German Consumer Confidence To Deteriorate Sharply On Covid-19 Impact

German consumer confidence is set to decline sharply to the lowest in more than a decade in April as the increase in the number of coronavirus infection cases and the accompanying measures made consumers to take cautious approach, survey data from market research group GfK showed Thursday.

The forward-looking consumer confidence index fell to 2.7 from 8.3 in March. The score was forecast to fall moderately to 7.7 from March’s initially estimated value of 9.8.

At 2.7 points, the score reached its lowest level since May 2009. During the financial and economic crisis, the consumer climate index was at 2.6 points.

“In light of the current development, we are withdrawing our consumer forecast of one percent growth for 2020,” Rolf Bürkl, GfK consumer expert said. “Retailers, manufacturers and service providers must prepare for a recession.”

All components of the indicator, namely economic and income expectations and propensity to buy, suffered dramatic losses in March.

The economic expectations index fell by 20.4 points to -19.2, which was the lowest since August 2012.

The largest euro area economy has come to a complete halt after the wide spread of the coronavirus and the associated restrictions. Fear of job losses also increased significantly in a very short period of time.

Consequently, the income expectations indicator plunged 13.4 points to 27.8, its lowest level in exactly seven years.

Likewise, the propensity to buy indicator slid 22.2 points to 31.4 points in March. A lower figure was last recorded in June 2013. The survey was conducted between March 4 and 16.

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V, L or ‘Nike Swoosh’? Economists Debate Shape of Global Recovery

Economists are serving up a menu of alphabet soup in trying to forecast the world economy’s recovery from what is set to be the deepest recession since at least 2009 and perhaps since World War II.

A V-shape in which the rebound is as swift as the slump was the favored trajectory early on, but now more are starting to worry about a U-shape. The most pessimistic are looking at global growth tracing an L or a W — or a more mangled path that bears little resemblance to Roman letters.

“There is a complex relationship between the path of the virus, the effectiveness of virus containment and economic support policies, and the behavior of the private sector,” JPMorgan Chase & Co. economists led by Bruce Kasman said in a report to clients this week. “Consequently, there is enormous uncertainty about the path ahead, bringing to mind the adage ‘forecasting is hard, especially the future.’”

Here’s how the recovery would look under each scenario:

V-Shape

The virus clears up in Europe and the Americas in April or May, allowing social distancing rules to be relaxed. There is an unleashing of pent-up demand aided by the massive fiscal and monetary stimulus that policy makers have already deployed. Factories and services are able to reopen for business smoothly. Government efforts to stop companies from firing workers prove successful and unemployment recedes. Economies return to their pre-crisis levels of output around the start of 2021.

China’s March purchasing managers index data provided the biggest hint yet that such an upbeat scenario remains possible as the world’s second-biggest economy restarts its production engines. Both the official and Caixin factory sentiment gauges lurched into expansion territory even as most all of the rest of Asia fell into deeper contraction.

Analysts including Macquarie Group Ltd.’s Larry Hu, however, note that a lot will have to go right for those kinds of upbeat numbers to sustain themselves in China — especially with prospects for a second-quarter global recession, further spread of the virus, worsening deflation, and domestic property market woes.

U-Shape

The virus lingers into June and social distancing rules take time to be loosened. While there is a release of pent-up demand driven in part by the stimulus of governments and central banks, consumers don’t race back to shops or restaurants. That’s because factories and other workplaces take time to return to full capacity and not every job lost in the crisis is won back. Some need to repay debts they built up during the crisis. Trade also remains sluggish as each trading partner is slow to pick up. The recovery eventually materializes, but not until late 2020 or beyond.

Looking at China’s trajectory and its impact on South Korea and the rest of the region, Chong Hoon Park, head of Korea economic research at Standard Chartered Bank Korea Ltd., favors a ‘U’ over a ‘V.’

“I think the Chinese slowdown is going to drag on,” he said on Bloomberg Television Wednesday. “I’m not that optimistic we’re going to see a V-shaped recovery, with the Chinese recovery unclear.”

L-Shape

The virus runs into the second half of the year, forcing social distancing rules to remain beyond June.

