this year.

“It really depends on state readiness,” noted Werfel. “There will be no limit to the number of states that can participate in the coming year.”

The projected cost of the program for the next year could reach up to $75 million, as outlined in the IRS’s strategic operating plan annual supplement, a figure that Werfel assured would not be “significantly or materially exceed.”

Gold Prices Surge Amid Geopolitical Tensions and Federal Reserve Policies

Gold prices have experienced significant growth in recent months. The Indian Bullion Jewelers Association (IBJA) reported that on Tuesday, the price of 10 grams of 24-carat gold reached Rs 74,220, up from Rs 73,383 in the previous trading session on May 17.

“Gold may be able to sustain at higher levels only if the Fed cuts rates, and the US$ starts declining against currency majors,” stated a report by Emkay Wealth Management, a brokerage firm.

As of April 30, 2024, physical gold has achieved a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.42 percent over the past 12 months, and it has provided absolute returns of 6.78 percent over a one-month period in April.

The report highlights that gold prices have risen from a long-standing base of around US$ 2050 to a new range. This increase is primarily due to tensions in the Middle East and the Federal Reserve’s stance on policy rates.

The market has found some relief from the de-escalation of geopolitical tensions, although the potential for further conflict remains.

Despite resistance at the current levels of approximately US$2370 – US$2390, significant price corrections appear unlikely due to ongoing demand from central banks and retail consumers.

Best Trading Styles for CFD Traders

There are four basic trading styles which are used by most of the CFD traders, and those are trend trading or longer-term position trade, swing trade, day trade, and scalping. Here we will discuss those popular styles and provide the advanced idea of which style will be better for which type of traders.

Popular Trade styles in Forex

1.      Scalping

Scalping indicates a special type of trade, which generally stays less than 15 minutes for 15 to 20 pips of profit or less. When an investor is doing scalping, he does it by setting a time frame of 1 to 5 minutes. The opportunity of upside is limited here because larger time frames take all of the pips.

Experts do not recommend the practice of scalping for the newbies as there is a huge chance of loss in a shorter time frame. Scalping works as a defense management system as most of the traders have a lack of knowledge and effective business plan. Scalping has no future, and even some traders do not want to scalp generally. 

There are so many reasons to consider scalping as a bad trade strategy. Due to scalping Forex, the money management ration becomes negative, and eventually, a trader loses his funds. For each pip that is at risk, an investor cannot make more than one pip as profit. Experts know that this amount of profit is too small, and 50% of the time, they may lose their whole account.

Scalpers do not follow any appropriate style that can be helpful in the long run. Most of the businessmen face high risk with a lot of leveraging as a part of their scalping method as scalping is not a good practice, so it will be a good practice to use the other styles in the CFD market too. Scalping is considered a poor method which deals with a huge financial risk.

2.      Intraday trading

We find this style where the investors open a trade and close it on the same day. In the FX market, most of the activities occur in the main session, and a day business is executed base on the movement cycles of small time-frames such as M5, M15, or M30 with a duration of 1 to 6 hours. When someone enters into a day trading, his pip potential is generally 20 pips to 175 pips per entry, which mostly depends on market volatility.

3.      Swing trading

Swing is an individual cycle based on the H4 time-frame, and the holding time frame is 3 to 6 days or longer. Swing trade works best in a trending market, and if currency pairs are on an uptrend on frames like W1 and MN, then traders prefer to use H4 swing cycles. Experts believe the swing trading style will be helpful for beginners because it maintains the proper risk and reward ratio, and the amount of profit can be higher.

4.      Position trading

Position trade is guided by the highest time-frame such as D1 or W1 time frames, and investors hold the trade until the rise of the trend. A successful position trader always focuses on the risk management system by setting a stop-loss order in advance. In position trade, the holding period varies from weeks to months or even years, and it provides a great facility of liquidity.

There are so many styles for the Forex trade, but mastering the style varies from person to person. Some of the businessmen show their skill on swing business based on three to six days, and some of them prove their efficiency as day traders. But all of them are the same in the opinion that they should avoid the practice of scalping and set a mindset of trade based on a longer time frame with proper money management methods

Apple launches MacBook Air with first Apple-designed microprocessors

Apple Inc has introduced a MacBook Air notebook computer with the first Apple-designed microprocessor, called the M1, a move that will tie its Macs and iPhones closer together technologically.

The new chip marks a shift away from Intel Corp <INTC.O> technology that has driven the electronic brains of Mac computers for nearly 15 years.

It is a boon for Apple computers, which are overshadowed by the company’s iPhone but still rack up tens of billions of dollars in sales per year. Apple hopes developers now will create families of apps that work on both computers and phones.


Apple executives said the M1 was intended to be efficient as well as fast, to improve battery life, and that Apple’s newest version of its operating system was tuned to the processor.

Apple software chief Craig Federighi said Adobe Inc would bring its Photoshop software to the new M1-based Macs early next year.

In June, Apple said it would begin outfitting Macs with its own chips, building on its decade-long history of designing processors for its iPhones, iPads and Apple Watches.

Apple’s phone chips draw on computing architecture technology from Arm Ltd and manufactured by outside partners such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp.

Power efficiency – that is, getting the most computing done per watt of energy consumed – is one of Apple’s key aims.

Microsoft Corp <MSFT.O> and Qualcomm Corp <QCOM.O> have been working together for four years to bring Arm-based Windows laptops to market, with major manufacturers such as Lenovo Group Ltd <0992.HK>, Asustek Computer <2357.TW> and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd <005930.KS> offering machines.

But for both Microsoft and Apple, the true test will be software developers. Apple is hoping that the massive group of iPhone developers will embrace the new Macs, which will share a common 64-bit Arm computing architecture with the iPhone and be able to use similar apps.

In the meantime, Apple has seen a boom in Mac sales due to the coronavirus pandemic, notching record fiscal fourth quarter Mac sales of $9 billion (£7 billion) earlier this month – all of them Intel-based. In June, Chief Executive Tim Cook said Apple will continue to support those devices for “years to come” but did not specify an end-of-life date.

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Franicsco and Peter Henderson in Oakland; Editing by Aurora Ellis and Rosalba O’Brien)

Shanghai spending big to build the new ‘Silicon Valley’

New Lingang Area, which aims to be a global innovation district, houses Tesla factories that will build electric vehicles and the world’s biggest planetarium; it will be an industrial base for production of integrated circuits and semiconductors, officials say. (ATF) Officials in Shanghai have announced they are investing billions of yuan into building a ‘new Silicon Valley’ set-up, full of companies in emerging industries.

“Over the past year, more than half of 78 policy tasks have been completed; high-end resource elements have accelerated the grouping of Lingang New Area, involving a total investment of more than 270 billion yuan (over US$40.4 billion),” the deputy secretary-general of Shanghai Municipal Government and secretary of the Party Working Committee of Lingang New Area, said.

Known as the Shanghai Lingang New Area, this will be a national rival to similar areas in Beijing and Shenzhen, as well as global innovation centers. Emerging industries have already migrated to the area, while institutional innovations have also set up shop. According to this will be a new business district like Lujiazui. Lujiazui is the area of skyscrapers that make up the famous Shanghai skyline.

The Shanghai Lingang New Area is next to the Dishui Lake – an ancient scenic area in the neighbouring city of Suzhou, which is slowly becoming part of the large growing Shanghai metropolis. The area is famous for being the home of ancient scholars. Suzhou is essentially becoming a suburb of Shanghai, only a few minutes away by high-speed train.

Zhu Zhisong, executive deputy director of the management committee, said in an interview with “We have two small goals: one is to invest 200 billion yuan in frontier science and technology industries by the end of this year. The other is to build meeting the needs of modern urban functioning construction.

“We strive to achieve 200 billion yuan in projects started by the end of the year, and make greater contributions to the integrated development of the Yangtze River Delta.

“Our production line is very sensitive to vibration (from traffic), so the requirements for the production environment are very high, so as to ensure continuous operation of the equipment,” Zhu added.

Semiconductor production line 

Shanghai Jita Semiconductor Co Ltd will be based in the new area. CEO Yin Buhua told reporters that according to the plan, the first phase of project plans is to build a 0.11μm/0.13μm/0.18μm (micron)-process production lines with a monthly capacity of 60,000 8-inch wafers. All kinds of production lines will achieve full mass production this year. It plans to expand the 12-inch special-process production line to a monthly production capacity of 50,000 pieces. 

“Our chips are used in automotive electronics, rail transit, smart grid and other fields. After full production, it will become a leading domestic automotive-grade semiconductor production line,” Yin Buhua said.

Wu Qunfeng, director of the Risk Prevention Division, said that the Lingang New Area has signed contracts and plans to implement integrated-circuit projects in the near future with a total investment of nearly 160 billion yuan ($24 billion).

It will build a national integrated-circuit industrial base, with a full supply chain. He said it will be known as the ‘Eastern Core Port,’ and will include aircraft facilities.

Aircraft Park

One portion of the area will be known as the ‘Big Aircraft Park’ to promote the convergence of aviation manufacturing and aviation services, develop final assembly delivery, key facilities, production support, technology research and development, aviation culture and tourism and other industrial fields, and cultivate a world-class aviation industry cluster.

In August this year, the “Lingang New Area Innovative Industry Plan” was released. The industrial development of the new area must not only improve the “quantity”, but also achieve a breakthrough in the “quality” of such zones, officials announced.

On September 7 this year, the commercial entity registration confirmation system was officially implemented in the Lingang New Area Industry-City Integration Zone. It has a range of approximately 386 square kilometres. 

As early as last year, this policy was written into the overall plan of the Lingang New Area; in March this year, after the inauguration of the Lingang New Area Market Supervision and Administration Bureau, it was clearly proposed that the reform of the registration confirmation system for commercial entities would be promoted in a coordinated manner. 

Now that the policy has been implemented, many entrepreneurs have begun setting up shop. “Lingang is becoming more and more like a complete city,” the general manager of Shanghai CRRC Essendi Marine Equipment Co Ltd said.

The world’s most famous and creative high-tech hub is Silicon Valley, in the southern San Francisco Bay Area of California, which has been the home of many start-ups and global technology companies, such as Apple, Facebook and Google. Whether Lingang New Area can match this in any way, only time will tell. But local officials certainly appear to share that ambition.

The power of digital currencies

Central banks in Europe and elsewhere are finally waking up to the risks that fintech innovations, such as digital currencies and stablecoins, could pose to the traditional banking system and financial stability if they become popular.

With an ever increasing need  in reducing morbidity and mortality due to heart attacks and strokes, especially among Indians and  Indian Americans, the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) and the American Heart Association (AHA) joined hands together for the first time for a Global Initiat (ATF) With a clear eye on China, the European Central Bank has sounded the alarm that Europe could lose its very sovereignty, not just its economic autonomy, if it fails to develop a digital euro. The warning is a reminder of how much is at stake politically in the global race for new electronic forms of central bank money. 

In a recent report on the pros and cons of a digital euro, the ECB doesn’t actually name China. It doesn’t need to. The Federal Reserve is still studying whether to issue a central bank digital currency (CBDC) while Japan has no immediate plan to do so. China, by contrast, is already conducting advanced trials of its Digital Currency /Electronic Payment (DE/EP). 

The ECB says it is examining the idea primarily because people are abandoning cash in favour of fast electronic payments. “It’s simply a matter of making our currency fit for the digital age,” said ECB President Christine Lagarde said when asked by French newspaper Le Monde whether the ECB was mounting a geopolitical response to the emergence of the digital yuan.

That is no doubt true. Central bankers are finally waking up to the risks that fintech innovations pose for the traditional banking system and hence for financial stability. They are also aghast that Facebook’s proposed Libra stablecoin might threaten their monetary monopoly.

But the concerns of the ECB – and of Europe’s politicians – go wider.

Concern over digital currencies

The report notes that if foreign central banks made their digital currencies available outside their jurisdictions, European citizens could switch out of the euro and foreign exchange risk in the euro area would increase. At the same time, instruments like Libra not denominated in euro could become widely used for European retail payments. 

“Such developments would foster innovation but could also threaten European financial, economic and, ultimately, political sovereignty,” the ECB says.

This is strong stuff from a central bank. As Philip Middleton and Alastair Ryan put it in a report for BoA Securities: “We can see why a central bank would not particularly fancy this. If European payments were to be dominated by Mark Zuckerberg and Xi Jinping, the ability of the ECB to influence the Eurozone economy would be severely constrained.” 

The EU has been half-hearted in the past about deploying the euro as an instrument of political power. The dollar towers over the single currency by every measure, from its share in global central bank reserves to its use in trade invoicing and international bond issuance. 

But the ECB report sums up how attitudes are changing: “Euro area leaders recently stressed that a strong international role of the euro is an important factor in reinforcing European economic autonomy.”

Wide acceptance of a means of payment or store of value not denominated in euro could impair the transmission of monetary policy in the euro area and could ultimately affect financial stability, the ECB explains.

‘Digital euro could support sovereignty, stability’

“In such circumstances, issuance of a digital euro could support European sovereignty and stability, in particular in the monetary and financial dimensions,” it says. That word ‘sovereignty’ again.

In case the political motive was still unclear, the report says a cutting-edge digital currency would “preserve the global reputation of the euro” and support its international role.

In a narrow sense, the ECB is worried that widespread use of foreign CBDCs in the euro area would curtail its room for monetary manoeuvre. ECB researchers Massimo Minesso Ferrari, Arnaud Mehi and Livio Stracca posit that it would need to react twice as much to inflation and output in the presence of a CBDC.

But it is left to the less diplomatic Australian Strategic Policy Institute to spell out the geopolitical prizes that China’s DC/EP could deliver for the Communist party, which has a stated aim of challenging the dollar’s global supremacy. 

“DC/EP intersects with China’s ambitions to shape global technological and financial standards, for example, through the promotion of RMB internationalisation and fintech standards-setting along sites of the Belt and Road Initiative,” the ASPI said in a report.

Alternative to SWIFT?

In the long term, a successful DC/EP could therefore greatly expand the party-state’s ability to mould economic behaviour well beyond China’s borders. For one thing, it could serve as an alternative to SWIFT, a secure financial messaging service at the core of the global banking system.

Because it has access to SWIFT communications on national security grounds, the US is able to extend the territorial reach of its laws – a source of deep concern to China and many other countries, especially those under international sanctions, such as Iran. 

If it could provide a functional alternative to the dollar settlement system, DC/EP would blunt the impact of any sanctions or threats of exclusion both at a country and company level, the ASPI argued.

China thus has a powerful incentive to blaze the digital currency trail. It is well ahead of its rivals. Not until this month did a clutch of leading central banks – but not the People’s Bank of China – agree on what the main features of a CBDC should be.

For its part, the ECB won’t decide until mid-2021 whether even to formally investigate a digital euro project. “The primary motivation is not that others are ahead,” said Fabio Panetta, an ECB Executive Board member who oversaw the ECB’s exploratory report

Risk of bank runs, CBDC costs, volatile capital flows

Indeed, the report is laced with warnings about the potential drawbacks of a CBDC. For instance, euro area citizens could swap their commercial bank deposits for central bank money, undermining the banking system and increasing the risk of bank runs. (This is a reservation shared, incidentally, by BoA’s analysts, who are very wary of the policy costs of running a CBDC.)

The report also speaks of the need to discourage excessive use of the digital euro as an investment to reduce the risk of attracting huge international investment flows: “The design of the digital euro should include specific conditions for access and use by non-euro area residents, to ensure that it does not contribute to excessively volatile capital flows or exchange rates.”

These words of caution may be warranted, but they hardly constitute a ringing call for the euro to sally forth, dethrone the dollar and nip the yuan’s challenge in the bud. 

But they will be music to the ears of Chinese policymakers, who are fully aware of the power of currencies. They also know from their own history the advantage of moving first when it comes to currencies. After all, in the 7th century it was China that was the first to use paper money.

(Alan Wheatley is an associate fellow at Chatham House, the London think-tank. He was formerly the global economics correspondent and China economics editor for Reuters.)

Mayur Gupta, Raja Rajamannar and Vineet Mehra Among Forbes’ Most Influential CMOs of 2020

Forbes magazine Oct. 1 unveiled its eighth annual World’s Most Influential CMOs list, honoring the top marketers worldwide, with three Indian Americans named among the 50 honorees.

Forbes used data from news reports, websites and social networks to measure influence, and worked with research partners Sprinklr and LinkedIn for the 2020 list, it said. Among the group were Mayur Gupta, Raja Rajamannar and Vineet Mehra. Gupta, at No. 14 on the list, is the former CMO at Freshly.

As Gupta explained to Forbes in April, when he was still CMO of the meal-delivery company, Freshly pulled back on a lot of its usual marketing and is instead relying on organic traffic and word of mouth while also switching from a top-of-funnel strategy to something more focused on partnerships and customer engagement, Forbes notes in its report.

It also partnered with Nestlé to donate $500,000 to Meals On Wheels to serve senior citizens across the country, the magazine wrote.

“We felt that during this time even though we’re still a growth-stage company, we had the responsibility to take care of people who are highest at risk,” Gupta had said, according to the report. Gupta departed Freshly in May and is now chief marketing and strategy officer at media-company Gannett.

At No. 18 was Rajamannar, the chief marketing and communications officer at Mastercard. In an April thought piece in Mastercard’s LinkedIn newsletter “Marketing Sense,” Rajamannar explained how he believes brands should respond to Covid-19, the report notes.

Among his directives: “In these uncertain times, brands can be either destroyed or elevated. The outcome depends on their response. Brands’ considerations must reach beyond businesses. In these trying times, marketers need to identify how their brand can best convey compassion.”

Long one of Forbes’ World’s Most Influential CMOs known for his innovation and industry leadership, Rajamannar actively shared his expertise with peer CMOs during the pandemic, it said.

“As I have said before, and it is even more relevant today, marketers need to operate like general managers—general managers that have a deep knowledge in marketing,” he said in an interview with Brand Equity.

Mehra, the global CMO and chief customer officer at Walgreens Boots Alliance, is No. 43 on the list. Committed to democratizing health and wellness, per Mehra, he prioritizes data-based, personalized shopping and experiences for Walgreens and Boots customers, Fobres wrote.

In an interview with tech partner Microsoft, he said, “The recent events around the racial equality movement are showing there are ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ in our society. Your postal code, in some cases, dictates your health outcome more than your genetic code,” according to the report.

“We have pharmacy deserts in America. We have food deserts. We have areas without access to health care. But imagine if we knew who you were, we could offer those experiences to you in multiple ways,” he continued. “We can offer up an experience to deliver it direct to your door. And we’ll set up delivery lockers in certain neighborhoods where people can pick things up.”

The eighth annual special report that assesses measures of influence—defined as the impact a chief marketer’s actions and words have on his or her internal organization’s motivation and performance, corporate brand perception, broader marketing and advertising trends and, ultimately, corporate financial performance, including stock price — this year also evaluated influence as impact on corporate, industry or community response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the racial-justice movement. 

This year, 427 global CMOs were eligible for consideration. To be eligible for evaluation, CMOs or their brand must have appeared on at least one major brand or marketing list in the past year. To make the Top 50, a CMO must be in the top 20 percent of CMOs on at least three different indicators of personal, industry or internal influence, or show extraordinary impact visibility on the conversation around Covid-19 or Black Lives Matter.

Indian Immigrants Send Back Home $11.72 Billion a Year

With hundreds of American banks and financial institutions shuttering physical branches due to COVID-19, it’s now even more difficult for the US-based Indian immigrant community to send money back home, which totals $11.72 billion annually. As an alternative to traditional in-person money transfers, Paysend digitizes the entire money transfer process via its mobile app, making it easier and safer to send money abroad.

Starting Sept. 22, 2020, to support US-based customers who send money to loved ones across borders, Paysend is waiving fees for digital money transfers from the US to India. This offer includes 70+ other countries and runs throughout October 31.

America’s 9 million expatriates, 47 million immigrants and 1 million foreign exchange students continue to navigate living abroad in the face of the novel Coronavirus and its economic impacts. The announcement comes on the heels of Paysend’s U.S. launch, which enables American residents to securely transfer funds internationally across accounts operated in more than 70 countries within minutes — without visiting a physical bank location.

“As people around the world struggle to financially navigate COVID-19, it is more important now than ever for every individual to have an affordable, safe and accessible way to send money internationally,” said Matt Montes, Paysend’s U.S.-based general manager. “Since the start of 2020, nearly one million new global users have joined Paysend’s platform – transferring money to loved ones around the world, without leaving the comfort and safety of their homes. Since the U.S. is home to the largest global transfer market in the world, we wanted to further accelerate peer-to-peer (P2P) payments during this difficult time by waiving transaction fees.” To take advantage of zero-fee money transfers during the month of October, U.S. residents can download the Paysend mobile app from the App Store or Google Play. Paysend’s standard $2 transfer fee will automatically be waived through October 31, 2020 for money transfers sent from U.S. customers to international cards, bank accounts or digital wallets in more than 70 countries.



MacKenzie Scott has become the world’s richest woman

MacKenzie Scott — philanthropist, author and ex-wife of Amazon (AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos — is now the wealthiest woman in the world.

Scott’s net worth is now $68 billion, propelling her past L’Oréal heiress Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaire index.

Scott received a quarter of Bezos’ Amazon shares in the couple’s divorce settlement in 2019. That equated to a 4% stake that was worth more than $35 billion at the time. She is now the 12th wealthiest person in the world.

In July, Scott announced that she had already donated nearly $1.7 billion to 116 organizations that included four historically Black colleges and universities. She described the organizations as focusing on one of nine “areas of need” ranging from racial equity to climate change.

Last year, Scott also signed onto the Giving Pledge initiative, founded by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates. The initiative encourages the world’s richest people to dedicate a majority of their wealth to charitable causes.

Bezos, the world’s richest man, hasn’t signed the pledge, according to a list of signatories.Amazon’s stock jumped roughly 28% over the last three months, and is up more than 90% so far this year, according to data from Refinitiv. The soar in shares increased the wealth of Bezos to over $200 billion.Scott’s bump up in wealth follows a surge in tech stock gains, which has led to other billionaire ranking shake ups at the top. Earlier this week, Elon Musk surpassed Mark Zuckerberg to become the third richest person in the world. Tesla saw a 12% stock gain after Tesla’s 5-1 stock split last week. 

Jeff Bezos 1st person ever to be worth over $200 billion

Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has become the world’s first person with a net worth of over $200 billion, according to Forbes and Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The net worth of the world’s richest person went up by $4.9 billion after Amazon stock edged up 2% as of Wednesday afternoon, Forbes reported. The explosive growth in Bezos’ fortune is being driven by his holdings in Amazon (AMZN). The company’s stock is up about 25% over the last three months and 86% so far this year, according to data from Refinitiv.Bezos, who founded Amazon in 1994, keeps breaking records with his wealth. In 2017, he became the richest person on the planet. And last month, his estimated net worth jumped to almost $172 billion, marking a new global high. Bezos also owns aerospace company Blue Origin, the Washington Post and other private investments. However, his nearly 11 per cent stake in Amazon makes up over 90 per cent of his massive fortune. The e-commerce giant saw a huge spike in demands for its services amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Since the beginning of 2020, Amazon stock is up nearly 80 per cent, said the Forbes report, adding that Bezos’ net worth on January 1 was roughly $115 billion. While Forbes said that Bezos became worth $204.6 billion at 1.50 pm EDT on Wednesday, the Bloomberg Billionaires Index currently puts his net worth at $202 billion. The person who is closest to Bezos now is Microsoft Co-Founder Bill Gates who is currently worth $116.1 billion, according to Forbes, while the Bloomberg Billionaires Index put his net worth at $124 billion.As per the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Bezos’ fortune is equivalent to 3.02% of the total wealth of the 500 richest people in the world. The person who is closest to Bezos now is Microsoft Co-Founder Bill Gates who is currently worth $116.1 billion, according to Forbes, while the Bloomberg Billionaires Index put his net worth at $124 billion.Meanwhile, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth increased to $115 billion as his wealth rose by a whopping $8.49 billion on a single day.  Tesla CEO Elon Musk also entered the centibillionaires club with his net worth climbing to $101 billion on the back of a strong rally in US stocks. 

Two gold nuggets worth $350,000 found in Australia

Two gold nuggets worth around $350,000 (£190,000; US$250,000) have been discovered by a pair of diggers in southern Australia. Brent Shannon and Ethan West found the nuggets near goldmining town Tarnagulla in Victoria state.

Their lucky find was shown on TV show Aussie Gold Hunters, which aired on Thursday. The men dug up the ground and used metal detectors to detect gold in the area.

“These are definitely one of the most significant finds,” Ethan West said, according to CNN. “To have two large chunks in one day is quite amazing.”

They found the nuggets, which have a combined weight of 3.5kg (7.7lb), in a number of hours with the help of Mr West’s father, according to the Discovery Channel which airs the program.

The show, which is also broadcast in the UK, follows teams of gold prospectors who dig in goldfields in remote parts of Australia.

“I reckoned we were in for a chance,” Mr Shannon told Australian TV show Sunrise. “It was in a bit of virgin ground, which means it’s untouched and hasn’t been mined.”

West said that during four years of mining for gold, he is picked up “probably thousands” of pieces. The Discovery Channel also said collectors could pay up to 30% more for the nuggets than their estimated value.

In 2019 an Australian man unearthed a 1.4kg (49oz) gold nugget worth an estimated A$100,000 (£54,000; $69,000) using a metal detector.

Gold mining in Australia began in the 1850s, and remains a significant industry in the country.

The town of Tarnagulla itself was founded during the Victoria Gold Rush and became very wealthy for a period of time when keen prospectors moved there to make their fortune, according to a local website.

US Stock Market Hits Its First Record Since The Pandemic Started

The S&P 500 (SPX) closed at an all-time high on Tuesday, August 18th  for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic hit the United States. The index, which is the broadest measure of Wall Street, had been hovering in record territory for days but repeatedly fell short of reaching the milestone. But Tuesday was finally the day. It close up 0.2%, the first record since February 19.

The record is a big deal, because it means it only took Wall Street five months to go from the most recent trough — after the pandemic selloff in March — to a new peak. This would make the Covid bear market the shortest in history, at just 1.1 months, said S&P Dow Jones Indices’ Howard Silverblatt. Stocks fell into a bear market during the spring selloff.

“It’s hard to believe, but the 2020 bear market is officially over,” wrote UBS Global Wealth Management’s Americas CIO Solita Marcelli in a note to clients.  The market climbed higher on a combination of unprecedented fiscal and monetary stimulus in response to the pandemic, as well as hopes for a swift economic rebound.

“This is bittersweet news for some investors, who had hoped for another opportunity to buy more stocks on another market decline. On the bright side, this new bull market still offers opportunities for investors,” Marcelli said.

Although large-cap US stocks have been climbing higher over the summer, smaller American companies, as well as international stocks have more room to run. By other definitions, a new bull market is only achieved after a 20% rally that doesn’t get undercut within six months. This would be the case next month unless the market witnesses a dramatic selloff.

“Many continue to wonder why stocks are at new highs with 10% unemployment and nearly a million people filing for initial unemployment claims. The truth is economic data is backward looking and stocks are looking ahead to a much brighter future,” said Ryan Detrick, Chief Investment Strategist for LPL Financial in emailed comments. The Nasdaq Composite (COMP) also finished at a record high on Tuesday, up 0.7%, although it only had to exceed Monday’s peak to accomplish that. The Dow (INDU) was the odd index out, closing the day lower, dragged down by losses in the energy and financial sectors. It ended down 0.2%, or 67 points. The index remains 6% below its peak.

TK Mathew Announces Candidacy For Tax Collector

TK Mathew, a 20-year veteran businessman who’s lived in Hillsborough County since 1991, has announced his candidacy for Hillsborough County Tax Collector. Mr. Mathew believes that those who live in Hillsborough County pay for top-quality service and they deserve to get it. His years in the private sector have prepared him to take the Hillsborough county tax collector’s services to the next phase, with high efficiency and high quality in every aspect of the office’s operations around the county, making the Hillsborough County Tax Collector’s office, “the most modern, fast and efficient agency in the United States.”
In addition to his experience in the private sector, Mr. Mathew spent four years working for Mr. Belden in the Hillsborough county tax collector’s office. Because of this, he understands the challenges confronting both sides of the tax collection process. This crucial experience has given him a unique perspective and motivated him to enter the tax collector’s race with the hope of streamlining services and processes so that individuals, business owners, and the county are all better off.
Hillsborough County is growing rapidly, and we need to address new challenges and expand our service accordingly. Mr. Mathew would like to bring the latest technology available to our office so we can serve our citizens better and faster. He hopes to work with other agencies within the Hillsborough county government, to include if possible, opening satellite offices in underserved areas in Hillsborough County. He also intends to provide Hillsborough county’s almost 100,000 veterans, first responders, and law enforcement officers with expedited service as a thank you for their service to our nation and citizens.
In pursuit of this goal, Mr. Mathew has set forth a plan that includes opening more neighborhood locations to serve Hillsborough County taxpayers. In addition, he plans on hiring enough well qualified and trained representatives so that wait times are minimized and quality customer service becomes a greater priority.
Along with increasing the number of service locations and well qualified personnel, Mr. Mathew has made known his intention of restructuring the salary of all Tax Collector Office employees in order to increase employee retention and workplace quality. This will lead to greater customer service and customer satisfaction. “The Tax Collector’s office is spending millions in training new employees – and they’re leaving within short periods of time because of better paying jobs and other benefits offered by private sector employers. We need to pay them a fair wage for the work they’re doing because it’s important work. I would like to offer a better salary & benefits package which is equal to or better than the private sector employers for similar work because our employees deserve it and our citizens deserves quality customer service too,” he says.
Mr. Belden has said, “If it’s not broken, improve upon it.” This is TK Mathew’s motto as he enters the race for Hillsborough County Tax Collector. He believes that we have a good system in place that can be improved by increasing efficiency with newer technology and taking advantage of the existing resources with better management and training. He fully plans on taking the foundation we built up and improving upon it in every way possible to save money and save time for every single taxpayer in Hillsborough County.

Indian economy to slide at 60 year low, says IMF

India’s economic downturn is all the more steep considering that in the fourth quarter, India was one of the select few emerging market economies which performed better than expected — along with China, Thailand, Vietnam, Chile and Malaysia.

According to the IMF, the contraction in India’s economy marked a “historic low” and is the lowest since 1961, when the IMF started maintaining records of India’s GDP data. It also projected that India’s fiscal deficit is expected to increase by over 50%, from the earlier projection of 7.5% of GDP to 12.1% of GDP while debt will increase to 84% of GDP, from the April WEO projection of 74.4% of GDP.

 “There’re two main reasons for the downgrade for India — one, the partial lockdown has lasted much longer than we had assumed…and second, because, we’re still seeing rising cases in India,” said Gita Gopinath, Chief Economist, International Monetary Fund (IMF), unveiling the World Economic Outlook report, which projected that the Indian economy is set to contract by 4.5% in 2020-21, while the world economy would contract by 4.9% in 2020 in what has been dubbed as “the worst recession since the Great Depression” of the 1930s.

In April, the IMF had projected that the Indian economy will grow at 1.4% in the current fiscal year. The silver lining? There’s expected to be a sharp rebound in the next financial year, 2021-22, with a GDP growth rate of 6% — which however, will be lower than the April WEO projections of 7.4%.

The IMF’s Chief of World Economic Studies Division, Malhar Nabar, said that “there’s scope for more monetary policy support”, in response to a question if the downgrade reflected dissatisfaction at the Rs 20.97 lakh crore ‘stimulus’ package announced by the government last month. While appreciating the RBI’s interest rate cuts, that he said were more in the nature of “liquidity support actions”, and which “helped avert an even worse downturn”, Nabar added that India had “further room for support on the monetary policy side” to prevent “an even deeper slide”.

Asia has been among the fastest-growing regions in the world. During previous crises such as the Asian financial crisis in 1997 and the global financial crisis around 2008-2009, the region still managed to grow, said the International Monetary Fund.

But for the first time in 60 years, Asia as a region will not register any economic growth this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to IMF forecasts.

“While there is huge uncertainty about 2020 growth prospects, and even more so about the 2021 outlook, the impact of the coronavirus on the region will — across the board — be severe and unprecedented,” Chang Yong Rhee, director of IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department, wrote in a blog post.

Here are 4 Ways to Get Out of Debt Quick & Easy

No one wants to be in the state of insolvency, and if you are in such a state, then please continue to read the article below so that you can take advantage of our tips. You won’t regret it.

Apply for a Payday Loan

Usually, when you sign-up for a loan, it takes time for you to receive money. But, the same situation does not exist for a payday loan. The payday loan is a small loan with high-interest rates. When applying for a payday loan, you need to keep in mind that you receive part of the loan first, and then the remaining. So if you think to yourself, can I get a loan the same day? The answer is yes, and it’s effortless to apply to too. You can get payday loans online no credit check instant approval if you go to the right service.

Get a Job

Getting a job is a great way to help yourself get out of debt. It may not be quick, since you may have to wait 30 days to become insolvent, but the money will come soon enough. The type of job you wish to take up is completely on you. The best option, however, would be to take up seasonal employment or a part-time job. A part-time job is all you need to get over a small or medium debt. There is a range of jobs that you can take up: such as a part-time chef or waiter, or part-time teacher. You could even do small chores like mowing the lawn, cleaning a pool, and so much more.

Sell Articles You Don’t Need

Are there items at home that you don’t need? Do you feel that someone else can benefit from such articles? If yes, then why not sell such things in a yard sale? Besides a yard sale, there are several other ways by which you can sell such items. For instance, try platforms like eBay, Amazon, Etsy, and Nextdoor. You can also create your website and sell items there. If there isn’t something that you have to sell, then consider crafting something like a knitted purse, socks, handbags and sell. You could also sell food if you’re a good cook.

Ask a Close One for Help

If you have parents, a sibling/s or a close friend then why not borrow money? This is an easy and quick way to get out of debt. Now you may be thinking, if I have to borrow money, aren’t I in debt again? Well, technically, yes. You would still be in debt. However, the advantage here is that since you would be borrowing money from a loved one or a close confidant, your relation will be more lenient with you in returning the money, so what could be better? Moreover, be sure that if you are borrowing from a close friend to recover money on the date finalized as this could lead to hostility and lack of trust in the future.

US unemployment rate falls to 13.3%

The US labor market improved unexpectedly in May raising hopes that economic damage tied to the pandemic will be less harmful than feared. The unemployment rate fell to 13.3%, down from 14.7% in April, as businesses started hiring again.

Firms in the food, construction and health care sectors took on staff. In total, employers added 2.5 million jobs, with the education and retail sectors also recruiting. It came as US states started rolling back some of the tough measures put in place to control the spread of the coronavirus.

The job gains surprised economists, many of whom had warned the country could see the unemployment rate rise past 20% to a post-World War Two high.

Economist Justin Wolfers, a professor at the University of Michigan, tweeted: “It’s hard to escape the conclusion that the economy bottomed in early/mid May,” he said. “We’re in a massive and deep hole, and it’ll take a while to climb out, but at least the hole isn’t getting any deeper.”

President Donald Trump, who has maintained the economic rebound will be swift, immediately took to Twitter to celebrate the numbers and claim credit. “Really Big Jobs Report. Great going President Trump (kidding but true)!” he wrote.

‘Worst is behind’

The gains go only a small way towards making up for the more than 21 million jobs US employers cut in March and April, as lockdowns forced many businesses to shut their doors. In April, the unemployment rate hit 14.7%, the highest level since the Great Depression in the 1930s.

But Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia said the report showed that the economic re-opening has been more robust than thought.

“It appears that the worst of the coronavirus’s impact on the nation’s job markets is behind us,” he said.

The news cheered investors, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 up more than 2%, continuing a recovery in share prices from their March lows.

The job gains were not limited to the US.

In Canada, employers added 290,000 jobs – far more than expected. However, the unemployment rate shot to 13.7% – the highest level on record in data back to 1976.

‘Easy part of the recovery’?

As recently as February, the jobless rate in the US was hovering at 50-year lows of 3.5%.

On Friday, economists warned the path of the economic recovery still remained uncertain. They pointed out that the hiring in May came as the government released billions of dollars in emergency aid to businesses to cover wages for employees, encouraging recipients to recall staff.

Hiring by restaurants and bars accounted for roughly half of the jobs created last month. Dentist offices accounted for another 10%.

Many of the gains also came from individuals who had told surveyors that their layoffs were temporary.

“This means this was all the easy part of the recovery,” said economist Jason Furman, a top economic advisor to President Barack Obama.

The losses have hit minority and low-wage workers hardest, a trend that continued in May.

Among white workers, the unemployment rate fell to 12.4% from 14.2% in April. Unemployment also declined among Hispanic workers, from 18.9% to 17.6%.

For black workers, however, the unemployment rate ticked up from 16.7% to 16.8%.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption As businesses start reopening, firms are beginning to rehire employees

The US Labor Department has warned that the headline figures in recent months may underestimate the true jobless rate, due to discrepancies in how people describe their out-of-work status.

Economists say the unemployment rate is likely to still be about 10% at the end of the year – still quite high, and comparable to the peak following the financial crisis.

“We still think it will be a long time before the labour market is anywhere near back to its pre-virus state,” said Michael Pearce, senior US economist at Capital Economics.

But at a press conference on Friday, Mr Trump rejected those forecasts.

“We’ll go back to having the greatest economy anywhere in the world,” he said. “This is a rocket ship.”

Wealth Of US Billionaires Rose By $565 Billion During Pandemic

The past three months have been financially painful for many Americans — but not for billionaires.  However, US billionaires have become $565 billion richer since March 18, according to a report published last week by the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive think tank.

Total wealth for billionaires now stands at $3.5 trillion, up 19% from the low point near the beginning of the pandemic, the report said. Amazon (AMZN) boss Jeff Bezos alone is worth $36.2 billion more than he was on March 18.

Since that day, nearly 43 million Americans have filed for initial unemployment benefits. Lower-income workers, especially in travel and service-sector jobs, have been hit particularly hard by the health crisis.

With the anxiety and distress you may be feeling, wearing clothes that are in any way uncomfortable is simply not an option.

The numbers put an exclamation point on the deep divide between haves and have-nots that is helping to fuel unrest across the United States. Wealth inequality is likely to get even worse because of this crisis, experts say.

The acceleration of wealth for the richest Americans is being driven by the remarkable recovery of the stock market, which has skyrocketed in large part because of unprecedented action from the Federal Reserve.

“The stock market taking off — and decoupling from the real economy — is exacerbating inequality,” said Kristina Hooper, chief global market strategist at Invesco.

Despite the turmoil on the streets of US cities and a record 43 million Americans filing for unemployment benefits, the Nasdaq is on the cusp of hitting record highs — an astonishing feat that underscores how quickly Wall Street has rebounded.

The Fed’s emergency response, including slashing interest rates to zero and promising to buy unlimited amounts of bonds, was designed to make risky assets like stocks look more attractive. Investors have essentially been forced to gamble on equities — and Big Tech in particular is benefiting from that.

Large tech companies aren’t just surviving during the pandemic — many of them are thriving. The crisis has made Amazon, for instance, even more essential than it already was. Amazon shares have spiked 47% from their mid-March lows.

