July 8, 2020

When Washington Helped Small Business, Washington Was Helped

Anzalone, which is based in Alabama, lists companies including Airbnb and Volkswagen, as well as the Chicago Cubs and the Seattle Seahawks, among its clients. Lake Research’s founder and president, Celinda Lake, said less than half of the firm’s revenue was from “electoral politics.” She said, “We do a lot of different kinds of work — marketing, government, nonprofits, labor unions, corporate.”

Loans also went to a trio of firms that have collectively been paid more than $3 million for direct mail by the Biden campaign — Belardi Wong, Chapman Cubine and Hussey and Resonance Campaigns.

Likewise, at least three firms or their affiliates received loans totaling at least $1.7 million while being paid millions by Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign and the committees supporting it.

FLS Connect, a Republican fund-raising firm, has been paid more than $22.6 million since the beginning of 2017 by Mr. Trump’s campaign committees and the Republican National Committee. Yet the firm received between $1 million and $2 million in loans.

Jamestown Associates, which received a loan of between $35,000 and $1 million, has been paid $1.5 million between early 2017 and mid-May by Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign and a super PAC supporting it to produce videos and advertisements.

And America Rising Corporation — an opposition research vendor that has been paid more than $1.3 million since July 2017 by Mr. Trump’s campaign and allied committees — received a loan worth between $350,000 and $1 million.

America Rising used the loan to keep employees on the payroll, said its founder and chief executive, Joe Pounder. He said the company had already completely paid back the loan “with interest.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/07/us/politics/small-business-loans-lobbyists-political-consultants.html

Fishy excuse? Denmark could use SPAWNING COD to delay construction of Russian gas pipeline to Europe

Earlier this week, the Danish Energy Agency (DEA) said that the operator of the project – Nord Stream 2 AG – can use ships with anchor positioning, expanding earlier rules that allowed it to use only vessels equipped with a dynamic positioning system. According to the agency, anchored pipelayers can be used both separately or in combination with ships equipped with a dynamic positioning system.

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However, the works cannot be resumed for at least four weeks as the energy regulator’s decision can be appealed by local and national environmental bodies, the DEA spokesman said. The complaint can be filed to the Danish Energy Board before August 3.

US may introduce new sanctions against Russia’s Nord Stream 2 as gas project approaches final stage US may introduce new sanctions against Russia’s Nord Stream 2 as gas project approaches final stage

Cod spawning could create another hurdle for the undersea pipeline. Analysts told Russian media that its spawning period falls in July and August, making any construction works in the spawning area illegal. This could also delay the construction of the last 160 kilometers of the Nord Stream 2 until September. 

Work on the final section of the pipeline in the Baltic Sea was halted at the end of last year. In December, Swiss-Dutch pipelaying firm Allseas ditched the project, withdrawing its vessels from the area due to the threat of US sanctions. Since then, Russia’s energy giant Gazprom, which developed the project, dispatched its own vessel to complete the Nord Stream 2. Making the long journey from Russia’s Far East, the Akademik Cherskiy has recently arrived in the German port of Mukran.While Washington still mulls slapping the Nord Stream 2 and companies linked to the project with additional sanctions, Gazprom still hopes that it will be launched in 2021 at the latest.  

“I can briefly confirm that we continue to work on this project and expect that its construction will be completed at the end of 2020 or the beginning of 2021,” Gazprom’s head of investor relations, Anton Demchenko, said last month.

For more stories on economy finance visit RT’s business section

Article source: https://www.rt.com/business/494038-nord-stream-2-possible-delay/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS

China’s $3 TRILLION foreign exchange reserves continue to grow

The figure is less than the $3.120 trillion expected by economists who were polled by Reuters. 

The bullion reserves stayed unchanged from the end of May, at 62.64 million fine troy ounces. The value of gold holdings rose to $110.76 billion at the end of June from $108.29 billion at the end of May.

The increase in foreign exchange reserves was due to the strengthening of the yuan and the global asset prices rebound.

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Foreign inflows into Chinese stocks and bonds have picked up lately as investors bet on an economic rebound. Strict capital controls have also helped China to keep outflows under control over the past year despite the shock from the Covid-19 pandemic, the trade war with the United States, and weakening economic growth.

Statistics showed the yuan rose 0.99 percent against the US dollar in June, while the US dollar fell about 0.97 percent in the same month against a basket of other major currencies.