Even if it fades before the summer, there is still a chance the recession will be lengthier than anticipated or the recovery will be stretched out. In this scenario, people continue to cut back on services spending — opting to keep with their home theaters — and resist taking holidays. Debts built up before or during the crisis become hard to pay down, setting off a spiral of default and business bankruptcies that create fears of a credit crunch. Equity markets fail to bounce.

Governments have to deliver more stimulus after their previous efforts failed to spark demand, but that takes time to arrange.

At Nomura Holdings, economists led by Rob Subbaraman say an L-shape would be their worst-case scenario in the U.S. Erik Britton of Fathom Consulting says a prolonged slump will be hard to avoid if Covid-19 returned, meaning the outlook is either a ‘V’ or an ‘L’ with not much in between.

W-Shape

The virus returns. Academics at Imperial College in London have warned that if efforts to control the pandemic are loosened prematurely, the virus could stage a comeback. That would mean the re-imposing of restrictions, reigniting uncertainty and forcing the closing of workplaces and service providers again. The result is a recovery followed by a lurch back into recession.

“The key risk to our baseline V forecast is a potential return of the virus in the third quarter,” said Keith Wade, chief economist at Schroder Investement Management Ltd. “In economic terms this would lead to a double-dip recession with businesses closing again as restrictions on movement are re-imposed.”

Tick-Shape

Also known as the “Nike swoosh,” this scenario allows for businesses and spending to slowly resume as limits are eased more carefully than they were introduced. The level of economic output stays beneath the level of its pre-crisis trend well into 2021 and there’s a lack of animal spirits as people remain cautious of over-spending or taking long-distance trips, especially if they have to deal with debts.

“The sharp downturn will be followed by a slightly flatter upturn that ultimately goes beyond the pre-coronavirus level of GDP,” Holger Schmieding and Kallum Pickering, economists at Berenberg Bank, said in a report. “By and large, we expect GDP to surpass its late-2019 level roughly two years after the trough.”

QuickTake: What to Know About Recessions as World Heads Into One

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Martin Lewis reveals NEED TO KNOW details about coronavirus income support schemes

Money Saving Expert founder Martin Lewis has dissected each of the income support scheme available to employees around the UK as thousands are left unable to work. Government plans of payment rollouts across the board have left thousands of Britons confused and befuddled, from self-employed schemes to zero-hour contracted workers.

His first bit of advice surrounds “new Self-Employed Income Support Scheme” where the Government pays 80 percent of profits up to £2,500/month.

On this, he said: “This pays a non-repayable grant to support some whose profits have been hit by coronavirus.

“You get 80 percent of your average monthly profit over 3 years, up to £2,500/month.

“To qualify your average trading profits must be under £50,000/year.

“Unlike the employee scheme, here you CAN keep working.

“You do not need to prove coronavirus impact – all who qualify get it.

“It’ll be paid by the start of June as a lump sum backdated to March.

“For cash in the meantime, you can also claim universal credit.”

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Those who are on zero-hour contracts and agency work – precarious forms of employment – will also be glad to hear that they are entitled to 80 percent of their salary up to £2,500/month.

Yet, many have been questioning what counts as salary.

Mr Lewis said: “Two weeks ago, the Government announced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which means employers can choose to put any staff who were on their payroll on 28 Feb on ‘furlough’ (standby), and the Govt will cover 80 percent of their salary up to £2,500/month – firms can top it up to 100 percent but don’t need to.

“For those with a fixed contract salary, the amount is easy to understand. Yet if your income varies, there was confusion over what counts, but it’s now clear.

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“You get the HIGHER of: What you earned for that job in the same month last year, OR, your average monthly earnings over the 2019/20 tax year.

“The amount is based on basic salary including overtime, but not including bonuses and commission.”

For those who have applied for universal credit but not yet heard back, Mr Lewis urges you to be patient.

He said: “I’ve been badgering the Department for Work and Pensions over universal credit delays, and it let me see the figures.

“Online applications were up 832 percent last week – rather than a typical 9,751 a day, it went as high as 105,678, it’s swamped.

“If after applying online, you’re told to ring for an appointment but can’t get through, try to be patient (I know it’s hard).

“It’s checking who was missed and WILL call you.”