Facebook (FB) also swiftly recovered to record highs. The net worth of Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s co-founder and CEO, has climbed $30.1 billion since March 18, the IPS report found.

The report calculated billionaire wealth using data provided by the Forbes Global Billionaires List, a real-time assessment of net worth. March 18 is used as the starting date because that is the date tied to the 2020 Forbes Global Billionaire survey. It also roughly matches up with when US states and the federal government began imposing health restrictions.

Other tech power players have also amassed more wealth over the past three months. The net worth of Tesla (TSLA) boss Elon Musk, Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page and former Microsoft (MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer have all climbed by $13 billion or more apiece since March 18, the report found.

Unemployment could soon hit nearly 20%

Meanwhile, the United States has been gripped by mass unemployment caused by social distancing requirements imposed to fight the pandemic.

Economists expect Friday’s jobs report to show the United States lost another 8 million jobs in May, lifting the pandemic tally to 28.5 million — three times the number of jobs lost during the Great Recession. The unemployment rate is expected to climb to nearly 20%, higher than it’s been since the Great Depression.

“Surging billionaire wealth juxtaposed with the suffering and plight of millions undermines the social solidarity required for us to recover together in the years ahead,” Chuck Collins, co-author of the IPI report, said in a statement.

Of course, millions of average Americans are also benefiting from the V-shaped recovery in the stock market. The rebound has lifted the value of investment portfolios, pension funds and retirement accounts. Even just betting on a vanilla fund that tracks the S&P 500 would have given investors a tidy return of nearly 40% since the March 23 lows.

About 52% of families owned stocks directly or indirectly through retirement plans like 401(k)s, according to 2016 stats from the Federal Reserve.

Yet a surging stock market helps the rich more than the rest of the country. That’s because the top 10% of households owned 84% of all stocks in 2016, according to NYU professor Edward Wolff.

These trends help explain the unrest that has gripped the United States. Although the initial catalyst was police brutality, the protests and riots are taking place in a nation divided across racial and economic lines. And those fault lines appear to be growing during the pandemic.

“You’ve got a combustible concoction of lost income and inequality,” said Joe Brusuelas, chief economist at RSM International.

Will There Be A Second Round Of Stimulus Check In June?

Congress could decide on a second wave of stimulus checks this month. If it passes, the package could be the last relief check coming to Americans as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s the update today and what could happen next.

Congress seems to be moving closer to a decision on a second round of economic stimulus payments for individuals and families, but details haven’t yet taken shape The US House of Representatives passed a fourth stimulus relief package last week by 208 votes to 199. The $3 trillion Heroes Act includes a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks, another $200 billion in hazard pay for essential workers, and six further months of COVID-19 unemployment along with other help for state and local assistance.

The HEROES (Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions) Act will still face significant opposition from the Republican-controlled Senate and the White House but if the bill fails to pass into law after debate on the floor of the upper house, a consensus compromise is still expected to be reached between Democrats and Republicans to provide hard-hit Americans with a second round of financial support sometime during May or possibly June at this rate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said last Friday that if Congress does take up another round of stimulus payments, it will be the “final” one, CNBC reported. McConnell also said that senators could decide in “about a month” whether to move ahead with a second relief check, according to CNBC.

The first stimulus checks for up to $1,200 apiece were initially intended as a one-time payment to help the people and businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak. That includes people who couldn’t work because they got sick, received limited work hours or lost their jobs when businesses closed as a measure to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Now, with surging unemployment and a potential global recession ahead, some wonder if the first check did enough for individuals, families, businesses and those who are out of work and are looking at how best to distribute additional aid.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in its monthly assessment that 38.6 million Americans sought unemployment benefits (PDF) in the past 10 weeks. That number has reached 42 million people, CBS News reported last week.

Earlier this month, White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett projected that unemployment could reach 20% “by June.”

That appears to be the case already for Nevada, Hawaii and Michigan. During a recent Senate hearing, the Chair of the Federal Reserve Jerome Powell called for additional economic relief. And earlier this month, the International Monetary Fund forecast a deep global recession that could become the worst since the Great Depression.

Some Members of Congress even sent a letter to the Treasury recommending high-tech options such as blockchain to help speed up delivery and offer transparency of the payments. However, the only technological move from Secretary Mnuchin appears to be allowing debit cards for now.

On the other hand, not only have Republican senators lined up to oppose the plan, Senate Democrats say they are concerned about what they see as a massive untargeted expense, The Hill reported.

“I’d like to take a look at all that aid we provided and get good economic information on the value for that, from the point of view of our economy but more importantly on fairness to people who are really hurt,” Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Maryland), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, told The Hill.

Cardin said rather than issue a second set of checks to all taxpayers, the government should focus on the households that have been hardest hit by COVID-19’s economic impact. As the Senate determines what the next bailout bill should look like, lawmakers in both parties are ranking their priorities. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) of the Finance Committee said she was not a fan of the checks.

“One-time payments are not what people need, she told The Hill. “What people need is a paycheck. They need ongoing income until this is done. That’s what they need.”

‘Human development on course to decline after 30 yrs’

Global human development, which can be measured as a combination of the world’s education, health and living standards, could decline this year for the first time since the concept was introduced in 1990, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) warned.

“The world has seen many crises over the past 30 years, including the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-09. Each has hit human development hard but, overall, development gains accrued globally year-on-year,” UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency on Wednesday.

“COVID-19, with its triple hit to health, education, and income, may change this trend.”

Declines in fundamental areas of human development are being felt across most countries, rich and poor, in every region, according to a UNDP statement.

The worldwide COVID-19 death toll has increased to 328,095, while the global per capita income this year is expected to fall by 4 per cent, it said.

With school closures, UNDP estimates of the “effective out-of-school rate”, the percentage of primary school-age children, adjusted to reflect those without internet access, indicate that 60 per cent of children are not getting an education, leading to global levels not seen since the 1980s.

The combined impact of these shocks could signify the largest reversal in human development on record, the statement said.

The negative impacts on women and girls span economic — earning and saving less and greater job insecurity — reproductive health, unpaid care work and gender-based violence.

The drop in human development is expected to be much higher in developing countries that are less able to cope with the pandemic’s social and economic fallout than richer nations.

“This crisis shows that if we fail to bring equity into the policy toolkit, many will fall further behind. This is particularly important for the ‘new necessities’ of the 21st century, such as access to the internet, which is helping us to benefit from tele-education, tele-medicine, and to work from home,” said Pedro Conceicao, director of the Human Development Report Office at the UNDP.

The UNDP is the leading UN organization fighting to end the injustice of poverty, inequality, and climate change.

Working with its broad network of experts and partners in 170 countries, the UNDP helps nations to build integrated, lasting solutions for people and planet. (IANS)

US GDP slumped 4.8% in the first quarter, ending the longest economic expansion on record

The longest US economic expansion is officially over.

US gross domestic product fell at a 4.8% annualized rate in the first quarter, according to Commerce Department figures released Wednesday. Economists had expected a 3.8% drop, according to Bloomberg data.

The slump from January through March reflects the sharp economic impact of countrywide shutdowns meant to curb the spread of COVID-19. In March, most of the US went into lockdown mode — states ordered businesses deemed nonessential to close, sent workers home, and told residents to avoid even small gatherings.

“Today’s first quarter numbers are just the deeply unappetizing appetizer,” wrote Ian Shepherdson, the chief economist of Pantheon Macroeconomics, in a Wednesday note.

Before the contraction, US GDP had grown nearly unimpeded since the Great Recession of 2007-2009. During the record expansion, the unemployment rate fell to a 50-year low of 3.5%, and the US economy added jobs for 113 months in a row.

In just five weeks, more than 26 million Americans filed for unemployment claims, effectively erasing more than a decade of job creation. In addition, industrial production has fallen, retail sales have declined at a record pace, and housing sales have slumped.

While some economists mark the beginning of a recession as two consecutive quarters of GDP contraction, official arbiters have a more comprehensive approach. The National Bureau of Economic Research says a recession is “a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP, real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales.”

Any official call will take some time, as the bureau’s Business Cycle Dating Committee will weigh whether a recession began in March, when much of the US was shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic, or whether the economy started trailing off at the end of February.

Going forward, economists will be watching to see how bad the situation becomes and what shape a recovery might take. The worst may be yet to come — the first-quarter GDP figure could be revised even lower as more data is collected.

In addition, GDP is expected to fall at an even sharper annualized rate in the second quarter. Economists expect double-digit slumps, including Bank of America’s 30% estimate and JPMorgan’s 40% forecast.

The US economy has erased nearly all the job gains since the Great Recession

  • The Labor Department reported that the number of Americans applying for state unemployment benefits totaled 5.245 million last week.
  • Combined with the prior three jobless claims reports, the number of Americans who’ve filed for unemployment over the last four weeks is 22.025 million.
  • That number is just below the 22.442 million jobs added to payrolls since November 2009, when the U.S. economy began to add jobs back after the recession.

It took only four weeks for the U.S. economy to wipe out nearly all the job gains in the last 11 years. The coronavirus and the forced closure of business throughout the country again fueled the number of Americans applying for state unemployment benefits, which last week totaled 5.245 million, the Labor Department reported.

Combined with the three prior jobless claims reports, the number of Americans who have filed for unemployment over the previous four weeks is 22.025 million. That number is just below the 22.442 million jobs added to nonfarm payrolls since November 2009, when the U.S. economy began to add jobs back to the economy after the Great Recession. Only 417,000 more U.S. workers need to file for unemployment benefits to erase all nonfarm gains since 2009, a figure likely to be easily surpassed this week.

The rapid nature of the job losses will be unprecedented, wiping out more than a decade’s worth of job gains in five weeks. We’ll find out for sure next Thursday when the national claims for this week are reported.

“While today’s jobless numbers are down on last week, they still mean that all the job gains since the financial crisis have been erased,” wrote Seema Shah, chief strategist at Principal Global Investors. “What’s more, with many workers, including those in the gig economy, not included in these numbers, labor market pains may be even worse than these numbers suggest.”

“Concerns for the second half of the year may be underestimated,” she added. “Although governments are looking to lift lockdowns, the re-opening of economies will be only gradual, compounding financial strains for businesses and households, suppressing demand and suggesting a slower economic recovery.”

The latest nonfarm report showed payrolls plunged by 701,000 in March, marking the first decline since 2010 and the worst fall since March 2009. The unemployment rate jumped nearly a full percentage point to 4.4% from 3.5%.

Trump’s approval ticks downward as economic worry mounts

A new CNN Poll of Polls finds President Donald Trump’s approval rating continuing to trend downward after he reached positive territory last month.

In the new average, 45% approve of the way Trump is handling his job nationwide and 51% disapprove.

The poll of polls includes the five most recent national telephone polls measuring the views of adults or registered voters. His downturn comes with political turmoil over the state of the economy, according to new polling.

Last week, 46% approved of how Trump was handling his job and 49% disapproved, ticking down from late March when he held at 47% approval.

Trump — whose approval rating has been relatively steady throughout his presidency — has seen higher-than-average ratings as the coronavirus pandemic swept through the US.

However, after a month of stay-at-home orders and an economic crash, Trump’s approval rating has gone from almost net even (-1 in late March), to leaning net negative (-3 last week), and down further in mid-April (-6 now).

A new Gallup poll out on Friday found a record drop in confidence on economic conditions, down from 54% who described the country’s economic conditions as being excellent or good in March to 27% in April. Gallup reported this is the largest drop in economic confidence dating back to 1992.

The percentage who call the economy “poor” has more than tripled, rising from 11% to 39%.

About three-quarters (74%) say they think the economy is getting worse right now, up from 47% who felt that way in March and just 33% in February. Only 22% say the economy is getting better right now, and the gap between those who think things are improving vs. those who say it is worsening is the largest it has been since the Great Recession.

And there’s been a massive decline in the percentage who say now is a good time to find a quality job. While 68% in January said it was a good time to find a quality job, just 22% feel that way now, the worst read since 2013.

The CNN Poll of Polls is an average of the five most recent non-partisan, live operator, national telephone surveys on Trump’s approval rating. All polls were conducted among either adults or registered voters. The Poll of Polls includes: The Gallup poll conducted April 1-14; the Fox News poll conducted April 4-7; the Quinnipiac University poll conducted April 2-6; the CNN poll conducted by SSRS April 3-6; and the Monmouth University poll conducted April 3-7. The poll of polls does not have a margin of sampling error.

The Gallup poll was conducted April 1-14 by telephone among a random sample of 1,017 adults. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is 4 percentage points.

Record 16.8 Million People Have Sought U.S. Jobless Aid Since Coronavirus Outbreak Began

With a startling 6.6 million people seeking unemployment benefits last week, the United States has reached a grim landmark: More than one in 10 workers have lost their jobs in just the past three weeks to the coronavirus outbreak.

The figures collectively constitute the largest and fastest string of job losses in records dating to 1948. By contrast, during the Great Recession it took 44 weeks — roughly 10 months — for unemployment claims to go as high as they now have in less than a month.

The damage to job markets is extending across the world. The equivalent of 195 million full-time jobs could be lost in the second quarter to business shutdowns caused by the viral outbreak, according to the United Nations’ labor organization. It estimates that global unemployment will rise by 25 million this year. And that doesn’t even count workers on reduced hours and pay. Lockdown measures are affecting nearly 2.7 billion workers — about 81 percent of the global workforce — the agency said.

Around half a billion people could sink into poverty as a result of the economic fallout from the coronavirus unless richer countries act to help developing nations, Oxfam, a leading aid organization, warned Thursday.

In the United States, the job market is quickly unraveling as businesses have shut down across the country. All told, in the past three weeks, 16.8 million Americans have filed for unemployment aid. The surge of jobless claims has overwhelmed state unemployment offices around the country. And still more job cuts are expected.

More than 20 million people may lose jobs this month. The unemployment rate could hit 15% when the April employment report is released in early May.

 “The carnage in the American labor market continued unabated,” said Joseph Brusuelas, chief economist for RSM, a tax advisory firm.

The viral outbreak is believed to have erased nearly one-third of the U.S. economy’s output in the current quarter. Forty-eight states have closed non-essential businesses.

A nation of normally free-spending shoppers and travelers is mainly hunkered down at home, bringing entire gears of the economy to a near-halt. Non-grocery retail business plunged 97% in the last week of March compared with a year earlier, according to Morgan Stanley. The number of airline passengers screened by the Transportation Security Administration has plunged 95% from a year ago. U.S. hotel revenue has tumbled 80%.

Applications for unemployment benefits are a rough proxy for layoffs because only people who have lost a job through no fault of their own are eligible.

The wave of layoffs may be cresting in some states even while still surging in others. Last week, applications for jobless aid declined in 19 states. In California, they dropped nearly 13% to 925,000 — still a shockingly high figure. In Pennsylvania, they dropped by nearly one-third to 284,000. That’s still more than the entire nation experienced just four weeks ago.

By contrast, in Georgia, which issued shutdown orders later than most other states, filings for unemployment claims nearly tripled last week to 388,000. In Arkansas, they more than doubled. In Arizona, they jumped by nearly 50%.

On Thursday, the Federal Reserve intensified its efforts to bolster the economy with a series of lending programs that could inject up to $2.3 trillion into the economy. Chairman Jerome Powell said that the economy’s strength before the viral outbreak means it could rebound quickly in the second half of the year.

“There is every reason to believe that the economic rebound, when it comes, will be robust,” Powell said.

In many European countries, government programs are keeping people on payrolls, though typically with fewer hours and lower pay. In France, 5.8 million people — about a quarter of the private sector workforce — are now on a “partial unemployment” plan: With government help, they receive part of their wages while temporarily laid off or while working shorter hours.

32 Million Livelihoods at Risk, Indian Economy Will Shrink 20 Percent if Lockdown Continues to Mid-May

If the India lockdown continues till mid-May along with moderate relaxation after the end of 21-day lockdown on April 14, it could put 32 million livelihoods at risk and swell non-performing loans by seven percentage points, resulting in the economy contracting sharply by around 20 per cent in the first quarter of fiscal year 2021, with –2 to –3 percent growth for fiscal year 2021, a new report warned April 10.

According to the report by leading management consulting firm McKinsey and Company, the cost of stabilizing and protecting households, companies and lenders could exceed Rs 10 lakh crore, or more than 5 per cent of GDP in such a scenario.

The report, titled ‘Getting ahead of coronavirus: Saving lives and livelihoods in India,’ said that restarting supply chains and normalizing production and consumption can take three–four months if the lockdown goes till mid-May as the virus lingers on.

If the lockdown continues for additional two–three weeks in Q2 and Q4 FY 2021 because of virus resurgence, it could mean an even deeper economic contraction of around 8 to 10 per cent for fiscal year 2021.

“This could occur if the virus flares up a few times over the rest of the year, necessitating more lock-downs, causing even greater reluctance among migrants to resume work, and ensuring a much slower rate of recovery,” the report suggested.

To understand probable economic outcomes and possible interventions related to COVID-19, McKinsey spoke with some 600 business leaders, economists, financial-market analysts and policy makers.

According to the findings, in case the lockdown period is extended till mid-May, the potential economic loss in India would vary by sector, with current-quarter output drops that are large in sectors such as aviation and lower in sectors such as IT-enabled services and pharmaceuticals.

“Current-quarter consumption could drop by more than 30 percent in discretionary categories, such as clothing and furnishings, and by up to 10 per cent in areas such as food and utilities,” said the report.

Strained debt- service-coverage ratios would be anticipated in the travel, transport, and logistics, textiles, power and hotel and entertainment sectors.

There could be solvency risk within the Indian financial system, as almost 25 percent of MSME and small- and medium-size-enterprise loans could slip into default, compared with 6 percent in the corporate sector (although the rate could be much higher in aviation, textiles, power and construction) and 3 percent in the retail segment (mainly in personal loans for self-employed workers and small businesses).

“Liquidity risk would also need urgent attention as payments begin freezing in the corporate and SME supply chains. Attention will need to be given to the liquidity needs of banks and non-banks with stretched liquidity-coverage ratios to ensure depositor confidence,’ the report mentioned.

Given the magnitude of potential unemployment, business failure and financial-system risk, a comprehensive package of fiscal and monetary interventions may need to be planned.

“Consideration could be given to an income-support program in which the government both pays for a share of the payroll for the 60 million informal contractual and permanent workers linked to companies and provides direct income support for the 135 million informal workers who are not on any form of company payroll,’ the report further suggested.

Since last week, the Health Ministry has observed a staggering rise daily in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases across the country — nearly 500-plus cases daily with a few exceptions where the number has gone below 400 cases — a pattern which indicates a worrying trend after solid implementation of the nationwide lockdown and sealing of hotspots.

On April 10, the number of confirmed cases has risen to 6,412, an addition of 669 cases in a day.

Punjab and Odisha have already extended lockdown till May 1 and April 30, respectively.

According to the report, countries that are experiencing COVID-19 have adopted different approaches to slow the spread of the virus.

Some have tested extensively, carried out contact tracing, limited travel and large gatherings, encouraged physical distancing, and quarantined citizens.

Others have implemented full lock-downs in cities with high infection rates and partial lock-downs in other regions, with strict protocols in place to prevent infections.

“The pace and scale of opening up from lockdown for India may depend on the availability of the crucial testing capabilities that will be required to get a better handle on the spread of the virus, granular data and technology to track and trace infections, and the build-up of health care facilities to treat patients (such as hospital beds by district),” said the report.

Since there is a very real possibility of the virus lingering on through the year, a micro-targeting approach could help decelerate its spread while keeping livelihoods going.

“It is imperative that society preserve both lives and livelihoods. To do so, India can consider a concerted set of fiscal, monetary, and structural measures and explore ways to return from the lockdown that reflect its situation and respect that most important of tenets: the sanctity of human life,” the report noted.

If HCQ Is Really A ‘Gamechanger’, India Musn’t Export It

Winston Churchill once said that “gin and tonic has saved more Englishmen’s lives, and minds, than all the doctors in the Empire.” Now, Churchill himself mostly drank whisky – 3-4 ounces at 11 am, teatime and bedtime. This strict health regimen was accompanied by some champagne, wine and brandy to wash down lunch and dinner. So, what made Churchill speak so glowingly about G&T?

The answer lies in what tonic used to contain in those days – it was a powder extracted from the bark of the cinchona tree called quinine. The powder not only treated malaria – that great scourge of the Indian colony – but also helped prevent it. But it was so bitter that the British officials began mixing it with soda and sugar, giving birth to ‘tonic’. Embellished with an ounce or two of gin, it prevented malaria and saved thousands of lives.

Now, an advanced synthetic version of the same malaria drug, called hydroxychloroquine or HCQ, could end up saving thousands of lives in the time of COVID-19. A few small studies done in France and China where coronavirus patients were given HCQ showed a significant improvement in a large number of them. Although two recent studies have challenged these claims, HCQ is being used widely by doctors across the world to fight the coronavirus. France allowed it for very sick patients, while the US FDA has allowed doctors to give it to hospitalised patients if they think it is needed.

The hydroxychloroquine drug is being tested on at least 1,500 coronavirus patients in New York

Since the world and their uncle has been googling furiously ever since COVID-19 became a global pandemic, HCQ has disappeared from most markets. The drug is used not just for malaria but also as regular treatment for auto-immune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. India usually consumes 20 lakh pills every month to treat these three diseases. Ever since people got to know that HCQ might help fight the novel coronavirus, they began hoarding the drug, leading to shortages for people who need it right now.

That is one reason why India banned the export of HCQ on March 25. This came as a big blow to US President Donald Trump, who has been championing the drug as a ‘gamechanger’. India produces 70 percent of the world’s HCQ and accounts for 47 percent of what is sold in the USA. So when Trump learned that India had stopped all HCQ exports, he threatened to ‘retaliate’. The very next day, India lifted the ban, allowing the drug to be sold to our neighbours and to a few badly affected countries. The US, with the highest number of COVID-positive cases in the world, clearly makes it to that list.

The US has already stockpiled 31 million doses of HCQ of 200 mg each. But how many people will that cover? The early trials in France used three pills a day for 10 days for each patient, or a total of 30 pills per person. A randomized control trial in Wuhan involved giving 2 pills a day for 5 days, or 10 pills per patient. China’s multicentre collaboration group recommends a higher dose of a total of a 100 pill-equivalents to COVID-19 patients with pneumonia. Other trials recommend 14 pills to be give over two weeks.

Although there is no clear consensus on what the dosage should be, if one takes as the average required dose the relatively conservative 14 pills per patient regimen, the US can cover about 2.2 million people with the HCQ it currently has in its stockpile. That is just 0.7 percent of its population, which is hardly anything considering that various models suggest that over 150 million Americans, or nearly half of the country’s population, could catch the virus this year. So the US needs to import a whole lot more of HCQ from India.

How much can we export? Indian companies – IPCA labs, Zydus Cadila, Wallace Pharma among others – have the capacity to produce 20 crore pills every month. Although these companies say they can ramp up their capacities to 35 crore pills by end of May, it is easier said than done in the time of such supply-chain disruptions.

News reports suggest that the Modi government intends to keep a stock of 10-crore pills, and allow the rest to be exported. If we take a 14-pill regimen per person, India will be able to cover 71 lakh people with the pills in its stock. That is just about 0.5 percent of our population. If the US were to import 40 percent of the remaining 10 crore pills, it would end up with 71 million doses in its stock. That will help it cover 1.5 percent of its population. That means Americans could end up with three times the coverage with a drug that is mostly manufactured in our country.

One could argue that India doesn’t have that many coronavirus patients and therefore, we don’t need to keep so much HCQ with us. One could also argue that the idea that HCQ could prevent and cure COVID-19 is more about hope than real scientific evidence. So if Indian companies can make good money from Trump’s idiosyncratic optimism about HCQ and a few test studies, then why stop it?

The point is that the entire game of fighting the coronavirus is about anticipating the future and being prepared for it. HCQ could well turn out to be the gamechanger Trump believes it to be. For a country like India, which is short of hospital beds, ICU facilities and ventilators, there is no conscionable ground to export HCQ till we have built a stockpile that can cover a significant part of our population. The US wouldn’t have thought twice before banning HCQ exports if it were the world’s largest producer of the drug. After all, one’s own citizens must come first before we start talking about cooperation between nations.

With Mukesh Ambani at the Top, India Now Has 101 Billionaires

With Mukesh Ambani at the top, India now has 101 billionaires, according to new data released by Forbes magazine. According to the 34th annual world’s billionaires list, in which Forbes ranks the wealthiest individuals globally, there are 2,095 billionaires on the 2020 ranking, down from 2,153 in 2019.

The total combined net worth of this year’s billionaires is $8 trillion, down from $8.7 trillion in 2020. 267 people dropped off this year’s list and a record 1,062 individuals have seen a drop in their fortunes, both reflective of the turbulent markets and the coronavirus pandemic.

Approximately 70% of the list is made up of self-made billionaires. India’s Mukesh Ambani is ranked #21 richest in the world with $36.8 billion.

Forbes released its 34th annual world’s billionaires list, which ranks the wealthiest individuals globally. Approximately 70% of the list is made up of self-made billionaires. India’s Mukesh Ambani is ranked #21 richest in the world with $36.8 billion.

Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, some of the world’s wealthiest are serving as agents of change and taking action to reinvent their businesses to aid in the global response to the coronavirus outbreak, Forbes said in a statement.

Billionaires like tech tycoon Bill Gates; Eric Yuan, CEO of Zoom; Bernard Arnault, CEO of LVMH, Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb; Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and a host of others are using their financial resources to help combat the health crisis and boost the economy.

There are 2,095 billionaires on the 2020 ranking, down from 2,153 in 2019. The total combined net worth of this year’s billionaires is $8 trillion, down from $8.7 trillion in 2020. 267 people dropped off this year’s list and a record 1,062 individuals have seen a drop in their fortunes, both reflective of the turbulent markets and the coronavirus pandemic.

“The world’s richest are not immune to the devastating impact of the coronavirus,” said Kerry A. Dolan, Assistant Managing Editor of Wealth, Forbes. “The drop in the number of billionaires this year reflects the economic impact the pandemic is already having.”

To view the full list, visit

Centi-billionaire Jeff Bezos maintains the top spot on this year’s ranking, for the third consecutive year, despite his net worth plunging by $18 billion. The Amazon CEO is valued at $113 billion, down from $131 billion last year. The decrease in his net worth is primarily due to his recent divorce.

Bill Gates remains in the No. 2 position with a fortune of $98 billion, up $1.5 billion from last year. Bernard Arnault of LVMH moves up on this year’s ranking and debuts in the top three, as the third-wealthiest person in the world, after Warren Buffett’s fortune fell by $15 billion. Buffett (No. 4) is valued at $67.5 billion, down from $82.5 from last year.

Rounding out the top five is Larry Ellison, founder, chairman and Chief Technology Officer of Oracle Corporation. While the software executive moves up on the ranking, his fortune is down $3.5 billion this year, to $59 billion.

There are 178 billionaires who made this list for the first time. Eric Yuan, CEO of Zoom, debuts on the list as Zoom gains mass popularity while many companies are shifting to a remote workforce.

The richest newcomer is Julia Koch, who inherited a 42% stake in Koch Industries from her late husband, David, who died last year. Her $38.2 billion fortune puts her at No. 18 on the ranking, tied with her brother-in-law, Charles Koch. Julia’s inheritance makes her the third richest woman in the world, after Walmart’s Alice Walton and L’Oréal’s Francoise Bettencourt Meyers. Another notable newcomer: MacKenzie Bezos, ex-wife of Jeff Bezos, who lands at No. 22 on the list with a total net worth of $36 billion.

Approximately 70% of the list is made up of self-made billionaires. Those 1,457 listers are people who have built a company or established a fortune on their own. There are a total of 241 women on the 2020 list, including seven who share their fortunes with their husband, child or sibling.

Regionally, Asia-Pacific boasts the most billionaires, with 778, followed by the United States with 614 and Europe with 511. By country, the U.S. leads with the greatest number of billionaires, with 614 (up from 607 last year), followed by China with 389 (up from 324 last year); Germany with 107 (down from 114), India with 102 (down from 106) and Russia with 99 (up from 98).

President Trump’s net worth has plunged $1 billion in less than a month. As of March 1, Forbes valued President Donald Trump’s net worth at $3.1 billion. The markets took a turn and reporters went back to work to approximate how much the coronavirus affected the president’s fortune. Trump’s newly estimated fortune is now $2.1 billion, bringing him to No. 1001 on this year’s ranking, down from No. 715 last year.

“For the first time in our 103 years, the Forbes editorial team, sheltering-at-home around the world, produced this magazine remotely,” said Randall Lane, Chief Content Officer, Forbes. “It’s now a piece of history, and an instant classic, featuring five consecutive covers—the faces of business leaders who are using the coronavirus crisis to reinvent themselves, their companies or the world.”


The Forbes Billionaires list is a snapshot in time of wealth using stock prices and exchange rates from March 18, 2020. Forbes lists individuals rather than multi-generational families who share large fortunes, though we include wealth belonging to a billionaire’s spouse and children if that person is the founder of the fortune. In some cases, siblings and couples are listed together if the ownership breakdown among them isn’t clear, however they still must be worth on average a minimum of $1 billion apiece to make the cut.

Here are India’s 101 billionaires as ranked globally by Forbes:

# 21: Mukesh Ambani: $36.8 billion

#78: Radhakrishnan Damani: $13.8 billion

#103: Shiv Nadar: $11.9 billion

#129: Uday Kotak: $10.4 billion

#155: Gautam Adani: $8.9 billion

#157: Sunil Mittal & Family: $8.8 billion

#165: Cyrus Poonawalaa: $8.2 billion

#185: Kumar Birla: $7.6 billion

#196: Lakshmi Mittal: $7.4 billion

#253: Azim Premji: $6.1 billion

#253: Dilip Sanghvi: $6.1 billion

#268: Benu Gopal Banyur: $5.9 billion

#320: Kuldip Singh & Gurbachan Singh Dhingra: $5.1 billion

#320: Nusli Walia: $5.1 billion

#349 Savitri Jindal & Family: $4.8 billion

#426: Bajaj Brothers: $4.2 billion

#484: Rahul Bajaj: $3.8 billion

#494: Kushal Pal Singh: $3.7 billion

#538: Hasmukh Chudgar: $3.5 billion

#538: Muralidivi & Family: $3.5 billion

#538: M.A. Yusuff Ali: $3.5 billion

#565 Kapil & Rahul Bhatia: $3.4 billion

#565: Mahendra Choski & Family: $3.4 billion

#590: Vikram Lal: $3.3 billion

#648: Anil Agarwal & Family: $3.1 billion

#648: Karsanbhai Patel: $3.1 billion

#648: Abhay Vakil & Family: $3.1 billion

#712: Pankaj Patel: $2.9 billion

#764: Chandru Raheja: $2.7 billion

$804: Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw: $2.6 billion

#804: Pawan Munjal & Family: $2.6 billion

#836: Ravi Pillai: $2.5 billion

#908: Vivek Chand Burman: $2.3 billion

#908: Ravi Jaipuria: $2.3 billion

#945: Micky Jagtiani: $2.2 billion

$945: Shashi & Ravi Raia: $2.2 billion

#945: Arvind Tiku: $2.2 billion

#1001: Vinod & Anil Raigupta: $2.1 billion

#1063: Madhukar Parekh: $2 billion

#1135: Smita Crishna-Godrej: $.9 billion

#1135: Jamshyd Godrej: $1.9 billion

#1135: Nadir Godrej: $1.9 billion

#1135: Rakesh Jhunjhunwala: $1.9 billion

#1135: N.R. Narayana Murthy: $1.9 billion

#1135: Rishad Naoroji: $1.9 billion

#1196: Anand Burman: $1.8 billion

#1196: Senapathy Gopalkrishnan: $1.8 billion

#1196: Mangal Prabhat Lodha: $1.8 billion

#1196: Vikas Oberoi: $1.8 billion

#1196: Byju Raveendran: $1.8 billion

#1196: Leena Tewari: $1.8 billion

#1267: Baba Kalyani: $1.7 billion

#1267: Samir Mehta: $1.7 billion

#1267: Sudhir Mehta: $1.7 billion

#1267: Ajay Piramal: $1.7 billion

#1267: Mahendra Prasad: $1.7 billion

#1335: Kalanithi Maran: $1.6 billion

#1335: Harsh Mariwala: $1.6 billion

#1335: P.P. Reddy: $1.6 billion

#1335: P.V. Krishna Reddy: $1.6 billion

#1335: Jitendra Vurwani: $1.6 billion

#1415: Harindarpal Banga: $1.5 billion

#1415: Abhay Firodia: $1.5 billion

#1415: Harsh Hoenka: $1.5 billion

#1415: Ranjani Pai: $1.5 billion

#1415: G. Rajendran: $1.5 billion

#1513: Sanjiv Goenka: $1.4 billion

#1513: Nandan Nilekani: $1.4 billion

#1513: Ajay Prakash: $1.4 billion

#1513: Nandrkumar Parekh: $1.4 billion

#1513: P.V. Rampal Reddy: $1.4 billion

#1613: Rajendra Agarwal: $1.3 billion

#1613: Banwarilal Bawri: $1.3 billion

#1613: Girdharlal Bawri: $1.3 billion

#1613: Amit Burman: $1.3 billion

#1613: Niranjan Hiranandani: $1.3 billion

#1613: Kishore Mariwala: $1.3 billion

#1613: Lachhman Das Mittal: $1.3 billion

#1613: Subhash Runwal: $1.3 billion

#613: Sunny Varkey: $1.3 billion

#1613: Shamsheer Vayalil: $1.3 billion

#1730: Sachin Bansal: $1.2 billion

#1730: Sanjeev Bikhchandani: $1.2 billion

#1739: K. Dinesh: $1.2 billion

#1730: T.S.Kalyanaraman: $1.2 billion

#1739: Hemandra Kthari: $1.2 billion

#1730: Anand Mahendra: $1.2 billion

#1739: Sushil Kumar Pareek: $1.2billion

#1730: Bhadresh Shah: $1.2 billion

#1730: Basudeo Singh: $1.2 billion

#1730: Salil Singhal: $1.2 billion

#1730: Radha Vembu: $1.2 billion

#1851: Archana Balakrishna: $1.1 billion

#1851: Bimy Bansal: $1.1 billion

#1851 Sandeep Engineer: $1.1 billion

#1851: Mofatraj Munot: $1.1 billion

#1851L Arvind Poddar: $1.1 billion

#1851: S.D. Shibulal: $1.1 billion

#1990: Achal Bakeri: $1 billion.

Falling Oil demand and historically low prizes lead to deal to cut oil production

Oil prices dropped on Friday as traders feared that an Opec deal to slash global supplies by 10% would not offset a historic drop in demand due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The price of Brent crude fell nearly 2.5% to $31.82 per barrel on Friday last week, despite news that the oil cartel and allies – known as Opec+ – had reached a deal that would end a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia that threatened to flood the market with more oil than the world could use.

Mexico initially cast some doubt over Opec’s plans, after apparently refusing to sign up to its share of cuts, which would have been 400,000 barrels per day (bpd). The country instead offered to cut 100,000 bpd.

The country signaled on Friday that the US may be willing to make further cuts to its production in order to allow Mexico to make less stringent reductions. Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador said that US president Donald Trump had agreed to help out by cutting additional US output.

Major oil-producing nations collectively called the OPEC+, including Saudi Arabia and Russia, finally came to terms and agreed to cut oil production by 10 million barrels a day — equivalent to 10% of global oil supply — in May and June. Mexico had held out on the agreement on Thursday, but an intervention by the US resolved the standoff.

Crude oil prices have fallen by over 50% since the turn of the year, straining the economy of oil-producing countries and those invested in them. That was largely due to the coronavirus crisis in China and a standoff between Russia and Saudi Arabia — the former walked out of a planned production cut, triggering a price war. Then the pandemic spread around the world, sinking the demand for oil, even as Russia and Saudi Arabia were pushing cheap oil into the market. But now, pushed by the US, also a major oil producer, an agreement has been reached.

The agreement between OPEC and partner countries aims to cut 10 million barrels per day until July, then 8 million barrels per day through the end of the year, and 6 million a day for 16 months beginning in 2021, reports Associated Press. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he had agreed with US President Donald Trump that the US will compensate what Mexico cannot add to the proposed cuts.

India Center Foundation Launches Arts Resiliency Fund for South Asian Artists Affected by COVID-19

The Indian American non-profit arts organization India Center Foundation, in partnership with MELA Arts Connect, April 6 announced the formation of The South Asian Arts Resiliency Fund, a grant program for South Asian artists and arts workers in the U.S. in the fields of the performing arts, film, visual arts or literature who have been impacted by the economic fallout of COVID-19 due to postponed or canceled performances, events or exhibitions.

ICF will provide launch funding of $20,000 towards this initiative, according to a press release. The fund will be co-managed by MAC and supported by a crowdfunding campaign, via a GoFundMe page, as well as multiple live streaming experiences. With the community’s support to reach the targeted goal of $500,000, the fund will be able to provide grants to hundreds of arts workers around the country.

In an ongoing survey about the economic impact of the coronavirus on the arts sector, Americans for the Arts has captured a crippling loss of more than $114 million as of April 4, 2020. “And the situation is only going to get worse, before it gets better,” said Raoul Bhavnani, Indian American co-founder of ICF. “Communities count on the arts to rally around, to gather and to find connection, especially in times of crisis, and the South Asian community is no different,” he said. “With necessary physical distancing in place for the foreseeable future, the arts community — artists, producers, agents, managers, administrators, technicians — are unable to perform or produce their work for audiences and are losing their livelihoods. Losses will only continue to mount unless we choose to support artists NOW, and we hope individuals, corporations and other arts organizations will join us in this critical endeavor.”

The fund will provide support for artists and arts personnel in the U.S. through project grants on a rolling basis for the development of work, particularly during the ongoing pandemic, the release said.

Examples of such projects are:

  • Creation of music, dance, theater, film, visual arts or literature projects (ongoing or new)
  • Research for development of music, dance, theater, film or visual arts projects (ongoing or new)
  • Strategic planning by a manager or agent for an artist
  • Content creation for project deployment
  • Creation of resources for artists to support careers in the arts.

Eligible applicants are United States-based South Asian arts workers in the performing arts, film, visual arts or literature who can demonstrate loss of income because of canceled or postponed engagements due to COVID-19.

Coronavirus, Tax Relief, and Recovery Rebates: What You Need to Know

By University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV)

Like Christmas, St. Patrick’s Day, and the Fourth of July, Tax Day in America is associated with the same calendar date each year.

But as everything around us has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, so, too, has the deadline for filing federal income tax returns.

The deadline has been extended for three months to July 15, and Americans don’t have to do anything to qualify for the postponement. While that might seem like a relief, UNLV tax law expert Francine Lipman says taxpayers who are expecting a refund shouldn’t wait that long.

“People are strapped for money right now, and if there’s a tax refund waiting for you, file!” Lipman said.

A majority of Americans are also now waiting for the 2020 Recovery Rebate, which is being made available through the federal coronavirus relief bill, to ease some financial burdens due to loss of income and employment.

We caught up with Lipman — a lawyer and a certified public accountant — who provided several tips for how to navigate these uncertain financial times.

With the new federal tax deadline, why shouldn’t I wait to file my taxes?