For more stories on economy finance visit RT’s business section

Article source: https://www.rt.com/business/494041-china-foreign-reserves-growth/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS

India seeks tighter control on Chinese goods coming in from 3rd countries following deadly border conflict

New Delhi had earlier imposed 100 percent physical checks of shipments from China. The new regulations on Chinese imports follow a deadly border clash last month between soldiers from both countries along a disputed border in the Himalayas in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed.

The Commerce and Industry Ministry has reportedly pushed for fast tracking amendments to the customs law to tighten the rules to claim concessional benefits under India’s free trade pacts. It has also requested that the Finance Ministry introduce stringent provisions related to rules of origin, to empower customs officers for checking the abuse of free trade agreements (FTAs).  

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The government had inserted a new chapter in the Customs Act on the administration of rules of origin under trade agreements, giving it the power to suspend and refuse preferential tariff treatment in case of incomplete information or verification and non-compliance, respectively. Under the new rules, an importer cannot avail of concessional benefits by merely providing a certificate of origin.

“We will scrutinize imports coming from third countries and not clear suspicious consignments… There is complete sync in the government at top levels that unnecessary imports need to be blocked,” an unnamed senior official told the Economic Times.

“The process of notifying the new rules has begun,” said another person familiar with the matter.

If the preferential rate of duty is suspended, the officer, on the request of the importer, can release the goods if the importer pays a security amount equal to the difference between the duty provisionally assessed and the preferential duty claimed.

According to the sources, the submission of a certificate of origin “shall not absolve the importer of the responsibility to exercise reasonable care.” In certain cases, the certificate of origin could be marked inapplicable.

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“Determining the correct country of origin is not only important for the benefits of FTAs to accrue to the rightful importer, but also trade facilitation, and expeditious clearance of cargo will happen in the current situation depending on the country of origin,” said Bipin Sapra, a partner at advisory firm EY.

The government is already reviewing details on the installed capacities of local industry for goods that India trades under the Asia Pacific Trade Agreement, South Asian Free Trade Area, the ASEAN group, and bilateral pacts with Singapore, Japan, South Korea, and Sri Lanka.

For more stories on economy finance visit RT’s business section

Article source: https://www.rt.com/business/494000-india-china-stricter-checks-imports/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS

Musk mocks Tesla short-sellers by selling red satin short shorts

The limited-edition garment, available for “Only $69.420,” was out of stock just hours after Musk made the announcement late Sunday on Twitter. In addition to the Tesla logo on the front, the shorts have ‘S3XY’ written on the back, a reference to Tesla’s Model S, Model 3, Model X, and Model Y vehicles.

The odd price tag could refer to the $420 share price which Musk infamously declared he had secured funding at to make Tesla private in 2018. At the time, Tesla stock was worth around $300 per share. Following the move, the tech entrepreneur was sued by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), causing Tesla stock to slide.

Since then, however, the carmaker’s performance has made many Tesla bears scratch their heads. Since the beginning of last year, shares have surged more than sixfold from around $230 per share to an all-time high of $1,371 on Monday. The recent rally came shortly after a bullish upgrade from JMP Securities analyst Joe Osha, who increased his target price to a new Wall Street high of $1,500 and predicted that the company will have $100 billion in revenue by 2025.

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Musk has often taken swipes at short-sellers – investors who borrow and then sell shares, betting that the price will fall, allowing them to buy the stocks back for less money. The Tesla boss has said on several occasions that the practice should be made illegal. In 2018, he sent a box of short shorts to hedge fund manager David Einhorn, a vocal critic of Tesla, and offered to send him more last year.

Last week, when the billionaire pitched the idea of selling “fabulous short shorts in radiant red satin with gold trim,” he promised to send some to the “Shortseller Enrichment Commission,” referring to the SEC, “to comfort them through these difficult times.”

For more stories on economy finance visit RT’s business section

Article source: https://www.rt.com/business/493994-musk-tesla-red-shorts/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS

Help! I’m Owed a Refund, But the Hotel Owner Refuses to Budge

A spokeswoman for Best Western said in a statement that “During the COVID-19 pandemic, Best Western Hotels Resorts has offered a flexible cancellation policy to its valued guests. This policy includes that ‘a more restrictive cancellation policy may apply to a limited number of high-demand dates at individual hotels,’ which was applicable to this guest’s reservation.”