There are numerous other pieces of advice that can help those stressed about their usual work, payments, and daily life.

Vehicle MOT expiry dates on or after Monday, March 30, have been extended for six months.

With overdrafts now being charged at around 40 percent by many banks, provisions have been put into place with buffer zones in order to suspend the rise or allow Britons to apply for 0 percent overdrafts.

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The European Mayor Who Doesn’t Want China’s Help With Virus

Since becoming mayor of Prague more than two years ago, Zdenek Hrib has repeatedly irked China by meeting dissidents, criticizing its treatment of ethnic minorities and promoting ties with Taiwan.

Now, the 38-year-old Pirate Party member is a symbol of the skepticism Beijing will have to overcome as it rushes to aid a Europe ravaged by a pandemic that began on Chinese soil. The Czech Republic was among numerous European countries to receive virus test kits and other medical supplies from China in recent weeks.

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“This isn’t a humanitarian gift or aid,” Hrib told Bloomberg News in a statement Friday. “From China’s perspective, it’s business.”

Such sentiments are hardly surprising from Hrib, who flew the Tibetan flag over city hall March 10 to commemorate the anniversary of the region’s failed 1959 revolt against Communist Party rule. The defiant move -- a throwback to late President Vaclav Havel’s support for the Dalai Lama -- came at a sensitive time for Beijing just as the coronavirus was prompting its first lockdowns in Europe.

The pandemic has shaken up China’s diplomatic efforts on the continent, which has been a major focus of President Xi Jinping’s “Belt and Road” plan to recreate ancient trade routes across Asia. In recent weeks, Xi’s government -- confident that the coronavirus is under control at home -- has sent supplies and disease experts to Europe, where the disease as killed more than 20,000.

Many such as the Czech Republic’s China-friendly president, Milos Zeman, have gladly accepted the support. Hrib represents another strain of Czech and European politics that’s skeptical of Beijing’s promises and its strategic aims.

“I would really like us to be a country that wouldn’t steer away from the tradition of human rights,” Hrib told Bloomberg in a previous interview last year. “A country that would not turn away from victims of injustice, but one that offers a helping hand.”

For more on China’s relations with Europe:
  • Faulty Virus Tests Cloud China’s European Outreach Over Covid-19
  • China Showers Europe With Virus Aid While Sparring With Trump
  • U.S. Bid to Single Out China at UN Stalls Amid Wider Effort

Hrib’s moves have prompted angry protests by China and the Shanghai municipal government severed economic ties with Prague after he entered a partnership with the Taiwanese capital, Taipei. If Prague keeps challenging China on Taiwan, Xinjiang or Tibet issues, the Chinese government will continue to respond with firm countermeasures, said Shi Yinhong, an adviser to China’s cabinet and also a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing.

“The Czech Republic, faced with the coronavirus challenge, took an opportunistic turn by seeking aid from China while its traditional European allies are unable even to fend for themselves,” Shi said. “China, which is aiming to project its victory overseas, enforced the narrative by offering help.”

Tibet Issue

Czechs critical of Beijing’s coronavirus support have highlighted problems with some 300,000 quick tests purchased from China, which health authorities said only worked if patients had been infected for at least five days, while about one-third were defective. China has said that inaccurate results can be caused by user error and cautioned against politicizing any issues with faulty equipment.

“This is China fulfilling its role as a responsible major country and the Chinese people making kind and selfless contribution to the global response,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Tuesday in response a question about whether Beijing was using its assistance to sway public opinion. “I believe that such efforts are worthy of respect, not disparagement.”

Before Hrib took over in 2018 -- his first elected post -- Prague’s position toward China had been aligned with the country’s official diplomatic stance, focused on economic ties. Two years earlier, Czech police suppressed peaceful protests and forced people to remove Tibetan flags from their homes during a visit by Xi.

Bilateral relations between China and the Czechs reached a pinnacle in 2015, when Zeman joined Xi at a military parade in Beijing to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Zeman was the only EU head of state in attendance.

