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Daily Archives: June 14, 2022

Chart: America’s Biggest Retailers Have Too Much Stuff

Source : Chartr

Survey: Nearly 1 in 4 Canadian Homeowners Say They’d Have to Sell Home If Interest Rates Rise More

Nearly one in four homeowners say they will have to sell their home if interest rates go up further, according to a new debt survey from Manulife Bank of Canada.

The survey, conducted between April 14 and April 20, also found that 18 per cent of homeowners polled are already at a stage where they can’t afford their homes.

More than one in five Canadians expect rising interest rates to have a “significant negative impact” on their overall mortgage, debt and financial situation, the survey found.

The Bank of Canada remains on a rate-hike path as it tries to tame inflation, which is now at a 31-year high of 6.8 per cent. On June 1, the central bank increased its key interest rate by half a percentage point, to 1.5 per cent.

Low interest rates during the pandemic fuelled a surge in real estate demand that led housing prices to soar.

“Some Canadians made decisions to take their mortgages out based on what they could be approved for and maybe didn’t get some financial advice to say, well, ‘I know I can get approved for a mortgage at this particular level, but what can I actually afford?'” said Lysa Fitzgerald, vice-president of sales at Manulife.

But Fitzgerald says it’s important to remember that the survey is an indication of how Canadians feel about their financial situation rather than a reflection of their actual financial risk.

“There is a lot of speculation that is going on out there,” she said. “I would just encourage Canadians to find themselves a really good certified financial adviser who’s used to dealing with these types of scenarios.”

The Manulife survey also found that two-thirds of Canadians do not view home ownership as affordable in their local community.

Additionally, close to half of indebted Canadians say debt is impacting their mental health, and almost 50 per cent of Canadians say they would struggle to handle surprise expenses.


Source : CBC

How San Francisco Became a Failed City and How It Could Recover

Nellie Bowles wrote . . . . . . . . .

San Francisco was conquered by the United States in 1846, and two years later, the Americans discovered gold. That’s about when my ancestors came—my German great-great-great-grandfather worked at a butcher shop on Jackson Street. The gold dried up but too many young men with outlandish dreams remained. The little city, prone to earthquakes and fires, kept growing. The Beats came, then the hippies; the moxie and hubris of the place remained.

My grandmother’s favorite insult was to call someone dull. I learned young that it was impolite to point when a naked man passed by, groceries in hand. If someone wanted to travel by unicycle or be a white person with dreadlocks or raise a child communally among a group of gays or live on a boat or start a ridiculous-sounding company, that was just fine. Between the bead curtains of my aunt’s house, I learned you had to let your strangeness breathe.

It was always weird, always a bit dangerous. Once, when I was very little, a homeless man grabbed me by the hair, lifting me into the air for a moment before the guy dropped me and my dad yelled. For years I told anyone who would listen that I’d been kidnapped. But every compromise San Francisco demanded was worth it. The hills are so steep that I didn’t learn to ride a bike until high school, but every day I saw the bay, and the cool fog rolling in over the water. When puberty hit, I asked the bus driver to drop me off where the lesbians were, and he did. A passenger shouted that he hoped I’d find a nice girlfriend, and I waved back, smiling, my mouth full of braces and rubber bands.

So much has been written about the beauty and mythology of this city that maybe it’s superfluous to add even a little more to the ledger. If he ever got to heaven, Herb Caen, the town’s beloved old chronicler, once said, he’d look around and say, “It ain’t bad, but it ain’t San Francisco.” The cliffs, the stairs, the cold clean air, the low-slung beauty of the Sunset, the cafés tucked along narrow streets, then Golden Gate Park drawing you down from the middle of the city all the way to the beach. It’s so goddamn whimsical and inspiring and temperate; so full of redwoods and wild parrots and the smell of weed and sourdough, brightly painted homes and backyard chickens, lines for the oyster bar and gorgeous men in chaps at the leather festival. But it’s maddening because the beauty and the mythology—the preciousness, the self-regard—are part of what has almost killed it. And I, now in early middle age, sometimes wish it weren’t so nice at all.