If you are expecting a refund, file as soon as possible because you likely need the money now and you will not receive even one penny increase for delaying receiving your refund until July 15. Procrastination does not pay! Moreover, you can use it to help your community. The empirical data is compelling that income tax refunds are spent locally, and as a result, there is a significant multiplier effect for communities, businesses and federal, state, and local governments through consumption, and taxes paid including job creation — or maybe given the current shutdown we can mitigate job losses.

What about state income taxes?

Not all states have extended their tax filing deadlines through July 15. Some states, like Nevada, do not have an individual income tax. Most Nevada residents with only Nevada-source income, for example, have no state income tax filing obligation.

For taxpayers with out-of-state source income, here is a helpful link regarding state tax filing deadlines and other issues.

Where should I go to file my taxes?

Unfortunately, most Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites are temporarily shuttered in Nevada and elsewhere (for updates visit

FreeFile, however, which is available online only through the IRS website, is up and running for taxpayers with a household income of $69,000 or less, or FreeFileFillableForms for households with any amount of income. Both of these sites provide free preparation and electronic filing.

What if I’ve already filed my taxes and I owe the IRS money?

Federal income tax payments and self-employment tax payments for 2019 that were due on April 15 have been postponed until July 15. This includes first-quarter estimated tax payments and IRA contributions for 2019, but does not include refund claims for tax year 2016 that are due on April 15, 2020. The postponement does not apply to second-quarter estimated tax payments (due June 15). Any applicable interest and penalties on payments due on April 15 will begin to accrue on July 16 if not paid by July 15.

Where can I go for assistance if I have questions about my taxes, including my refund?

The IRS has temporarily shut down number of taxpayer assistance resources including its Taxpayer Assistance Centers nationwide. As a result, phone call on-hold wait times are even longer than usual during this tax season, which are usually very long in a normal year.

The IRS website has great, accessible information available at, including a quick and easy way to determine when you will receive your refund. You can also access your tax transcripts on the IRS website. Another website that might be helpful is for the Taxpayer Advocate Service if you are suffering a financial hardship and need immediate tax relief.

Who qualifies for the 2020 Recovery Rebate Tax Credit?

All adults who have a valid Social Security number authorizing work and who are not claimed as a dependent on another’s tax return (for 2020). One exception to this general rule is for married couple filing jointly where one of the spouses is a member of the Armed Forces, then only one of the spouses has to have a valid Social Security number that authorizes work.

How much will I receive?

Adults will receive $1,200 per qualifying individual ($2,400 for married filing jointly). Adults who have “qualifying children” will receive an additional $500 each, without limitation on the number of “qualifying children.”

A “qualifying child” for this purpose includes children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, stepbrothers, stepsisters, nieces, and nephews who live with the adult as a member of their household in the U.S. for more than one-half of the year and who are under age 17 with a valid Social Security number authorizing work.

Adults (anyone 17 or older) who are claimed as a dependent on another’s tax return will not receive a Recovery Rebate.

Even if you owe the IRS back tax liabilities, your recovery rebate will not be reduced by any outstanding debts other than past due child support. The Recovery Rebate is a refundable tax credit against 2020 federal income taxes, so it is not gross income/taxable income for 2020.

However, the 2020 recovery rebate amount is reduced by $5 for every $100 above the following adjusted gross income thresholds: $75,000 for single (or married filing separately) taxpayers, $150,000 for married filing jointly taxpayers, and $112,500 for head of household taxpayers. Therefore, households with filing statuses and adjusted gross income levels as follows will be phased out of their $1,200 (or $2,400) Recovery Rebate as follows:

$99,000 single (or married filing separately),

$198,000 married filing jointly, and

$136,500 head of household

But households at these income levels may receive the additional “qualifying child” $500 (also subject to phase-out at $5 per $100 above these thresholds, or an additional $10,000 of income above these amounts for each “qualifying child” ($500/5 = $100 x $100 = $10,000 additional adjusted gross income).

As I tell my law students, math matters!

When will I receive my Recovery Rebate?

The federal government wants to push out these payments as soon as possible. Therefore, they plan to deposit monies into bank accounts per 2019 (or 2018) automatic refund deposit authorizations. The Secretary of the Treasury has indicated that these payments would start sometime around April 13. If they do not have this information from your tax filings, they will mail you a paper check to your last known address.

Paper checks are scheduled to be mailed out on or about early May and will take 20 weeks to distribute given the federal government’s check writing limitations and the significant underfunding of the IRS. It is also the middle of tax season and many, if not all, of the IRS’ face-to-face services have been suspended due to COVID-19. The law does not permit the U.S. Treasury to send out any advance Recovery Rebates after December 31, 2020.

What amount will I receive since my 2020 income and other information is not yet complete?

The US Treasury is going to estimate your Recovery Rebate amount based upon your last tax return on record (e.g., 2019 or if not then, 2018). Accordingly, your advance Recovery Rebate payment will be based upon the information from your 2019 (or 2018) tax return on file including how much your adjusted gross income was and how many “qualifying children” (as defined above) you claimed.

When you file your 2020 federal income tax return in 2021, you will reconcile the estimated Recovery Rebate received with your actual Recovery Rebate based upon your 2020 tax return information. If you should have received a higher Recovery Rebate because for example you had a child in 2020, or your 2020 adjusted gross income is lower than it was in 2019 (or 2018) (e.g., due to unemployment, but remember unemployment compensation is included in adjusted gross income), you will get any amount not previously received. If you received a greater Recovery Rebate based upon your 2019 (or 2018) information as compared to your 2020 actual information you do not have to pay any excess amount received back.

Adults who have not filed tax returns for 2018 or 2019, but who receive Social Security benefits will receive their Recovery Rebate based upon the information the Social Security Administration has on file.

What should I do now?

If your address has changed since you last filed a tax return you should submit an address change online with the US Postal Service and as soon as possible mail a change of address using Form 8822 to the IRS. Unfortunately, the IRS is not presently sorting mail so this address update is likely going to be significantly delayed. Alternatively, if you have not filed a 2019 income tax return and your address or bank account information has changed from your 2018 tax return, you might consider filing your 2019 federal income tax return electronically as soon as possible to update this information as well as any additional “qualifying children.”

If your 2019 adjusted gross income is higher compared to your 2018 adjusted gross income amount, you should consider how the phase-out will impact your estimated Recovery Rebate based upon your 2019 information as compared to your 2018 information.

What other individual tax provisions might be relevant to me as I try to navigate economic challenges now?

Congress has abated the 10% early withdrawal penalties on up to $100,000 withdrawn from certain retirement accounts for COVID-19 financial hardships. However, you will have to include any pre-tax amount withdrawn as income, but Congress will allow you to do this over three years instead of the year of withdrawal.

Seniors who are subject to “mandatory required minimum distributions” from certain retirement accounts because they are over 70.5 (or 72 under the recently passed Tax Cut and Jobs Act) will not be subject to penalties for not withdrawing those amounts for 2020. Therefore, seniors may consider not withdrawing monies from these retirement account.

Unemployment compensation is taxable income so consider electing to withhold federal income taxes on any unemployment payments.

Where do I go for updates on any and all things taxes?

Everything is dynamic and subject to change. Watch the IRS’ website at

For hourly updates on Twitter follow @irsnews, @yourvoiceatIRS, @taxnotes, Kelly Phillips Erb of Forbes @taxgirl, and of course, Professor Francine J. Lipman @narfnampil.

A top White House official warned in January that a pandemic could imperil millions of Americans

A top White House adviser starkly warned Trump administration officials in late January that the crisis could cost the United States trillions of dollars and put millions of Americans at risk of illness or death.
The warning, in a memo by Peter Navarro, Mr. Trump’s trade adviser, is the highest-level alert known to have circulated inside the West Wing as the administration was taking its first substantive steps to confront a crisis that had already consumed China’s leaders and would go on to upend life in Europe and the United States.
“The lack of immune protection or an existing cure or vaccine would leave Americans defenseless in the case of a full-blown coronavirus outbreak on U.S. soil,” Mr. Navarro’s memo said. “This lack of protection elevates the risk of the coronavirus evolving into a full-blown pandemic, imperiling the lives of millions of Americans.”
Dated Jan. 29, it came during a period when Mr. Trump was playing down the risks to the United States. He later went on to say that no one could have predicted such a devastating outcome.
Mr. Navarro said in the memo that the administration faced a choice about how aggressive to be in containing an outbreak, saying the human and economic costs would be relatively low if it turned out to be a problem along the lines of a seasonal flu.
But he went on to emphasize that the “risk of a worst-case pandemic scenario should not be overlooked” given the information coming from China.,In one worst-case scenario cited in the memo, more than a half-million Americans could die.

How to get your US stimulus check from the US Government?

The IRS and the Treasury Department say Americans will start receiving their economic impact checks in the next three weeks. The payments are part of the $2.2 trillion rescue package signed into law last week by President Donald Trump aimed at combating the economic ravages of the coronavirus outbreak.

As part of the economic stimulus bill, hundreds of billions of dollars are being earmarked for one-time economic impact payments, or “stimulus checks” to most American households. While the size of the stimulus payments has been widely reported, there are some key details that are still unclear — such as how you’ll actually get your payment, what happens if you haven’t filed a tax return recently, and what if your information has changed.

While this is still a fluid situation and there are some important details the IRS and Treasury haven’t quite figured out yet (to be fair, the bill passed just a few days ago), the IRS recently issued their most up-to-date guidance yet. With that in mind, here are five things about the stimulus check that you need to know.

Most people don’t need to do anything to get the money. But some — including senior citizens and low-income people who might not traditionally file tax returns — do need to take action. People behind on filing their taxes might also want to get caught up.

The IRS and Treasury have provided more details on how to ensure you get paid. Here are the basics:


Anyone earning up to $75,000 in adjusted gross income and who has a Social Security number will receive a $1,200 payment. That means married couples filing joint returns will receive the full payment — $2,400 — if their adjusted gross income, which what you report on your taxes, is under $150,000.

The payment steadily declines for those who make more. Those earning more than $99,000, or $198,000 for joint filers, are not eligible. The thresholds are slightly different for those who file as a head of household.

Parents will also receive $500 for each qualifying child. So, a family of four could get as much as $3,400.


For most people, nothing. If you’ve already filed your 2019 tax return, which is now due on July 15, the IRS will use it to determine your eligibility. If you have not filed a 2019 tax return yet, your eligibility will be based on your 2018 return.

The money will be directly deposited in your bank account if the government has that information from your tax return. If you haven’t filed your 2019 taxes, the government will use information from your 2018 taxes to calculate your payment and determine where to send it. It can use your Social Security benefit statement as well.


Yes. People who are not required to file a tax return — such as low-income tax payers, some senior citizens, Social Security recipients, some veterans and people with disabilities — will need to file a very simplified tax return to receive the economic impact payment. It provides the government basic details including a person’s filing status, number of dependents and direct-deposit bank information.


Yes, but the IRS urges anyone required to file a tax return and has not yet done so for those years to file as soon as possible in order to receive an economic impact payment. Taxpayers should include their direct-deposit banking information on the return if they want it deposited in their account.


The government will default to sending you the check by mail if you did not use direct deposit.

However, IRS and Treasury say that they will develop an online portal in the coming weeks for individuals to provide their banking information so that they can receive the payments immediately instead of in the mail. It has not yet set a deadline for updating that information.


The IRS says the Treasury is planning to develop a web-based portal for taxpayers to provide their bank account information for stimulus payments. The goal is to get the money in your hands as soon as reasonably possible, and the quickest way to do that is to allow everyone to use direct deposit if they so choose. We don’t know yet if there will be an option to choose a paper check.The IRS and Treasury say the website will soon provide information about the check, including how people can file a simple 2019 tax return.


The IRS says people concerned about visiting a tax professional or local community organization in person to get help with a tax return should not worry. The economic impact payments will be available throughout the rest of 2020.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced Thursday that many Americans reeling from the financial impacts caused by the coronavirus outbreak can expect to see their one-time stimulus checks of up to $1,200 show up in their bank accounts in about two weeks. For those without direct deposit, Mnuchin promised checks would go out quickly in a matter of “weeks.”

The announcement followed a memo sent out by House Democrats that warned some Americans could have to wait up to 20 weeks – or five months – before they receive their checks.

 The first payments are expected go out within three weeks to those for whom the Internal Revenue Service already has direct deposit information on file. Mnuchin said at a White House coronavirus briefing that payments would go out within two weeks to people whose direct deposit details are on file with the government, echoing comments he made after passage of the $2.2 trillion stimulus bill that payments would not go out until mid-April.  He added that a web portal would be established for people to supply their details and that checks would be sent to anyone else, but did not specify a timeline.  “I am assuring the American public, they need the money now.”

Most Americans Say Coronavirus Outbreak Has Impacted Their Lives – More than half have prayed for an end to the virus’s spread

As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to rise and schools, workplaces and public gathering spaces across the United States remain closed, a new Pew Research Center survey finds that the coronavirus outbreak is having profound impacts on the personal lives of Americans in a variety of ways. Nearly nine-in-ten U.S. adults say their life has changed at least a little as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, including 44% who say their life has changed in a major way.

Amid widespread calls from experts for Americans to socially distance from one another to avoid spreading the virus, what recently seemed like mundane daily activities now elicit concerns from large swaths of the population. About nine-in-ten U.S. adults (91%) say that, given the current situation, they would feel uncomfortable attending a crowded party. Roughly three-quarters (77%) would not want to eat out at a restaurant. In the midst of a presidential election year, about two-thirds (66%) say they wouldn’t feel comfortable going to a polling place to vote. And smaller but still substantial shares express discomfort even with going to the grocery store (42%) or visiting with a close friend or family member in their home (38%).

How are people adapting their behavior in light of the outbreak? Four-in-ten working-age adults ages 18 to 64 report having worked from home because of coronavirus concerns – a figure that rises to a majority among working-age adults with college degrees and upper-income earners. Still, despite current circumstances, about two-thirds of adults with children under 12 at home say it’s been at least somewhat easy for them to handle child care responsibilities.

The virus also has impacted Americans’ religious behaviors. More than half of all U.S. adults (55%) say they have prayed for an end to the spread of coronavirus. Large majorities of Americans who pray daily (86%) and of U.S. Christians (73%) have taken to prayer during the outbreak – but so have some who say they seldom or never pray and people who say they do not belong to any religion (15% and 24%, respectively).

Among U.S. adults who said in an earlier survey they attend religious services at least once or twice a month, most (59%) now say they have scaled back their attendance because of the coronavirus – in many cases, presumably because churches and other houses of worship have canceled services. But this does not mean they have disengaged from collective worship entirely: A similar share (57%) reports having watched religious services online or on TV instead of attending in person. Together, four-in-ten regular worshippers appear to have replaced in-person attendance with virtual worship (saying that they have been attending less often but watching online instead).

These are among the findings of a Pew Research Center survey of 11,537 U.S. adults conducted March 19-24, 2020, using the Center’s American Trends Panel.1 Other key findings from the survey include:

Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say they feel comfortable proceeding with a variety of activities despite the coronavirus outbreak. For example, 68% of Republicans and people who lean toward the GOP say they would be comfortable visiting with a close friend or family member at their home, compared with 55% of Democrats and Democratic leaners. Along these same lines, Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say their lives have changed in a major way as a result of the virus, and that they have been feeling psychological distress.

Compared with older Americans, young adults are more likely to say they are comfortable going to a crowded party, a restaurant or a small gathering with close family or friends. Still, most adults under 30 say they are uncomfortable eating out at a restaurant (73%) or going to a crowded party (87%). Young adults are more likely than their elders to say they have used a food delivery service due to the outbreak.

Concerns about public activities and changes to personal lives have been felt more acutely in states with higher numbers of COVID-19 cases. For instance, 51% of those living in highly impacted states say their lives have changed in a major way, compared with 40% of those in states with the lowest numbers of cases.

Most Americans say their personal life has been affected by the coronavirus outbreak

Nearly nine-in-ten U.S. adults say their personal life has changed at least a little bit as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, with 44% saying their life has changed in a major way. Just 12% say their life has stayed about the same as it was before the outbreak.

Women (47%) are more likely than men (41%) to say their personal life has changed in a major way as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. And while more than four-in-ten white (45%) and Hispanic (47%) adults say this has changed their lives significantly, about a third of black adults (34%) say the same.

Income and education are also linked to assessments of the personal impact of the coronavirus outbreak. More than half of those with higher incomes (54%) say this has changed their life in a major way, compared with 44% of those with middle incomes and 39% of those with lower incomes.2

Similarly, 61% of those with postgraduate degrees, and a narrower majority of those with bachelor’s degrees (54%), say the coronavirus outbreak has changed their life in a major way. By comparison, 43% of those with some college and about a third of those with a high school diploma or less education (35%) say this has happened to them. Across income groups, those with at least a bachelor’s degree are more likely than those with less education to say the coronavirus outbreak has changed their life in a major way.

Across age groups, similar shares say the coronavirus outbreak has had a major impact on their personal life. For example, 43% of adults younger than 30 say the outbreak has changed their life in a major way, as do 45% of those ages 65 and older.

Not surprisingly, those in states with a high number of coronavirus cases are more likely than those in states that haven’t been as affected to say their personal life has changed in a major way because of the outbreak. About half of those who live in states with a high number of cases (51%) say their life has changed in a major way, compared with 43% of those in states with a medium number of cases and 40% of those in states with a low number of cases.3

Among the 33% of Americans who say they or someone in their household has either lost a job or took a pay cut because of the coronavirus outbreak, 54% say their personal life has changed in a major way as a result of the outbreak. This compares with 39% of those who say they have not experienced either of these situations.

Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say their personal life has changed in a major way as a result of the coronavirus outbreak: About half of Democrats and Democratic leaners (51%) say this, compared with 38% of Republicans and those who lean to the GOP.

These partisan differences remain even after accounting for the fact that Democrats are more likely than Republicans to live in states with a high number of confirmed cases of COVID-19. About a third of Democrats (34%) live in these states, compared with 22% of Republicans. More than half of Democrats in states with a high number of cases (57%) say their life has changed in a major way, compared with 42% of Republicans in states with a high number of cases. Similarly, in states with a medium or low number of cases, Democrats are more likely than their Republican counterparts to say the coronavirus outbreak has impacted their life in a major way.

More than three-quarters of Americans say they are not comfortable eating out in a restaurant given the current situation with coronavirus

About six-in-ten Americans say they would feel comfortable visiting with close friends and family members at their home (62%) and going to the grocery store (57%), given the current coronavirus outbreak. Roughly four-in-ten say they would not be comfortable doing these things (38% and 42%, respectively). Far fewer express comfort in going to a polling place to vote (33%) or eating out in a restaurant (22%), and only about one-in-ten (9%) say they would feel comfortable attending a crowded party.

There are some notable demographic differences in what Americans are comfortable doing during the current outbreak. In particular, younger adults are more likely than older Americans to express comfort with leaving their homes for various reasons. Across all age groups, majorities of Americans say they are uncomfortable eating out in a restaurant; still, about one-quarter of young adults ages 18 to 29 (27%) say they would be comfortable doing this, compared with just 16% of Americans 65 and older. Younger Americans are also more likely to feel comfortable visiting with family and friends: 68% of adults younger than 30 say they’d be comfortable doing this, compared with 60% of Americans ages 30 to 49, 64% of adults ages 50 to 64 and 56% of those 65 and older.

Across a variety of measures, Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say they are comfortable continuing with regular activities. Republicans are significantly more likely than Democrats to say they are comfortable going to a grocery store and visiting friends and are far more likely than Democrats to say they are comfortable eating in a restaurant.

Roughly seven-in-ten Republicans (68%) say they are comfortable visiting with a close friend or family member at their home, while 32% say they would be uncomfortable. Democrats are more divided: 55% say they would be comfortable doing this while 45% say they would not be comfortable.

When it comes to Americans’ comfort with visiting with those close to them, partisan differences remain even after accounting for the fact that Democrats are more likely than Republicans to live in states with a high number of confirmed cases of COVID-19. About two-thirds of Republicans in states with a high number of cases (65%) say they would be comfortable visiting with close family and friends, compared with 50% of Democrats in these states. Similarly, in states with a medium or low number of cases, Republicans are more likely than their Democratic counterparts to say they are comfortable visiting with family and friends.

Overall, Americans living in suburban and rural areas are more likely than those living in urban communities to feel comfortable visiting with close friends and relatives. However, Americans living in urban areas are divided depending on how many confirmed cases of COVID-19 are in their state. Those living in urban areas in states with a high number of cases are the least likely to feel comfortable visiting with others (47%) while urban dwellers in states with a medium (56%) or low (67%) number of cases are more likely to feel comfortable going out to visit friends. These differences are not as stark in suburban areas, and there is no difference in comfort with visiting others among Americans in rural communities, regardless of the number of cases in the state.

About one-in-five adults say they have used a food delivery service because of the coronavirus outbreak. Amid recommendations for social distancing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, about one-in-five adults (21%) say they have used a food delivery service instead of going to a restaurant or grocery store as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Adults younger than 30 are particularly likely to say they have used a food delivery service because of the coronavirus outbreak: Three-in-ten in this group say they have done this. A quarter of adults ages 30 to 49 also say they have used a food delivery service because of the coronavirus outbreak, while smaller shares of those ages 50 to 64 (15%) and those 65 and older (14%) say the same.

Hispanic adults (26%) are more likely than white (19%) and black (20%) adults to have used a food delivery service instead of going to a restaurant or grocery store as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. And while about a quarter of women (23%) say they have done this, about one-in-five men (19%) say the same. There are no notable differences by educational attainment, income, or whether people live in states with a high, medium or low number of coronavirus cases.

Most working-age adults with at least a bachelor’s degree have worked from home as a result of the coronavirus outbreak

Four-in-ten working-age adults – those ages 18 to 64 – say they have worked from home as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.4 Men and women in this age group are about equally likely to say they have worked from home.

About three-quarters of working-age adults with a postgraduate degree (73%) say they have worked from home as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, as do 62% of those with a bachelor’s degree. Far smaller shares of working-age adults with some college (35%) or with a high school diploma or less education (22%) say they have worked from home.

Similarly, working-age adults with higher incomes are more likely than those with lower incomes to say they have worked from home because of the coronavirus outbreak: 61% of those in the upper-income tier say they have done this, compared with 41% in the middle-income tier and an even smaller share (27%) of those with lower incomes.

In states with a high number of coronavirus cases, 45% of working-age adults say they have worked from home because of the outbreak; smaller shares in states with a medium or low number of cases say the same (38% each).

Most adults with young children at home say it has been easy for them to handle child care responsibilities

Even as many schools have closed because of the coronavirus outbreak, 65% of adults with children younger than 12 at home say it has been at least somewhat easy for them to handle child care responsibilities during this time, with 32% saying it has been very easy. About a third (35%) say this has been very or somewhat difficult for them.

The dollar is on a tear. Here’s why that’s troubling

Even though the novel coronavirus has the United States essentially in lockdown mode, the American dollar continues to be viewed as the world’s safest and most stable currency.

The value of the greenback is surging, up more than 7% against a basket of other currencies — such as the euro, British pound and Swiss franc — since hitting the lowest point of 2020 on March 9.

But this strong demand from other countries around the world has created a liquidity crunch — essentially a dollar shortage. There are worries that this could further disrupt global financial markets.

“This collapse in global activity leaves a lot of people with US dollar liabilities to finance, and not enough dollars coming in to do it,” said Kit Juckes, a strategist at Societe Generale, in a report.

“It doesn’t matter that they don’t owe these dollars to Americans…what matters is that they need dollars and need them now,” Juckes added.

That appears to be the main rationale behind moves from the Federal Reserve to roll out new dollar loans (known as swap lines) with five major central banks on Sunday and an expansion of the program with nine other central banks on Thursday.

The Fed announced further plans Friday to step up the frequency of dollar swaps with The Bank of Canada, the Bank of England, the Bank of Japan, the European Central Bank and the Swiss National Bank.

The arrangements will now be daily — as opposed to just weekly — starting Monday and will last until at least the end of April.

“Any stress in wholesale funding markets is getting noticed, and anything done to address it matters. Expanding the swap lines to more countries could continue to improve currency funding constraints,” said Lauren Goodwin, economist and multi-asset portfolio strategist at New York Life Investments, in a report.

The resurgent dollar may create another big problem for giant US multinational companies that are already staring to struggle from lower demand abroad as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A strong dollar makes US exports more expensive — and therefore less competitive — than foreign made goods.

Benefits to a strong dollar as well

Still, the demand for the dollar is also a good psychological sign.

It shows that investors around the globe are still in confident in America’s status is the world’s leading economy and the dollar as a reserve currency for the world.

“The dollar is rallying because it is a safe haven currency. And that has some benefits,” said Brent Schutte, chief investment strategist at Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company.

With that in mind, Schutte said investors should not worry about what the dollar will do to corporate profits. A stronger dollar also makes imported goods cheaper for American consumers.

“The US is still the number one economic power on the planet. There is a reason that the dollar and Treasury bonds are considered the healthiest in the world. This is unavoidable and in the long run it is not harmful,” said Ric Edelman, founder of Edelman Financial Engines, a company that provides advice for 401(k) plans.

Still, some experts question if the dollar can rally much further from these levels.

It might be time for the dollar to give back some of its gains — especially as other countries begin to realize that they need to prop up their own currencies.

“The main risk for the dollar is G7 currency intervention. With the rise in the greenback driving many currencies to multi-year lows, central banks from Brazil to Norway have rushed to prevent further losses,” said Kathy Lien, managing director of FX strategy at BK Asset Management, in a report.

“There’s a very good chance that coordinated action on a global scale will be next. If they come into the market, it will be to sell dollars, not buy them,” Lien added.

U.S. economy deteriorating faster than anticipated as 80 million Americans are forced to stay at home

Economic decline will be sharper and more painful than during the 2008 financial crisis

The U.S. economy is deteriorating more quickly than was expected just days ago as extraordinary measures designed to curb the coronavirus keep 84 million Americans penned in their homes and cause the near-total shutdown of most businesses.

In a single 24-hour period, governors of three of the largest states — California, New York and Illinois — ordered residents to stay home except to buy food and medicine, while the governor of Pennsylvania ordered the closure of nonessential businesses. Across the globe, health officials are struggling to cope with the growing number of patients, with the World Health Organization noting that while it required three months to reach 100,000 cases, it took only 12 days to hit another 100,000.

The resulting economic meltdown, which is sending several million workers streaming into the unemployment line, is outpacing the federal government’s efforts to respond. As the Senate on Friday raced to complete work on a financial rescue package, the White House and key lawmakers were dramatically expanding its scope, pushing the legislation far beyond the original $1 trillion price tag.

With each day, an unprecedented stoppage gathers force as restaurants, movie theaters, sports arenas and offices close to shield themselves from the disease. Already, it is clear that the initial economic decline will be sharper and more painful than during the 2008 financial crisis.

Next week, the Labor Department will likely report that roughly 3 million Americans have filed first-time claims for unemployment assistance, more than four times the record high set in the depths of the 1982 recession, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch. That is just the start of a surge that could send the jobless rate spiking to 20 percent from today’s 3.5 percent, a JPMorgan Chase economist told clients on a conference call Friday.

Estimates of the pandemic’s overall cost are staggering. Bridgewater Associates, a hedge fund manager, says the economy will shrink over the next three months at an annual rate of 30 percent. Goldman Sachs pegs the drop at 24 percent. JPMorgan Chase says 14 percent.

“We are looking at something quite grave,” said economist Janet L. Yellen, the former Federal Reserve chair. “If businesses suffer such serious losses and are forced to fire workers and have their firms go into bankruptcy, it may not be easy to pull out of that.”

As layoffs skyrocket, the holes in America’s safety net are becoming apparent

Little more than seven months before the presidential election, President Trump already is looking past the crisis and promising a swift recovery. “We’re going to be a rocket ship as soon as this thing gets solved,” he said Thursday. “… We think it’s going to come back really fast.”

Most economists expect the economy to begin climbing out of its deep hole in the second half of this year. But those forecasts depend upon the pandemic being brought under control and the United States and other governments enacting policies that prevent lasting harm to factories and financial arteries. Even if all that happens, the economy will be smaller at the end of this year than it was at the beginning, according to Bridgewater, Goldman and JPMorgan.

The truth is no one knows what will happen months from now. No one on Wall Street or in Washington has any experience dealing with the kind of complex threat that has suddenly materialized to upend American life — a global health scare that is strangling the economy and disrupting financial markets.

Americans are very likely to get $1,200 checks. Here’s what you need to know.

Individual workers and their families — many only recently recovered from the economic cataclysm of 2008 and 2009 — are already feeling the effects. The unexpected economic shock has put millions of Americans living on the precipice of ruin. In a Fed survey last year, 39 percent of Americans said they would be unable to handle an unexpected $400 expense.

Lyndsy Hartmann knew something was wrong last weekend when she went to her job at a spa company in Charlottesville. Hartmann, 34, normally handles 150 calls a day from people interested in booking spa treatments and massages. But on Saturday and Sunday, she received a total of six.

Impact of Coronavirus on Economy

The long-anticipated – and feared – moment when Covid-19 would infect the markets arrived with a bang. Despite efforts by central banks and a less-than soothing address from President Trump, markets the world over went into free-fall as the coronavirus extended into more than 80 countries, sending infections and deaths surging.

With comparisons to Black Monday of 1987 and the great crash of 2008 circled on policymakers’ jotters, the New York Fed said it would inject a record $1 trillion into American money markets by purchasing Treasury securities across a range of maturities.

That is quantitative easing on a scale and with a speed never seen before, wrote David Goldman. The Fed is trying to stop a financial avalanche that threatens to bury risk assets and throw the world into a deep recession.

It was enough for US stock prices, which had fallen by almost 10% at their lowest, to recover a good deal of their lost ground by the end of the week.

For a gauge of the impact on the broader economy, look no further than US Treasuries.

Prices of the benchmark debt climbed to their highest levels since 2009, as investors continued to flee risk assets, writes by David Goldman. The market, though, highlights how the dollar can no longer be considered the haven asset it has been for decades.

Even as the world tries to grapple with COVID-19 — and is miserably falling short — it may not be the last such pandemic to engulf the planet, going by the recent outbreaks of viral infections.

The United Nations has warned that the global economy faces “a US$2 trillion hit” in a “doomsday scenario” after the WHO declared a worldwide pandemic. As the Covid-19 disease spreads across the planet and the battle switches from China to Europe and the US, concerns are growing that global growth will be wiped out as consumer demand evaporates, Gordon Watts reports.

Rate cuts: Such restrictions are bound to cause a drop in economic activity. The world economy was already strained by the Chinese lockdown. To cope, countries are proposing various forms of stimulus. In the US, the Trump administration could introduce a payroll tax cut to put more cash in people’s hands. The US Federal Reserve, which last week cut benchmark interest rate to boost lending activities, said it will inject $1.5 trillion into bond markets. The UK has slashed the interest rates and revived a programme to support lending to small and medium-scale businesses. Tax breaks and cheaper loans were also introduced in Germany. Australia said it will spend $11.42 billion to avoid a recession.

Fund for healthcare: Then there are the funds to support the overburdened healthcare system. Italy has launched a $28 billion package, while the European Commission has earmarked a similar figure. Iran, which is reeling under the US sanctions, took a rare step of seeking financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The IMF has not lent Iran money since 1962 — that is, never since the Islamic Revolution.

Oil Prices Collapse

Oil prices slipped as low as $30 per barrel this week as the new coronavirus, COVID-19, led to shuttered factories and Saudi Arabia and Russia ramping up oil production.

The future of oil prices will shape how the world recovers from the coronavirus outbreak and the fate of regional and national economies, not to mention how the world responds, or doesn’t, to the urgent threat of climate change.

As the world, and the markets, struggle to assess the impact of the collapse in oil prices, here are answers to six key questions:

There are two reasons for the oil-price collapse. First, coronavirus has reduced economic activity, from factories shuttering in China to international air travel declining dramatically. That decline in economic activity, in turn, leads to reduced demand for oil, the energy source that largely powers the global economy.

Usually, a collapse in oil companies leads oil producers, particularly OPEC, the cartel that accounts for 40% of the world’s oil production, to slow down their production to try to raise prices. But last week a meeting of OPEC members plus Russia fell apart after Russia refused to agree to slow production. Instead, Saudi Arabia and Russia, the world’s second and third-largest producers of crude oil, respectively, announced that they would increase their production, further reducing prices. Goldman Sachs suggested that prices could hit $20 per barrel if the price war continues.

Aren’t Russia and Saudi Arabia hurting themselves by deflating oil prices?

In the short term, keeping oil prices low definitely harms Russia and Saudi Arabia. Both countries produce oil relatively cheaply, but depend on making a big profit selling it to fuel their economies. The International Monetary Fund estimated that in 2020 oil would need to be priced at $78.30 per barrel for Saudi Arabia to balance its budget. Russia’s breakeven budget point is said to be in the $40-range.

But there are bigger long-term strategic interests at play. For one, leaders of both countries clearly view their oppositional objectives as worthy priorities. Saudi Arabia needs much higher oil prices in the medium to long-term, and is willing to take the hit to force Russia to the table.

Despite the dust up, both parties share an even bigger foe: U.S. shale oil producers. These producers, centered largely in West Texas and New Mexico, have boomed since the advent of fracking, which has allowed them to reach vast new oil reserves. Consequently, the U.S. has catapulted to become the world’s largest producer of crude oil. By lowering oil prices, Russia and Saudi Arabia will disrupt the American industry and likely force some companies into bankruptcy.

What does this mean for the U.S. domestic oil and gas industry?

This price war poses a dire threat to the U.S. oil and gas industry, particularly the companies drilling in the West Texas region known as the Permian Basin. The industry was already strained by low profits and difficultly accessing capital. If the price war continues, many small producers will likely go bankrupt while bigger players scale back operations. Shares in many big oil and gas companies like Occidental Petroleum and Continental Resources, for instance, fell by more than 50% this week. This will inevitably lead to lost jobs across the region. “Anybody that’s been on the edge is probably going to go into distress pretty quickly,” says Deborah Byers, says U.S. oil & gas leader at consulting firm EY.

Industry representatives, including the American Petroleum Institute (API), the industry’s powerful trade group, insist they don’t want government assistance to make it through the tough times. But a report in the Washington Post suggested that the Trump Administration is considering providing aid to the industry.

Will this stimulate the economy?

Typically, low oil prices stimulate the economy because the fossil fuel remains essential: oil fuels factories and transportation and even serves as the feedstock for a vast array of products. President Trump tweeted as much on Monday.

Mukesh Ambani Named World’s Ninth Richest

Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) chief Mukesh Ambani is the ninth richest person in the world along with Steve Ballmer of Microsoft and Larry Page of Google, each having a net worth of $67 billion, according to the Hurun Global Rich List 2020.

Ambani, 62, maintained a place in the top 10 for the second time after a $13 billion or 24 per cent surge in his wealth to $67bn.

“The only Asian in the Top 10, Ambani’s wealth increased mainly on the back of a good performance in his telecom business,” the Hurun Rich List said.

Ambani is restructuring Reliance Industries to facilitate the planned strategic investments in group businesses – Reliance Jio, Reliance Retail, refining and petrochemicals. The conglomerate aims to be a zero net debt company in 18 months and is in discussion to sell 20 per cent oil-to-chemicals business to Saudi Aramco, at an enterprise value of $75 billion. RIL became the first Indian company to hit the milestone of achieving Rs 10 lakh crore market capitalisation.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos retains the top spot in the Hurun Global Rich List 2020 with $140 billion, down $7 billion, mainly due to the world’s largest divorce settlement with former wife MacKenzie Bezos, who makes the list in her own right with $44 billion.

Amazon is one of four companies, whose valuations have hit $1 trillion, the others being Microsoft, Apple and Google. Bezos bought a $165 million home, setting a new record for Los Angeles. In February, he pledged $10 billion to help fight climate change.

Bill Gates, dropped down to third place on the Hurun Global Rich List 2020, with $106 billion, despite growing his wealth $10 billion or 10 per cent. Last month, Gates announced a $100 million commitment to fight coronavirus which has triggered a global health emergency.

Over the past two decades, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given out more than $50 billion to global health and education. (IANS)

Three simple steps to trade the NFP news

Trading the Non-farm payroll data might be the most difficult task in the Forex market. But those who have extensive skills are making a decent profit by taking advantage of the NFP data. So, what is NFP? This is nothing but the data which reflects the number of jobs that has been added to the U.S economy. When more jobs are added, you can expect a strong rally in the U.S dollar index. On the contrary, when the NFP data fails to meet the expectations, the mighty U.S dollar trades significantly lower against the major currency pairs.
So, can we trade the NFP like the elite traders in Hong Kong? Well, the answer greatly depends on your skills and trading environment. Today we are going to give you three simple tips that can help you trade the NFP data with a high level of accuracy. Follow these rules and you can trade the most dangerous news in the Forex market.

Find the critical support and resistance level

Trading the news doesn’t mean you will not be dealing with the critical support and resistance level. Most of the time the market surge higher to test the critical support and resistance on the event of NFP news. Those who are skilled wait cautiously or set pending orders at those critical levels to make a profit from this market. But setting up the pending orders at those levels is a very critical task. Unless you learn to trade this market with proper discipline, it will be really hard to make big profits. At the initial stage, try to use the manual execution process as it greatly improves your success rate. However, manual execution of the trade requires strong confidence as the market remains extremely volatile. A few seconds delay in the trade execution process can result in a big loss.

Trade with the best broker

You must trade with the best broker to trade such high impact news. The navie traders are always using the low-end trading platform and experiencing heavy slippage on the event of such major news. On the contrary, the elite traders use the SaxoTraderPro trading platform to ensure quality executions of the trade. You won’t have to face any heavy slippage or experience widespread. Some of you might not be aware the spread becomes wide on such events. Unless you learn to deal with the dynamic spread efficiently, you are not going to make any profit. Most of the time the trades will result in small profit big loss. To avoid such a situation you can choose to trade the market with brokers like Saxo Capital Markets since they always ensure a premium environment for the retail clients.

Reduce the risk at trading

When you trade the major news like NFP, you must reduce the risk of trading. Taking too much risk to trade the NFP data and pushing yourself to the aggressive method is a very big mistake. Though you will be trading a volatile market, you need to remain calm. The trade execution process greatly depends on the trader’s mentality and risk exposure. Since the movement will be high, you should limit the risk to 1% to protect your trading capital. Forget the fact, trading is more like dealing with a falling knife. Do you think the skilled people are afraid of catching a falling knife? They have always taken preventive measures since they can deal with the worst-case scenario. Just like this, you should trade the major news with preventive measures.


Trading NFP will become easier if you follow the rules mentioned in this article. Never break the rules of money management if you want to become a skilled news trader. Stop focusing on short term gains and trade the news with managed risk. And never lose confidence when you start trading the NFP news.

Indian CEOs Lead Big US Companies

IBM tapped Arvind Krishna as its next CEO last week. And this week WeWork confirmed it hired Sandeep Mathrani as its new chief executive.  They join a growing number of global CEOs of Indian origin, according to social media, news reports and online searching (incidentally, Google is run by an Indian).