Hrib, the Pirate Party’s former health policy expert, developed a fondness for democratically run Taiwan when he spent two months there as a medical student in 2005. A certificate of honorary citizenship to Taipei hangs on his office wall. While his views resonate with a much of Prague’s liberal population, it contradicts the Czech Republic’s “one China” foreign policy.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said in October that the Prague city government had since 2018 “repeatedly made erroneous moves and inappropriate remarks on major issues concerning China’s core interests such as topics regarding Taiwan and Tibet.”

Tensions between Prague and the Chinese government came to a head in January 2019, when the Chinese ambassador, Zhang Jianmin, demanded that a representative of Taiwan be expelled from a reception hosted by Hrib.

“I refused, and I told him that here we don’t throw out guests we invited,” Hrib said. “So the ambassador rushed out himself.”

— With assistance by Dandan Li

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Elon Musk's SpaceX bans Zoom over privacy concerns: memo

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Elon Musk’s rocket company SpaceX has banned its employees from using video conferencing app Zoom, citing “significant privacy and security concerns,” according to a memo seen by Reuters, days after U.S. law enforcement warned users about the security of the popular app.

Use of Zoom and other digital communications has soared as many Americans have been ordered to stay home to slow the spread of coronavirus.

SpaceX’s ban on Zoom Video Communications Inc illustrates the mounting challenges facing aerospace manufacturers as they develop technology deemed vital to national security while also trying to keep employees safe from the fast-spreading respiratory illness.

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ZM ZOOM VIDEO COMMUNICATIONS INC 137.00 -9.12 -6.24%

In an email dated March 28, SpaceX told employees that all access to Zoom had been disabled with immediate effect.

“We understand that many of us were using this tool for conferences and meeting support,” SpaceX said in the message. “Please use email, text or phone as alternate means of communication.”

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Two people familiar with the matter confirmed the contents of the mail.

A representative for SpaceX, which has more than 6,000 employees, did not respond to a request for comment. Chief Executive Musk also heads electric car maker Tesla Inc .

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NASA, one of SpaceX’s biggest customers, also prohibits its employees from using Zoom, said Stephanie Schierholz, a spokeswoman for the U.S. space agency.

The FBI’s Boston office on Monday issued a warning about Zoom, telling users not to make meetings on the site public or share links widely after it received two reports of unidentified individuals invading school sessions, a phenomenon known as “zoombombing.”

Investigative news site The Intercept on Tuesday reported that Zoom video is not end-to-end encrypted between meeting participants, and that the company could view sessions.

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Zoom did not immediately respond to requests for comment on SpaceX’s decision, but it has been advising users to use all the privacy functions on its platform.

As a defense contractor, California-based SpaceX has been classified as an essential business, allowing it to stay open through shutdowns that are in effect in California and Texas, the development and testing hub for its Starship rocket that could be used to get to the moon and Mars and send national security satellites to space.

Reporting by Munsif Vengattil, Joey Roulette, Eric M. Johnson and Supantha Mukherjee; editing by Patrick Graham, Peter Henderson and Lisa Shumaker

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Millions in UK ‘could slip through virus wage safety net’

Millions of people across Britain risk falling through gaps in the coronavirus wage subsidy plan and benefits system, according to two of the country’s leading economics thinktanks.

After ministers hurriedly pulled together plans to increase the level of financial aid available from the state as the Covid-19 outbreak intensifies, the Institute for Fiscal Studies said many self-employed workers would still get no support, while others would be left financially better off as a result of the crisis.

The Resolution Foundation thinktank also called on the chancellor to expand the universal credit benefits system to support more households.

Highlighting sizeable gaps in the government plan to pay 80% of employees’ salaries and self-employed workers’ profits as the crisis mounts, the IFS warns that 2 million people who work for themselves would not be protected because: they do not earn enough from self-employment to be eligible; earn more than the £50,000 threshold; or only started out working for themselves within the past year and therefore missing the threshold to prove their past income to receive wage subsidies.

A further 2 million more people who run their own company will also slip through gaps in the safety net deployed last week by the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, because they pay themselves much of their income in dividends, and less through a salary. A salary can be paid partially by the government, while dividends are excluded.

UK government support for workers and businesses during the coronavirus crisis

Direct cash grants for self-employed people, worth 80% of average profits, up to £2,500 a month. There are similar wage subsidies for employees.