But I do need you to love San Francisco a little bit, like I do a lot, in order to hear the story of how my city fell apart—and how it just might be starting to pull itself back together.

Because yesterday, San Francisco voters decided to turn their district attorney, Chesa Boudin, out of office. They did it because he didn’t seem to care that he was making the citizens of our city miserable in service of an ideology that made sense everywhere but in reality. It’s not just about Boudin, though. There is a sense that, on everything from housing to schools, San Francisco has lost the plot—that progressive leaders here have been LARPing left-wing values instead of working to create a livable city. And many San Franciscans have had enough.

On a cold, sunny day not too long ago, I went to see the city’s new Tenderloin Center for drug addicts on Market Street. It’s downtown, an open-air chain-link enclosure in what used to be a public plaza. On the sidewalks all around it, people are lying on the ground, twitching. There’s a free mobile shower, laundry, and bathroom station emblazoned with the words dignity on wheels. A young man is lying next to it, stoned, his shirt riding up, his face puffy and sunburned. Inside the enclosure, services are doled out: food, medical care, clean syringes, referrals for housing. It’s basically a safe space to shoot up. The city government says it’s trying to help. But from the outside, what it looks like is young people being eased into death on the sidewalk, surrounded by half-eaten boxed lunches.

A couple of years ago, this was an intersection full of tourists and office workers who coexisted, somehow, with the large and ever-present community of the homeless. I’ve walked the corner a thousand times. Now the homeless—and those who care for the homeless—are the only ones left.

During the first part of the pandemic, San Francisco County lost more than one in 20 residents—myself among them. Signs of the city’s pandemic decline are everywhere—the boarded-up stores, the ghostly downtown, the encampments. But walking these streets awakens me to how bad San Francisco had gotten even before the coronavirus hit—to how much suffering and squalor I’d come to think was normal.

Stepping over people’s bodies, blurring my eyes to not see a dull needle jabbing and jabbing again between toes—it coarsened me. I’d gotten used to the idea that some people just want to live like that. I was even a little defensive of it: Hey, it’s America. It’s your choice.

If these ideas seem facile or perverse, well, they’re not the only ones I’d come to harbor. Before I left, I’d gotten used to the idea of housing so expensive that it would, as if by some natural law, force couples out of town as soon as they had a kid. San Francisco now has the fewest children per capita of any large American city, and a $117,400 salary counts as low-income for a family of four.

I’d gotten used to the crime, rarely violent but often brazen; to leaving the car empty and the doors unlocked so thieves would at least quit breaking my windows. A lot of people leave notes on the glass stating some variation of Nothing’s in the car. Don’t smash the windows. One time someone smashed our windows just to steal a scarf. Once, when I was walking and a guy tore my jacket off my back and sprinted away with it, I didn’t even shout for help. I was embarrassed—what was I, a tourist? Living in a failing city does weird things to you. The normal thing to do then was to yell, to try to get help—even, dare I say it, from a police officer—but this felt somehow lame and maybe racist.

A couple of years ago, one of my friends saw a man staggering down the street, bleeding. She recognized him as someone who regularly slept outside in the neighborhood, and called 911. Paramedics and police arrived and began treating him, but members of a homeless advocacy group noticed and intervened. They told the man that he didn’t have to get into the ambulance, that he had the right to refuse treatment. So that’s what he did. The paramedics left; the activists left. The man sat on the sidewalk alone, still bleeding. A few months later, he died about a block away.

It was easier to ignore this kind of suffering amid the throngs of workers and tourists. And you could always avert your gaze and look at the beautiful city around you. But in lockdown the beauty became obscene. The city couldn’t get kids back into the classroom; so many people were living on the streets; petty crime was rampant. I used to tell myself that San Francisco’s politics were wacky but the city was trying—really trying—to be good. But the reality is that with the smartest minds and so much money and the very best of intentions, San Francisco became a cruel city. It became so dogmatically progressive that maintaining the purity of the politics required accepting—or at least ignoring—devastating results.