Here’s a list of Indian American CEOs:

Shantanu Narayen, Adobe

Sundar Pichai, Alphabet, the parent company of Google

Satya Narayana Nadella, Microsoft

Rajeev Suri, Nokia

Punit Renjen, Deloitte

Vasant “Vas” Narasimhan, Novartis

Ajaypal “Ajay” Singh Banga, Mastercard

Ivan Manuel Menezes, Diageo

Niraj S. Shah, Wayfair

Sanjay Mehrotra, Micron

George Kurian, NetApp

Nikesh Arora, Palo Alto Networks

Dinesh C. Paliwal, Harman International Industries

A disclaimer that this is hardly complete or exhaustive. Some are the children of Indian immigrants.

To be sure, there is a risk of reading into one group’s success as a case of Indian exceptionalism, which I truly do not believe. Rather, a series of external factors have contributed to the rise of the Indian CEO, which says more about the state of corporate America, a globalized workplace, technological disruption and the leaders who might prevail.

”It’s not a not a surprise that we’re seeing Indians rise in corporate ranks,” says Richard Herman, coauthor of a book on migrants to the U.S., Immigrant, Inc. ”Of all the immigrant groups coming in today, Indians are head-and-shoulders above others, and this is partly because of their English language skills and also the advanced education that many of them are bringing to the U.S.”

Nooyi, says Herman, is part of a growing trend where U.S. companies are being created, or led, by foreign-born individuals who bring in something special. Herman cites new research from Brigham Young University showing American workers innovate and solve problems faster when working with a ”socially distinct newcomer,” meaning, a person from another culture.

Despite these personal success stories the number of immigrants who are leading corporate America, Indian or otherwise, is still a tiny fraction. But, says Herman, ”look at where the data was ten years ago and maybe it was zero or one [Indian then].”

India will tax NRIs only on income earned from India

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said the Indian government has full sovereign right on the income generated by an NRI in India and as such they will be taxed as per Indian laws. She, however, said, the income accruing to the NRI from the country one is living in wouldn’t be taxed by India.

“Here’s a situation where an NRI is earning in some other country and he is not taxed there. He has some earnings in India as well, but because he doesn’t live here, he doesn’t pay tax here too. What we are saying now (in Budget) that pay tax for the income generated in India,” said the Finance Minister.

“If he is earning in a no-tax jurisdiction, why would we include that into our calculations? If you have a property in India and have got a rent through it, therefore, you carry this income too, meaning no tax there or no tax here. We have corrected this because this income is in the jurisdiction od India,” she said.

“We have got full sovereign right to take consideration of the income from India property for those NRIs. I am not taxing what the NRI is earning elsewhere,” the Finance Minister told IANS in an interaction on Sunday.

The Union Budget 2020 proposed to tax Indians who are not residents in India, but “their earnings” will be taxed. So there was confusion if all their incomes from all sources all over the world will be taxed by India. Now the FM has cleared that it is only India income that would be taxed for NRIs.

Tightening the residency provisions, the Budget also proposed to reduce the period of stay in India to 120 days from 182 days earlier for persons of Indian origin (PIOs) to be categorised as non-resident Indians (NRIs).

Reworking the definition of non-resident Indians (NRIs), the Budget document said the I-T Act provides that an Indian citizen or a person of Indian origin shall be Indian resident if he is in India for 182 days in that year.

But with 240-day change, the government still has not confirmed what the definition of RONR now will be (RONR as in Resident but not ordinarily resident).

The RONR status applies to returning Indians where they got two years of continued tax-free status on offshore earnings.

The approaching debt wave around world

The first of these happened in the early 1980s. After a decade of low borrowing costs, which enabled governments to expand their balance sheets considerably, interest rates began to rise, making debt-service increasingly unsustainable. Mexico fell first, informing the United States government and the International Monetary Fund in 1982 that it could no longer repay. This had a domino effect, with 16 Latin American countries and 11 least-developed countries outside the region ultimately rescheduling their debts.

In the 1990s, interest rates were again low, and global debt surged once more. The crash came in 1997, when fast-growing but financially vulnerable East Asian economies—including Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea, and Thailand—experienced sharp growth slowdowns and plummeting exchange rates. The effects reverberated worldwide.

The World Bank has just warned us that a fourth debt wave could dwarf the first three.

But it is not only emerging economies that are vulnerable to such crashes, as America’s 2008 subprime mortgage crisis proved. By the time people figured out what “subprime” meant, the U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers had collapsed, triggering the most severe crisis and recession since the Great Depression.

The World Bank has just warned us that a fourth debt wave could dwarf the first three. Emerging economies, which have amassed a record debt-to-GDP ratio of 170 percent, are particularly vulnerable. As in the previous cases, the debt wave has been facilitated by low interest rates. There is reason for alarm once interest rates begin to rise and premia inevitably spike.

The mechanics of such crises are not well understood. But a 1998 paper by Stephen Morris and Hyun Song Shin on the mysterious origins of currency crises, and how they are transmitted to other economies, shows that a financial tsunami can make landfall far from its source.

How the source of financial trouble can vanish, leaving others stranded, was illustrated in the delightful short story “Rnam Krttva” by the celebrated twentieth-century Indian writer Shibram Chakraborty. In the story—which I translated into English and included in my book “An Economist’s Miscellany”—the desperate Shibram asks an old school friend, Harsha, to lend him 500 rupees ($7) on a Wednesday, to be repaid the following Saturday.

But Shibram squanders the money, so on Saturday, he has little choice but to ask another school friend, Gobar, for a loan of 500 rupees, to be repaid the next Wednesday. He uses the money to repay Harsha. But when Wednesday rolls around, he has no way of repaying Gobar. So, reminding Harsha of his excellent repayment record, he borrows from him again.

It is not too late for countries to build seawalls to protect against debt tsunamis.

This becomes a routine, with Shibram repeatedly borrowing from one friend to repay the other. Then Shibram runs into both Harsha and Gobar one day at a crosswalk. After a moment of anxiety, he has an idea: Every Wednesday, he suggests, Harsha should give Gobar 500 rupees, and every Saturday, Gobar should give the same amount to Harsha. Shibram assures his former school friends that this will save him a lot of time and change nothing for them, and he vanishes into Kolkata’s milling crowds.

So who are the likely Harshas and Gobars in today’s debt wave? According to the World Bank, they could be any country with domestic vulnerabilities, a stretched fiscal balance sheet, and a heavily indebted population.

There are several countries that fit this description and run the risk of being the conduit that carries the fourth debt wave to the world economy. Among advanced economies, the United Kingdom is an obvious candidate. In 2019, the U.K. narrowly avoided a recession, with a growth rate a shade above zero—the weakest growth in a non-recession period since 1945. The country is also about to undertake Brexit. Conservatives in Britain have promised that a “tidal wave” of business investment will follow. This is unlikely: if there is a tidal wave, it will probably be one of debt instead.

Among emerging economies, India is especially vulnerable. In the 1980s, India’s economy was fairly sheltered, so the debt wave back then had little impact. At the time of the East Asian crisis in 1997, India had just begun to open up, and it experienced some slowdown in growth. By the time of the debt wave in 2008, the country had become globally integrated and was severely affected. But its economy was strong and growing at nearly 10 percent annually, and it recovered within a year.

Today, India’s economy is facing one of its deepest crises in the last 30 years, with growth slowing sharply, unemployment at a 45-year high, close to zero export growth over the last six years, and per capita consumption in the agricultural sector decreasing over the last five years. Add to this a deeply polarized political environment and it is little wonder that investor confidence is rapidly declining.

It is not too late for countries to build seawalls to protect against debt tsunamis. While India’s political problems will take time to solve, the Union budget—to be presented on February 1—is an opportunity for preemptive action. The fiscal deficit needs to be controlled in the medium term, but the government would be wise to adopt expansionary fiscal policy now, with money channeled into shoring up infrastructure and investment. Managed properly, this can boost demand without increasing inflationary pressures, and strengthen the economy in order to withstand a debt wave. The country’s leaders must seize this opportunity. The alternative is to adopt the brace position.

Homeless US student population ‘highest in over a decade’ – The number of homeless students in the US is the highest in over a decade according to a new study

Most of the 1.5 million homeless schoolchildren stayed with other families or friends after losing their homes. But 7% lived in abandoned buildings or cars, the report by the National Centre for Homeless Education showed.

It is often caused by job insecurity, unaffordable housing, domestic violence and recently the opioid crisis. Living without a fixed address seriously impacts children’s education and health.

Less than a third of homeless students were able to read adequately, and scored even lower in mathematics and science, the report showed.

The most recent data was recorded in 2017-18 and was more than double the nearly 680,000 homeless students reported in 2004-05, the director of National Centre for Homeless Education told the New York Times.

The research measures the number of children in schools who report being homeless at some point during an academic year as as such does not show the total population of homeless young people in the US.

Why is student homelessness increasing?

Homelessness is a growing problem in the US, usually linked to the national housing crisis.

Millions of people spend more than half their income on housing, and many report they cannot afford to buy a house.

Increasing rents and a housing shortage has forced thousands of people in California to live in caravans or inadequate housing.

A changing economy, with factories closing down or the rise of the insecure gig economy, also leaves parents unable to pay rent.

The opioid crisis, in which almost 2 million people are addicted to prescription drugs, is also causing some families to break up or children to be removed from their homes.

A disproportionate number of homeless youth are LGBT, according to University of California Williams Institute.

Nearly seven in 10 said that family rejection was a major cause of becoming homeless, and abuse at home was another major reason.

Most homelessness experts say the solution lies in providing more housing at affordable rates, as well as providing support to families who may be affected by trauma or addiction.

George Soros commits $1 billion to fund a network of universities around the world to fight authoritarian regimes and climate change

George Soros, the billionaire investor-turned-philanthropist, said that he was committing $1 billion to fund “the most important project of his life”, a network of universities around the world to fight authoritarian regimes and climate change and help educate and promote “personal autonomy”.

Soros criticized Prime Minister Modi for creating a “Hindu nationalist state,” calling his government the “biggest and most frightening setback” to the survival of open societies worldwide while also mentioning the Citizenship Act and the shutdown of Kashmir.

In a speech at the World Economic Forum at Davos on January 23, Soros noted what he called the rise of right-wing authoritarian governments across the world which is the great enemy of open society.

The motivation for the commitment, as per him: “It has become easier to influence events than to understand what is going on… outcomes are unlikely to correspond to people’s expectations… this has caused widespread disappointment… that populist politicians have exploited for their own purposes.” “The tide turned against open societies after the crash of 2008 because it constituted a failure of international cooperation. This in turn led to the rise of nationalism, the great enemy of open society.”

“Nationalism, far from being reversed, made further headway. The biggest and most frightening setback occurred in India where a democratically elected Narendra Modi is creating a Hindu nationalist state, imposing punitive measures on Kashmir, a semi-autonomous Muslim region, and threatening to deprive millions of Muslims of their citizenship.”

According to him, “President Trump is a con man and the ultimate narcissist who wants the world to revolve around him. When his fantasy of becoming president came true, his narcissism developed a pathological dimension.” “Xi Jinping has abolished a carefully developed system of collective leadership and became a dictator as soon as he gained sufficient strength to do so.”

Noting that the strongest powers, the U.S., China and Russia, remained in the hands of would-be or actual dictators, he said the ranks of authoritarian rulers continued to grow by the end of the year. “The biggest and most frightening setback occurred in India where a democratically elected Narendra Modi is creating a Hindu nationalist state, imposing punitive measures on Kashmir, a semi-autonomous Muslim region, and threatening to deprive millions of Muslims of their citizenship,” Soros said.

This year WEF’s is holding the 50th anniversary of the event in the Swiss Alps and its theme is “Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World.” The annual economic gathering ran from January 21 until January 24.

Soros said from an open society point of view, the situation in the world, including in the U.S. and China and other parts, is quite grim, adding that while it would be easy to give in to despair, that would be a mistake.

“There are also grounds to hope for the survival of open societies. They have their weaknesses, but so do repressive regimes. The greatest shortcoming of dictatorships is that when they are successful, they don’t know when or how to stop being repressive. They lack the checks and balances that give democracies a degree of stability. As a result, the oppressed revolt. We see this happening today all around the world,” Soros said.

“It is certainly legitimate for a large investor like George Soros to comment on both India’s politics and economics because they are related. If politics creates unrest and poses a challenge to law and order, then investments are at risk. I do not believe we are at that point right now, but our Hindutva politics are certainly a distraction,” Gurcharan Das, author and former CEO of Proctor and Gamble India, was quoted as saying in The Print.

Soros, who made his billions as a one of the greatest speculators in the financial markets and then running a hedge fund that gave market-beating returns, now uses his fortune to fund education, health, human rights and democracy projects across the world, including India. He has also been a critic of the Chinese government, the US President and big tech companies like Facebook and Google.

Rising Inequality Affects More Than 70% of the Globe

Inequality is growing for more than 70 per cent of the global population, exacerbating the risks of divisions and hampering economic and social development. But the rise is far from inevitable and can be tackled at a national and international level, says a flagship study released by the UN on Tuesday.

The World Social Report 2020, published by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), shows that income inequality has increased in most developed countries, and some middle-income countries – including China, which has the world’s fastest growing economy.

The challenges are underscored by UN chief António Guterres in the foreword, in which he states that the world is confronting “the harsh realities of a deeply unequal global landscape”, in which economic woes, inequalities and job insecurity have led to mass protests in both developed and developing countries.

Income inequality has increased in most developed countries, and some middle-income countries – including China, which has the world’s fastest growing economy

“Income disparities and a lack of opportunities”, he writes, “are creating a vicious cycle of inequality, frustration and discontent across generations.”

‘The one per cent’ winners take (almost) all

The study shows that the richest one per cent of the population are the big winners in the changing global economy, increasing their share of income between 1990 and 2015, while at the other end of the scale, the bottom 40 per cent earned less than a quarter of income in all countries surveyed.

One of the consequences of inequality within societies, notes the report, is slower economic growth. In unequal societies, with wide disparities in areas such as health care and education, people are more likely to remain trapped in poverty, across several generations.

Between countries, the difference in average incomes is reducing, with China and other Asian nations driving growth in the global economy. Nevertheless, there are still stark differences between the richest and poorest countries and regions: the average income in North America, for example, is 16 times higher than that of people in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Four global forces affecting inequality

The report looks at the impact that four powerful global forces, or megatrends, are having on inequality around the world: technological innovation, climate change, urbanization and international migration.

Whilst technological innovation can support economic growth, offering new possibilities in fields such as health care, education, communication and productivity, there is also evidence to show that it can lead to increased wage inequality, and displace workers.

Rapid advances in areas such as biology and genetics, as well as robotics and artificial intelligence, are transforming societies at pace.

New technology has the potential to eliminate entire categories of jobs but, equally, may generate entirely new jobs and innovations.

For now, however, highly skilled workers are reaping the benefits of the so-called “fourth industrial revolution”, whilst low-skilled and middle-skilled workers engaged in routine manual and cognitive tasks, are seeing their opportunities shrink.

Opportunities in a crisis

As the UN’s 2020 report on the global economy showed last Thursday, the climate crisis is having a negative impact on quality of life, and vulnerable populations are bearing the brunt of environmental degradation and extreme weather events. Climate change, according to the World Social Report, is making the world’s poorest countries even poorer, and could reverse progress made in reducing inequality among countries.

If action to tackle the climate crisis progresses as hoped, there will be job losses in carbon-intensive sectors, such as the coal industry, but the “greening” of the global economy could result in overall net employment gains, with the creation of many new jobs worldwide.

For the first time in history, more people live in urban than rural areas, a trend that is expected to continue over the coming years. Although cities drive economic growth, they are more unequal than rural areas, with the extremely wealthy living alongside the very poor.

The scale of inequality varies widely from city to city, even within a single country: as they grow and develop, some cities have become more unequal whilst, in others, inequality has declined.

Migration a ‘powerful symbol of global inequality’

The fourth megatrend, international migration, is described as both a “powerful symbol of global inequality”, and “a force for equality under the right conditions”.

Migration within countries, notes the report, tends to increase once countries begin to develop and industrialize, and more inhabitants of middle-income countries than low-income countries migrate abroad.

International migration is seen, generally, as benefiting both migrants, their countries of origin (as money is sent home) and their host countries.

In some cases, where migrants compete for low-skilled work, wages may be pushed down, increasing inequality but, if they offer skills that are in short supply, or take on work that others are not willing to do, they can have a positive effect on unemployment.

Harness the megatrends for a better world

Despite a clear widening of the gap between the haves and have-nots worldwide, the report points out that this situation can be reversed. Although the megatrends have the potential to continue divisions in society, they can also, as the Secretary-General says in his foreword, “be harnessed for a more equitable and sustainable world”. Both national governments and international organizations have a role to play in levelling the playing field and creating a fairer world for all.

Reducing inequality should, says the report, play a central role in policy-making. This means ensuring that the potential of new technology is used to reduce poverty and create jobs; that vulnerable people grow more resilient to the effects of climate change; cities are more inclusive; and migration takes place in a safe, orderly and regular manner.

Three strategies for making countries more egalitarian are suggested in the report: the promotion of equal access to opportunities (through, for example, universal access to education); fiscal policies that include measures for social policies, such as unemployment and disability benefits; and legislation that tackles prejudice and discrimination, whilst promoting greater participation of disadvantaged groups.

While action at a national level is crucial, the report declares that “concerted, coordinated and multilateral action” is needed to tackle major challenges affecting inequality within and among countries.

The report’s authors conclude that, given the importance of international cooperation, multilateral institutions such as the UN should be strengthened and action to create a fairer world must be urgently accelerated.

The UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which provides the blueprint for a better future for people and the planet, recognizes that major challenges require internationally coordinated solutions, and contains concrete and specific targets to reduce inequality, based on income.

(This story was originally published by UN News)

World’s Richest 22 Men Are Worth The Same As All 325 Million Women in Africa – New Oxfam Report Reveals

“Wealth inequality remains shockingly high.” This is the sobering conclusion of Oxfam’s latest report, published on the eve of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2020.

The 162 richest people on the planet boast the same wealth as the poorest 50 percent – 3.85 billion – in the world.

From Tuesday, January 21, nearly 3,000 delegates – including 53 heads of state – from 117 countries, participated in the WEF summit in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland. According to the website blurb, the WEF Annual Meeting is “the foremost creative force for engaging the world’s top leaders in collaborative activities to shape global, regional and industry agendas at the beginning of each year”.

This year’s topic, for the great and the good of the business world and politics, is “stakeholders for a cohesive and sustainable world”. While the hellish fires raging in Australia fan the flames for climate change, the perverse irony that most of the 774 public speakers will have been flown into the summit will not be lost on the people who are truly concerned about the heating of the world.

Similarly, that many of the wealthiest people in the world will gather to no doubt use the WEF platform to further boost their riches, through additional business deals and contacts, while vowing to help those less fortunate is alarming to Oxfam. Hence why every year at this precise time the leading charity publishes the latest data showing the gulf between the globe’s haves and have nots.

A Man’s World? But Nothing Without Women

The Oxfam report shows that the world’s 22 richest men have more wealth than all the women in Africa. Furthermore, women and girls are putting in 12.5 billion hours of unpaid care work every day – tending to children and the elderly, for instance — which amounts to a contribution to the global economy of at least $10.8 trillion a year (more than three times the size of the global tech industry).

“When 22 men have more wealth than all the women in Africa combined, it’s clear that our economy is just plain sexist,” says Danny Sriskandarajah, Oxfam GB Chief Executive.

World’s Richest 22 Men Are Worth The Same As All 325 Million Women in Africa – New Oxfam Report Reveals“One way that our upside-down economic system deepens inequality is by chronically undervaluing care work – usually done by women, who are often left little time to get an education, earn a decent living or have a say in how our societies are run, and are therefore trapped in poverty.”

“If world leaders meeting this week are serious about reducing poverty and inequality, they urgently need to invest in care and other public services that make life easier for those with care responsibilities, and tackle discrimination holding back women and girls.”

“Bloomberg [has] just shown how 500 people last year got over a $1 trillion richer. While estimates of overall wealth and the wealth share of the bottom 50 percent fluctuate from one year to the next, the overall picture of incredible levels of wealth inequality remains shockingly high.”

Much in the same way climate change should have been on the agenda years ago – long before Greenland’s glaciers began to melt and ahead of Australia’s ongoing and unprecedented wildfires, which have claimed the lives of approximately 500 million animals – it is time for the world to wake up to financial imbalance, and take action now.

GoodDollar is a not-for-profit foundation whose driving ambition is to reduce global wealth inequality through a combination of universal basic income (UBI) principles and blockchain. Aside from the headline number of 162 billionaires owning as much as half of the world, a raft of other calculations from the new Oxfam report justified our mission and strengthened our resolve and determination to strive for financial change.

Consider the following:

  • The 162 richest people on the planet boast the same wealth as the poorest 50 percent — 3.85 billion — in the world.

  • Half the global population earns less than $5.5 a day ($120 a month).

  • 500 people last year got over a $1 trillion richer.

  • Getting the richest 1 percent to pay just 0.5 percent extra tax on their wealth over the next 10 years could raise enough money to create 117 million jobs, including 79 million in education, health and social care, which would help close the current care gap.

  • The stage is set: help us at GoodDollar to reduce global wealth inequality, before it is too late.

According to an Oxfam report, India’s top 10 per cent of the population holds 74.3 per cent of the total national wealth while the bottom 90 percent holds 25.7 percent of national wealth.

The report said that the number of billionaires since the global financial crisis has nearly doubled with a new billionaire created every two days.

“Over the last year, the total wealth of India has increased by US$ 625.5 billion.The wealth of the top 1 per cent increased by 46 per cent while the bottom 50 per cent saw wealth increase at just 3 per cent.,” the report said.

Analysis of billionaire wealth showed that there are 15 billionaires from the consumer goods industry and more than 10 billionaires from the pharmaceuticals industry in 2019.

Another figure that shows growing inequality in the country is that the wealth of top 9 billionaires is equivalent to the wealth of the bottom 50 per cent of the population.

Persistent inequality has negative implications for macroeconomic stability and inclusive economic growth. Wealth concentrations can lead to decision-making power being restricted to a few while also resulting in significant adverse social impacts such as rising crime, the report noted.

“Rising inequality also compromises the pace of poverty reduction and compounds inequalities between various social groups such as men and women in terms of access to health, education, and opportunities,” it said.

According to the report, it would take a female domestic worker 22,277 years to earn what a top CEO of a technology company makes in one year. With earnings pegged at Rs 106 per second, a tech CEO would make more in 10 minutes than what an average domestic worker would make in one year. (IANS)

Gold prices surge to a record high

Gold was one of the few investments heading higher Monday as worries about the coronavirus outbreak led to a steep market slide. Gold is now up more than 20% in the past year, and trading near $1,600 an ounce, its highest level since 2013. Other precious metals, such as silver and platinum, have rallied too. Meanwhile, the Dow was down nearly 350 points in midday trading.

Some experts wonder if gold could top $2,000 in the not-too-distant future. Gold last hit an all-time high of just above $1,900 in 2011 in the midst of the European debt crisis.

Gold and gold miners often do well during times when investors are afraid.

Case in point: miner Newmont (NEM) was one of the few stocks in the S&P 500 that was trading higher Monday. In fact, gold stocks have been a good investment for some time. The VanEck Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX) is up nearly 40% in the past year.

The CNN Business Fear & Greed Index, which looks at seven measures of market sentiment, has plunged in the past week and is now not far from showing levels of fear. The index was in Extreme Greed territory just a week ago.

“There are a lot of things that could go wrong for the stock market and the economic impact of a China slowdown from the coronavirus could be felt globally,” said David Beahm, president and CEO of Blanchard & Company.

But gold had been doing well even before most people had ever heard of the coronavirus. Why?

Three interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve last year helped to weaken the US dollar. That’s made gold more attractive than the greenback and other paper currencies, especially since rates are negative in parts of Europe and Japan.

Gold isn’t the only commodity that has benefited from worries about a slumping dollar and low interest rates. Silver, platinum and palladium prices have all soared as well in the past year.

This rally makes perfect sense given that interest rates are so low and the dollar is weakening. So how much exposure should a long-term investor have to precious metals in a retirement portfolio?

“A 5% to 10% allocation in gold and gold stocks makes sense,” says Ralph Aldis, a portfolio manager with US Global Investors. “This is the nascent start of a gold rally.”

Aldis said gold should continue to climb — and not just because average investors are growing nervous and seeking it out as a safe haven. Even big global central banks are starting to hoard gold as if they were Scrooge McDuck.

]According to figures from the World Gold Council, central bank gold purchases rose 12% in the first three quarters of 2019 from the same period in 2018. Central banks added 547.5 metric tons of gold on a net basis.

Investors are nervous about a litany of factors beyond coronavirus fears, Aldis said. Loose monetary policy around the world is creating an unhealthy environment for stocks — especially since corporate profits steadily dropped last year.

“The Fed and other central banks have been pouring money into the market. With money flow driving stocks instead of earnings, that makes people more jittery,” Aldis said.

Blanchard’s Beahm added that worries about more tension in the Middle East haven’t gone away either.

He noted that the broader stock market could become increasingly volatile this year due to jitters about the 2020 presidential election. Beahm argues that investors should have between 10% and 15% of their portfolio in metals.

“This year will be another one of double digit percentage growth for gold. It could hit new all-time highs and top $2,000 — if not this year then sometime soon on the horizon,” Beahm said.

depend on federal assistance.

The Supreme Court issued an order Monday, Jan 27th allowing the Trump administration to begin enforcing new limits on immigrants who are considered likely to become overly dependent on government benefit programs.

The court voted 5-4. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan said they would have left a lower court ruling in place that blocked enforcement while a legal challenge works its way through the courts.

The Department of Homeland Security announced in August that it would expand the definition of “public charge,” to be applied to people whose immigration to the United States could be denied because of a concern that they would primarily depend on the government for their income.

In the past, that was largely based on an assessment that an immigrant would be dependent upon cash benefits. But the Trump administration proposed to broaden the definition to include noncash benefits, such as Medicaid, supplemental nutrition and federal housing assistance.

Anyone who would be likely to require that broader range of help for more than 12 months in any three-year period would be swept into the expanded definition.

But in response to a lawsuit filed by New York, Connecticut, Vermont, New York City and immigrant aid groups, a federal judge in New York imposed a nationwide injunction, blocking the government from enforcing the broader rule. Congress never meant to consider the kind of time limit the government proposed, the judge said, and the test has always been whether an immigrant would become primarily dependent on cash benefits.

The government has long had authority to block immigrants who were likely to become public charges, but the term has never been formally defined. The DHS proposed to fill that void, adding noncash benefits and such factors as age, financial resources, employment history, education and health.

The acting deputy secretary of the DHS, Ken Cuccinelli, said the proposed rules would reinforce “the ideals of self-sufficiency and personal responsibility, ensuring that immigrants are able to support themselves and become successful here in America.”

Two federal appeals courts — the 9th Circuit in the West and the 4th Circuit in the Mid-Atlantic — declined to block the new rule. They noted that the law allows designating someone as inadmissible if “in the opinion of” the secretary of Homeland Security, that person would be “likely at any time to become a public charge,” which the courts said gives the government broad authority.

The Trump administration urged the Supreme Court to lift the nationwide injunction imposed by the New York trial judge, given that two appeals courts have come to the opposite conclusion. Justices Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas said Monday that district court judges have been issuing nationwide injunctions much more often.

They called on their colleagues to review the practice, which they said has spread “chaos for the litigants, the government, the courts, and all those affected by these conflicting decisions.”

But the challengers of the public charge rule urged the justices to keep the stay in place.

They said lifting it now, while the legal battle is still being waged, “would inject confusion and uncertainty” to the immigration system and could deter millions of noncitizens from applying for public benefits.

Increasing Debt Drowns World

The world’s already huge debt load smashed the record for the highest debt-to-GDP ratio before 2019 was even over. In fact, it broke that record in the first nine months of last year. Global debt, which comprises borrowings from households, governments and companies, grew by $9 trillion to nearly $253 trillion during that period, according to the Institute of International Finance.

That puts the global debt-to-GDP ratio at 322%, narrowly surpassing 2016 as the highest level on record. More than half of this enormous number was accumulated in developed markets, such as the United States and Europe, bringing their debt-to-GDP ratio to 383% overall.

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There are plenty of culprits. Countries like New Zealand, Switzerland and Norway all have rising household debt levels, while the government debt-to-GDP ratios in the United States and Australia are at all-time highs. In emerging markets, debt levels are lower, for a total of $72 trillion, but they have risen faster in recent years, according to the IIF.

China’s ratio of debt to GDP, for example, is approaching 310%, the highest level in the developing world. Investors have long kept a skeptical eye on the highly-leveraged country. Following a push for Chinese companies to reduce their borrowing in 2017 and 2018, debt levels rose again last year, the IIF said in its Global Debt Monitor report.

Such massive worldwide debt is a real risk for the global economy, especially because the IIF expects levels to rise even further in 2020.

“Spurred by low interest rates and loose financial conditions, we estimate that total global debt will exceed $257 trillion” in the first quarter of 2020, the IIF said.

The Federal Reserve lowered interest rates three times last year, and the European Central Bank’s benchmark rate is still at its post-financial crisis lows.

Despite favorable borrowing conditions, the refinancing risk is massive. A total of more than $19 trillion of syndicated loans and bonds will mature in 2020. It’s unlikely that all of these will be refinanced or repaid.

Another issue that the report brings up is the financing needs for urgent climate change action.

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals require $42 trillion of infrastructure investments by 2030, but “countries with limited borrowing capacity could face severe challenges in meeting development finance needs,” the IIF said.

America’s CFOs Are Warning Of A Recession

Recession fears are again on the rise, with the vast majority of chief financial officers bracing for an economic downturn in 2020—and historical data shows that trends of declining optimism among America’s financial executives can sometimes be a harbinger for looming market sell-offs.

Recession fears are back in full force: 97% of CFOs said that an economic downturn has already begun or will begin in 2020—up from 88% who said the same thing last year, according to Deloitte’s latest CFO Signals Survey.

Many on Wall Street primarily use CFO sentiment as an indicator of the business environment, but deteriorating forecasts can sometimes help warn of looming market downturns, historical data shows.

Going into 2019, for example, just 28% of CFOs said they expected the North American economy to improve—half the number it was a year earlier, in 2018. That statistic fell to 24% in the following quarter, right before the S&P 500 dropped almost 7% in May and again by nearly 6% from mid-July to August.

Business optimism also notably declined before the big December 2018 market sell-off, when the S&P 500 shed over 9%: Over two thirds of CFOs warned that the U.S. market was overvalued, and a metric of their forward-looking optimism hit a two-year low.

Before the market lost almost 10% in the third quarter of 2015, some CFO growth expectations hit their lowest levels in five years, reflecting rising concern ahead of the sell-off. The S&P 500 also fell by 5% in the first month of 2016—in Deloitte’s prior outlooks, CFO optimism had been steadily on the decline.

Going further back, CFO sentiment was also relatively accurate in warning of the 2008 financial crisis: According to Duke’s CFO Global Business Outlook, optimism had plunged to a record low by September 2017—with pessimistic CFOs outnumbering optimists by around four to one.

What to watch for: It’s important to remember that CFO sentiment, which helps give insight into business and consumer spending, is primarily an indicator of economic activity—rather than stock market behavior.

Crucial quote: “While as a stand-alone they don’t offer much insight, it’s most helpful to look at these surveys hand-in-hand with hard economic data,” says Mark Freeman, chief investment officer at Socorro Asset Management. “What really matters is the extent to which sentiment potentially translates into CFO behavior—that has earnings implications, and that does matter to the market from a fundamental standpoint.”

Tangent: Nearly two thirds of CFOs surveyed by Deloitte said that U.S. economic performance beyond 2020 will “depend substantially” on the outcome of the elections, while trade policy remains CFOs’ “most worrisome external risk.” Respondents also cited falling expectations for two key measures of the economy: Consumer sentiment, which has largely held steady so far, and business spending, expectations for which hit a three-year low. More than 80% of CFOs also said they had already taken at least one defensive action to mitigate against a potential downturn, as evidenced by their growing focus on cost reduction and returning cash.

A Historic Year For The Stock Market

The market boomed in 2019, with major indexes hitting numerous record highs as stocks posted their best annual return in six years, thanks to the U.S. economy’s moderate expansion holding steady and renewed trade optimism on Wall Street.

On the last of day of trading in 2019, the session capped off a strong year for the stock market: In 2019, the S&P 500 rose by 29%, the Nasdaq by 35% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average by 22%. Both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq posted their biggest one-year gains since 2013, while the Dow’s performance was its best since 2017.

As stocks continued to rise, Wall Street put recession fears on the back-burner, especially as the U.S. economy’s moderate pace of expansion held steady. Solid consumer spending, a robust labor market and an apparent recovery in the housing market have all been good indicators in this regard.

Another huge reason for the market’s renewed optimism in 2019 was the signing of several new trade deals toward the end of the year, including a revised North American trade agreement to replace NAFTA and, after months of on-again, off-again negotiations, the long-awaited phase one trade deal with China.

U.S. and Chinese negotiators agreed upon a phase one deal in October, before both sides officially confirmed terms of the deal in December. As it stands, the phase one agreement is expected to be signed in the first week of 2020, as both sides work to finalize the legal and translation process.

The de-escalation of trade tensions with China was also a boost for the global economy, as tariffs from the last year and a half of the trade war have weighed heavily on international trade volumes.

What’s more, Wall Street is at ease knowing that the Federal Reserve is now on hold, after signalling that it has no plans to cut interest rates in 2020 and will remain on the sidelines unless inflation flares up.

What to watch for: Going into 2020, the market is optimistic that economic growth can continue, especially with diminishing tariff pressures and the Federal Reserve now on hold. Recession fears have been dampened for now, with stocks expected to continue their rise next year—but at a more modest pace, according to strategists polled by Reuters. The market should be boosted by more stable global economic growth, accommodative central bank policies and a recovery in corporate earnings, not to mention defusing trade tensions with China.

Mukesh Ambani: Asia’s richest man takes on retail giant Amazon

Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries said it had been inviting people to sign up to its grocery delivery service. The company is aiming to use its massive mobile phone customer base as a springboard for the business.

The new e-commerce venture could become a major challenger to India’s existing online retail giants. Two subsidiaries of Mr Ambani’s business empire, Reliance Retail and Reliance Jio, said they had soft-launched the venture, called JioMart.

JioMart says it offers “free and express delivery” for a list of grocery goods, which currently numbers some 50,000 items.

Unlike its rivals, JioMart will connect local stores to customers via an app rather than providing and delivering the goods itself.

India’s online grocery market is in its infancy – currently estimated to be worth around $870m a year, with just 0.15% of the population using such services. However, analysts predict the sector could see annual sales of around $14.5bn by 2023.

Grocery delivery has long been tipped as the next frontier in the battle for business in India. A staggering number of internet and smartphone users – plus an unorganised grocery delivery sector – make it a promising market for app-based services.

Some of the world’s largest and best-known technology companies, including Walmart and Amazon, are hoping to cash in too.

This should be a cakewalk for Reliance – it already has hundreds of millions of subscribers to its telecoms network, and operates its own grocery stores as well as retail stores for international brands.

Plus it has the advantage of being an Indian company. Amazon and Walmart have been held back from expanding in this space by government laws aimed at protecting domestic business.

There are Indian competitors operating in the market already – Big Basket and Grofers are the most well-known. But they’ve had to put the brakes on expanding or tweak their business models to meet the challenges of operating in India, such as poor infrastructure, unreliable mobile networks and strict labour laws.

Reliance has a reputation for disrupting markets it starts businesses in, be it power, oil, retail or telecoms. Its foray into e-commerce is unlikely to be any different.

India’s e-commerce market is currently dominated by Amazon and Flipkart, which is owned by Walmart . Both companies suffered a setback last year when the Indian government introduced new laws that restrict foreign-owned online retailers from selling goods from their own subsidiaries . This helped give Indian companies, which are not affected by the new rules, an edge over their foreign rivals.

Ambani, who is the chairman of Reliance Industries, has an estimated fortune of more than $60bn (£45bn). The group’s core business is oil refining but it also has major investments in other sectors including retail and telecoms.

Reliance Retail owns grocery stores in India, runs outlets for global brands, including Hugo Boss and Burberry, and in 2019 bought the British toy shop Hamleys . Reliance Jio is India’s second-largest telecom operator, with more than 360 million subscribers.

World’s Richest Gain $1.2 Trillion in 2019 as Jeff Bezos Retains Crown

The leveraging of a giant social-media presence, a catchy tune about a family of sharks and a burgeoning collection of junkyards are just a few of the curious ways that helped make 2019 a fertile year for fortunes to blossom around the world.

Kylie Jenner became the youngest self-made billionaire this year after her company, Kylie Cosmetics, signed an exclusive partnership with Ulta Beauty Inc. She then sold a 51% stake for $600 million.

It has been almost two months since the Washington Nationals captured their first World Series championship, but people around the world are still singing along to the baseball team’s adopted rallying cry: “Baby Shark, doo-doo doo-doo doo-doo.” The Korean family that helped popularize the viral earworm are now worth about $125 million.

Even car wrecks proved to be a treasure trove. Willis Johnson, the gold-chain-wearing Oklahoma native who founded Copart Inc., has amassed a $1.9 billion fortune by building a network of junkyards to sell data. The emergence of atypical fortunes underscores just how much money the uber-rich accumulated in 2019.

And the richer they were at the start of the year, the richer they got. The world’s 500 wealthiest people tracked by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index added $1.2 trillion, boosting their collective net worth 25% to $5.9 trillion.

Such gains are sure to add fuel to the already heated debate about widening wealth and income inequality. In the U.S., the richest 0.1% control a bigger share of the pie than at any time since 1929, prompting some politicians to call for a radical restructuring of the economy.

“The hoarding of wealth by the few is coming at the cost of peoples’ lives,” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a self-described democratic socialist, said in a Dec. 12 tweet as the U.K. began to vote.

Still, the defeat of Britain’s socialist opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, whose campaign included attacks on billionaires and calls to “rewrite the rules of our economy,” gave an added boost to mega-fortunes.

Leading the 2019 gains was France’s Bernard Arnault, who added $36.5 billion as he rose on the Bloomberg index to become the world’s third-richest person and one of three centibillionaires — those with a net worth of at least $100 billion. In all, just 52 people on the ranking saw their fortunes decline on the year. Inc.’s Jeff Bezos was down almost $9 billion, but that drop is because of his divorce settlement with MacKenzie Bezos. The e-commerce titan is still ending the year as the world’s richest person after Amazon shares jumped on Thursday. The company reported a ‘record breaking’ holiday season with billions of items shipped and “tens of millions” of Amazon devices like the Echo Dot sold.

Here’s what the year looked like for the 0.001%:

2019 Winners

The 172 American billionaires on the Bloomberg ranking added $500 billion, with Facebook Inc.’s Mark Zuckerberg up $27.3 billion and Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates rose $22.7 billion.

Representation from China continued to grow, with the nation’s contingent rising to 54, second only to the U.S. He Xiangjian, founder of China’s biggest air-conditioner exporter, was the standout performer as his wealth surged 79% to $23.3 billion.

Russia’s richest added $51 billion, a collective increase of 21%, as emerging-market assets from currencies to stocks and bonds rebounded in 2019 after posting big losses a year earlier.