Government to back £330bn of loans to support businesses through a Bank of England scheme for big firms. There are loans of up to £5m with no interest for six months for smaller companies.

Taxes levied on commercial premises will be abolished this year for all retailers, leisure outlets and hospitality sector firms.

Britain’s smallest 700,000 businesses eligible for cash grants of £10,000. Small retailers, leisure and hospitality firms can get bigger grants of £25,000.

Government to increase value of universal credit and tax credits by £1,000 a year, as well as widening eligibility for these benefits.

Statutory sick pay to be made available from day one, rather than day four, of absence from work, although ministers have been criticised for not increasing the level of sick pay above £94.25 a week. Small firms can claim for state refunds on sick pay bills.

Local authorities to get a £500m hardship fund to provide people with council tax payment relief.

Mortgage and rental holidays available for up to three months.

Offering an early glimpse of the divergent impact the coronavirus crisis will have for various groups in society, the IFS says a quarter of self-employed people will be financially better off than they otherwise would have been, even if their business is forced to shut down completely. This can happen if benefits income outweighs the 20% of lost earnings that are not covered by the state.

It says many of the self-employed whose incomes dry up will be able to receive universal credit now and 80% of their historical earnings for three months at the start of June. As these subsidies will also be based on past earnings, they could also be left financially better off.

However, workers who lose their job completely will not be helped by the schemes as more companies across Britain consider slashing jobs in response to the crisis, the IFS warns, while those who have to take unpaid leave to cover caring responsibilities, or who face a cut in their earnings but continue to work, could also be left worse off.

Although warning the measures are not as well targeted as would be expected in normal times, given the rapid onset of the crisis and the need to rush out support packages, the IFS says the average self-employed person and company employees would be better off than if the package had not been drawn up.

If employees are furloughed they will lose about only 12% of net family income, compared with 53% before the rescue measures. An average self-employed individual will lose about 14% of family income, compared with 44% before the changes were announced.

Stuart Adam, a senior research economist at the IFS, said: “Under pressure to come up with a workable scheme to support the self-employed at speed, the chancellor has erred on the side of generosity for most.

“But some will fall through the gaps completely – including high earners and the newly self-employed – and others will see only part of their overall earnings covered.”

In a separate report, the Resolution Foundation has warned that some people will miss the receipt of benefits they could be eligible for. It also urges the government to help medium-income households by scrapping rules that lower the level of support for those with savings over £6,000 and rule out people with savings over £16,000.

Sunak said last month he would inject a further £7bn into the benefits system, raising the value of universal credit by £1,000 this year.

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However, Karl Handscomb, a senior economist at the Resolution Foundation, said the government needed to bolster universal credit further to ensure the benefit system was “battle ready” for the economic fallout of coronavirus.

“The rollout of universal credit in recent years has been beset by controversy. But its performance over the next few months is the real test of this new benefit system, as it provides a living standards lifeline to millions of households.” he said.

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Moving in NYC during coronavirus is more nightmarish than usual

Robert Sosin gave his 8-year-old son Lyric the middle name Woolworth after Sosin’s favorite building in the city, a choice he calls “the cheapest way to get NYC real estate.” But Sosin was finally close to the real thing: home ownership.

The 44-year-old creative director closed on a three-bedroom, 1½ bath apartment in Southbridge Towers, a complex at 80 Beekman St. in the Financial District.

For a purchase price of $1.27 million, he would finally have enough space for his wife and two kids, plus windows that looked out on the actual Woolworth Building.

He’s trying to put down deeper roots in the neighborhood where he’s spent his whole life: His grandmother, Natalie Sosinsky, lives on the same floor of Southbridge Towers as his new co-op.

“I love this city,” Sosin says. “I want to have a part of it. This house represents a lot to us.”

The family started packing boxes and plotting renovations while awaiting final mortgage approval from the bank for an expected April 1 closing. Then the coronavirus pandemic gripped New York, freezing the gears of the economy. People like Sosin — in the middle of scheduling moves, that most arduous of New York tasks — were thrown into uncertainty. Some are still scrambling to figure out backup plans.

New York’s stay-at-home order is hitting the market at the worst time: The city’s busiest moving day is traditionally May 1.