[ . . . . . . ]


Source : Read more at The Atlantic

Chart: China’s COVID Test Firms Wave Goodbye to Easy Money

As regular testing becomes the new norm, demand for the service has never been greater, which is a boon to test companies.

However, as local government budgets come under higher pressure, authorities have slashed the prices test companies can charge.


Source : Caixin

China New Bank Loans Nearly Triple in May as Beijing Steps Up Policy Support


See large image . . . . . .

New bank lending in China jumped far more than expected in May and broader credit growth also quickened, as policymakers try to pull the world’s second-largest economy out of a sharp, COVID-induced slump.

Chinese banks extended 1.89 trillion yuan ($282.62 billion) in new yuan loans in May, nearly tripling April’s tally and handily beating expectations, data released by the People’s Bank of China on Friday.

Analysts polled by Reuters had predicted new yuan loans would surge to 1.3 trillion yuan in May from 645.4 billion yuan in April and against 1.5 trillion yuan a year earlier.

“Credit growth was stronger than expected last month and is likely to accelerate further following the clear signal in late May that policymakers want banks to step up lending,” Capital Economics said in a note.

“More policy easing is likely. But private sector credit demand is likely to remain subdued while, on current budgetary plans, local government borrowing is about to slow. A dramatic increase in credit growth still seems unlikely.”

New household loans, including mortgages, rose to 288.8 billion yuan in May, after contracting 217 billion yuan in April, while new corporate loans soared to 1.53 trillion yuan in May from 578.4 billion yuan in April.

However, 38% of the new monthly loans were in the form of short-term bill financing, which was down from 80% in April but still higher than 10% in the first quarter, suggesting real credit demand remains weak.

Chinese policymakers have recently stepped up support for the slowing economy as Shanghai and other cities ease tough COVID-19 lockdowns following a drop in new infections.

The cabinet announced a package of policy steps last month, including broader tax credit rebates and postponing social security payments and loan repayments to support businesses.

Local media also reported last month that financial authorities had told commercial banks to speed up lending.

In May, the central bank cut its benchmark reference rate for mortgages by an unexpectedly wide margin, its second reduction this year, in a bid to turn around the contracting housing market, a key economic growth driver.

But analysts say both banks and potential borrowers remain cautious in case there are further virus disruptions.

After discovering a handful of new cases, China’s commercial hub of Shanghai will lock down millions of people for mass COVID-19 testing this weekend – just 10 days after lifting a grueling two-month lockdown – unsettling residents and raising concerns about a fresh blow to businesses.

MORE POLICY EASING UNDERWAY

Premier Li Keqiang has vowed to achieve positive economic growth in the second quarter, although many private sector economists have penciled in a contraction.

China will increase the credit quota for policy banks by 800 billion yuan ($120 billion) for them to support infrastructure construction, state television CCTV quoted a cabinet meeting as saying.

Broad M2 money supply grew 11.1% from a year earlier, central bank data showed, above estimates of 10.4% forecast in the Reuters poll. M2 grew 10.5% in April from a year ago.

Outstanding yuan loans grew 11.0% in May from a year earlier compared with 10.9% growth in April. Analysts had expected 10.7% growth.

Growth of outstanding total social financing (TSF), a broad measure of credit and liquidity in the economy, quickened to 10.5% in May from 10.2% in April.

Chinese provinces are racing to issue hundreds of billions of dollars worth of special bonds in June, frontloading investment to revive the slowing economy.

Analysts and policy insiders expect China to issue special treasury bonds later this year, to maintain a steady stream of funding.

TSF includes off-balance sheet forms of financing that exist outside the conventional bank lending system, such as initial public offerings, loans from trust companies and bond sales.

In May, TSF jumped to 2.79 trillion yuan from 910.2 billion yuan in April. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected May TSF of 2.02 trillion yuan.


Source : Financial Post