2019 Declines

Rupert Murdoch’s personal fortune dropped by about $10 billion after proceeds from Walt Disney Co.’s purchase of Fox assets were distributed to his six children, making them billionaires in their own right.

Interactive Brokers Group Inc.’s Thomas Peterffy saw his wealth slump by $2.1 billion as investors weighed a reshaped competitive landscape for brokerage businesses after rival Charles Schwab Corp. eliminated commissions and agreed to buy TD Ameritrade Holding Corp.

WeWork’s Adam Neumann saw his fortune implode — at least on paper — as the struggling office-sharing company’s valuation dropped to $8 billion in October from an estimated $47 billion at the start of the year. Still, SoftBank Group Corp.’s rescue package left Neumann’s status as a billionaire intact.

New Billionaires

White Claw, the “hard seltzer” that was the hit of the summer among millennials, helped boost Anthony von Mandl’s net worth to $3.6 billion.

Mastering the art of fast-food deliveries proved rewarding for Jitse Groen, whose soaring NV lifted his wealth to $1.5 billion.

The popularity of soy milk gave eight members of Hong Kong’s Lo family a combined $1.5 billion.

Despite the widespread gains, plenty of the world’s richest people may be happy to wave farewell to 2019. The year included messy details of the Bezos divorce and the Jeffrey Epstein saga, which enveloped a who’s who of financiers and entrepreneurs, after the convicted pedophile arrested in July by federal agents after stepping off his private jet at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey.

Through it all, their bank balances remained robust, as a record bull market got a December kick with an easing of trade tensions between the U.S. and China, a resolution to Britain’s political stalemate and a blowout U.S. jobs report.

US election, global slowdown to dominate 2020

The year 2020 will be dominated by the American election and a global slowdown, says The Economist, adding that the most visible effects of the slowdown so far have been declining business confidence, global manufacturing slump and tepid inflation.

“Two of the world’s great cultures are butting heads. On one side is USA, Britain, Canada, Australia and new Zealand. On the other side is China. This battle is about two different types of societies trying to get along,” said “The World in 2020” report.

Trump’s tariff war with China is the biggest risk to the American economy over the next 12 months.

“China and America, the two largest economies will account for 40 per cent of the global GDP of $90 trillion,” it added.

According to the report, the global slowdown is a supply side slowdown since it has been primarily caused by the tariff war between USA and China.

“There is further global uncertainty in 2020 because of new global officials taking over the world – Christian Lagarde at the ECB, Kritalina at IMF and Andrew Bailey at the bank of England,” the report noted.

In a recession, employee costs get cut first.

In the last two recessions in America, wage bill was cut by 6 per cent.

“If this had not happened, profits would have been 24 per cent lower today. This flexibility is the hallmark of American capitalism,” said the report.

The report also touched upon other relevant issues that currently affect humanity.

“Across the world, two types of identity driven movements are increasingly clashing and feeding off each other. On the one hand you have separatist groups who want to break away and then there is the assertive and outraged nationalism,” it added.

Thanks to digital medium and yearly notes, many CEOS are signaling their position on politics and key issues.
“Business CEOs are motivated by idealism, vanity and calculated self interest. CEO activism has so far been cost free,” said the report.

IMF paints grim picture of India’s economy

Declining consumption, investment and falling tax revenue combined with other factors put the brakes on the economy

The International Monetary Fund has expressed concern about India’s economic downturn and called for “urgent steps” to return the country to growth.

In its annual review, the IMF observed that declining consumption and investment, as well as falling tax revenue, had combined with other factors to put the brakes on one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.

Ranil Salgado of the IMF Asia and Pacific Department has said that after lifting millions out of poverty, “India is now in the midst of a significant economic slowdown” and urgent policy action was needed to help the country return to high growth.

However, he felt the slowdown was mostly cyclical and not structural and felt a recovery would not be quick. But he refused to call it a crisis.

The IMF wants India to continue with sound macroeconomic management and hopes the new government with its strong mandate will reinvigorate the reform agenda to boost inclusive and sustainable growth.

Last week IMF chief economist Gita Gopinath said the fund was set to significantly downgrade its growth estimates for the Indian economy in the World Economic Outlook, which will be released next month.

Salgado also concurred with this view. In October, the IMF slashed its forecast for 2019 by nearly a full point to 6.1%, while cutting the outlook for 2020 to 7%.

Salgado said India’s central bank had “room to cut the policy rate further, especially if the economic slowdown continues.” The Reserve Bank of India has this year cut the key lending rate five times to a nine-year low.

However, at its last meeting earlier this month the central bank defied expectations by keeping policy unchanged.
The RBI slashed its annual growth forecast to 5% from 6.1%, as consumer demand and manufacturing activity contracts. India’s economy grew at its slowest pace in more than six years in the July-September period, down to 4.5% from 7% a year ago, according to government data.

Salgado called for restoring the health of the financial sector to “enhance its ability to provide credit to the economy.”

Salgado felt the current slowdown was due to the abrupt reduction in credit expansion for shadow bankers and the associated broad-based tightening of credit conditions appears to be an important factor.

Moreover, weak income growth, especially in rural areas, has hit private consumption. He also felt that poor implementation of structural reforms, such as the nationwide goods and services tax, may also have played a role.

The IMF official, however, expressed satisfaction over the fact that reserves have risen to record levels and the current account deficit has narrowed. He felt the issue was primarily how to address the growth slowdown.
In the short term, he said, the most critical thing was carrying out reforms in the financial sector.

Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s former chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian, who teaches at the Harvard Kennedy School in the US, stated in an academic paper that the Indian economy was going through a “great slowdown.”

Subramanian said the Indian economy was now experiencing a “second wave” of the Twin Balance Sheet crisis, which was behind the slowdown. He described the crisis as debts accumulated by private corporates becoming the non-performing assets of banks According to Subramanian, the first wave of this crisis happened when bank loans extended to steel, power and infrastructure sector companies during the investment boom of 2004-11 turned bad. The second crisis largely occurred after the demonetization of high-value currency notes. It involved the shadow banking sector and real estate firms.

Former central bank governor Raghuram Rajan said he was concerned about the state of India’s economy and urged the government to decentralize power, focus on rural poverty alleviation and stimulate private spending.
Rajan said India was in the midst of a “growth recession” with signs of a deep malaise in the economy.

Indian Americans in CT Celebrate Christmas: Commit to Help Homes Destroyed by Floods

The Indian American community here in the US has brought with them some of the traditions they have cherished back home in India. Christmas has now become associated with sharing of gifts, parties and caroling.

Continuing with the tradition of singing Carols and spreading the message of Christmas around the community, members of Our Lady of Assumption Syro-Malabar Catholic Mission in Norwalk CT went around the houses across the southern Connecticut, singing Christmas carols and bringing in the joy of Christmas and sharing blessings with members and families and friends of the newly formed Catholic Church in Fairfield County during the weekends in December 2019.The caroling began with the carol, ‘O Come All Ye Faithful.’

Wilson Pottackal and Jojo Thomas, leaders of the Church community informed this writer that the money contributed by the families during the carols will be used to build houses in Kerala, where the floods and the rain have destroyed tens of thousands of homes in the past year. Mr. Wilson also pointed out that last year they had identified and helped build rebuild at least two homes in Kerala last year. He hopes to continue the tradition in the coming years with the generosity of the Indian American community in the state of Connecticut.

Indian Americans in CT Celebrate Christmas: Commit to Help Homes Destroyed by FloodsMeanwhile, Trumbull Party Timers, a group of families in the Trumbull region shared the joyous Christmas blessings with children leading the Carol singing in each house in the region. “It was fun and while we had a good time we are glad we are able to share with one another the spirit of Christmas; Love, Joy, Peace, and Sharing,” said the youth who were the lead carolers of the group.

Christmas is a season of praise and thanksgiving for the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ, which begins with Christmas Eve (December 24 after sundown) or Day and continues through the Day of Epiphany. The name Christmas comes from the season’s first service, the Christ Mass. Epiphany comes from the Greek word epiphania, which means “manifestation,” when Christ made known to the world as the Savior when Three Kings/Magi visited Baby Jesus in Bethlehem.

But what is the real meaning of Christmas? Is it the gifts under the tree, the lights in the windows, the cards in the mail, dinners with family and friends, snow in the yard, stockings hanging in the living room, and shouts of “Merry Christmas” to those who pass us in the streets? Is this really Christmas?

Bill Gates is the richest person in the world

Bill Gates has surpassed Amazon (AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos to reclaim the distinction of richest person in the world, with a net worth of $110 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

It’s the first time, the co-founder of Microsoft (MSFT) has held the top spot in over two years. He briefly topped Bezos last month after Amazon reported that its profit for the three months ending in September fell nearly 28% from a year earlier. But Gates’ time at the top was short-lived.

He has regained the lead because Microsoft (MSFT) shares are up nearly 48% this year, which helped boost the value of his stake in the company. In October, Microsoft beat out Amazon for a $10 billion cloud-computing contract with the Pentagon, adding some additional drama to the Gates/Bezos wealth race.

Bezos, who this year paid out a significant portion of his Amazon stake in his divorce from his wife of 25 years MacKenzie Bezos, now sits at second with a net worth of $108.7 billion.

Gates recently commented on his wealth in response to a wealth tax proposed by some Democratic political candidates, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

He said he’s paid more than $10 billion in taxes already and it would be fine with him to up that to $20 billion. However, having to pay $100 billion would prompt him to start “to do a little math about what I have left over.”

Half of world’s wealthy bracing for huge sell-off in 2020, UBS says

A majority of the wealthiest investors in the world are preparing for a huge market sell-off in 2020, according to a new report released by UBS Wealth.
More than half of the 3,400 high-net-worth individuals surveyed by UBS said they think there will be a significant market sell-off before the end of next year, according to the report, which was conducted between August and October.
“The rapidly changing geopolitical environment is the biggest concern for investors around the world,” Paula Polito, client strategy officer at UBS GWM, said in a statement. “They see global interconnectivity and reverberations of change impacting their portfolios more than traditional business fundamentals, a marked change from the past.”

Overall, almost fourth-fifths — 79 percent — expect volatility to increase next year, with almost 72 percent characterizing the investment environment as “more challenging” than five years ago.

In part, that’s because 66 percent of respondents believed the market to be driven more by geopolitics than by fundamentals. Top concerns for the ultra-wealthy included the 16-month-long U.S.-China trade conflict and the upcoming presidential elections.
Last week, stocks hit record highs, boosted by optimism about the possibility of a trade deal between the world’s two largest economies. But stocks fell on Monday amid concerns the countries are struggling to complete a phase one of a trade deal.
Still, despite the reservations about the year ahead, 69 percent of respondents said they were optimistic on investment returns over the next decade — a trend most evident in millennials and other young investors. The investors surveyed by UBS have at least $1 million in investable assets.

India added 1,300 start-ups in 2019, including 7 unicorns

India added over 1,300 start-ups, including 7 unicorns in 2019, making the country the third biggest start-up ecosystem in the world behind China and the US, according to a new report from industry body National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom).

The total funding received by start-ups in 2019 stood at $4.4 billion, said the report, adding that total investment in the start-up ecosystem increased by 16 per cent year-on-year in 2019.

The cumulative valuation of the start-ups has now crossed $55 billion. The addition of 7 new unicorns in 2019 has brought up their overall number to 24, according to the report titled “India’s Tech Start-up Ecosystem”.

These 7 unicorns are Pune-based software company Icertis, Bengaluru-based Ola Electric, Delhi-based logistic courier service provider Delhivery, Gurugram-based cargo service Rivigo, Pune-based data protection and management-as-a service Druva, Mumbai-based fantasy sports platform Dream11 and Bengaluru-based online grocery store BigBasket.

The Indian start-up ecosystem has the potential to grow four times by 2025, it added.

“There are multiple levers propelling this remarkable growth of the ecosystem that are bolstering the Indian start-ups as well as creating an environment conducive for continued innovation,” said Nasscom president Debjani Ghosh.

“What stands out most starkly in this report is how various elements of the ecosystem are coming together in symphony to give rise to an orchestra of innovation – right from government support, evolution of the investor landscape, increase in participation from the corporates, growth of national digital infrastructure, to incredible global exposure,” she said.

The report showed that during 2014-2019, an estimated 8,900 to 9,300 start-ups were born, with their overall base growing at 12-15 per cent year-over-year.

While Bengaluru, Delhi-NCR, and Mumbai are home to 55-58 per cent start-ups in India, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Kochi are the emerging start-up hubs in the country, said the report that Nasscom brought out in collaboration with global management and strategy consulting firm Zinnov. (IANS)

Citi predicts the greenback could weaken ‘substantially’ — to as low as 85 on the dollar index

The U.S. dollar index could fall to as low as 85 as the Federal Reserve grows its balance sheet again by purchasing more bond assets, a Citi strategist said Thursday.

“Our latest projections are that it would weaken even further — maybe to the high 80s, perhaps even as low as 85,” Mohammed Apabhai, head of Asia Pacific trading strategies group at Citi, told CNBC’s “Street Signs.” Technical analyst Daryl Guppy said last year that 85 is a “historical support level” for the dollar.

The dollar index is a measure of the greenback’s value relative to a basket of currencies, largely made up of the United States’ most significant trading partners.

The Fed increases its balance sheet by buying up bonds and Treasurys as a way of pumping cash into the market. That in turn makes bond yields — which move inversely to prices — drop as the bond prices rise. The dollar usually weakens when bond yields fall.

 “We’re basically saying that the Fed is probably going to be the most dovish of all the central banks, regardless of the fact that … they’ve put rates on pause,” he said. The U.S. central bank on Wednesday cut interest rates for the third time this year, but signaled that a pause was ahead.

That’s because the Fed’s balance sheet has expanded quickly, by more than $205 billion since the beginning of September, Apabhai explained. In comparison, an increase of that size would take the European Central Bank more than a year to complete, he said.

“For us, the fact that the Fed has gone into pause mode is not really as significant as the fact that the balance sheet of the Fed is going to expand,” he said. “We’re basically looking at substantially weaker levels on the dollar.”

If the dollar index were to weaken to 85, the euro could strengthen to 1.21 against the greenback, Apabhai predicted. “That’s … going to be very positive for emerging market equities.”

‘Bullish picture’ for Hong Kong

“We’re actually calling for a switch from European equities, which have outperformed this year, … into emerging markets right now. In particular, into the Hang Seng Index,” Apabhai said.

Capital could flow to the Hong Kong market if the dollar weakens, he said.

“From a bottoms-up perspective, there’s a lot of stocks that are looking very attractive,” he said. “You want to basically buy them and lock them away for your children … the dividend yields are very good.”

“Certainly, we think that there’s potentially 40% upside over the next few years,” he added.

Hong Kong has faced months of violent protests following the proposal of a controversial extradition bill that has since been withdrawn.

“The property sector is deeply discounted. Some of the large retail … names have had their largest falls since the global financial crisis,” Apabhai said.

However, he noted that investors, including long-term holders and macro funds, appear to be returning to the market.

“So, actually quite a bullish picture that is starting to build up for Hong Kong, notwithstanding all the recent events that have been happening over here,” he concluded.

Unmarried Couples Gain in Numbers, but Survey Finds Married Ones May Be Happier

Financial considerations have contributed to a jump in the number of unmarried couples in the United States who live together, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center. The lingering impacts of the Great Recession have contributed to a boom in the number of unmarried couples who live together, but a new survey from the Pew Research Center has found that those couples tend to be less happy than their married counterparts.

The survey results, published online Wednesday, show high public support for unmarried couples who live together, with majorities of every age group saying they find it acceptable to live with an unmarried partner. At the same time, the share of American adults who live with an unmarried partner has more than doubled since 1993, to 7 percent from 3 percent. The share of American adults who are married was 53 percent.

“When we talked to people who lived together, who were not engaged and who said they wanted to be engaged, we asked them why they were not currently married,” Juliana Horowitz, a co-author of the report, said in an interview. “A large share said either themselves not being ready financially or their partner not being ready financially was a major reason they were not married to their partner.”

Ms. Horowitz said “love and companionship topped the list” of reasons unmarried couples cited when asked to explain their decision to move in together. But roughly 40 percent said convenience — making it easier to spend time together — or finances were a major factor. In contrast, just 13 percent of married couples said financial considerations played a part in their decision to wed.

“We know from studies we have done and that others have done that many people are forgoing marriage for economic reasons, and we do see that here, with many cohabitants saying they are not far enough along in their career to get married yet,” she said.

It used to be considered somewhat taboo for a couple to live together if they were not married — hence the term “living in sin” — but those attitudes have changed, researchers said.

A slim majority of Americans, 53 percent, said society would be better off if long-term couples got married. But 69 percent of Americans said it was acceptable to live with a romantic partner even if you have no plans to get married, while 16 percent said it was O.K. only if a couple sees a wedding in their future. A majority also said unmarried couples could raise children just as well as married couples could.

But all this acceptance does not mean there are no troubles in paradise for unmarried couples. According to the survey, unmarried couples report significantly less satisfaction in their relationships than do married couples, who report higher levels of trust in their partners’ honesty, fidelity and spending habits. It said that 58 percent of married adults said their relationship was “going very well,” compared with 41 percent of unmarried people who live with a partner.

That pattern is true across a broad range of areas: Married people are more likely than unmarried cohabitants to say they are “very satisfied” with the division of household chores (46 percent to 37 percent); with their partner’s communication skills (43 percent to 35 percent); and how well their partner balances work and personal life (43 percent to 35 percent).

That pattern also holds true when it comes to couples with children: Married people are more likely than unmarried partners to say they are “very satisfied” with their partner’s parenting skills (48 percent to 39 percent).

But the pattern does not hold when it comes to sex: Similar shares of married and unmarried cohabitants say they are “very satisfied” with their sex lives, 36 percent to 34 percent. Ms. Horowitz said it was not clear from the results why married people said they were so much happier than unmarried couples.

“We can’t necessarily explain why married people are happier with the current study that we have,” she said. “When we controlled for all these different demographic factors including age, race, education levels, religious affiliation, the duration of their relationship — even when we controlled for all of those things, the link between marriage and higher levels of satisfaction was still significant.”

The survey, which included 9,834 respondents, was conducted online using a panel of randomly selected adults, Pew said. Ms. Horowitz said the sample included both same-sex and opposite-sex couples, but not all of the results applied to both groups.

“Because of the relatively small share of the population who are in same-sex relationships, we weren’t always able to talk about same-sex versus opposite-sex couples,” Ms. Horowitz said. “Also, same-sex marriage became legal very recently.”

Liam Stack is a general assignment reporter. He was previously a political reporter based in New York and a Middle East correspondent based in Cairo. @liamstack

US Dollar could weaken ‘substantially’ — to as low as 85 on the dollar index

The U.S. dollar index could fall to as low as 85 as the Federal Reserve grows its balance sheet again by purchasing more bond assets, a Citi strategist said Thursday.
“Our latest projections are that it would weaken even further — maybe to the high 80s, perhaps even as low as 85,” Mohammed Apabhai, head of Asia Pacific trading strategies group at Citi, told CNBC’s “Street Signs.” Technical analyst Daryl Guppy said last year that 85 is a “historical support level” for the dollar.
The dollar index is a measure of the greenback’s value relative to a basket of currencies, largely made up of the United States’ most significant trading partners.
The Fed increases its balance sheet by buying up bonds and Treasurys as a way of pumping cash into the market. That in turn makes bond yields — which move inversely to prices — drop as the bond prices rise. The dollar usually weakens when bond yields fall.
“We’re basically saying that the Fed is probably going to be the most dovish of all the central banks, regardless of the fact that … they’ve put rates on pause,” he said. The U.S. central bank on Wednesday cut interest rates for the third time this year, but signaled that a pause was ahead.
That’s because the Fed’s balance sheet has expanded quickly, by more than $205 billion since the beginning of September, Apabhai explained. In comparison, an increase of that size would take the European Central Bank more than a year to complete, he said. 
“For us, the fact that the Fed has gone into pause mode is not really as significant as the fact that the balance sheet of the Fed is going to expand,” he said. “We’re basically looking at substantially weaker levels on the dollar.”
If the dollar index were to weaken to 85, the euro could strengthen to 1.21 against the greenback, Apabhai predicted. “That’s … going to be very positive for emerging market equities.”

‘Bullish picture’ for Hong Kong

“We’re actually calling for a switch from European equities, which have outperformed this year, … into emerging markets right now. In particular, into the Hang Seng Index,” Apabhai said.
Capital could flow to the Hong Kong market if the dollar weakens, he said.
“From a bottoms-up perspective, there’s a lot of stocks that are looking very attractive,” he said. “You want to basically buy them and lock them away for your children … the dividend yields are very good.”
“Certainly, we think that there’s potentially 40% upside over the next few years,” he added.
Hong Kong has faced months of violent protests following the proposal of a controversial extradition bill that has since been withdrawn.
“The property sector is deeply discounted. Some of the large retail … names have had their largest falls since the global financial crisis,” Apabhai said.
However, he noted that investors, including long-term holders and macro funds, appear to be returning to the market.
“So, actually quite a bullish picture that is starting to build up for Hong Kong, notwithstanding all the recent events that have been happening over here,” he concluded.

America’s sex recession could lead to an economic depression

Forget the trade wars, automation, and even the skills gap. The real threat to the U.S. economy may be that fewer Americans are in the mood for love.
Well, not love, but sex. Enduring reports of America’s sexual recession are a sign of a serious problem for a wide-ranging list of sectors from real estate, to apparel, to condoms.
Before getting into why the falling sex rates, especially for younger Americans, threatens our GDP, it’s important to address why the trend is happening in the first place.
To that end, there’s a bit of a “chicken or the egg” question to ask here: is America facing economic challenges because younger Americans are having less sex? Or are younger Americans having less sex because of their unique economic challenges?
2018 Census Bureau report would suggest the latter, noting that economic security is a high priority for Millennials when they seek marriage or serious committed relationships.
Based on that data, it makes sense that the millions of Americans who entered adulthood during the Great Recession a decade ago are more skittish about marriage and sex. The Great Depression era saw the U.S. birth rate hit an all-time low in 1936. Since birth control was much less available back then, it’s fair to assume sex in America fell sharply during that time as well.
But the economy has been steadily growing for more than 10 years now, which encompasses most of the adult lives for Americans under 30. The enduring reports of lower sex rates despite the overall economic recovery have led to diverging explanations.
Some experts focus on the fact that Millennials are dealing with growing student loan debts, making their economic reality much worse than when previous generations were their age. But it also turns out that student loan debt isn’t the top source of debt for Americans aged 23 to 38; it’s credit card debt.
That fact shifts us to pinpoint the differences in millennial lifestyles, and that brings us back to some common sense wisdom about life, relationships, and sex.
Sex has always been a part of the human courtship ritual, but the widespread availability of birth control in America made it a more regular aspect of dating. Yes, there’s plenty of casual “no strings” sex available on Tinder and Grinder. But the drop in sex rates and marriage rates are clearly related.
Fewer people making adult connections simply leads to a decline in both, and you don’t need to be an economic genius to know that fewer marriages and children weaken economic demand overall.
A number of studies have recently blamed the fall in sex and marriage rates on technology and the new opportunities it gives young adults to withdraw from in-person human relationships. Everything from online porn to sophisticated video games, to social media is being used by many as a substitute for real human contact, especially for men.
The male tendency to seek these substitutes may be the biggest single reason why sex and marriage rates are dropping. A new Cornell University study shows that women are still likely to be more attracted to and want to marry men with stronger economic prospects.
In other words, despite decades of positive strides for women in the workplace and beyond, women still find a wealthier man more attractive. So men still have to work harder to attract women. But now they have porn, video games, and other technology to provide them with much easier to obtain substitutes for that gratification. Avoiding the pressure to earn more to get more is likely also behind the multibillion-dollar race to create a realistic sex robot industry.
Of course, there’s an economic positive to this trend when we focus on teenagers. Teenage sex and pregnancy are also continuing to fall, bringing relief to the economic and cultural devastation they often cause. Less teen sex is an example of increased national responsibility.
But for men in their 20s and beyond, the sex recession appears to be a symptom of a delayed entrance into the world of fully responsible adulthood. Beating the “failure to launch” trend isn’t just about moving out of your parents’ house, but it’s also about pursuing adult relationships and starting your own family.
No one is saying people should have sexual relationships if they have no real connection to another person. But declining sex rates are a sign of a corresponding decline in the adult relationships that stoke acceptance for the costs of dating to the costs of the trappings of domestic family life.
The sex recession seems like an even more menacing sign that technology, especially A.I. technology, is seriously weakening the primordial human desire to mate with other humans and do the work necessary to make that happen. That “work” has been an essential economic component since civilization began.
We’ve heard of the threats tech poses to job creation, but the drop in sex rates may be the clearest sign yet that tech’s challenges to modern love might be the biggest economic threat of all.

India’s Global Hunger Index ranking reveals colossal failure of Modi government, says Rahul

After India was ranked a lowly 102nd out of 117 countries in this year’s Global Hunger Index (GHI), Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday attacked the Narendra Modi-led Centre saying the country’s position reveals a “colossal failure” in the policy of the central government.

“India’s #GlobalHungerIndex ranking, falling steadily since 2014, has now crashed to 102/117. This ranking reveals a colossal failure in Govt policy and blows the lid off the PM’s hollow “sabka vikas” claim, parroted by Modia,” he said in a tweet.

With a score of 30.3, India suffers from a level of hunger that is categorised as “serious”, according to the GHI report.

Even other countries in the SAARC region, like Nepal (73rd), Sri Lanka (66th), Bangladesh (88th), Myanmar (69th) and Pakistan (94th) have fared better than India, although the nations also fall in the ‘serious’ category.

Only Afghanistan (108th) has been ranked below India in the report.

India’s child wasting rate is extremely high at 20.8 per cent — the highest wasting rate of any country. The country’s child stunting rate, 37.9 per cent, is also categorised as very high in terms of its public health significance, according to the GHI report.

Just 9.6 per cent of all children in the country aged between 6 and 23 months are fed a “minimum acceptable diet”, said the report.

The GHI calculates the levels of global hunger and undernutrition. The four parameters for measuring the index are — undernourishment, child stunting, child wasting (weight for age) and child mortality. (ANI)

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

Florida and Florida Real Estate – Part II: Tax Benefits of Living, Working, Doing Business, and Owning Real Estate in Florida

By Chacko Zachariah

(Licensed Real Estate Broker and Realtor, Fabulous Homes, Inc., 954-491-7600, [email protected])

Florida offers several Tax Savings and Benefits for Living, Working, Doing Business, and Owning Real Estate in Florida. Florida does not have any State or Local Personal Income taxes nor any Intangible Personal Property Taxes on most items. Florida offers the standard Homestead Exemption and additional Homestead Exemptions based on specific eligibility requirements. It puts an Annual Cap on the Assessed Value of your Homestead Property and allows Portability of the Accumulated Assessment Savings from one Homestead Property to the Next. Florida has a Cap on the Maximum Tax that you have to pay when buying a Yacht or Vessel (for example; even if you buy a US $100 Million Yacht in Florida, the Maximum Sales Tax you have to pay is capped at just US $18,000; instead of the usual sales tax of US $ 6 to 7 Million!). C corporations are the only types of businesses that pay Florida’s state income tax, while other types of corporations and sole proprietorship pay no Florida income tax irrespective of how big they are. In addition, Florida offers numerous Tax Incentives and Tax Credits for Businesses starting, expanding, or relocating to Florida.

(A) No State or Local Personal Income Taxes

Florida is the one of the very few states in USA that has No State or Local Personal Income Taxes. With the new US Tax Laws enacted in 2017, most people in the USA are encountering double taxation, while Florida is the one of the very few states in the USA where you can escape all or some of the double taxation and save money and thus avoid some of the adverse effects from the restrictions placed on the SALT (Sales And Local Tax) deduction. SALT tax includes the State and Local (City) Income Taxes, Intangible Personal Property Taxes, the Local Sales Taxes, and the Real Property Taxes. Thus, with these new restrictions placed on the SALT deduction, most people are now taxed twice on the same earned income. (The famous Boston Tea Party during our Independence struggle almost 250 years ago was on “Taxation Without Representation”.)

It should be of great interest to know that by allowing taxpayers the ability to deduct state and local taxes (SALT), taxpayers avoided double taxation and ended up with more net income. Further, deduction for property taxes along with the full deduction of mortgage interest always provided a strong incentive for individual home ownership which also led to increase in personal wealth and the standard of living. This created a boom in the home building, development, and construction industries, and stimulated real estate, mortgage, finance, other related businesses throughout the U S. This led to a stronger U S economy and brought about a faster and stronger growth of the U S GDP. These were the reasons for the enactment of these laws several decades ago allowing such deductions and had been used by taxpayers for generations for great benefits. However, several Presidents and Congresses, starting in the early 1980s, had been slowly chipping away and ripping off the taxpayers by lowering the amounts of deductions they could take on these items and using the additional taxes collected as a result to subsidize and benefit their favorite special interest groups and use it as additional welfare programs for big businesses.

Since Florida is the only state that also offers that combination of beautiful coastlines, beaches, weather, and island resort style living along with tremendous savings from not having to pay any individual state or local income and other taxes, a healthy and rapid migration to Florida of the well to do and the wealthy has begun to materialize in the last couple of years. They have been buying fabulous properties at bargain prices and are setting up permanent residences and businesses in Florida.

(B) The Homestead Exemption

The Homestead Exemption is a legal principle enacted in various states in USA to protect a homeowner’s primary (permanent) residence (the homesteaded property) from certain types of creditors. In Florida, January 1st of each year is the date on which permanent residency is determined.

The Florida Constitution also provides additional tax-saving exemptions for the homestead property on the first and third $25,000 of the assessed value of an owner-occupied residence. However, that third $25,000 exemption applies only to the non-schools portion of an homestead property’s assessed value.

Further, Florida law allows several other additional Property Tax Exemptions and Reductions for the homestead property owner depending on eligibility. They include:

$500 Disability Exemption
$500 Disability Exemption for Blind Persons
$500 Exemption for Widowed Persons
Additional Exemption for Low-Income Seniors
Full Exemption for Low-Income Seniors who have lived in their home for at least 25 years.
Exemption for Deployed Military Personnel
$5,000 Veteran’s Disability Exemption
Additional Exemption for Combat-Wounded Florida Disabled Veterans
Full Exemption for Veteran’s Service-Connected Total and Permanent Disability
Full Exemption for Totally and Permanently Disabled Persons
Full Exemption for Totally and Permanently Disabled First Responders
Surviving Spouse of Military Veteran or First Responder
Historic Property Exemption for property on the National or Florida Registers of Historic Properties
“Granny Flat” Exemption – Taxpayers who build additions onto an existing Homestead or perform extensive renovations to an existing Homestead to provide living quarters for a parent or grandparent may be entitled to a special exemption equal to the amount of the new construction (up to 20% of the homestead value).

(C) “Save Our Homes” (SOH) Amendment

Further, in Florida, pursuant to the 1992 SOH Amendment to the Florida Constitution, the assessed value of your Homestead property can increase by no more than 3% (three percent) above the previous year’s assessed value or the consumer price index, whichever is less. The Florida Department of Revenue certifies the annual percentage amount for each year. This law capped the maximum the assessed value of your homestead property can increase from year to year. This was a great help to the homeowners.

(D) Save Our Homes Portability Amendment (SOH Portability)

Prior to 2008, even if you had homestead on your property and the assessed value of your Homestead property only increased by no more than 3% above the previous year’s assessed value or the consumer price index, whichever was less, when you sold that property and either ‘up-sized’ or ‘downsized’ to a new home in value, you ended up having to pay higher property taxes on your new home compared to what you had been paying on your previous home, even if it was worth much less than your previous home. This is because: (a) you lost all the “Save Our Homes Savings” that you had accumulated over the years (savings on your home’s assessed value) by owning your previous homesteaded property in Florida, and (b) the assessed value of the your new home is its market value and in most cases is the purchase price you paid for it.

Many homeowners who wanted to ‘up-size’ or ‘downsize’ to a new home for some reason or another were shocked to find that because the property tax on their new home in many cases was much higher than what they had been paying on their previous homesteaded property they would be unable to move and this made their situation untenable.

In order to alleviate this situation and help homeowners, the “Portability of Save Our HomesAmendment to the Florida Constitution was passed in 2008 to allow eligible homesteaded homeowners to move the accumulated savings on the home’s assessed value from one homesteaded property to another. As a result, Homesteaded homeowners are now allowed to move their Save Our Homes (SOH) benefit up to a maximum of $500,000 from one homesteaded property to another in Florida.

The new law allows that Portability may be used an unlimited number of times and may be used for moves to anywhere within Florida. Portability does not require you to sell your previous home, but merely that you can no longer claim it anywhere as your primary (permanent) residence.

Portability applies to both ‘up-sizing’ and ‘downsizing’ in value of the new property. If the new homestead has a higher just value than the previous one, the accumulated benefit can be transferred; if the new homestead has a lower just value, the amount of benefit transferred will be reduced. The local County Property Appraiser provides these figures for each homestead property in its jurisdiction by calculating it based upon specified formulas mandated by the State Law.

To be eligible to move these SOH Portability savings to a new primary residence, the new homestead must be established within two tax years of the “abandonment” of homestead at the previously homesteaded property. Owners of homesteaded properties sold (or “abandoned as homestead”) are eligible to move their SOH savings to a newly purchased property so long as the owner obtains homestead on the new property within the strict period allowed by law.

Therefore, if you purchase another home as your primary Florida residence and want to obtain Homestead Exemption for that property and if you held a Homestead Exemption on a previous property within the previous two (2) tax-years anywhere in Florida, you must also submit a Portability application with your Homestead application. The Portability application transfers any tax savings you have earned on your previous homesteaded primary residence to the new eligible primary residence, but it does NOT transfer your Homestead Exemption from one property to another. You MUST first apply for a Homestead Exemption in order to be eligible for Portability. Thus, you must submit an application for Homestead Exemption for your new primary residence and also an application for SOH Portability.

(E) Maximum Sales and Use Tax on Boats and Vessels in Florida

Florida residents used to buy expensive Yachts and register them in foreign countries; in the Islands off the coast of Florida and other countries around the world which offered several tax havens and other benefits. In order to encourage large Yacht manufacturing and sales in Florida, to support the Boating and Marine Industries and to bring in more revenues to the state and local governments, the Florida Legislature changed the laws pertaining to selling, owning, and registering Boats and Vessels in Florida in 2010. As a result, the maximum that can be taxed when purchasing a boat or vessel and registering it in Florida is capped at US $18,000!

This $18,000 total includes all sales and use taxes, plus any discretionary sales surtax. This is to encourage purchasing, registering, and using yachts in Florida year round. Thus for example, you can now buy a US $100 Million Yacht in Florida and or register it in Florida and the maximum you get taxed is US $18,000! After that all you have to pay is the nominal annual boat registration license tag renewal fees. For more information and detailed instructions on this maximum tax, please see Florida Department of Revenue’s Tax Information Publication (TIP) 10A01-07 issued on June 22, 2010.

Incidentally, the world famous Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show is celebrating its 60th year this year and will be held from October 30 – November 3, 2019. Similar Boat Shows are held in Miami and Palm Beach and other major coastal towns in Florida every year. Thousands of Yacht manufacturers and dealers from around the world exhibit at these shows and hundreds of thousands of visitors from the U S and abroad come to theses shows. These shows generate billions of dollars worth of business for the boating industry as numerous boats and related equipment are sold, billions for hotels, restaurants, and tourism, and billions of dollars in tax revenues for the state and local governments each year. Further, the visitors to these shows also engage in numerous real estate transactions throughout the regions where these boat shows are held, thus also benefiting the real estate and construction businesses.

(F) Intangible Personal Property Tax

Florida repealed the Intangible Personal Property Tax on most items on January 1, 2007. Therefore, there are NO Intangible Personal Property Taxes on items such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, money market funds, unsecured notes, certificates of deposits, patents, copyrights, life insurance, partnership interests, etc. There remains intangible personal property tax only on two items: mortgage deeds and leases of government owned properties to nongovernmental entities. This is another benefit to living in Florida. For more information, see the Florida Department of Revenue’s Tax Information Publication, TIP 07C02-01, Dated: January 2, 2007.

Before the repeal of the Florida Intangible Personal Property Tax, individuals possessing intangible property above a certain limit had to file the Florida Intangible Personal Property Tax forms and pay the taxes every year. Now you don’t have to file them anymore.

(G) Florida is a Business Friendly State

Individuals are not the only ones who benefit from Florida’s tax structure. Businesses in Florida pay less taxes than in many other states in the USA. C corporations are the only ones that pay Florida’s state income tax, while other types of corporations as well as sole proprietorships pay no Florida income tax irrespective of how big a business they are.

The State of Florida and its Counties and Cities encourage businesses to operate, relocate, expand, or open branches and divisions in Florida and offer several Tax Incentives and Tax Credits to medium and large businesses to relocate to Florida, set up operations, and create jobs. There are several categories of these incentives and tax breaks and some of them last for several years. Florida tries its best to promote itself as a business friendly state.

Further, in the past three decades Florida has become the gateway for banking, finance, and trade, and other businesses to the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. Therefore, several U S and foreign companies have set up their South American headquarters in Florida for conducting their businesses in various countries in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America while utilizing Florida’s business friendly climate.

Florida’s population has now grown to 22 Million, thus offering a large customer base. When you combine that with its spectacular coastlines and beaches, beautiful weather, vibrant cosmopolitan culture, availability of all the amenities at your finger tips, along with the low taxes and tax breaks for doing business, it sure makes it a great place to set up a new business, expand, or relocate one.

As you can see, Florida is the only state in the USA that also offers that combination of beautiful beaches, coastlines, weather, and resort style living, while also offering all the amenities that you can think of as well as all these tax savings that you obtain from owning Florida Real Estate or doing Business. These show what a beautiful, vibrant, and enchanting place Florida is to live, work, and play as well as a great place to set up a new business or relocate one. Residential properties along Florida’s coastal regions sell for anywhere from the US $300,000s to $100 Million.

Next in Part III of this series on ”Florida and Florida Real Estate” will be a brief explanation of Florida’s Economy and its Real Estate.

Chacko Zachariah, has been a Licensed Real Estate Broker and Realtor with Fabulous Homes, Inc., in Florida, selling Luxury Homes, Condominiums, Commercial, and Industrial Properties for over the past 30 years. He can be reached at 954-491-7600 or [email protected]

52% of Americans are considered ‘middle class’—here’s how much money they earn

According to a 2018 report from the Pew Research Center, 52% of American adults live in “middle class” households. The median income of that group was $78,442 in 2016.

Pew defines the middle class as adults whose annual household income is two-thirds to double the national median. That’s after incomes have been adjusted for household size, since smaller households require less money to support the same lifestyle as larger ones.

About one-fifth of American households, 19%, are considered upper class, while 29% are lower class. The median income of upper class households was $187,872 in 2016. For lower income households, it was $25,624.

These numbers are in 2016 dollars and scaled to reflect a three-person household.

Pew looked at various household sizes. Here’s the income range you’d have to earn each year to be considered middle class, depending on the size of your family:

Household of one: $26,093 to $78,281
Household of two: $36,902 to $110,706
Household of three: $45,195 to $135,586
Household of four: $52,187 to $156,561
Household of five: $58,347 to $175,041

The share of U.S. adults considered middle class varies depending on where you live, Pew notes: “The 10 areas with the highest concentrations of middle class adults are located in the Midwest or the Northeast, with the exception of Ogden-Clearfield, Utah. These areas are also more reliant on manufacturing than the nation overall.”