Sosin’s closing is still on hold, but his family is fortunate. They’re able to stay in their current apartment until the lockdown is over.

Other New Yorkers are caught in the vice between an expiring lease and an uncertain new one. Complicating things, many buildings are limiting visits from non-residents, making it harder to show, view, clean or paint apartments; some are prohibiting moves entirely.

Daniel, a 34-year-old who works in advertising, was mid-move when the quarantine hit — and it might cost him as much as $17,500. Daniel — who asked that his last name not be used because he is still negotiating with his old building — and his six-months-pregnant wife moved to Jersey City on March 19. Their two-bedroom apartment in a new high-rise near the Grove Street PATH station is an upgrade for the growing family. But a couple from San Diego, who was supposed to take over their old lease in Downtown Brooklyn, fell through; one of them lost a job thanks to the coronavirus, then both of them were feeling sick, so a cross-country move seemed like a bad idea. Daniel is now scrambling to find a new renter or face paying out his old lease, which would be $3,500/month through August.

Days after his move, the Downtown Brooklyn building put a ban on outsiders, which means no visits from painters, cleaning crews or prospective renters. In the meantime, he’s repainting the apartment himself, taking Ubers between Jersey City and Brooklyn to avoid public transit.

New York’s stay-at-home order is hitting the market at the worst time: The city’s busiest moving day is traditionally May 1.

“The building is making it very difficult for me to make the apartment presentable to somebody,” Daniel says. “They’re not answering calls, all they did was reply ‘You are still liable for paying your lease.’ ”

While Daniel and his wife do have savings, they’d rather spend it on the new baby. Others in the city have less financial stability.

Jay Martin, executive director of the Community Housing Improvement Program, which represents the owners and managers of more than 400,000 rent-stabilized properties, estimates that as many as 2,000 tenants have already asked to break leases to move in with other family members because they can’t afford to keep their apartments. The move comes as a wave of historic unemployment hit the state, affecting many in the service industry and other professions with no work-from-home option.

Thousands more, Martin adds, are asking for lease extensions or delays in rent payment. If the quarantine continues past April, he’s bracing for a much grimmer scenario for the 2 million people in rent-stabilized apartments — and the buildings that rely on their rent payments for outbreak-boosted cleaning, maintenance and security costs.

“Without being hyperbolic, I can tell you the cascading effect of literally 2 million renters in this city who cannot pay their rent,” he says. “It’s going to be a catastrophe.”

It is technically possible to move now: The state has deemed moving companies “essential” businesses, allowing them to stay open during the lockdown. In fact, it’s been full steam ahead for companies like Manhattan-based Imperial Movers, where most of the office staffers are working from home, but crews are still being sent out to jobs. They’re required to wear booties, gloves and face masks, sales manager Adit Thakur says.

The company was slammed around March 15 when Barnard College ordered students to evacuate residence halls as soon as possible — right in the middle of spring break. Imperial communicated with students over FaceTime, signing contracts remotely in some cases. Rates are usually between $500 to $650 for an in-city move or more than $1,000 to ship across the country, Thakur says, but the company gave some students discounts, particularly those paying without parental help.

“It was mass chaos for the most part,” Thakur recalls.

Andrew Beasley, 26, was planning to splurge on movers for the first time as he relocated from one Greenpoint apartment to another on April 1. But as recommendations for distancing and isolation grew more strict, he worried about interacting with movers and exposing his new roommates, whom he found on Craigslist, to strangers coming in and out. He didn’t want to enlist friends to help lug boxes for the same reason.

So he canceled the movers and booked a U-Haul van he can unlock contactlessly with his phone. The U-Haul only cost about $40, compared to $200 for movers, but he expects to spend hours schlepping all his boxes and furniture up to his new place, which is a third-floor walk-up.
“I’m trying to make sure they feel as comfortable as possible letting me move in,” says Beasley, who works for a political firm.

Plus, he’s trying to find someone to take over his old room. A prospective tenant came by on March 24 wearing a full-body blue lab suit and a mask. Adds Beasley, “He walked in and took a look at the room, and didn’t touch anything, and left.”