The metro with the highest share is Sheboygan, Wisconsin, where 65% of adults are considered middle class. Use Pew’s income calculator to find out which group you are in, compared to other adults in your metro and among American adults overall. It also lets you find out which group you’re in compared with other adults similar to you in education, age, race or ethnicity and marital status.

Florida and Florida Real Estate Part I – Benefits of Buying Real Estate in Florida

By Chacko Zachariah,

(Mr. Chacko Zachariah is a Licensed Real Estate Broker and Realtor, Fabulous Homes, Inc., 954-491-7600, [email protected])

Florida means “full of flowers”, and it was named in honor of Spain’s Easter celebration known as “Pascua Florida,” or “Feast of Flowers” by the Spanish conqueror and explorer, Juan Ponce de Leon. On April 2, 1513, during Easter week (Passion week), which in Spanish is “Pascua Florida” or “La Pascua de la Florida” (in English “Flowery Easter”; as Easter is celebrated in spring and flowers are in bloom), he discovered the Florida peninsula, claimed it for Spain and named it “La Florida”, even though various American Indian Tribes had been living here for centuries.

La Florida (Spanish Florida) included the present State of Florida plus large parts of several of the southeastern states of the United States and remained a Spanish Colony as part of the Captaincy General of Cuba under the Spanish Empire for a period of over 200 years. Spanish settlers started settling in La Florida, introduced Christianity to La Florida, converted some of the native Americans to Christianity, and thus Spain became the first country to establish Christianity in North America.

The city of Saint Augustine in northeast Florida was the capital of La Florida for over 200 years and is the oldest European settlement in North America. After the British and French colonization of America, Spain lost most of the northern parts of La Florida.  Spain eventually sold what remained of La Florida to the United States, which later became its 27th State, the State of Florida, in 1845. Presently, Florida is referred to as the ‘Sunshine State’ for its year round sunshine, great weather, beautiful beaches, and landscape.

Florida is a peninsula surrounded on three sides by water – the Atlantic Ocean on the east, the Straits of Florida on the south, and the Gulf of Mexico on the west, with beautiful beaches all around the coast making it truly a paradise. Thus it is surrounded by beautiful beaches on three sides for you to enjoy. Additionally, there are numerous bodies of water in the interior, including several lakes, canals, bays, and rivers, and some of these canals and rivers connect to the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico at various inlets along the coasts.

This combination makes it a recreational paradise for Swimming, Boating, Yachting, Fishing, Vacationing, Relaxing, as well as for Sporting events and living here yearround.  Its climate and beauty is akin to that of Kerala, except that Kerala has mountains while the only mountains you come across in Florida are a couple of ‘waste mountains’ created  from waste dumps. (Kerala is India’s southwestern coastal state and is considered one of the most exotic places on earth. Kerala has Arabian Sea to its west, the Indian Ocean to its south, and mountains called the Western Ghats to its east.) Then there is the Everglades running along the middle of Southern Florida and ending at the Florida Bay. Everglades is a natural wetlands ecosystem which happens to be a very unique ecosystem in the world where numerous species of plants and animals have been coexisting in harmony for thousands of years.

Florida is indeed one of the most beautiful and exotic places that God created; it is a land of milk and honey.

Tax Benefits of Living, Working, Doing Business, and Owning Real Estate in Florida

Florida is the one of the very few states in USA that has NO State or Local Income Taxes. Further, with the new US Tax laws enacted in 2017, most people in the USA are encountering double taxation, while Florida is the one of the very few states in the USA where you can escape all or some of the double taxation and save money and thus avoid some of the adverse effects from the restrictions placed on the SALT (Sales And Local Tax) deduction. SALT tax includes the State and Local (City) Income Taxes, the Local Sales Taxes, and the Real Property Taxes. Thus, with these new restrictions placed on the SALT deduction, most people are now taxed TWICE on the same EARNED income.  (The famous Boston Tea Party during our Independence struggle almost 250 years ago was on “Taxation Without Representation”.)

Further, Florida offers property owners several other great tax benefits through Homestead Exemptions, Portability Law Provisions, “Save Our Homes” Laws, etc., some of which are available only in Florida.

This has set off a migration to Florida of the well to do and the wealthy who are snatching up fabulous properties at bargain prices as they can now save large amounts in taxes since they don’t have to pay any state or local income taxes, obtain tax savings from Homestead Exemptions, Portability Law Provisions, “Save Our Homes” Laws, etc.

As you can see Florida is the only state in the USA that also offers that combination of beautiful beaches, coastlines, weather, and resort style living, while also offering all the amenities that you can think of as well as all these tax savings that you obtain from owning Florida Real Estate.

Florida’s Economy and its Real Estate

Along these coasts of Florida’s beautiful waterways line fabulous residential and commercial properties – spectacular homes, condominiums, apartments, hotels, restaurants, shopping centers, office buildings, mixed use properties, etc., and you will also find innumerable numbers of boats, yachts, and marinas lined up along the banks and coasts of these waterways.  By night fall, several of these coastal areas light up like Paris, the city of lights.

Even though, tourism had been one of the main engines that drove Florida’s economy in the past, it is now very diversified with significant contributions from recreational and entertainment facilities, agriculture, farming, ranching, cruises, shipping, construction, banking and finance, world renowned education, healthcare, science, and research establishments, manufacturing, military bases, world renowned art, antique, auto, boat, design, and home shows, air and sea shows, conventions, and so forth.

Florida used to be just a seasonal tourist and retirement place, but that had been changing rapidly in the past four decades and is now an year-round destination. People have been migrating to Florida in large numbers for its beautiful beaches and weather, spectacular waterways, status as a “no state and local income tax” state, thriving year round trade and commerce, jobs, access to world class universities, colleges and healthcare facilities, the availability of spectacular residences, hotels, restaurants, existence of myriad of cultures and cuisines, access to travel to anywhere in the world by air, sea, and land.

Further, in the past three decades Florida has become the gateway to the Caribbean, Central America, and South America for banking, finance, trade, and other businesses. As a result, several US and European Companies have set up their Southern Headquarters in South Florida for conducting their businesses in various countries in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America.  Further, many countries in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America have set up their Consulates in South Florida.

With the availability and accessibility to almost everything through the web for the past several years, people now live, work, and play here in Florida year round while conducting most businesses. This has accelerated the migration of the wealthy and the well to do to Florida.  Florida’s population has now grown to over 22 Million

Cosmopolitan Character of Florida and its Influence on its Economy, Culture, and Vibrancy.

Florida has a very diverse population of people from all over the world. As stated above, Florida used to be a Spanish Colony. Several areas of Florida have become cosmopolitan as they have significant numbers of people from all over the world and from different backgrounds and cultures living in harmony and making it a better place to live. Of these areas, Southeast Florida is the most cosmopolitan.

Southeast Florida consists of the three major metropolitan areas of Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Palm Beach, which are three adjacent coastal cities, with Fort Lauderdale sandwiched between Miami to the south and Palm Beach to its north.

Southeast Florida, is akin to the French Riviera, but it is a much better and cheaper place to live as you have access to all your needs year-round from world class facilities. Cost of living is much cheaper and prices for most things, especially Real Estate, is only a fraction of what you have to pay in other similar places around the world. In addition, you enjoy the safety, security, and stability of being part of the USA while living on a peninsula.

Southeast Florida is a multi-cultural melting pot made possible by a very diverse population coming together from various cultural and racial backgrounds and ethnicities from several parts of the world and making it their home while cultivating and enjoying different traditions, practices, ideas, beliefs, and religions, and speaking several languages. Sprinkled throughout the area are numerous restaurants and shops offering a myriad of cuisines and foods from various parts of the world, shops offering variety of arts and crafts, clothes and wares, as well as art galleries and museums showcasing art from around the world..

Throughout the year there are numerous lively multi-ethnic festivals, shows, celebrations, and parades, music and concerts all showing the vibrancy of the presence of different cultures from around the world which provide great vibrancy to the area while making Florida a great place to live, work, and play. You also get to enjoy great nightlife, watch amateur and professional sports, you name it, it is here. In a nut shell it is a vibrant cosmopolitan environment and region.

These show what a beautiful and vibrant place Florida is to live and work. Residential properties along Florida’s coastal regions sell for anywhere from the US $300,000s to 100 Million Dollars. Coming up in this series of articles we will elaborate on these and other topics in relation to real estate.

Next in Part II of this series on ”Florida and Florida Real Estate” will be a brief explanation of the Tax Savings and Benefits of owning Florida Real Estate: the SALT tax, Homestead Exemption, Portability Law Provisions, “Save Our Homes” Laws, and other Tax Benefits for owning Residential and Commercial Properties in Florida.

Chacko Zachariah, has been a Licensed Real Estate Broker and Realtor with Fabulous Homes, Inc., in Florida selling Luxury Homes, Condominiums, Commercial, and Industrial Properties for over the past 30 years.  He can be reached at 954-491-7600 or [email protected] .

Are stocks being sold like it was in 2007

The leaders of Corporate America are cashing in their chips as doubts grow about the sustainability of the longest bull market in American history.  Corporate insiders have sold an average of $600 million of stock per day in August, according to TrimTabs Investment Research, which tracks stock market liquidity.
August is on track to be the fifth month of the year in which insider selling tops $10 billion. The only other times that has happened was 2006 and 2007, the period before the last bear market in stocks, TrimTabs said.
Investors often view insider buying and selling — transactions performed by top executives, leading shareholders and directors — as a signal of confidence. Even though the stock market is much larger than it was in 2007, so the $10 billion mark may not mean as much now as it did then, the acceleration of insiders heading for the exits could indicate concern about the challenges ahead, especially as the US-China trade war threatens to set off a recession.
“It signals a lack of confidence,” said Winston Chua, an analyst at TrimTabs. “When insiders sell, it’s a sign they believe valuations are high and it’s a good time to be outside the market.”
Recession fears have ignited a burst of market volatility over the past year, punctuated by the worst December since the Great Depression. Although the S&P 500 remains up 14% in 2019, markets have tumbled in August as the trade war escalated. The Dow dropped 623 points, or 2.4%, on Friday. It regained about a third of those losses Monday.
Heavy insider selling is often considered an ominous signal about a given company because execs presumably have a better idea about where the stock is going than the average investor. The thinking is that if they thought the stock was going straight up, they wouldn’t leave cash on the table by selling.
But Nicholas Colas, co-founder of DataTrek Research, noted insider selling is not always a helpful indicator at a high level. Rather than reflecting a lack of confidence, he said, the selling may simply be the result of insiders bracing for leaner compensation.
“Most managers get paid on earnings growth. If they anticipate bonuses will be slower, they will sell stock to make up the gap,” Colas said. “It’s one more sign that managements know this will be a tough year for growing earnings.”
Other executives may sell stock to diversify their holdings or to raise money to pay taxes. To avoid tripping insider trading rules or spooking shareholders, some executives schedule periodic stock sales.
Still, the TrimTabs report makes it clear that insiders are selling more than they have at any other point during the bull market, which began in March 2009.
Last week alone, top executives from Salesforce (CRM), Slack (WORK), Chipotle (CMG), Visa (V) and Home Depot (HD) all sold shares, according to OpenInsider, a site that tracks insider stock sales.
Buybacks, another sign of confidence, have also slowed, albeit from extremely elevated levels.  US companies announced $2 billion of buybacks per day during earnings season, according to TrimTabs. That’s the weakest pace in two years.
Completed buybacks by S&P 500 companies declined 13% during the second quarter to $165.7 billion, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices. However, buybacks remain above the pace of 2017, the final year before the Republican tax law that created a huge windfall for companies.

Ansari in Forbes List of Highest-Earning Stand-Up Comedians Of 2019

In an Aug. 16, 2019 article in Forbes, Ansari squeaked into the top 10 list of Highest-Earning Stand-Up Comedians of 2019, with an income of  $13 million, behind Jeff Dunham with $15 million and Amy Schumer with $21 million, the only woman among the top ten.
Following his downfall of sorts as a result of the accusations of sexual misconduct by a date who remains unidentified to date, back in 2017, Ansari made a comeback to touring with small and then bigger appearances from earlier this year, mainly as a stand-up. This July 2019, on Netflix, Ansari addressed the accusations to mixed reactions. But his bottom line appears strong.
Aziz Ansari and Lena Waite accept the award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for “Master of None.” 
The film-maker who made hit series like Master of None and authored a book with the same name, the Emmy-winning Ansari who virtually defined comedy for a while, suffered a blow that he has slowly begun recovering from.
The Forbes list puts Kevin Hart as the highest-earning stand-up earning a whopping $59 million, followed by Jerry Seinfeld at 2nd place with $41 million.

The Indian rupee is falling fast– and there are both winners and losers

The Indian rupee is near its weakest level against the dollar this year. And the fall has been sharper in the last three weeks. One of the biggest reasons for the dollar getting stronger is Donald Trump’s trade war against China. Traders around the world are on the edge wondering how the negotiations between Washington and Beijing may pan out, and in the mean time, they are betting on the greenback that is considered to be the safest global currency.

For the Indian rupee, it’s a double whammy– both global risks and a local economic slowdown are weighing it down. In fact, it took the Indian currency took 18 days to give up all the gains made in 42 sessions before that. Such a sharp fall, in such a quick time, only signals that traders are preparing to beat the rupee down further in the coming days. The Indian rupee’s record low is near 74 against the dollar, and current it is trading at about 71.24.

The USDINR fell sharply for 42 sessions from 13 May to July 11. It recouped all its losses in 18 sessions from July 12 to Aug 13. A bullish $ results in “imported inflation” higher corporate interest outgo on forex loans among other pressures.#Trading #TechnicalAnalysis

Aside from the global risk aversion, the weakness in rupee has many factors at play but most important among them is the market’s perception of the strength of the Indian economy. The Reserve Bank of India cut its forecast for India’s GDP growth in the current financial year to 6.9% from 7% earlier but many experts believe that the slowdown may be much worse than what the data suggests.

All crucial areas from employment to consumer demand, industrial growth to inflation, car sales to airline traffic, exports to credit growth, reflect a fragile economy with limited prospects of a quick recovery. The rupee is taking the fall as traders digest the flow of macro economic data, and the bleak future that they point towards.

The weakness in the rupee against the dollar may be further setback for some firms while for a few others it may be the much-needed cushion.

A weaker rupee will lend some competitiveness to India’s ailing exporters because it makes products cheaper for the buyer in dollar terms. However, it does not hold true for the entire economy.

5 facts about student loans

Americans owed about $1.5 trillion in student loans at the end of March 2019, more than two times what they owed a decade earlier. The increase has come as historically high shares of young adults in the United States go to college and the cost of higher education increases.

Here are five facts about student loans in America, based on a Pew Research Center analysis of recently released data from the Federal Reserve Board’s 2018 Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking:

  1. About one-third of adults under age 30 have student loan debt. Among adults ages 18 to 29, 34% say they have outstanding student loans for their own education. (This includes those with loans currently in deferment or forbearance, but excludes credit card debt and home and other loans taken out for education.) Looking only at young adults with a bachelor’s degree or more education, the share with outstanding student debt rises to 49%.

Student debt is less common among older age groups. Roughly one-in-five adults ages 30 to 44 (22%) have student loan debt, as do 4% of those 45 and older.

While age differences may partly reflect the fact that older adults have had more time to repay their loans, other research has found that young adults are also more likely now than in the past to take out loans to pay for their education. About six-in-ten college seniors ages 18 to 24 took out loans for their education in the 2015-2016 school year, up from about half in the 1999-2000 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

  1. In 2016, the amount students owed varied widely, especially by degree attained. The median borrower with outstanding student loan debt for their own education owed $17,000 in 2016. The amount owed varied considerably, however. A quarter of borrowers with outstanding debt reported owing $7,000 or less, while another quarter owed $43,000 or more. (Because of changes to the survey questions, it is not possible to determine the amount owed in 2018.)

Educational attainment helps explain this variation. Among borrowers of all ages with outstanding student loan debt, the median self-reported amount owed among those with less than a bachelor’s degree was $10,000 in 2016. Bachelor’s degree holders owed a median of $25,000, while those with a postgraduate degree owed a median of $45,000.

Relatively few with student loan debt had six-figure balances in 2016. Only 7% of current borrowers had at least $100,000 in outstanding debt, which corresponds to 1% of the adult population. Balances of $100,000 or more were most common among postgraduate degree holders. Of those with a postgraduate degree and outstanding debt, 23% reported owing $100,000 or more.

  1. Young college graduates with student loans are more likely than those without loans to report struggling financially. Student loan holders give a more downbeat assessment of their personal financial situation compared with their peers who don’t have outstanding student debt. College graduates ages 25 to 39 with loans are more likely than graduates without loans to say they are either finding it difficult to get by financially or are just getting by (22% vs. 11%). About three-in-ten young college graduates with student loans (32%) say they are living comfortably, compared with 51% of college graduates of a similar age without outstanding loans.
  2. Young college graduates with student loans are more likely to live in a higher-income family than those without a bachelor’s degree. For many young adults, student loans are a way to make an otherwise unattainable education a reality. Although these students have to borrow money to attend, the investment might make sense if it leads to higher earningslater in life.

On average, those ages 25 to 39 with at least a bachelor’s degree and outstanding student debt have higher family incomes – the individual’s income plus that of their spouse or partner – than those in this age range lacking a bachelor’s degree (regardless of loan status). About half of young college graduates with student loans (52%) live in families earning at least $75,000, compared with 18% of those without a bachelor’s degree. However, they are still less likely to earn this level of family income than young college graduates without outstanding student loans (64%). (Family income reflects more than just an individual’s personal returns from higher education, including the fact that college graduates are more likely to marry.)

About half of young adults without a bachelor’s degree (53%) live in families earning less than $40,000, compared with 21% of young college graduates with student loans.

  1. Compared with young adults who don’t have student debt, student loan holders are less upbeat about the value of their degree. About a third (36%) of those ages 25 to 39 with at least a bachelor’s degree and outstanding student loan debt say that the lifetime financial costs of their degree outweigh the benefits. By comparison, 15% of young college graduates without outstanding student loans say the lifetime costs outweigh the benefits.

Gold hits life-time high of Rs 38,070 per 10 gram

Gold prices last week surpassed the Rs 38,000 per 10 gram mark for the first time ever, amid heightened trade tension between US and China and marked slowdown in global economic activity.

Gold has seen a sharp surge in demand as a safe haven asset, ever since the US Federal Reserve’s statement that the first rate cut since 2008 was not the beginning of a rate cut cycle.

At the Multi-Commodity Exchange (MCX), the October contract of gold was trading at Rs 37,956 per 10 gram before it hit a life time high of Rs 38,070.

Prices of the precious metal surged after the US last week announced fresh tariffs on Chinese products. Later, China decided not to buy US agricultural products as a response to this escalation.

On Wednesday, the Reserve Bank of India’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) lowered the economy’s projection of real GDP growth to 6.9 per cent for 2019-20 from 7 per cent earlier.

The downward adjustment in the GDP growth projection, RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das, said was warranted by various high frequency indicators pointing to weakening of both domestic and external demand conditions .(IANS)

South Asian origin among 11 charged in credit card scheme

Several individuals of South Asian origin are among eleven people charged with alleged credit card fraud, according to the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

A posting on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.

Five complaints were unsealed June 26, in federal court in Brooklyn charging 11 defendants,  who prosecutors say, carried out an alleged  scheme to defraud banks by using fake, or “synthetic,” identities to obtain credit cards, and making approximately $3 million in charges that were never repaid to the issuing financial institutions, according to U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue and other officials, who made the announcement in a June 27, press release from his office. Three of the defendants were also charged with money laundering conspiracy, designed to conceal the source of the proceeds of their scheme.

Nine defendants were arrested June 26.  Eight defendants made their initial appearances before United States Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom and were released on bond.  One defendant was scheduled to appear June 27, before Magistrate Judge Bloom.  Two defendants are not in custody, according to the press release.

Defendants, all of whom are from New York, include Bahader Thiara, 42, of Queens Village, N.Y.; Hafeez Ali, 54, of Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn; Mohammad Akhtar, 43, Flushing, N.Y.; Nadezhda Epshteyn, 44, Rockaway Park, N.Y.; Cyrus Shroff, 45, also of Rockaway Park, N.Y.; Anis Khan, 32, Sheepshead Bay, N.Y.; Daljeet Singh, 46, College Point, N.Y. (also known as “Akhtar Iqbal”; Zainoelbaks Karimbux, 50, Bellerose, N.Y.; and Gursimardeep Singh Rai, 34, Bronx, N.Y., are  charged with access device fraud.  Bahader Thiara, Perminder Thiara, 40, Queens Village, N.Y.; and Shaila Khondkar, 48, Jamaica, N.Y., are also charged with money laundering conspiracy.

The charges are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until convicted. If convicted, the defendants charged with access device fraud face up to 10 years’ in prison, and up to 20 years for money laundering conspiracy.

The documents filed in court allege that between January 2013 and December 2017, the defendants  used synthetic identities created by using various types of personal identification information (names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers) from different individuals to create a fake identity and obtain credit cards from financial institutions.  The court filings go on to allege that the accused then used those cards for expenditures that they had no intention to repay, including mortgages on three residential properties in Queens, New York.

Prosecutors allege that the defendants also used shell companies to record hundreds of thousands of dollars on those credit cards, and then received payment for the alleged sham transactions from financial institutions and credit card processors.

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Section.  Assistant United States Attorneys Temidayo Aganga-Williams and David Lizmi are in charge of the prosecution.  Assistant United States Attorney Tanisha Payne of the Office’s Civil Division is handling forfeiture matters.

Fund transfers via RTGS, NEFT to cost less from July 1

The Reserve Bank of India on Tuesday said it will waive all charges on fund transfer through popular RTGS and NEFT systems from July 1 and asked banks to pass on the benefits to customers from the same day.

The Real Time Gross Settlement System (RTGS) is meant for large-value instantaneous fund transfers while the National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT) System is used for fund transfers of up to Rs 2 lakh.

Country’s largest bank State Bank of India (SBI) charges between Rs 1 and Rs 5 for transactions through NEFT and between Rs 5 and Rs 50 for RTGS route.

Following up on the announcement made on June 6 after the bi-monthly monetary policy review, the RBI said it has reviewed the various charges levied by it on the member banks for transactions processed in the RTGS and NEFT systems.

In order to provide an impetus to digital funds movement, the central bank further said it has been decided that with effect from July 1, 2019, processing charges and time varying charges levied on banks by RBI for outward transactions through the RTGS, as also the processing charges for transactions processed in NEFT will be waived by the Reserve Bank.

“The banks are advised to pass on the benefits to their customers for undertaking transactions using the RTGS and NEFT systems with effect from July 1, 2019,” it said.

The Reserve Bank levies “minimum charges” on banks for transactions routed through its RTGS and NEFT, and banks, in turn, levy charges on their customers.

India to hit back US with retaliatory tariffs

In what could potentially aggravate trade tensions between India and the US, New Delhi has decided to impose long-pending retaliatory tariffs on 29 US products. Washington had withdrawn duty-free benefits for Indian exports under its Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) effective June 5.
“The duty hikes will come into effect in normal course as the notification to postpone the hikes will expire on Saturday night. We don’t see any reason for escalation as the duty hikes are against the tariff hikes by the US on steel and aluminum products, and not because the US withdrew duty-free benefits to Indian exporters,” said a government official with direct knowledge of the matter, requesting anonymity.
According to the current notification, the retaliatory tariffs will come into effect beginning June 16. India had repeatedly postponed the imposition of retaliatory tariffs of $235 million on import of US goods worth $1.4 billion since they were first announced on June 20, 2018. Key items imported by India from the US include almond and fresh apples worth $645 million and $165 million, respectively.
Biswajit Dhar, professor of economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, said the escalation in trade tensions between the two countries would have happened in any case. “Trump wants market access in India and he will not stop at the withdrawal of GSP benefits. But I am happy that India has responded, since it was giving a wrong signal about India’s decision-making process. Now, both sides can sit down and talk like equal partners,” he added.
India’s move comes ahead of a meeting between US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of a G20 summit on June 28-29 in Osaka, Japan. Trump has often termed India a “tariff king” and repeatedly pointed to the 50% duty that India imposes on imports of Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
US secretary of state Mike Pompeo is scheduled to visit New Delhi on June 25-26, on his way to the G20 Summit, to hold bilateral discussions with his Indian counterpart, external affairs minister S Jaishankar.
Speaking at the 44th annual meeting of the US-India Business Council in Washington DC on Wednesday, Pompeo said they may discuss “tough topics”, including the recent GSP programme decision. “We remain open to dialogue, and hope that our friends in India will drop their trade barriers and trust in the competitiveness of their own companies, their own businesses, their own people, and private sector companies,” Pompeo said.
The trade ministry’s move, which was cleared by the external affairs ministry, comes a day after a senior Trump administration official raised “serious concerns” about India’s planned acquisition of Russian S-400 missile defence systems.
Last week, commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal said India accepts the decision of the US to withdraw GSP benefits to its exporters “gracefully”, and will work towards making the exports competitive.
Briefing reporters after a meeting with exporters and state government representatives, Goyal said the withdrawal of GSP is not a matter of life and death for all exporters. “India is now evolving and moving out of the crutches that we thought we needed to export. India is no more an underdeveloped or least developed country that we will look at that kind of support. We believe we can be export-competitive at our own strength or at the strength of our own comparative advantage.”
In March, the US had announced its decision to withdraw the preferential duty benefits to India after talks between the two sides broke down on “disproportionate” demands by Washington.
However, the US had deferred the withdrawal of the GSP because the Indian general elections were underway. This had raised hopes that the two sides may re-engage to try and resolve their differences after the Modi government took charge. On June 1, though, the US president surprised everybody by issuing the presidential proclamation and withdrawing GSP benefits given to India, effective June 5.

3 Indian-origin executives on Forbes list of America’s richest self-made women

Three Indian-origin women have been named by Forbes among America’s 80 richest self-made women, the “ceiling crashers” and “overachievers” blazing their own trails as they create new businesses and amass fortunes. President and CEO of computer networking firm Arista Networks Jayshree Ullal, cofounder of IT consulting and outsourcing firm Syntel Neerja Sethi and CTO and cofounder of streaming data technology company Confluent Neha Narkhede are in the Forbes list of ‘America’s Richest Self-Made Women 2019’.
The list has been topped by Diane Hendricks, who chairs ABC Supply, one of the largest wholesale distributors of roofing, siding and windows in America. The 72-year old has a net worth of USD 7 billion.
Ullal, who has been ranked 18th in the list, has a net worth of USD 1.4 billion. The 58-year old owns about 5 per cent of Arista’s stock. “Born in London and raised in India, she is now one of America’s wealthiest female executives,” Forbes said. Sethi, ranked 23rd, cofounded Syntel with her husband Bharat Desai in 1980 in their apartment in Troy, Michigan with an initial investment of just USD 2,000. Her current net worth is one billion dollars. French IT firm Atos SE bought Syntel for USD 3.4 billion in October 2018 and Sethi, 64, got an estimated USD 510 million for her stake.
Narkhede is ranked 60th on the list with a networth of USD 360 million. Confluent, which is currently valued at USD 2.5 billion, counts Goldman Sachs, Netflix and Uber as customers. As a LinkedIn software engineer, Narkhede, 34, helped develop Apache Kafka to handle the networking site’s huge influx of data and in 2014, she and two LinkedIn colleagues founded Confluent to build tools for companies using Apache Kafka, which became open source in 2011, Forbes said.
The list also includes media mogul Oprah Winfrey ranked 10, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer (12), reality TV star Kylie Jenner (23), fashion designer Tory Burch (29), pop stars Rihanna (37) and Madonna (39), singer Beyonce (51), author Danielle Steel (56), TV show Ellen DeGeneres (63) and tennis star Serena Williams on the 80th spot.
Forbes said more women are creating new businesses and amassing fortunes than ever before, leading it to expand its ranking of the nation’s wealthiest self-made women to 80 ceiling crashers, one third more than a year ago.
“Each of these overachievers has blazed her own trail,” it said. List members range in age from 21 to 92, and are worth a combined USD 81.3 billion. The minimum net worth to make Forbes’ fifth annual ranking of these women is USD 225 million. A record 25 are billionaires, one more than last year. Nearly half, or 38, live in California, followed by New York with 9. Nineteen were born outside of the US, in countries spanning Burma to Barbados. PTI YAS NSA

US ends special trade treatment for India amid tariff dispute

President Trump seems to be standing firm on his decision to impose tariffs on goods imported into America despite an increasing number of threats and retaliatory taxes on US products.

“We’re the bank that everyone wants to steal from and plunder,” he told reporters at the White House.

India and the United States have had a historic strategic partnership, but on the economic front, President Trump seems to have adopted a different attitude. On Monday, he justified hiking tariffs on imports into the US by pointing out that India had up to a 100% tariffs on American products.

India had been the largest beneficiary of a scheme that allows some goods to enter the US duty-free. However that status will end on Wednesday, Mr Trump said.

In March he announced that it would be revoked because India had failed to provide adequate access to its markets, but Mr Trump gave no date. On Friday he said: “It is appropriate to terminate India’s designation as a beneficiary developing country.”

India had said the move would have a “minimal economic impact”, but it comes at a time lower growth and record unemployment in the country.

Until now, preferential trade treatment for India under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) programme allowed $5.6bn (£4.3bn) worth of exports to enter the US duty free.

The move is the latest push by the Trump administration to redress what it considers to be unfair trading relationships with other countries.

Last month the US ended Turkey’s preferential status under the scheme.

Trump has also imposed tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from countries around the world. Last year, India retaliated against those tariff hikesby raising import duties on a range of goods.

Separately, the US is involved in an escalating trade war with China, and recently threatened tariffs on Mexican goods over illegal migration.

Business Sector Congratulates Modi, Warns of Economic Challenges

As the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) looks set for a second term with leads in 340 seats so far, India Inc rushed in with congratulatory messages for the Prime Minister and also listed the challenges the new government will face along with necessary steps to be taken.

Sandip Somany, President of FICCI said continuity and stability at the Centre would enhance chances of more economic reforms along with an increasingly stabilising Goods and Services Tax (GST), Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) and the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act.

“There is an urgent need to bring investments on track and boost consumption to better GDP growth from the current around 7 per cent level, which will help in generating more jobs and take care of the rural distress,” Somany said.

The next government will have to quickly plan for a robust reform agenda that would not only enhance consumer spending, but will also create conditions for higher private sector investments and exports, he added.

ASSOCHAM President B.K. Goenka said, “A strong and stable government would bring in more foreign investment even as the domestic firms are witnessing renewed confidence. We are in for a virtuous cycle where consumption and investment drive each other. With inflation expected to stay benign, and growth set to move higher with the help of lower interest rates, we would soon be in a sweet spot.”

Mining and metals major Vedanta Resources’ Chairman Anil Agarwal exuded confidence over the Prime Minister’s leadership and said that the new government will continue with the reforms agenda.

“A strong and stable government with a fresh mandate will be well placed to give the reforms agenda an urgent push to provide the much-needed impetus to investor confidence especially given the current state of the world economy,” said Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman, Bharti Enterprises.

Ajay Singh, the Chairman of budget airline SpiceJet, also the person who coined the phrase “Abki Baar Modi Sarkaar” said: “I extend my heartiest congratulations to our Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his stupendous victory.”

Noting that the country’s aviation sector has witnessed “remarkable growth” in the last five years, he said: “We hope that our government will address the structural challenges facing the sector urgently.”

There were also words of caution for the upcoming government considering the global and domestic economic situation.

Deepthi Mathew, economist at Geojit Financial Services said that the economy currently is “much weaker” than what it was in 2014.

“Rural distress and slowing investment in the country are two major issues that need to be addressed in an urgent manner. The developments in the global economy are also not favourable, especially with regard to the rising crude oil prices. The low crude oil prices benefited NDA-I in a bigger way,” Mathew said.

Sanjay Chamria, Vice Chairman and MD, Magma Fincorp said that the government’s primary move in the financial sector should be to address the lack of money movement at banks and accelerate the flow of money in the system. (IANS)

What foreign media said about Modi’s victory

As India gave Prime Minister Narendra Modi a historic mandate with the ruling BJP returning to power in the Lok Sabha, here’s how the foreign media covered Modi’s victory.

The UK’s Guardian in an editorial said that the landslide win for Modi will see “India’s soul lost to a dark politics – one that views almost all 195 million Indian Muslims as second-class citizens”.

“The biggest election in history has just been won by one man: Narendra Modi. In 2014 the Bharatiya Janata party won an absolute majority for the first time in its history… Despite a spluttering economy five years later, Modi seems certain to have expanded his parliamentary majority. This is bad news for India and the world,” the editorial stated.

Though the daily called Modi a “undoubtedly a charismatic campaigner”, it said that “rather than transcend the faultlines of Indian society – religion, caste, region and language – Modi’s style is to throw them into sharp relief”.

“He is a populist who speaks in the name of the people against the elite despite being a seasoned public figure. Modi deployed with terrible effect false claims and partisan facts,” the article said.

Pakistani daily Dawn in an editorial said that “communal politics in India has triumphed in an age that will define the future of the republic”.

“The results are astounding, and depressingly show that religious hatred and sectarian politics can be exploited to lure voters.” The daily said that the “focus must now turn to a practical way forward for sustainable peace in the subcontinent”.

The News International said that Modi won because the Congress allowed him to.

“If Modi has won despite the long history of failures on the economic front, bad governance and the open war on religious minorities, it is because the opposition, especially the Congress, allowed him to.

“If the BJP and Modi have won this election, they perhaps deserved to win. They put in a great deal of hard work and have had the hunger to win.

“While we cannot ignore the epic lies, obfuscation, jingoism and hate that the BJP used against Indian Muslims and Pakistan to win this election, you have to acknowledge that the opposition failed to call Modi’s bluff and expose his failures on every front,” it stated.

Author Pankaj Mishra in a piece for the New York Times said: “Over five years of Modi’s rule, India has suffered variously from his raw wisdom, most gratuitously in November 2016, when his government abruptly withdrew nearly 90 per cent of currency notes from circulation.

“From devastating the Indian economy to risking nuclear Armageddon in South Asia, Modi has confirmed that the leader of the world’s largest democracy is dangerously incompetent.”

“India under Modi’s rule has been marked by continuous explosions of violence in both virtual and real worlds,” the opinion piece said.

“Modi’s appointed task in India is the same as that of many far-right demagogues: To titillate a fearful and angry population with the scapegoating of minorities, refugees, leftists, liberals and others while accelerating predatory forms of capitalism.”

Author Vivan Marwaha, in an opinion piece for the Washington Post said: “Despite a record-high unemployment rate, a slowing economy and widespread agrarian distress, Indians overwhelmingly decided to give Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party a second chance to put the country back on track.”

“The slowdown in economic growth could still have emerged as a possible flashpoint during the elections. But the February suicide attack on Indian paramilitary forces in Pulwama and the government’s subsequent response – which included ordering air strikes on a terrorist camp in Pakistan – helped marshal vast amounts of support for Modi,” he said.

The BJP targeted the Indian millennials, who have largely grown up with social media, as carefully designed memes praising Modi went viral on Facebook and WhatsApp praising him for the terror strikes.

He said Modi was voted back to power as the “young Indians believed they had no credible alternative”. (IANS)

US Congress passes bipartisan retirement bill—here’s what it would mean for you if it becomes law

The House of Representatives passed the Secure Act, a bill backed by both Republicans and Democrats that aims to improve the nation’s retirement system.

If it passes the Senate, it will be sent to President Trump’s desk. “The Trump administration hasn’t taken a formal position on the bill, but lobbyists who support it say they expect the president to sign it into law,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

The changes would be the most significant to retirement plans since 2006, when the Pension Protection Act made it easier for companies to automatically enroll their employees in 401(k) plans.

Here are some of the provisions included in the Secure Act:

Repeal the maximum age for traditional IRA contributions, which is currently 70½

Increase the required minimum distribution age for retirement accounts to 72 (up from 70½)

Allow long-term part-time workers to participate in 401(k) plans

Allow more annuities to be offered in 401(k) plans

Parents can withdraw up to $5,000 from retirement accounts penalty-free within a year of birth or adoption for qualified expenses

Parents can withdraw up to $10,000 from 529 plans to repay student loans

What the bill is addressing

“This is a stepping stone to try to solve that looming retirement crisis, ” Chad Parks, founder and CEO of Ubiquity Retirement + Savings, tells CNBC Make It.

Many Americans are not prepared for their golden years: Just 36% of non-retired adults think that their retirement saving is on track, the Federal Reserve found in its annual study on household well-being. And 25% of Americans have no retirement savings or pension.

Part of the problem is that many workers don’t have access to 401(k) plans, says Parks: “The reality is that almost half of all working Americans don’t have the ability to save for their retirement at their job. That’s primarily because small businesses are hesitant or intimidated by offering either a 401(k) or some sort of payroll-deduct IRA program. ”

A goal of the Secure Act is “to incentivize businesses to put [plans] in place,” Parks explains.

One of the ways it’s doing that is by making it easier for small businesses to band together to offer 401(k) plans.

“Companies that have no commonality could all join the same plan,” Amy Oullette, director of retirement services at Betterment, tells CNBC Make It. This could potentially give small businesses access to lower cost plans with better investment options and lower administrative fees.

What the bill could mean for you

By making it easier and cheaper for small businesses to offer 401(k) plans, if the bill becomes law, “millions more people, hypothetically, should have access to the ability to save at work,” says Parks.

The bill would also allow more part-time workers to participate in 401(k) plans. Currently, employers generally can exclude people who work less than 1,000 hours per year from its defined contribution plan. But with the new bill, “any employee who has worked for you for at least three years and at least 500 hours a year is now able to participate in your retirement plan,” says Parks.

This is key, says Parks, because investing in a 401(k) is “the most effective way to get people to save for retirement.”

It’s a particularly effective savings vehicle for a few reasons:

It offers significant tax advantages. Contributions are made pre-tax so, the more you put in, the more you reduce your taxable income.

The money is automatically taken from your paycheck before you have the chance to spend it. That makes it a painless way to save for the future. The idea is that, over time, your money will grow and compound until you can start withdrawing it at age 59½. If you withdraw before then, you usually have to pay a penalty.

Often, companies offer a 401(k) match, which is essentially free money. Employers will match whatever contribution you put towards your 401(k) up to a certain amount. For example, if you choose to put four percent of your salary into your account, your employer will put that same amount in as well, in effect doubling your contribution.

The Senate still has to pass the bill and then the president would have to sign it into law. Still, when it comes to changes in the retirement system, “this is truly the biggest thing we’ve seen in many years,” says Oullette.


Indian Consul General Sandeep Chakravorty and Deputy Consul General Shatrugna Sinha were hosted by the Connecticut chapter of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO-CT) on May 3rd in Stamford and Norwalk, Connecticut. Arriving at 2.30 p.m.. Consul General Chakravorty called on to Stamford Mayor David Martin at the Govt. Center in Stamford, along with GOPIO-CT President Anita Bhat, Past Presidents Shailesh Naik and Shelly Nichani and Treasurer Biru Sharma. Later in the afternoon, both called on to Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling along with GOPIO-CT officials and Norwalk’s Indian community leaders including Raj Misra and Anna Duleep as well as representatives of Norwalk’s Sikh Gurudwara.

The discussions were very cordial with both mayors and there were agreements on many new initiatives. Consul General Chakravorty very graciously offered to send various artists and performers from India visiting the USA to come and do shows in both the cities Stamford and Norwalk.  Both the Mayors offered full help and cooperation to facilitate such performances. Both mayors and the Consul General are interested in student exchange programs and the Consul General will further work in the same.

 Most importantly the Consul General made an offer to the Norwalk Mayor Rilling and the Sikh community to hold a grand 550th Anniversary of Guru Nanakjis birth anniversary. He will contact some eminent academician to come and give a talk on the life of the Guru. This was a major accomplishment and a tribute to our Sikh community. Mayor Rilling offered his full support. GOPIO-CT also proposed an India section at the Norwalk public Library which Mayor Rilling agreed and the Consul General has offered to provide books.

On the economic front, both mayors would like to invite Indian companies to consider Stamford and Norwalk to open their US destination. In this regard, Stamford Mayor Martin will take assistance from the Indian Consulate to invite Indian companies to business expo and investment seminars in Stamford. GOPIO-CT will facilitate such efforts.

Consul General Chakravorty also had a very good discussion with Congressman Jim Himes who is a leading member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Congressman Himes is very supportive of India’s interests and values. CG Chakravorty also had a very informative discussion with Connecticut State Senator Bob Duff, the Majority Leader in Conn. Senate.

In the evening a reception was held at Hampton Inn for the many leaders of Indian diaspora in Connecticut to meet and greet Consul General Chakravorty and Deputy Consul General Sinha. GOPIO-CT President Anita Bhat welcomed the guests. GOPIO-CT Treasurer Biru Sharma moderated the session. Connecticut House Representative Matt Blumenthal, who represents Stamford, also joined the dinner meeting. Rep. Blumenthal was very appreciative of the contribution by the Indian American community in Connecticut.

Consul General Chakravorty gave a very descriptive talk on the election in India and how the country is a well-established democracy.  A Q&A session followed where the participants asked questions and expressed their concerns. A donation of $2000 was made to Future 5, an organization in Stamford that takes underprivileged students from local high schools and tutor them in the hours after school.

5th Annual Communities of Color Nonprofit Stabilization Fund Awardee Reception 69 Nonprofits Received Capacity Building Support from NYC Council

For the fifth consecutive year, the New York City Council has announced its support and commitment to investing in nonprofits through the Communities of Color Nonprofit Stabilization Fund. CCNSF, the first fund of its kind in New York City, was first announced in Fiscal Year 2015 to grant New York City-based nonprofits the support needed to increase capacity building for emerging and seasoned social services organizations.

69 community based organizations throughout New York City will receive transformative grants to support and create critical functions, provide economic stimuli and capacity building support to emerging and seasoned social services organizations.


These CBOs offer a varying array of services to New Yorkers, and are being funded to address a comprehensive menu of infrastructural needs including leadership development, financial management, and outcomes system development, among others. A representative from NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s office, NYC Councilmember Andy King, a representative from NYC Councilmember Adrienne Adams, NYC Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez, the coordinating organizations for the Fund, and representatives from the 69 awardees gathered for a reception at Hispanic Federation on May 16th, 2019.

The coordinating organizations – Coalition for Asian American Children and Families, Hispanic Federation, New York Urban League and Asian American Federation have been critical in leveraging dedicated nonprofit funds from the City Council. To date, $7.5 million has been committed to the Fund, which addresses the need for capacity-building funding for nonprofit organizations in communities of color. The monies have had a considerable impact on the sustainability, growth and prosperity of many organizations providing crucial services to the most vulnerable communities in New York City.

CCNSF was championed by NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson and has broad support among Council Members including the Black- Latino and Asian Caucus. Oversight of the funding is provided by the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD).

Through a competitive Request for Application (RFA) process, independent expert allocation committees with knowledge of the nonprofit sector and the capacity building challenges they face, utilized rigorous vetting methods to select grant awardees. Grants were awarded by the partner agencies in three separate funding streams, whose allocations were determined by U.S. Census data. Each awardee was carefully selected to utilize funds to grow capacity, address challenges, and equip communities.

The awardees are community-based organizations from all five boroughs. They offer a varying array of services to New Yorkers, and are being funded to address a comprehensive menu of infrastructural needs including leadership development, financial management, and outcomes system development, among others. In addition to awarding the capacity building awards, the coordinating organizations will conduct several trainings on board development, financial management and fundraising for the awardees.

“For the past 5 years, the Communities of Color Nonprofit Stabilization Fund (CCNSF) continues to provide important capacity building support and resources to Asian Pacific American (APA) organizations. This fund has enabled us to invest and strengthen nonprofit organizations that provide valuable social services to all New Yorkers. The APA community is the fastest growing population in New York but receives minimal resources. CCNSF is an opportunity to counter this disparity and build capacity within our communities,” said Anita Gundanna, Co-Executive Director, Coalition for Asian American Children and Families.

Vanessa Leung, Co-Executive Director, Coalition for Asian American Children and Families said, “CCNSF has strengthened APA-led community organizations across New York City that provide the most effective culturally competent and language accessible services. We thank Speaker Corey Johnson and the support of New York City Council for investing in the organizations that provide the most impactful services to address our community’s needs, but also employ many from our community. We look forward to City Council’s continued partnership to strengthen our communities.”

Jo-Ann Yoo, Executive Director of the Asian American Federation said, “As one of the original partners who advocated for the creation of CCNSF, we are thrilled to see another 69 organizations serving communities of color throughout New York City receive this critical funding to build their capacity. Our communities are best served by community-based organizations that have deep roots and trusted relationships in their communities, so we must invest in their growth and stability if we hope to meet the needs of the most vulnerable New Yorkers. We look forward to working with the City Council to continue to support these important nonprofits.”

“We are thrilled and thankful to the New York City Council for committing to the development and prosperity of New York City’s nonprofits” said José Calderón, Presidentof the Hispanic Federation. “Now in its fifth year, it’s clear that CCNSF has strengthened over 210 organizations providing critical services to our city’s residents. The Fund is a model on how we can work together to ensure the long-term viability of organizations that are the cornerstones of communities all throughout New York City. Now more than ever, we need a robust CCNSF, and we look forward to the City Council’s continued support.”

Jagruti Panwala: Chairwoman of AAHOA, World’s Largest Hotel Owners Association

Pennsylvania hotelier Jagruti Panwala is the new chairwoman of AAHOA, the world’s largest hotel owners association. Panwala became chair during the association’s 2019 Convention and Trade Show which was held at the San Diego Convention Center. Panwala is the first woman to lead the association in its thirty-year history.

“I am humbled and honored to serve the more than 18,500 hoteliers of AAHOA as Chairwoman. As an association, our success is a collective effort, and we will continue to build on AAHOA’s thirty years of industry leadership. We are at the strongest point in our association’s history. I am confident that we will continue to grow by inviting more hoteliers into the fold, expanding our vast educational offerings, and bringing industry partners and hoteliers together.”

Over the next year, Panwala said she will focus on bolstering AAHOA’s advocacy efforts at the state and local level, building out the association’s political action committee, and encouraging more hoteliers to seek leadership roles within AAHOA and the hospitality industry. “We must speak with a collective voice against those who seek to harm the foundations upon which our industry is built. America’s hoteliers face significant challenges. Short-term rentals are seeking special laws, such as secret tax agreements, that fly in the face of free enterprise. Unscrupulous lawyers intent on exploiting small business owners continue to abuse the ADA by filing frivolous lawsuits against hoteliers. We will fight for a level playing field with short-term rentals and work with a diverse coalition of hoteliers and disability rights advocates to address drive-by lawsuits. AAHOA will continue to advocate for smarter laws and regulations that benefit hoteliers, guests, and our communities.”

In her inaugural address to AAHOA members, Panwala thanked AAHOA’s founders, past chairs, and members for their decades of dedicated work. “You are responsible for all that AAHOA is today and will become in the future.”

Chairwoman Panwala joined AAHOA in 2001 and served on the AAHOA Board of Directors as Female Director Eastern Division. AAHOA members elected her as Secretary in 2016. She is the President & CEO of Wealth Protection Strategies. Panwala is an AAHOA Certified Hotel Owner (CHO). She is a graduate of East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania and holds a degree in economics and finance.

“We are fortunate to have our new Chairwoman, Jagruti Panwala, leading the way as AAHOA enters its fourth decade as the voice of America’s hotel owners,” said AAHOA Interim President and CEO Rachel Humphrey. “Her success in the hospitality and financial services industries is a testament to the determination and relentless pursuit of excellence with which she approaches her work. From testifying before Congress to collaborating with brand executives and industry partners, Jagruti’s knowledge of the hospitality industry and understanding of hoteliers’ needs will serve our association well.

AAHOA Announces 2018 Award Winners

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney addressed America’s hoteliers on Saturday, April 27, during the closing night of the 2019 AAHOA Convention and Trade Show. In his remarks, Mulvaney touted his longtime relationship with the association and its members, the effectiveness of AAHOA’s advocacy efforts, and the strength of the American economy. Mulvaney’s relationship with AAHOA dates to his time in the South Carolina state legislature and as a restaurant franchisee. Mulvaney is a 2017 recipient of AAHOA’s “Friend of the Hotelier Award,” the association’s top advocacy honor.

“America’s hoteliers were honored to welcome our good friend Mr. Mulvaney to highlight the celebration of AAHOA’s thirtieth anniversary at our 2019 Convention,” said AAHOA Interim President and CEO Rachel Humphrey.

The celebration of achievement and excellence was a common theme as AAHOA reflected on its thirtieth anniversary during the 2019 AAHOA Convention and Trade Show in San Diego, Calif. On Friday, April 26, the association honored hoteliers for their contributions to the hospitality industry, and representatives from RLH Corporation announced the 2019 winner of the Bright Innovations Award. Winners received their awards on the main stage during the general session. The winners are:

AAHOA Award of Excellence: Jan Gautam
Outstanding Woman Hotelier of the Year: Deepa Patel
Outstanding Young Professional Hotelier of the Year: Ankit Panchal
IAHA Independent Hotel of the Year: Lexen Hotel North Hollywood
Outreach Award for Philanthropy: Bhupen Amin
Political Forum Award for Advocacy: Arti Patel
RLH Corporation 2019 Bright Innovations Award: Roshan Patel

“Every year, we honor hoteliers who go above and beyond in their contributions to the hospitality industry,” said Immediate Past Chairman Hitesh (HP) Patel. “It is incumbent upon us to recognize the excellence in our midst, and I cannot think of a better stage on which to do so than in front of thousands of AAHOA members at Convention.”

Earlier in the session, Outreach Award for Philanthropy winner Bhupen Amin addressed the general session about giving back to one’s community and the multitude of ways, big and small, that a hotelier can make a difference through charitable efforts.

“We have an amazing membership that is constantly raising the bar for what success and distinction as a hotelier means. I congratulate all our award winners and look forward to seeing how they influence our industry and shape expectations for innovation and achievement,” said Interim President and CEO Rachel Humphrey.

“As a franchisee and tireless advocate of small businesses, Mr. Mulvaney understands firsthand the challenges and opportunities facing America’s hoteliers. We are fortunate to have such a strong champion for regulatory relief and tax reform in the White House,” said AAHOA Chairwoman Jagruti Panwala.

 AAHOA is the largest hotel owners’ association in the world. The nearly 18,500 AAHOA members own almost one in every two hotels in the United States. With billions of dollars in property assets and hundreds of thousands of employees, AAHOA members are core economic contributors in virtually every community. AAHOA is a proud defender of free enterprise and the foremost current-day example of realizing the American dream.

TiECON East Keynote Speakers Announced: Legendary Investor Jim Breyer, Kronos CEO Aron Ain, Veracode CEO Sam King and Seema Kumar of Johnson & Johnson

TiE Boston, one of the region’s largest and oldest organizations supporting the Massachusetts entrepreneurial ecosystem and connecting entrepreneurs, executives and venture capitalists, announced today the four keynote speakers who will feature at its annual conference, TiECON East. The day-long conference will be held on May 7, 2019 at the Westin Boston Waterfront hotel in Boston and will feature artificial intelligence and digital health as central themes.

The four keynote speakers spanning morning to evening sessions are: legendary investor, founder and CEO of Breyer Capital Jim Breyer, Kronos CEO and author Aron Ain, Veracode CEO Sam King and Seema Kumar, Vice President of Innovation, Global Health and Policy Communication at Johnson & Johnson.

“We are very excited that four giants of the new economy have joined TiECon East 2019 as keynote speakers,” said TiECON Chair Sanjay Jain. “In addition, we will have about 40 speakers who are experts in their fields. TiECON East will give you the facts and knowledge that you need to make vital business decisions.”

Breyer, who has led investments in household names including Facebook, Didi, Spotify and Etsy, will talk about his new focus on AI-driven companies. His recent investment, Boston-based AI fintech startup Kensho, was acquired by S&P Global for $550 million.

Interviewing Breyer will be another VC heavy-weight and author, Hemant Taneja of General Catalyst.  Taneja, whose investments include Snapchat and Stripe, recently authored “Unscaled: How AI and a New Generation of Upstarts are Creating the Economy of the Future”. The conference’s AI & Robotics track will feature several Boston-based leader and unicorn companies including Teradyne, DataRobot, RapidMiner and Cambridge Mobile Telematics.

Ain, CEO of Lowell-based software giant Kronos, will be another prominent keynote. Under his leadership, Kronos has grown to a stunning $1.4 billion in revenue, while creating an exemplary work culture. In 2018, Kronos topped Boston Globe’s “Best Places to Work” list.  Mr. Ain, who recently published “WorkInspired: How to Build an Organization Where Everyone Loves to Work” will discuss how company culture is central to building an enduring business.

The third keynote speaker is Sam King, CEO of Boston-based cybersecurity giant Veracode and a recognized expert in cybersecurity, the emerging practice of DevSecOps and business management. As a founding member of the Veracode team, Sam helped lead the establishment and growth of the application security category working with industry experts and analysts. In addition to security and technology, Sam is also passionate about developing leaders and creating positive work environments that foster creativity and personal growth.

The final keynote speaker is Seema Kumar, Vice President of Innovation, Global Health and Policy Communication at Johnson & Johnson. From acquiring robotics startup Auris for $3.4 billion, launching JLAB incubators in 13 global locations, to investing through JJDC, Johnson & Johnson is a player to reckon with in Digital Health. Ms. Kumar will walk the audience through JNJ’s major push in entrepreneurship globally.

In addition to AI, digital health will be another prominent theme at TiECON East 2019.

Leaders from Veritas Genetics, IBM Watson, Amazon, Virtusa and John Halamka of BIDMC, amongst others, will discuss how new entrants like Amazon, technologies like big data and AI, and upstart companies are rapidly changing healthcare as we know it.

“No other conference in Boston comes close to the quality of speakers and depth of discussion than TiECON East. This is because our conference is put together by domain experts – our members who are founders and executives of leading companies in their fields,” said TiE Boston President Nilanjana Bhowmik. “As a not-for-profit, we keep ticket prices low to make such a high-quality event accessible to a broad range of attendees including engineers, founders, and executives in tech and health care.”

US warns ‘India-based call center scam industry’

The US government has initiated action against the “India-based call center scam industry”, Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski has warned while announcing the extradition of an Indian citizen from Singapore allegedly involved in a multi-million dollar racket.

Hitesh Madhubhai Patel, 42, who operated the HGlobal call centre in Ahmedabad, was extradited to face trial on charges relating to the scam that allegedly ripped off thousands of Americans of millions of dollars using people in call centers impersonating US government officials, the Justice Department said last week.

Patel was arrested and produced on Friday in a federal court in Houston, Texas, where Magistrate Judge Peter Bray remanded him to custody, according to a court document obtained by IANS. He is to appear in court again on Wednesday.

“This extradition once again demonstrates the (Justice) Department’s unwavering commitment to disrupt and dismantle the India-based call centre scam industry and to work with our foreign partners to hold accountable those who perpetrate schemes that defraud our citizens,” Benczkowski said. “Patel operated a call centre that allegedly preyed upon vulnerable U.S. citizens as part of a massive fraud scheme”.

After Patel flew from India to Singapore, he was arrested there on September 21, 2018, at the request of the US, and Singapore Law Minister K. Shanmugam issued a warrant on March 25 to hand him over to America, the Justice Department said.

“This historic extradition should serve as notice to transnational criminal organisations of the lengths DHS (Department of Homeland Security) is willing to go to arrest those who would enrich themselves by extorting the most vulnerable in our society,” said David Green, the Special Agent in charge of the DHS Houston Field Office.

He warned of global action against the owners, managers and employees of overseas call centers, saying: “Our pursuit of justice for victims of their scams does not stop at the water’s edge.” Patel was charged in 2016 along with 55 people, most of them of Indian descent, and five companies in the alleged massive scam.

The India-based call centers allegedly impersonated tax or immigration officials and called people in the US and threatened them with arrest or deportation if they did not pay what they claimed were back taxes or fines, according to the charge sheet filed against them.

When their victims agreed to pay, the people at the call centre arranged for payments to be collected in the form of store cards or wire transfers by their co-conspirators in the US, who cashed them often using stolen identities and laundered the money, according to the charges. In other instances, they offered people fake loans and collected fees for the lending that never materialized.

Since 2013, the tax official impersonation scam “has been on a relentless path, claiming more than 15,000 victims who have collectively suffered over $75 million in losses”, said Treasury Inspector General J. Russell George.  Federal agencies have identified 140 scammers, including Patel, “who have preyed upon taxpayers”, he added.

The fraud calls originating from India that are received by millions of Americans are hurting the country’s reputation as a hub for back office, tech support and call centre operations.

In recent weeks, at least three persons of Indian descent have been sentenced to prison terms in cases of tax official impersonation.

A federal court in Florida sentence an Indian on Thursday to eight and a half years in prison and last month another person of Indian origin to eight years and nine months.

In a separate case, Indian was sentenced to 16 months in prison by a federal judge in Atlanta earlier this month.

IMF’s Gopinath Doubts India’s GDP number

After 108 economists and former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan, International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Chief Economist Gita Gopinath has expressed doubt over India’s growth rate, saying that there are still some issues with the way India calculates it.
This comes as a blow for the government as the key argument that senior officials in the NDA government have consistently made is that the GDP figures are accepted by global organisations like the World Bank and the IMF.
“With regards to the newer numbers that are coming out, we are paying close attention to it, we are speaking closely to our colleagues in India and then we will make a determination based on that,” Gopinath told CNBC.
While she welcomed the changes made to the GDP calculation in 2015, including the change in base year, she also flagged concerns over the “deflator” used to calculate the real GDP.
“There were important revisions that were made in 2015 as a part of modernizing India’s national accounts statistics, so that is certainly welcome. That said there are still some issues that need to be fixed and this we have flagged before with respect to the deflator that is being used for estimating real GDP… this is something we have flagged in the past,” Gopinath said.
Several experts have expressed doubt over the unemployment, growth rate figures and have alleged that the government was suppressing uncomfortable data.
Explaining one such point of contention, R. Nagaraj of the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research had told IANS that as the employment rate has fallen, one would also expect output growth to have decreased, unless there is a huge rise in productivity per worker for which there is no evidence. “So, the rising GDP and declining employment rate for the same year seems anomalous,” he said.
Nagraj, alongside several economists, in a statement released earlier this month, questioned the government’s intent behind the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) methodology revision and called for the restoration of independence of statistical bodies in light of the allegations that government was suppressing uncomfortable data.
On a similar note, former Reserve Bank of India Governor Rajan said in a TV interview: “I know one Minister has said how can we be growing at 7 per cent and not have jobs. Well, one possibility is that we are not growing at 7 per cent.”
Earlier this year, a report citing National Sample Survey Office’s PLFS data, the publication of which was withheld, revealed that unemployment in the country was at a 45-year-high of 6.1 per cent in 2017-18. (IANS)

Jet Airways cancels all international flights

Jet Airways, facing its worst existential crisis in its over 25-year-old history, Friday extended suspension of its international operations till next Monday due to severe liquidity issues.
Incidentally, the stake sale bid invited by the SBI-led consortium of bankers, which manages the day-to-day operations of the airline, also closes by the end of the day Friday, after being extended by two days.
Airline founder Naresh Goyal, the UAE carrier Etihad Airways, Air Canada and the country’s national investment fund among others are reported to have submitted bids, according to media reports.
On Thursday, the airline had announced temporary grounding of its international operations – Jet was the largest international airline from the country till the financial crisis – when it had also suspended operations to the entire Eastern and Northeastern markets as Jet was forced to ground 10 more aircraft following default of lease rentals.
This has left Jet with no large aircraft while it had just 14 planes for domestic operations as of late Thursday. “Jet has decided to extend suspension of its international operations till Monday, due to severe cash crunch,” airline sources told PTI Friday.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) called an urgent meeting to discuss the crisis that Jet Airways, which is facing acute financial woes, is undergoing, news agency PTI reported.
Saying that the airline was working to minimise guest inconvenience, a Jet Airways spokesperson said, “…The airline’s management and its key stakeholders including its consortium of lenders, continue to work closely towards resolving the current situation.”
Jet was the largest domestic carrier operating in the international sector with a hub in Amsterdam, where a cargo agent had taken possession of an aircraft this on Tuesday demanding bill payment. This led to the cancellation of the Amsterdam-Mumbai flight that day.
Thursday Jet flights to London, Amsterdam and Paris from Mumbai, New Delhi and Bengaluru scheduled were cancelled for operational reasons,” Je had said, adding it had also cancelled the Bengaluru-Amsterdam-Bengaluru flight Friday.
On the domestic front, all Jet operations to and from the Eastern and Northeastern states were suspended till further notice. Following this, there would no Jet flights to and from Kolkata, Patna, Guwahati and other airports in the region, travel industry source had told PTI.
Jet had also said its Mumbai-Kolkata, Kolkata-Guwahati and Dehradun-Guwahati-Kolkata flights stood cancelled till further notice due to “operational reasons.”As of Thursday, the airline had just 14 planes–way down from 123 planes in operations till a few months back.
Of the 14 aircraft that it operated till Thursday evening, eight were wide-body B777s (seven) and an A330– generally used for long-haul international operations.
The remaining six planes were, three B737s, which are largely used for flying on domestic routes besides on short- haul international destinations and the rest three are regional ATRs.
With just 14 aircraft left for operations, aviation secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola had told PTI that the ministry was awaiting a report from the DGCA to decide whether Jet can continue to fly on international routes.
The government rules stipulate an airline must have at least 20 planes for operating international operations. The developments came as banks refused to release the promised additional loan of ₹1,500 crore and original promoter Naresh Goyal pledged 26% of his holding in Jet Airways with Punjab National Bank. This is to borrow money from the bank to continue operations of the airline.
It could not be immediately ascertained how much money was sanctioned against the share pledge. Jet Airways on Thursday informed stock exchanges about the pledge.
The airline cancelled three domestic flights for Friday. These include Mumbai-Kolkata, Kolkata-Guwahati and Dehradun-Kolkata via Guwahati. “Guests have been informed and refunds are being processed,” an airline spokesperson said.

House committee passes bill to upgrade 401(k) plans amid ‘retirement income crisis’

The most comprehensive changes to private retirement plans in more than a decade are gaining momentum in Congress. A key House committee on Tuesday unanimously passed a bill intended to increase the flexibility of 401(k) plans and improve access to the accounts, particularly for small businesses and their employees.

The proposal, known as the Secure Act, was backed by the top Democrat and Republican on the tax-writing Ways and Means committee.

The bill includes:

A host of provisions aimed at encouraging small businesses to provide private retirement benefits to their workers.

It allows them to band together to offer 401(k)s and creates a new tax credit of up to $500 for companies that set up plans with automatic enrollment.

Businesses with long-term, part-time workers must also allow them to become eligible for retirement benefits.

Several measures that would affect other types of savings are included in the bill.

It repeals the maximum age for IRA contributions and raises the age for required mandatory distributions from 70½ to 72.

It also expands the use of 529 plans, from only college-related expenses to include home schools and student loans. “Americans currently face a retirement income crisis, with too many people in danger of not having enough in retirement to maintain their standard of living and avoid sliding into poverty,” committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., said Tuesday.

The bill is one of the few proposals with a significant chance of becoming law amid a bitterly divided Congress. Elements of the bill have been debated among members for years and enjoy wide support among both industry groups and advocacy organizations. On Tuesday, Neal called the legislation “a major bipartisan accomplishment.”

“The Ways and Means committee is where we find solutions and get things done for the American people,” he said.

The last time Congress passed major retirement legislation was in 2006. The Pension Protection Act focused on underfunded accounts and reforms to that system. Since then, lawmakers have debated proposals to address the popularity of 401(k)s and individual savings accounts.

But those efforts have stalled on their own, said Paul Richman, chief government officer at the Insured Retirement Institute, a trade group. He said the Secure Act aims to “modernize” the system.

“It’s packaging them all into a comprehensive piece of legislation that would address many of these little issues that have cropped up over the years,” he said. “We think that it’s a good chance for Congress to take some positive, bipartisan action and advance this bill.”

The Senate Finance committee introduced a companion bill late Monday. It is expected to pass with backing from both sides of the aisle.

“There’s a lot of pent-up momentum for this, and that’s why it’s so bipartisan in nature,” said Shai Akabas, director of economic policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a think tank. “They’re now getting to the point where there’s momentum to get it across the finish line in both the House and the Senate.”

In the House, Neal said he is also working on a second retirement bill with ranking Republican Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas. He said he hopes the committee will consider that legislation before Congress goes on recess in August.

India’s Cloud market to hit $7 billion by 2022: Nasscom

With increased adoption of futuristic technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), the Cloud market in India is poised to grow three-fold to $7.1 billion by 2022, according to a Nasscom report on Tuesday.

In 2018, Cloud spending stood at approximately 6 per cent of the total IT spending, according to the report prepared in collaboration with Google Cloud and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India LLP.

“India’s Cloud computing market is poised for growth and the technology is increasingly being embraced across businesses as well as consumers,” Debjani Ghosh, President, Nasscom, said in a statement.

Globally, the Cloud spending on IT is growing at 16.5 per cent and is expected to touch $345 billion by 2022, said the report titled “Cloud — Next Wave of Growth in India”.

The report highlights that Cloud spending is propelled by factors such as increased awareness of Cloud, consumerisation of IT, proliferation of start-up ecosystem, diverse landscape of supplier ecosystem, rising investments in infrastructure, talent, strategic partnerships and the impetus from key digital-led government programmes.

Futuristic technologies such as AI and ML are aiding in the seamless adoption of software as a service (SaaS), infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) offerings, giving a boost to the Cloud market.

The report also draws attention to a few challenges to the growth of Cloud market in India such as data security and lack of Internet infrastructure specially in tier-2 and rural markets of the country. (IANS)

Goodbye, special treatment to the rich

The Wyden plan “would transform how the U.S. taxes the wealthiest people,” The Wall Street Journal’s Gabriel Rubin and Richard Rubin writes.
Under current law, investors pay taxes on the increased value of the stocks and bonds they own — known as capital gains — only when they sell them. They also pay a lower tax rate than that on most forms of income. Wyden’s plan would remove both of those advantages.
Investors would have to pay the ordinary income-tax rate on their capital gains. And they would have to do so each year, based on the assets’ value at the time. In accounting terms, this practice of updating the value of an asset is known as “mark to market.”
The “mark-to-market” idea is similar in principle to the reassessment of home values for property-tax calculations. As I’ve noted before, the property tax is an annual tax on the largest asset for most middle-class families. But the very rich don’t face an annual tax on their largest holdings.
Their largest holdings often include stocks. Which means that the lower tax rate on capital gains, combined with the deferral of taxing them, has enormous financial consequences, as Steve Wamhoff, of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, explains on “Wealthy households, who already own the most in assets, can defer paying tax and grow their wealth much more rapidly, while income most of us earn from work is taxed annually,” Wamhoff writes. “This is a massive tax break for the wealthy, and mark-to-market taxation would bring it to an end.”
Lily Batchelder and David Kamin, both N.Y.U. professors and former Obama administration officials, noted that the Wyden plan would also raise significant amounts of revenue for the federal government. That money could be used to reduce the deficit or pay for programs such as preschool or middle-class tax cuts.
Critics of the Wyden idea (as you can see here) claim that revaluing assets each year is too complicated to be feasible and that the plan will harm economic growth. I don’t buy either claim.
On the economic effects: It’s not as if the American economy has been performing well in recent years. As wealth inequality has risen, economic growth has repeatedly missed forecasters’ expectations.
On the complexity: All taxes have some complexity. But it’s certainly feasible for the government to become more aggressive about taxing top incomes and wealth.
I don’t know whether the Wyden plan will ultimately make more sense than Warren’s more sweeping proposal to tax large fortunes each year or the proposals from Harris and Sanders to increase the inheritance tax. But this is the right time for the debate.
The next time the country has a president who’s worried about inequality and middle-class living standards, it will be time to increase taxes on extreme wealth.
The average wealth of the poorer half of American households has dropped below zero in the years since the financial crisis, according to the World Inequality Database. What does that mean? It means that fully half of Americans hold more combined debt than assets.
The average wealth of the richest 1 percent of households, meanwhile, has more than recovered its losses from the crisis. They’re now richer than ever.
This situation isn’t healthy. And the most obvious solution is to change the tax code — specifically, to increase taxes on wealth to undo some of the radical increases in inequality over the last few decades.
Fortunately, some policymakers are starting to come forward with proposals to address the wealth imbalance. The latest is Ron Wyden, the Democratic senator from Oregon. He joins a few presidential candidates — Kamala HarrisBernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — who have also proposed higher taxes on wealth.

Assessments of 2017 tax law more negative than positive in many demographic groups

Across many demographic groups, assessments of the 2017 tax law are more negative than positive overall. And partisan differences in the law, which were evident in January 2018 shortly after it was enacted, are about as wide today as they were then.

Democrats, regardless of ideology, overwhelmingly disapprove of the tax law, while there are wider ideological differences among Republicans.

Overall, 71% of Republicans and Republican leaners approve of the law. Conservative Republicans are more likely than moderate and liberal Republicans to approve of the tax law (80%, compared with 55%).

By contrast, sizable majorities of both liberal (80%) and conservative and moderate (77%) Democrats and Democratic leaners say they disapprove of the law.

Adults 65 and older are divided in their views of the tax law: 43% approve, while 41% disapprove. Among younger age cohorts, more disapprove than approve of the law.

While views of the tax law are more negative than positive across all educational groups, those with postgraduate degrees are more likely than others to say they disapprove of the law (60% say this, compared to 48% of those with less education).

Among whites, views of the tax law are significantly different between those with and without a college degree. About half of whites with a college degree or more (51%) disapprove of the law, while 37% approve. Among whites without a college degree, the balance of opinion is roughly the reverse: 47% approve; 32% disapprove.

Views of economic fairness

Most Americans (63%) say the economic system in the United States unfairly favors powerful interests; only about a third (34%) say it is generally fair to most Americans. The share saying the economic system is unfair has remained largely stable since 2014.

Republicans’ and Democrats’ attitudes about the fairness of the economic system have been moving in opposite directions over the past few years. In 2014, there was a 20 percentage-point gap between the shares of Republicans (51%) and Democrats (71%) who said the economy unfairly favors powerful interests; that gap is now 41 points (40% of Republicans vs. 81% of Democrats). While about eight-in-ten Democrats and Democratic leaners say the economic system is unfair, a majority of Republicans and Republican leaners (56%) now say the economic system is generally fair to most Americans.

The public continues to say that “business corporations make too much profit.” Today, 56% of the public says corporations make too much profit; 39% say “most corporation make a fair and reasonable amount of profit.” These views have held largely steady since 1994.

Nearly three-quarters of Democrats and Democratic leaners (72%) say corporations make too much profit, while about a quarter (24%) say corporate profits are reasonable. Conversely, 56% of Republicans and Republican leaners say most businesses’ profits are fair and reasonable, while 38% say businesses are profiting too much.

U.K. Rejects Brexit Deal for 3rd Time, Leaving the Plan for Exiting the E.U. in Tatters

U.K. lawmakers on Friday rejected the government’s divorce agreement with the European Union for a third time, leaving Britain just two weeks to decide between a long delay to Brexit and an abrupt no-deal departure from the bloc.

The House of Commons voted 286-344 against the withdrawal agreement struck between Prime Minister Theresa May and the EU, rebuffing her plea to “put aside self and party” and “accept the responsibility given to us by the British people” to deliver Brexit.

Amid business warnings that a no-deal Brexit could mean crippling tariffs, border gridlock and shortages of goods, a visibly frustrated May said the vote had “grave” implications. “The legal default now is that the United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union on 12 April — in just 14 days’ time,” she said. “This is not enough time to agree, legislate for and ratify a deal, and yet the House has been clear it will not permit leaving without a deal. And so we will have to agree an alternative way forward.”

Had the deal been passed, Britain would have left the EU on May 22. The EU said the rejection of the divorce terms made a no-deal Brexit “a likely scenario” and called an emergency summit for April 10 to decide what to do next.

An EU Commission official said the 27 remaining EU nations were “fully prepared for a no-deal scenario at midnight 12th of April” — Britain’s deadline to chart a new course. Almost three years after Britain voted in June 2016 to leave the EU, and two years after it set its departure date for March 29, 2019, British politicians remain deadlocked over Brexit. Like the country as a whole, they are split between those who want a clean break, those who want to retain close ties with the bloc, and those who want to overturn the decision to leave.

Last week, to prevent Britain from crashing out, granted an extension to May 22 had the divorce deal been approved by Friday — or to April 12 if rejected.

The 58-vote margin of defeat for the deal Friday was narrower than in previous votes in January and March, but it still leaves the government’s blueprint for exiting the bloc in tatters.

May’s deal was voted down even after the prime minister sacrificed her job in exchange for Brexit, promising to quit if lawmakers approved the agreement and let Britain leave the EU on schedule. With the deal’s rejection, she will face pressure to step aside and let a new Conservative leader take over negotiations with the EU.

The government had also warned pro-Brexit politicians that rejecting May’s deal could see Brexit delayed indefinitely.

May’s arguments moved some previously resistant Brexit-backers to support the deal. Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson — a likely contender to replace May as Conservative Party leader — tweeted that rejecting it risked “being forced to accept an even worse version of Brexit or losing Brexit altogether.”

But the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland, with 10 seats in the House of Commons, refused to back the agreement because it treats Northern Ireland differently from the rest of the U.K.

Parliament voted on the legally binding, 585-page withdrawal agreement that May struck with the EU late last year, setting out the terms of Britain’s departure — but not on a shorter declaration on future ties that was also part of the accord between the two sides.

Infosys arm to buy 75% stake in Dutch bank subsidiary

Global software major Infosys on Thursday said its consulting arm would buy 75 per cent equity stake in Starter N.V., a subsidiary of the Dutch-based ABN AMRO Bank for Rs 999 crore ($144 million) in cash for strategic partnership in The Netherlands.

“Our subsidiary Infosys Consulting Pte Ltd will acquire 75 per cent of the shareholding in Stater N.V., a subsidiary of ABN AMRO Bank N.V., for Euro 127.5 million (Rs 999 crore or $144 million),” said the city-based IT firm in a statement here.

The Amsterdam headquartered third largest Dutch bank ABN will hold the remaining 25 per cent of the shareholding in Stater. As a market leader in the Benelux region, Stater operates in the mortgage and consumer value chain with capabilities in digital origination, servicing and collection.

“Infosys will drive Stater’s digital transformation roadmap with accelerators such as dynamic workflow, Application Programming Interface (API) layers, Robotics Process Automation (RPI) and analytics under its management team,” said the outsourcing firm in the statement.

The partnership also strengthens Infosys’ position as a leading technology and business process management provider in the mortgage services value chain, improves experience and operational efficiencies and enhances its strategy to help clients navigate their digital transformation journeys.

Stater is a market leader in the Benelux region, operating across the mortgage and consumer lending value chain with deep capabilities in digital origination, servicing and collection. It also has European mortgage expertise and a robust digital platform to drive superior customer experience.

Mortgage services is a focus area for large corporations in the financial sector, given the importance of the asset on a bank’s balance sheet. “The transaction helps our approach to offer clients digital platforms and industry focused solutions. It also brings our capabilities to enhance the value we offer to our financial services clients,” said Infosys President Mohali Joshi on the occasion.

The 22-year-old Stater’s knowledge and experience in the mortgage services market, combined with global reach, AI, digital transformation and automation capabilities of Infosys, can create differentiated solutions for the market.

“While mortgages are a key product for us, providing administrative mortgage services is not a core activity for us,” said ABN executive board member Christian Bornfeld in the joint statement.

As the Benulux (Belgium, Netherlands and Luxumbourgh) largest mortgage service provider, Stater services a whopping 17 lakh mortgage and insurance loans for 50 clients in the Netherlands and Belgium. (IANS)

Prof. S.P. Kothari chief economist and director of the Division of Economic and Risk Analysis at SEC

The MIT Sloan School of Management recently announced that S.P. Kothari, the Gordon Y. Billard Professor of Management and former deputy dean, was appointed chief economist and director of the Division of Economic and Risk Analysis (DERA) at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

“S.P.’s contributions to our community are too numerous to count. I am grateful for his partnership during his tenure as deputy dean and as a leader amongst our faculty. We will miss him during his leave of absence, but we congratulate him and wish him well on this new endeavor,” says MIT Sloan Dean David Schmittlein.

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton notes, “S.P. brings with him wide-reaching insight from his decades spent as a leader in applying sophisticated research to the operation of our financial markets, including first-hand experience from his time in the private sector. His leadership will guide DERA well in the research and analysis it provides in support of the Commission’s work on behalf of Main Street investors.”

Kothari says, “I am honored to join the SEC’s team of dedicated economists, whose work is well-known and respected throughout the discipline. I look forward to working with the staff and the Commission to explore the important economic issues affecting investors and our markets.”

Related article:

On Chai With Manju, World Hindu Congress Chair and MIT Professor S.P. Kothari Talks…

During his two decades at MIT Sloan, Kothari has been both a professor and administrator. Most recently, he served for six years as deputy dean. Previously, he was head of the Department of Economics, Finance, and Accounting.

He also has been co-chair of the Board of Governors of Asia School of Business, Kuala Lumpur, faculty director of the MIT-India Program, and editor of the academic publication Journal of Accounting & Economics.

From 2008-2009, Kothari served as global head of equity research for Barclays Global Investors, where he was responsible for research supporting the firm’s active equity strategies. In addition, he managed a team of approximately 50 PhDs based around the world.

Kothari earned his B.S in Engineering from the Birla Institute of Technology and Science and his MBA from the India Institute of Management. He completed his PhD from the University of Iowa.

India’s rupee just went from Asia’s worst to best currency

The turnaround has been fuelled by the improved chances of Prime Minister Narendra Modi winning a second term amid recent tensions between India and Pakistan. Asia’s worst-performing currency took five weeks to become its best.