The 392-unit luxury rental building at 525 W. 52nd St., where prices range from $3,100 for a studio to $6,806 for a three-bedroom, is extending leases and being flexible on move-in dates, according to leasing manager Teresa Chavin. Some residents, she adds, asked to end leases early to flee to the Catskills or Hamptons.

Meanwhile, Justin Truglio got pinched by the quarantine with nowhere to go. The 24-year-old and his current roommate were set to move from Midtown East to a $4,000/month West Village pad on April 1. But the apartment’s current tenants extended their lease due to the lockdown, and the pair’s current landlord would only offer a six-month extension. So instead, he’s decamping to his roommate’s family’s house on the Jersey Shore until they can figure out a game plan.

“It’s just crazy because we can’t move in anywhere,” Truglio says, “and we can’t renew our lease.”

For Truglio, like most people caught in relocation limbo, there’s nothing to do but wait.

“The uncertainty is really hard right now,” says Sosin, whose closing hasn’t yet been rescheduled. “No one said, ‘It’s off’ [or] ‘It’s still on.’ We just know there could be a big shoe that drops any minute now.”

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‘Mother of all financial crises’: Harvard economist warns global recession could be worse than feared

The world is almost certainly ensnared in a devastating recession delivered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, fears are growing that the downturn could be far more punishing and long lasting than initially feared — potentially enduring into next year, and even beyond — as governments intensify restrictions on business to halt the spread of the pandemic, and as fear of the virus changes the very concept of public space, impeding consumer-led economic growth.

Harvard economist Kenneth Rogoff has painted a dire picture of the global economy.Credit:Christopher Pearce

So long as human interaction remains dangerous, business cannot responsibly return to normal. And what was normal before may not be anymore. People may be less inclined to jam into crowded restaurants and concert halls even after the virus is contained.

The abrupt halt of commercial activity threatens to impose economic pain so profound and enduring in every region of the world at once that recovery could take years. The losses to companies, many already saturated with debt, risk triggering a financial crisis of cataclysmic proportions.

"This is already shaping up as the deepest dive on record for the global economy for over 100 years," said Kenneth S. Rogoff, a Harvard University economist.

"Everything depends on how long it lasts, but if this goes on for a long time, it's certainly going to be the mother of all financial crises."

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Pension pot: How to consolidate your pension pots

Pensions are a type of savings plan which help people save money for later in life. If you have worked in a number of different workplaces, you could potentially have many different pensions. Britons around the UK have more free time in their homes than ever and now have the chance to combine several pensions into a single pension pot, but how do you do this?

What is a pension pot?

A pension pot is the total amount of money from pension contributions made by you and/or your employer for your retirement.

Your pot also includes any capital growth earned from your fund’s investments, depending upon when and how your scheme was set up.

A pension pot does not include your State Pension, which is provided by the Government.

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How can you find lost pensions?

There is currently an estimated £400 million in unclaimed pension savings.

If you are struggling to find details of your pensions, you can use the Government’s pension contact details form here.

You will need the name of your employer or a pension provider to use the service.

The service will then find the contact details for your workplace or pension scheme, or someone else’s scheme if you have their permission.

You can also use the Pension Tracing Service by calling 0800 731 0193 or via post at The Pension Service 9, Mail Handling Site A, Wolverhampton, WV98 1LU.

How can you find out how much is in your separate pensions?

You can check how much State Pension you get and when here.

Your workplace pension fund/s will send you a pension statement once a year which tells you how much your pension pot is worth.

However, you can also create an online account with your fund and use their website to check the amount in your pension at any time.

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  • State Pension claim: When can I claim my State Pension?

Should you move your old pensions into one single pension pot?

If you have several different pensions it can be difficult to track how they are all performing.

It is possible some long-forgotten pensions could end up festering for years in expensive and poorly performing funds.

Transferring your pension could see you move your money to a new home with another provider.

The main justification for switching is most often to reduce charges on your scheme, particularly older schemes with higher fees.

However, you must remember older pensions may have “exit penalties”.

This would mean the benefit of moving your pension to another provider could be cancelled out by the exit penalty.

Other reasons could be to:

  • Save money
  • Achieve better growth
  • Improve convenience
  • Keep track of your pensions savings more easily.

Pros and cons of combining all of your pension pots

Pros:

  • Easier to keep track of your pension savings
  • You may be able to access more and better choices in terms of investment.
  • You will pay less in overall charges if money is transferred into a pension with more competitive rates.

Cons:

  • Opting to use the transfer value to shift money out of a final salary pension is usually a bad idea.
  • Some schemes have exit penalties.
  • Older pots may have attractive features which you will miss by leaving.
  • There are tax perks for keeping pots separate as you can take three pots of up to £10,000 which is deemed trivial and does not count against your lifetime allowance or trigger a cut in your annual allowance due to Money Purchase Annual Allowance rules.

How to transfer pension pots

Before you consider combining your pension pots, you should:

  • Check if you will be charged fees to transfer one pot to another.
  • Check if you will lose any special features.
  • Check all individual pension providers for the rules and conditions for transferring and combining pots.
  • You should find the transfer value of your pot, which is the amount your pot would be worth if you moved it to a different provider.
  • Look at the transfer value of your pot may help you work out if your pension has an early exit fee.

You will need to shop around for a new provider to transfer the scheme to and then complete an application for the transfer.

It is often worth seeking specialist advice before undertaking any transfers.

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Pence: US industry responded to coronavirus 'as never before'

Pence on coronavirus: American industries are responding ‘like never before’

Vice President Mike Pence commends American businesses, farmers and health care workers for their hard work, discusses the estimated death toll caused by coronavirus and encourages everyone to follow the ’30 days to slow the spread’ guidelines.

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America’s food distribution networks are still operating despite the coronavirus, even as millions of "nonessential" American employees are working from home.

Vice President Mike Pence praised the farmers, truck drivers, distribution center workers and retail workers who have kept food on Americans’ tables during an interview with FOX Business’ Charles Payne on Wednesday.

“The food supply in America is strong,” Pence said.

Vice President Mike Pence, center, talks with order picker Bin Sam, right, as Agriculture Secretary Sonny Purdue, left, listens during a tour of a Walmart Distribution Center Wednesday, April 1, 2020, in Gordonsville, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

FARMWORKERS KEY TO KEEPING US FED ARE WARY OF VIRUS’ SPREAD

Pence attributed that strength to the Trump administration’s engagement of businesses during the pandemic. President Trump spoke with grocery store owners last month who pledged to keep their doors open. Officials have also turned to the private sector to boost the production of ventilators and protective gear for health care workers.

“What the president has also done is bring American industry to the table and said, ‘We need you to step up, this is all hands on deck,’” Pence said. “And American industry has responded as never before in my lifetime.”

Pence made the comments after touring a Walmart Distribution Center in Gordonsville, Virginia, on Wednesday.

Walmarts across the country are staying open as people stock up on essentials amid the pandemic. The retailer hired 50,000 new associates in less than two weeks to meet the surge in demand created by the novel coronavirus.

Since March 19, the company has added 5,000 associates each day, Walmart Executive Vice President of Corporate Affairs Dan Bartlett told "FOX & Friends" Tuesday.

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Vice President Mike Pence, left, waves to workers as he tours a Walmart Distribution Center Wednesday, April 1, 2020, in Gordonsville, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

WHERE CAN YOU BUY GROCERIES ONLINE?

“President Trump and I couldn’t be more proud of the way American businesses have stepped forward … Every business has said, ‘We’ll drop anything, we’ll go to work, we’ll make it happen,’” Pence said.

Still, Pence reiterated how important it is for people to stay home if they can. The Trump administration has called for social distancing practices across the country, deferring to state and local authorities on the exact level of quarantining that’s needed.

The U.S. passed 200,000 cases of the coronavirus Wednesday. More than 4,400 people in the U.S. have died from the virus. Members of the White House coronavirus task force said Tuesday that projections have shown more than 200,000 Americans dying in the pandemic despite mitigation efforts.

“We’re very confident, just as tens of millions of Americans did in the last 15 days, that we’re going to see families across all across this country put the health of America first and recognize by all of us doing all that we can, we’ll lower the number of losses and reach that part of this where we can reopen America and put America back to work,” Pence said.

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FOX Business staff contributed to this report.

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