The turnaround has been fueled by the improved chances of Prime Minister Narendra Modi winning a second term amid recent tensions between India and Pakistan. The optimism has led to local shares and debt luring robust flows, which have turned the carry-trade returns on the rupee to the highest in the world in the past month.

“The high-yielding rupee will likely advance further if Modi wins a second term,” said Gao Qi, a currency strategist at Scotiabank in Singapore, who expects the currency to rally to 67 per dollar by June-end. A dovish tilt by major central banks in the face of a faltering global expansion could also prompt foreigners to chase higher yields in emerging Asia, he said.

Here’s a graphical look at the state of play in India’s currency market:Foreigners bought a net $3.3 billion of shares through March 18, accounting for more than half the $5.6 billion of inflows year-to-date, and raised holdings of bonds by $1.4 billion this month. The gush of dollars sent the rupee to its highest level since August, prompting profit-booking that saw the currency posting its first drop in seven sessions on Tuesday.

Borrowing in dollars to purchase rupee assets has earned 3.8 percent over the past one month, the best carry-trade return in the world, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Two opinion polls showed Modi’s ruling coalition may get close to the 272 seats needed for majority in elections that begin on April 11. Results are due on May 23.

“The market is pricing in a Modi victory as there are no other factors that explain the sudden change of mood,” said Anindya Banerjee, an analyst at Kotak Securities Ltd. in Mumbai. “On top of that, carry traders are eager to be long rupee and short other low-yielding currencies, including the dollar. It is a get-set-go for the rupee.”

The rupee optimism is also reflected in the derivatives market, where one-month options conferring the right to sell the rupee now cost 19 basis points more than those to buy. That’s down from 148 on Sept. 5, which was the highest since November 2016.

“Global conditions — dovish Fed and ECB — have turned more supportive and domestically, increased confidence in the BJP’s prospects and a recovery in portfolio flows have been the key driver” for the rupee, said Dushyant Padmanabhan, a currency strategist at Nomura Holdings Inc. in Singapore.

The rupee’s three-month implied volatility, a gauge of expected swings used to price options, fell to 5.87 percent on Friday, the lowest reading since August.

“We expect the rupee to remain resilient in the near term, as bunched up foreign inflows limit any pressure from weakening EMFX sentiment,” Barclays Plc strategist Ashish Agrawal, wrote in a note. “A potential BJP-led coalition victory would bode well for the INR for the rest of this year.”

Hong Kong to build $79 billion artificial island

The artificial island — the city’s most expensive infrastructure project to date — would be four times the cost of building Hong Kong International Airport, which opened on Lantau in 1998, and far outstrip Dubai’s famous palm-tree shaped Palm Jumeirah, which reportedly cost $12 billion to build.

Hong Kong plans to build one of the world’s largest artificial islands with an eye-watering $79 billion price tag, city officials announced Tuesday.

The government’s HK$624 billion proposal to reclaim 1,000 hectares (2,471 acres) of land around the territory’s largest island, Lantau, has been touted as a solution to the pressing housing shortage in the city, which is notorious as one of the least affordable markets on the planet.

Authorities said they hope to start work on reclaiming land in 2025, with an eye on allowing residents to move to the island in 2032.

The artificial island — the city’s most expensive infrastructure project to date — would be four times the cost of building Hong Kong International Airport, which opened on Lantau in 1998, and far outstrip Dubai’s famous palm-tree shaped Palm Jumeirah, which reportedly cost $12 billion to build.

The man-made island would be nearly three times the size of New York’s Central Park and provide up to 260,000 flats, more than 70 percent of which would be used for public housing, the government has said.

But critics say the vast reclamation project is too costly and could damage the environment, especially marine life, with many also expressing frustration over the lack of a public say in the plans.

“When all aspects of Hong Kong’s public services and facilities are on the brink of collapse, will the (Lantau project) — as the government’s panacea — solve problems or create a bigger crisis?” pro-democracy lawmaker Eddie Chu said on his Facebook page.

He estimated the cost of the project could balloon to more than $112 billion by 2025, when reclamation work is expected to start.

Authorities are also planning to build another 700-hectare artificial island around Lantau, but have not released any further details about that project or its cost.

Lantau island is also home to a new mega bridge launched last year — billed as the world’s longest sea bridge — connecting Hong Kong to neighbouring Macau and mainland China at a time when Beijing is seeking to tighten its grip on its semi-autonomous territories.

Thousands of people have taken to the streets to protest the plans for the artificial island. Campaigners have also warned that the dwindling number of much-loved pink dolphins in waters surrounding Lantau may disappear altogether due to large-scale infrastructure projects.

Looking to the Future, Public Sees an America in Decline on Many Fronts

Majorities predict a weaker economy, a growing income divide, a degraded environment and a broken political system


When Americans peer 30 years into the future, they see a country in decline economically, politically and on the world stage. While a narrow majority of the public (56%) say they are at least somewhat optimistic about America’s future, hope gives way to doubt when the focus turns to specific issues.

A new Pew Research Center survey focused on what Americans think the United States will be like in 2050 finds that majorities of Americans foresee a country with a burgeoning national debt, a wider gap between the rich and the poor and a workforce threatened by automation.

Majorities predict that the economy will be weaker, health care will be less affordable, the condition of the environment will be worse and older Americans will have a harder time making ends meet than they do now. Also predicted: a terrorist attack as bad as or worse than 9/11 sometime over the next 30 years.

These grim predictions mirror, in part, the public’s sour mood about the current stateof the country. The share of Americans who are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the country – seven-in-ten in January of 2019 – is higher now than at any time in the past year.

The view of the U.S. in 2050 that the public sees in its crystal ball includes major changes in the country’s political leadership. Nearly nine-in-ten predict that a woman will be elected president, and roughly two-thirds (65%) say the same about a Hispanic person. And, on a decidedly optimistic note, more than half expect a cure for Alzheimer’s disease by 2050.

The public also has a somewhat more positive view – or at least a more benign one – of some current demographic trends that will shape the country’s future. The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that, by 2050, blacks, Hispanics, Asians and other minorities will constitute a majority of the population. About four-in-ten Americans (42%) say this shift will be neither good nor bad for the country while 35% believe a majority-minority population will be a good thing, and 23% say it will be bad.

These views differ significantly by race and ethnicity. Whites are about twice as likely as blacks or Hispanics to view this change negatively (28% of whites vs. 13% of blacks and 12% of Hispanics). And, when asked about the consequences of an increasingly diverse America, nearly half of whites (46%) but only a quarter of Hispanics and 18% of blacks say a majority-minority country would weaken American customs and values.

The public views another projected change in the demographic contours of America more ominously. By 2050, people ages 65 and older are predicted to outnumber those younger than 18, a change that a 56% majority of all adults say will be bad for the country.

In the face of these problems and threats, the majority of Americans have little confidence that the federal government and their elected officials are up to meeting the major challenges that lie ahead. More than eight-in-ten say they are worried about the way the government in Washington works, including 49% who are very worried. A similar share worries about the ability of political leaders to solve the nation’s biggest problems, with 48% saying they are very worried about this. And, when asked what impact the federal government will have on finding solutions to the country’s future problems, more say Washington will have a negative impact than a positive one (55% vs. 44%).

Instead, large majorities of Americans look to science and technology as well as to the education system to solve future problems: 87% say science and technology will have a very or somewhat positive impact in solving the nation’s problems, and roughly three-quarters say the same about public K-12 schools (77%) and colleges and universities (74%). Even so, roughly three-quarters (77%) worry about the ability of public schools to provide a quality education to tomorrow’s students, and more expect the quality of these schools to get worse, not better, by 2050. And only about a third (34%) of the country rates increased spending on scientific research as a top policy priority.

Underlying many of these and other findings are deep divisions along the traditional fault lines of American life, including race, age and education. However, among the more striking differences found in this survey are those between Republicans and Democrats. Taken together, the size and frequency of these differences underscore the extent to which partisan polarization underpins not just the current political climate but views of the future as well.

Across a range of issues, the difference between partisans is not merely apparent, but conspicuously large. Despite shared concern about the future quality of the nation’s public schools, about two-thirds of Democrats and those who lean Democratic (66%), but only 36% of Republicans and Republican leaners, rate increased spending on education as a top federal government priority. About six-in-ten Democrats (58%) but only 19% of Republicans say the news media will have a positive impact on solving the country’s future problems. About four-in-ten Democrats (42%) say a majority-nonwhite population will strengthen American customs and values, a view expressed by only 13% of Republicans. Similarly, about six-in-ten Democrats (61%) but just a third of Republicans consider the growth of interracial marriage to be a good thing for society. Partisan gaps on future priorities reflect similar gaps in current policy priorities. Recent research has shown that Republicans and Democrats have moved farther apart in recent decades in their views on what the top priorities for Congress and the president should be.

Partisan differences are particularly large on issues related to the environment. About six-in-ten Democrats (61%) but only 15% of Republicans say they are very worried about climate change. An even larger share of Democrats (70%) predict the condition of the environment will get worse in the next 30 years, while 43% of Republicans agree.

Even their top priorities for the future are, in many instances, strikingly different. Among all adults, health care and increased spending on education topped the list of policies that the public believes the federal government should enact to improve the quality of life for future generations. Yet the top-three Republican priorities – reducing the number of undocumented immigrants, cutting the national debt and avoiding tax increases – don’t even appear among the Democrats’ highest five priorities.

Conversely, three of the five Democratic priorities – dealing with climate change, reducing the gap between rich and poor, and increasing spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid – are absent from the GOP’s top-five list. Providing high-quality health care and increasing spending on education are top priorities for each party, though larger shares of Democrats than Republicans rank these issues as top priorities.

It is perhaps fitting that, while the two parties hold similar views on a number of issues, one area of agreement stands out: Majorities of both parties agree that the country will be more politically divided in 2050 than it is today.

The nationally representative survey of 2,524 adults was conducted online Dec. 11-23, 2018, using Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel.1 Among the other key findings:

Majorities of Americans predict a tougher time financially for older adults in 2050

About seven-in-ten Americans (72%) expect older adults will be less prepared financially for retirement in 2050 than they are today. An even larger share (83%) predict that most people will have to work into their 70s in order to afford to retire. And the public’s forecast for the future of the Social Security system is decidedly grim.

mong those who are not yet retired, 42% expect to receive no Social Security benefits when they leave the workforce, and another 42% anticipate that benefits will be reduced from what they are today.

Adults younger than 50 are particularly doubtful that Social Security will be there when they leave the workforce: 48% expect to receive no Social Security benefits when they retire. By contrast, 28% of those who are 50 or older are similarly pessimistic. But even among this older group, only about a quarter (23%) expect to receive Social Security benefits at current levels. These findings reflect a long-standing skepticism – particularly among young adults – about the long-term solvency of the Social Security system.

Even as they doubt the long-term financial viability of the Social Security system, most Americans reject reducing benefits. Only a quarter believe that some reductions in benefits for future retirees will need to be made to shore up the system’s finances, while about three times as many say benefits should not be reduced in any way.

Few Americans predict a better standard of living for families in 2050

More than four-in-ten Americans (44%) predict that the average family’s standard of living will get worse rather than better over the next 30 years. That’s roughly double the share (20%) who expect families to fare better financially in the future than they do today; 35% predict no real change.

When it comes to prospects for children, half of the public says children will have a worse standard of living in 30 years than they do today, while 42% predict that they will be better off. Men are more likely than women to say children’s standard of living will be higher in 30 years than it is today (47% vs. 36%), while those who do not have children in the home are somewhat more pessimistic about this than those who do (52% vs. 44% say children will have a worse standard of living).

Large majority says health care for all would benefit future generations

When asked what the federal government should do to improve the quality of life for future generations, providing high-quality, affordable health care to all Americans stands out as the most popular policy prescription. Roughly two-thirds (68%) say this should be a top priority for government in the future.

Increased spending on education is somewhat less popular; 54% say more money for schools should be a top federal government priority in order to improve life for future generations. Slightly fewer say the same about reducing the national debt or dealing with climate change (49% and 48%, respectively, say each should be a top priority). A larger share of Republicans than Democrats prioritize cutting the debt, while just the opposite is true for climate change.

Increasing spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid is viewed as a top priority by 47% of adults, and reducing the gap between rich and poor is seen as such by 44%. Falling further down the list are avoiding tax increases, reducing the number of undocumented immigrants coming into the U.S., increasing spending on infrastructure and more money for scientific research.

Minorities are more optimistic than whites about the country’s future

Overall, 56% of all adults say they are either very optimistic (12%) or somewhat optimistic (44%) about the U.S. in 2050. But more than four-in-ten (44%) see the country’s future more darkly, including 13% who say they are very pessimistic and 31% who are somewhat pessimistic about America in 30 years.

Black and Hispanic adults are among the most optimistic about the country’s future. Seven-in-ten blacks and two-thirds of Hispanics feel hopeful about America’s future. In contrast, about half of all whites (51%) are as confident. High school graduates and those with less education also are somewhat more positive about the country’s prospects than are college graduates (60% vs. 53%).

Unlike the wide partisan differences seen elsewhere in this survey, Democrats and Republicans are about equally optimistic when it comes to these broad predictions about America’s future.

The racial pattern switches when Americans are asked about the future of race relations over the next 30 years. Slightly more than half of all whites (54%) but 43% of blacks and 45% of Hispanics say relations will get better. Overall, the country is divided on the future of race relations: About half (51%) say they will improve, while 40% predict they will get worse.

Most Americans worry about the country’s moral values; half say religion will become less important

Roughly four-in-ten Americans (43%) say they are very worried about the nation’s morals, while another 34% are fairly worried. For Republicans, the country’s moral health is a major concern: Roughly half (49%) say, when they think about the country’s future, they are very worried about the moral values of Americans. Only about a third of Democrats (36%) are equally worried. Women are more concerned about the country’s morals than men (46% vs. 38%), while older Americans are more worried than those younger than 50 (49% vs. 37%).

The public is divided over whether religion will become less important over the next 30 years than it is now. Half say religion will lose importance, while 42% say it will remain unchanged (respondents were not given the option of saying religion will be more important).

A majority of whites (56%) but only a third of blacks and four-in-ten Hispanics say the importance of religion will decline over the next 30 years. Adults with more formal education are more likely to see religion in eclipse than those with less: 54% of all college graduates but 43% of those with a high school degree or less education predict the declining importance of religion.

Among religious groups, roughly equal shares of white evangelicals (52%), white mainline Protestants (51%) and white Catholics (54%) say religion will be less important in the future – a view held by a similar share (59%) of those who are atheist, agnostic or nothing in particular.

Older adults, those with less education more negative about the impact of automationWhile only 37% of all currently employed Americans personally see automation as a direct threat to their current occupation, less well-educated workers are likelier than those with more formal schooling to say the type of work they do will be done by robots or computers in the future. About half (47%) of those with a high school diploma or less education say this change will occur compared with 38% of those with some college experience and 27% of those with a bachelor’s or advanced degree.

Most Americans agree that the workplaces of the future will be heavily automated. About eight-in-ten (82%) predict that robots and computers will do much of the work currently done by humans – a possibility that many adults with less education view with suspicion, if not outright dread. Among those who say robots and computers will do much of the work currently done by humans, about eight-in-ten of those with a high school diploma or less education say this would be a bad thing for the country (39% say it would be very bad; 39% say it would be somewhat bad). Those with a bachelor’s degree or more education are less fearful: Roughly six-in-ten say an automated workplace would be very (13%) or somewhat bad (45%).

Regardless of educational background, most Americans predict that automation in the workplace will increase inequality between the rich and the poor and will not result in new, better-paying jobs.

Who will pay – and who should pay – for long-term eldercare in the future?

A slim majority of Americans (55%) say that government should be mostly responsible for paying for long-term care for older adults who need assistance in the future. But when asked who will be responsible for paying for this care in the future, only about half that share (28%) say the financial burden will fall on the government. Instead, about seven-in-ten predict that family members (35%) or older adults themselves (36%) will bear these costs.

Similar shares of most key demographic groups agree about who will pay the bills for long-term care in the future. But these groups often differ about who should be primarily responsible for the costs of this care. Two-thirds of blacks and Hispanics (67%) say government should be mostly responsible for paying for long-term care for older adults, while about half of whites (51%) agree. Similarly, two-thirds of adults ages 50 to 64 say government should be mostly responsible for this care compared with about half of all other age groups, including those 65 and older. In addition, two-thirds of Americans with family incomes under $30,000 look to government to cover the cost, compared with about half of those with higher incomes.

Democrats see a bigger role than Republicans for the government in paying for long-term elder care (66% vs. 40%). On the other hand, Republicans are about twice as likely as Democrats to believe older adults themselves should be primarily responsible for paying for their care (40% vs. 21%). Relatively few Democrats (11%) or Republicans (18%) say the responsibility should fall mainly to family members.

Predictions about the future of marriage, divorce and childbearing differ by race

Overall, about half of adults (53%) say that, by 2050, people will be less likely to get married than they are today. Very few (7%) predict that people will be more likely to marry in the future, and 39% say things will stay about the same. Whites and Hispanics are much more likely than blacks to predict lower marriage rates in the future – 56% of whites and 53% of Hispanics say people will be less likely to marry compared with 34% of blacks. Blacks are the only group in which a majority say marriage rates will stay the same or increase. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, blacks are significantly less likely than whites or Hispanics to be married. Among those ages 18 and older, 31% of blacks were married in 2017 compared with 46% of Hispanics and 54% of whites.2

Predictions about the future of divorce reveal a somewhat different pattern. More than six-in-ten whites (64%) but half of blacks and 42% of Hispanics expect people will be about as likely to get divorced in 2050 as they are today. In this regard, Hispanics are more pessimistic than whites about the future state of marriage: 37% predict that people will be more likely to divorce in the future, compared with 27% of whites and 30% of blacks.

More than four-in-ten Americans (46%) expect that, by 2050, people will be less likely to have children than they are now. A similar share (43%) think people will be about as likely to have children, while just one-in-ten expect people to be more likely to have children in the future. Young adults are more likely than older Americans to say this is the case. Even so, only 18% of those ages 18 to 29 say they expect that people in 2050 will be more likely to have children, compared with 9% of adults 30 to 49 and 7% of those ages 50 and older.

Jay Chaudhry joins world’s richest club

Jay Chaudhry, the founder of Zscaler Inc. is now part of a growing wave of billionaires who have built cybersecurity businesses. Chaudhry, 60, and his family benefit from stakes in the San Jose-based firm worth almost $3 billion. He along with six other cybersecurity software tycoons to emerge with 10-figure fortunes in the past year are worth about $9.5 billion combined, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, and together represent the latest wealth surge among the founders of internet-focused firms.

“I do look sometimes back and say, ‘Whoa,’” Chaudhry said in a telephone interview last month. “My success so far has mainly been because I have very little attachment for money. My obsession is really to make sure that the internet and cloud are a safe place for everyone to do business.”

Decades before he joined the ranks of Silicon Valley’s super rich, Jay Chaudhry lived with his parents in a Himalayan village without running water.

Fueled by the rapid rise of cloud-based computing, companies are increasingly tethering more and more of their business to online networks. While this allows them to gather unprecedented levels of operational information, it also exposes their firms to more cyber threats.

Data protection laws and high-profile cyberattacks — such as the world’s biggest airline data hack last year — are equally forcing companies to reconsider their internet defenses. At the same time, Western governments have expressed concern that China’s intelligence services are snooping on foreign citizens through products sold by telecom giant Huawei Technologies Co.

“The world runs on large-scale networks and data systems that are inherently complex and highly connected,” said Awais Rashid, professor of cybersecurity at the University of Bristol in England. “If we can’t protect them or be confident in their integrity, it leads to serious problems for society at large.”

The growth of cloud-focused cyber firms including Zscaler, Fortinet and Palo Alto Networks poses a threat to the market share of more established network software providers such as Cisco Systems and Juniper Networks. Fortinet’s two main individual shareholders — China-born brothers Ken and Michael Xie — have emerged as billionaires this year in the wake of the Silicon Valley firm’s shares surging more than 20 percent since January.

Yet even with this increased competition, some of the oldest cybersecurity firms have kept growing. Closely held ESET counts three billionaires — Miroslav Trnka, Peter Pasko and Rudolf Hruby — among the six co-founders that own all of the 27-year-old, Slovakia-based company. ESET has seen about 20 percent a year growth in revenue since 2014, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, and has become one of central Europe’s fastest-growing tech firms.

Trnka, 57, and Pasko, 63, started programming during the Cold War and helped resolve one of the world’s first computer viruses, which affected a Slovak nuclear power plant, according to a case study from Vienna University of Economics and Business. Hruby, 64, Chairman Pasko and former Chief Executive Officer Trnka each own about 22 percent of ESET, according to Orbis, a database of company data published by Bureau van Dijk. Their stakes are worth about $1 billion each, according to the Bloomberg index, putting ESET’s wealth creation in a similar league to U.S. tech titans Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc.

“We’ve traveled quite a road from then until now,” Trnka said in a emailed statement, referring to his early days in the cybersecurity business. “I definitely do not feel like a billionaire.”

Pasko said he agreed with Trnka’s statement, but declined further comment. Hruby declined to comment. While ESET has extolled the benefits of remaining a closely held company, Chaudhry’s Zscaler made a splash on New York’s Nasdaq exchange in March when its shares popped 106 percent on the first day of trading. The stock has since climbed more than 50 percent, putting its market value at about $6 billion — more than Bloomberg’s calculated enterprise value for ESET.

Zscaler shares climbed 18 percent to $58.60 at 10:01 a.m. in New York after the firm reported second-quarter revenue of $74.3 million. That was a 65 percent increase from a year earlier and beat analysts’ estimates.

Chaudhry, who has masters degrees in business administration, industrial engineering and computer science from the University of Cincinnati and also studied at Harvard Business School, founded Zscaler more than a decade ago after setting up and selling four other cyber start ups.

Even with a billion-dollar fortune, Chaudhry says his life hasn’t changed significantly. He still visits the Himalayan village where he grew up every few years, and said rather than passing on wealth, his priority is to pass along the work ethic his farming parents instilled in him. “For me, happiness is a state of mind,” he said. “And money has very little do with it.”

Asia leads the world when it comes to minting billionaires

The number of Asian billionaires will rise by 27 percent to 1,003 between 2018 and 2023, making up more than a third of the world’s total billionaire population of 2,696, according to a report released Wednesday by Knight Frank LLP.

Asia will see the fastest billionaire population growth in the world over the next four years, despite economic uncertainties in the region triggered by the China-US trade war.

The number of Asian billionaires will rise by 27 percent to 1,003 between 2018 and 2023, making up more than a third of the world’s total billionaire population of 2,696, according to a report released Wednesday by Knight Frank LLP. The billionaire population growth rates for North America and Europe are 17 percent and 18 percent respectively.

Asia will also see the biggest increase in ultra-high net worth individuals (people with net assets of $30 million or more). India leads the world with an expected 39 percent surge, followed by the Philippines and China.

But while the rich may be getting richer, they’re also becoming more cautious. An increasing number of individuals in Asia plan to keep more of their wealth in cash and less in assets exposed to market cycles such as gold or bonds. Property remains a mainstay of their portfolios, the Knight Frank report found: real estate comprises around 23 percent, slightly higher than the global average. “We are seeing a re-balancing of portfolios away from equities toward more defensive asset classes,” said Nicholas Holt, Knight Frank Asia Pacific’s head of research. “While cash, gold and private equity are likely to be increasingly targeted, investment-grade property with strong tenant covenants will also see significant interest over the next 12 months.”

Investors in the Philippines were most likely to put more money into real estate, the survey found, while 40 percent of respondents in Australia, in the midst of a property-market downturn, expected allocations to real estate to decrease over the coming 12 months.

10 Years of the Bull Market Run

The financial system had nearly collapsed. The deepest recession in decades was devouring over 700,000 jobs a month. Roughly $13 trillion in stock market wealth, slowly rebuilt since the dot-com bust, had again been incinerated.  It was March 2009. And it was one of the best times in a generation to buy stocks.

On March 9, 2009, the day the bull market was born, the stock market, like the economy, was in deep, seemingly existential distress. The S&P 500 was down 57 percent from its 2007 peak.  Compounding the pain was the nationwide collapse in home prices, which landed a direct hit on most households’ greatest source of wealth.

The one-two punch destroyed the finances of millions of families. Between 2007 and 2010, the median wealth of a household in the United States dropped 44 percent, knocked below 1969 levels.

Every crash has a bottom, though, and in March 2009, the Federal Reserve announced that it would spend $1 trillion in newly created dollars on government and mortgage bonds to push interest rates lower. It was the dawn of “quantitative easing” — and, it would turn out, a new bull market. The S&P 500 rose 8.5 percent that month, its best monthly performance in more than six years.

A decade later, the bull market that began back then ranks among the great rallies in stock-market history. The 305 percent surge in the S&P 500 is the index’s second-best run ever.

According to The New York Times, the rise has generated more than $30 trillion in wealth. Adjusted for inflation, that is the most created during any bull run on record, edging out the $25 trillion in gains during the epic streak from December 1987 to March 2000, which ended with the bursting of the dot-com bubble, according to Federal Reserve data.

But compared with Americans’ attitudes during that earlier climb, reactions to the latest rally are downright subdued. There has been no frenzy for stock trading. Nobody is quitting an accounting, advertising, or waitressing job to concentrate on day trading.

The psychological and financial damage inflicted by the 2008 financial crisis and the ensuing Great Recession continue to weigh heavily. Fewer people are invested in stocks than before that meltdown, and many of them are wary of taking their gains for granted. That caution could last for decades.

“This was probably the most disliked or most suspected rally that we’ve ever had in the stock market,” said Charles Geisst, a professor at Manhattan College who has studied the history of financial markets.

In 2007, the wealthiest 10 percent of American families owned 81 percent of the nation’s household stock market wealth, according Ed Wolff, a professor of economics at New York University who studies the distribution of wealth in the United States. By 2016, they owned 84 percent, he said.

The recovery in the stock market made those families even richer, increasing their net worth by double-digit percentages. Median American family wealth, meanwhile, dropped 34 percent.

In the past, such episodes of wealth destruction cast long shadows. For much of the 20th century, the financial habits of the American public were heavily influenced by memories of the Great Depression.

Gallup survey data shows that in the last decade, an average of 38 percent of Americans under the age of 35 have money invested in the stock market. That compares with 52 percent before the crisis.

In 2017, 43 percent of all the money in American stock market funds was in index funds. Back in 2007, only 19 percent of stock market assets were in these passive strategies, a style of investing that acknowledges that, for most people, trying to beat the market through savvy trading is a mug’s game.

Americans also appear to be less willing than in previous booms to let the rise in stock market wealth on paper lead to a surge in spending. Family savings rates have stayed stubbornly high by historical standards.

Mobile Connectivity in Emerging Economies

Publics see mobile phones and social media bringing certain benefits to them and their societies. But these views are paired with widespread concerns about their impact on children

By Laura SilverAaron SmithCourtney JohnsonKyle TaylorJingjing JiangMonica Anderson and Lee Rainie

After more than a decade of studying the spread and impact of digital life in the United States, Pew Research Center has intensified its exploration of the impact of online connectivity among populations in emerging economies – where the prospect of swift and encompassing cultural change propelled by digital devices might be even more dramatic than the effects felt in developed societies.

Surveys conducted in 11 emerging and developing countries across four global regions find that the vast majority of adults in these countries own – or have access to – a mobile phone of some kind.1 And these mobile phones are not simply basic devices with little more than voice and texting capacity: A median of 53% across these nations now have access to a smartphone capable of accessing the internet and running apps.

In concert with this development, social media platforms and messaging apps – most notably, Facebook and WhatsApp – are widely used. Across the surveyed countries, a median of 64% use at least one of seven different social media sites or messaging apps.2 Indeed, smartphones and social media have melded so thoroughly that for many they go hand-in-hand. A median of 91% of smartphone users in these countries also use social media, while a median of 81% of social media users say they own or share a smartphone.

What is a median?

People in these nations say mobile phones have helped them personally in various ways. Among mobile phone users, an 11-country median of 93% say these devices have helped them stay in touch with people who live far away, and a somewhat smaller share (a median of 79%) say they have helped them obtain news and information about important issues. More broadly, majorities of adults in all 11 countries say the internet has had a good impact on education – and majorities in 10 of 11 countries say the same of mobile phones.

Facebook has brought a lot of advantages for our society. However, it has also affected society in a negative way. Just like anything which can be used for both good and bad, social media have brought negatives and positives for people.MAN, 22, PHILIPPINES

At the same time, smaller shares of adults in these nations say mobile phones and social media have been good for society than say these technologies have been good for them personally. And the challenges that digital life can pose for children are a particularly notable source of concern. Some 79% of adults in these countries say people should be very concerned about children being exposed to harmful or immoral content when using mobile phones, and a median of 63% say mobile phones have had a bad influence on children in their country. They also express mixed opinions about the impact of increased connectivity on physical health and morality.

Some of these tensions between the upsides and downsides of digital life span all 11 countries surveyed. At other times, there are nation-specific elements to people’s views about what these technologies have brought to their lives. For instance, more than half of mobile phone users in five of these countries describe their phone as something they couldn’t live without – but users in six countries are more likely to describe it as something they don’t always need.

These are among the major findings from a new Pew Research Center survey conducted among 28,122 adults in 11 countries from Sept. 7 to Dec. 7, 2018. In addition to the survey, the Center conducted focus groups with diverse groups of participants in Kenya, Mexico, the Philippines and Tunisia in March 2018, and their comments are included throughout the report.

How the focus groups were conducted

Majorities say mobile phones and social media have mostly been good for them personally, somewhat less so for society

Asked for their overall assessment of the impact of mobile devices and social media platforms on society and their own lives, people in these nations generally are more affirming than not. But within this broadly positive consensus, there are important nuances.

First, at both a personal and societal level publics are generally more likely to say mobile phones have had a mostly good impact than to say the same of social media. A median of 70% of adults across these 11 countries say mobile phones have been a mostly good thing for society, but that share falls to 57% on the question of the impact of social media. Indeed, a median of 27% think social media have been a mostly bad thing for society.

Second, these publics are more likely to say that both mobile phones and social media have been mostly good for them personally than they are to say they have been mostly good for society. As noted above, an 11-country median of 70% say that mobile phones have been mostly good for society. But an even larger share of 82% say mobile phones have been mostly good for them personally. When it comes to social media, users of these sites are generally more likely to proclaim their benefits than non-users. Even among users, people’s views of their personal impact tend to be more positive than their views of their societal impact.

These broad themes tend to occur across the full scope of the countries surveyed. But Kenyans and Vietnamese stand out somewhat for their more positive views of the societal impact of both mobile phones and social media. Conversely, relatively large shares of Venezuelans view the societal impact of these technologies as a negative one.

Many worry that mobile phones are a problem for children; it is common for parents to attempt to curtail and surveil their child’s screen time

While on balance people in these nations express largely positive judgments about the personal and societal impact of technologies, they also express significant concerns over the effects mobile phones and online connectivity might have on young people. Worries that mobile phones might expose children to immoral or harmful content are a key flashpoint in these fears. A median of 79% of adults in these 11 countries – and majorities in all countries surveyed – say people should be very concerned about this. More broadly, a median of 54% say the increasing use of the internet has had a bad influence on children in their country, and a median of 63% say the same about mobile phones.

Coupled with these concerns, many parents say they try to be vigilant about what their children are doing and seeing on their phones.3 Among parents whose children have mobile phones, a median of 50% say they monitor what their children do on their mobile devices. Parents who are themselves smartphone or social media users are more likely than non-users to monitor their child’s phone in this way. Along with monitoring their children’s activities on their mobile devices, a median of 52% of parents whose children have mobile phones have tried to limit the time their children spend with their phones.

Beyond these concerns about the influence of connectivity on children, people’s views of the broader impact of digital technologies on family life are more positive. For instance, the vast majority of mobile phone users (a median of 93% across the 11 countries) say their phone has helped them stay in touch with people who live far away. And although majorities of Lebanese (70%) and Jordanians (62%) feel that mobile phones have had a bad influence on family cohesion, in most other countries surveyed, more say mobile phones have had a good influence in this regard than a bad one.

Publics are divided over the role mobile phones play in their lives

Overall, mobile phone users tend to associate their mobile phones with feelings of freedom. In every country surveyed, a larger share of mobile phone users describe their phone as something that frees them as opposed to something that ties them down.

When it comes to whether their phones help them save time or make them waste time, the largest share of mobile phone users in seven countries describe their phone as something that helps them save time. Still, larger shares of Jordanians and Filipinos describe their phone as something that makes them waste time. And in Lebanon and Mexico, roughly equal shares see their phone as a time saver and time waster.

Across the 11 countries surveyed, mobile phone users fall into two camps about whether their phone is something they don’t always need or something they couldn’t live without. Kenyans, South Africans, Jordanians, Tunisians and Lebanese who use a mobile phone are more likely to say their phone is something they couldn’t live without. But in the six other countries, larger shares say they don’t always need their phone.

Both phone type and demographic differences are at the core of these assessments about the value of mobile phones in users’ lives. For instance, adults ages 50 and older are more likely than those under 30 to view their phone as a time saver, while younger adults are more likely to view it as a time waster – a relationship that persists in most countries even when accounting for age-related differences in smartphone use. And although mobile phone users tend to see their phone as something that frees them, the prevalence of these attitudes varies by device type. For instance, in most countries, smartphone users are more likely than basic or feature phone users to say their phone is something that ties them down rather than something that frees them.

Have you ever gone one day without a phone? You feel like you’re not in this world. MAN, 32, KENYA

Publics in these countries say mobile phones have a beneficial impact on certain aspects of society, but a more negative influence on others

People’s assessments of the specific societal impacts of mobile phones vary depending on the aspect of society in question. Broadly, people in most countries think mobile phones and the internet have had similar impacts on society – possibly because for many their online access comes through a mobile phone.

In most countries, education stands out as the issue where the largest share of adults say the increasing use of the internet and mobile phones has had a good impact. A median of 67% say this about the impact of mobile phones, and a median of 71% about the internet. Public attitudes regarding the influence of the internet on education have grown more positive since 2014 in six of the countries studied here (Jordan, South Africa, Kenya, Vietnam, Lebanon and Mexico), while falling in Tunisia.

Adults in the 11 nations surveyed also view these technologies as having a largely good influence on the economy: A median of 58% say this of mobile phones and 56% say same about the internet. And in seven of the 10 countries for which trends are available, more people today say the increasing use of the internet has had a good influence on their country’s economy than said the same in 2014.4

But digital connectivity is seen in a less positive light when it comes to other issues. In addition to their widespread worries about the impact on children, publics in these countries also express mixed views about increased connectivity’s impact on health. An 11-country median of 40% say mobile phones have had a bad influence on physical health, and 37% say the same of the internet. Majorities of the public in Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia view these technologies as having a negative influence on health.

Children usually play with gadgets the most and are exposed to radiation and experiencing seizures – that’s what I heard.MAN, 43, PHILIPPINES
Also, instead of playing outside, they are busy with gadgets. […] They are no longer able to socialize with other kids.WOMAN, 21, PHILIPPINES

In addition, a median of 35% say that both mobile phones and the internet have had a bad influence on morality. In four countries for which trend data are available (Kenya, Venezuela, Mexico and Colombia), larger shares of the public say the internet has had a good influence on morality than was true four years ago. But in Jordan and Lebanon, the shares saying this have declined since 2014.

When people consider issues such as the impact of digital tools on local culture, civility, family cohesion and politics, the overall balance of public sentiment leans positive. But notable minorities – ranging from a median of 20% in the case of family cohesion to a median of 29% in the case of politics – say mobile phones have had a negative impact on these facets of society.

Moreover, public opinion across these 11 countries has diverged in recent years when it comes to the internet’s impact on politics. Compared with surveys conducted in 2014, larger shares of Mexicans, South Africans, Venezuelans, Kenyans and Colombians now say increasing use of the internet has had a positive impact on politics. But Tunisians, Lebanese and Jordanians are now less likely to say this compared with 2014.

Despite wide-ranging worries about the problems mobile phones invite, personal benefits are still widely recognized

In addition to their concerns about the impact of mobile phones on children, majorities across the 11 countries surveyed also say people should also be very worried about issues such as identity theft (an 11-country median of 66% say people should be very concerned about this), exposure to false information (64%), mobile phone addiction (62%) and harassment or bullying (59%) when using their mobile phones. Fewer are very concerned about the risk that people might lose the ability to communicate face-to-face due to mobile phone use (48%).

Yet these broader concerns often coexist with perceived benefits to users. For instance, despite widespread concerns that mobile phones might expose people to false or inaccurate information, a sizable majority of mobile phone users (79%) say their own phone has helped their ability to get news and information about important issues. Similarly, a median of 58% of mobile phone users say their devices have helped their ability to communicate face-to-face – even as a median of 48% of adults in these countries say people should be very worried about mobile phones’ effects on face-to-face communication.

Rachel Humphrey is Interim President & CEO of AAHOA

AAHOA appointed Chief Operating Officer Rachel Humphrey to serve as the Interim President and CEO of the largest hotel owners association in the world. Humphrey will continue to execute her duties as COO during the interim period. The move follows an announcement made in December by current President and CEO Chip Rogers that he would step down in late January.

AAHOA Chairman Hitesh (HP) Patel said, “The Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Rachel Humphrey accepted the position of Interim President and CEO. Rachel is well known and respected, both in AAHOA and in the hospitality industry. She joined AAHOA in 2015 as the Vice President of Franchise Relations and quickly rose to become our Chief Operating Officer. Her work with our association dates back to 1999 when she began speaking at our conferences about franchise law and representing AAHOA members for their legal needs. Rachel’s knowledge of AAHOA, our members, and the hospitality industry will serve the association well during this time of transition.”

Following the announcement of Rogers’ planned departure, AAHOA retained management consulting firm Korn Ferry to conduct a comprehensive national search for a new President and CEO, and the process is moving swiftly.

“As AAHOA continues to build on the exceptional growth in membership and revenue, we are optimistic that Rachel will provide the stability and management needed as we choose our next President and CEO,” AAHOA Vice Chairwoman Jagruti Panwala said. “Since joining AAHOA, Rachel strengthened our relationships with franchise and industry partners and helped expand our industry-leading educational offerings. She possesses an excellent understanding of the hotel industry and will provide a steady hand as AAHOA enters a new era.”

Chip Rogers said, “The Board made an excellent choice in asking Rachel to serve as Interim President and CEO. Having worked closely with her for several years, I know AAHOA is in good hands. Rachel knows the association well and understands the issues affecting our industry and our members. She will keep AAHOA moving forward without interruption.”

“I am pleased to work with the officers, the Board, and our exceptional teams in both Atlanta and Washington D.C., to ensure AAHOA remains the most effective advocate for hoteliers in the nation,” Humphrey said. “As we look forward to our 30th anniversary, we strive to promote the association’s continued growth, and I look to maintain the excellent leadership standard that Chip established as we conduct our executive search.”

AAHOA is the largest hotel owners association in the world. The over 18,500 AAHOA members own almost one in every two hotels in the United States. With billions of dollars in property assets and hundreds of thousands of employees, AAHOA members are core economic contributors in virtually every community. AAHOA is a proud defender of free enterprise and the foremost current-day example of realizing the American dream.