After reaching out to Hilton, I learned that Nick got trapped by an even more peculiar loophole — a bizarre wrench in the pandemic’s ever-expanding toolbox of bizarre wrenches. On March 17, Italy passed the “Cura Italia” decree, a relief measure meant to offset the economic toll of the pandemic in one of the hardest-hit countries. The new law gave hotel owners in Italy the option to make the call on whether to issue refunds or vouchers.

As I’ve reported before, cash-strapped travel companies have numerous reasons for retaining non-refundable payments in the age of the coronavirus, and it’s also not hard to understand why the owner of hotel in Italy — at an airport, no less — would choose that option, especially when expressly given the greenlight by the Italian government. Another reader bemoaned a similar issue, also with an Italian hotel. “Why is an American who never set foot on Italian soil subject to a new Italian decree?” she wondered.

In general, though, hotels have generally been better about Covid-related cash refunds than airlines, tour operators and cruise lines. In mid-March, as the world started shutting down, every major hotel company announced newly flexible cancellation terms, even for “non-refundable” or “advance purchase” reservations. And even now, as we move into summer, hotel policies remain pretty flexible. Hilton, for example, allows guests to cancel any reservation booked through August without penalty, so long as it’s done so at least 24 hours before the arrival date. It’s a strategic move meant to get people to take a leap, plan travel, book trips.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/07/travel/virus-refunds-hotel-franchises.html

Lobbyists, Law Firms and Trade Groups Took Small-Business Loans

A New York shipping business owned by the family of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, the wife of the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, received at least $350,000, according to the data. A person familiar with the company, Foremost Group, said that the loan was for less than $500,000 and that no employees had been laid off during the pandemic. Ms. Chao has no formal affiliation or stake in the business, but she and Mr. McConnell have received millions of dollars in gifts from her father, James, who ran the company until 2018.

Many of the biggest and most influential lobbying and political consulting firms received money — despite prohibitions intended to restrict access — most likely qualifying by highlighting lines of business that fell outside the restrictions.

Wiley Rein, which has a large lobbying practice focusing on trade issues, received between $5 million and $10 million, according to the data. Van Ness Feldman and Beveridge Diamond, two law firms that focus on helping energy industry clients push their agendas in Washington, received loans between $2 million and $5 million, according to the administration.

A firm that raises money for Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee received a loan of more than $1 million, according to the data set, while a company that produces Mr. Trump’s political advertisements received between $350,000 and $1 million. So did a consulting firm started by President Barack Obama’s former campaign manager Jim Messina and one that Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign paid for communications consulting.

Several firms that advise companies on how to deal with the government, but are not officially registered to lobby, were also said to have received loans. They include companies run by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who served in the Clinton administration.

The administration listed loans worth between $350,000 and $1 million to a consulting firm started by former Senator William S. Cohen, a Maine Republican who also served in the Clinton administration as the secretary of defense, and one run by a homeland security secretary in the Bush administration, Michael Chertoff. And DCI Group AZ, a prominent political and corporate consulting firm, collected as much as $5 million.

An affiliate of Americans for Tax Reform, the influential conservative group that has been a vocal critic of government spending, received between $150,000 and $350,000, according to the government’s data. In a statement, the group said the foundation “was badly hurt by the government shutdown” and “does not engage in lobbying.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/06/us/ppp-small-business-loans.html

McClatchy, a Family Newspaper Business, Heads Toward Hedge-Fund Ownership

McClatchy’s troubles can be traced back to 2006, when it bought its much larger rival, Knight Ridder, then the second-largest newspaper chain in the United States, for $4.5 billion, plus the assumption of $2 billion in debt. From the time shortly after the merger to the end of 2018, McClatchy’s work force went from more than 15,000 full-time employees to around 3,300, according to public filings. The current bankruptcy plan calls for McClatchy to cut staff further through 2022.

The Knight Foundation, a journalism nonprofit that originated with the family whose Knight Newspapers merged with Ridder Publications to form Knight Ridder, declined to comment for this article. It reported an endowment of more than $2.4 billion in 2019.

Chatham Asset Management, the company that could end up the winner of the McClatchy auction, is led by Anthony Melchiorre. In addition to taking control of the supermarket-tabloid publisher American Media in 2014, Chatham is a major investor in Postmedia, the publisher of Canadian newspapers including The National Post, The Montreal Gazette and The Ottawa Citizen.

Mr. Melchiorre, a Chicago-area native, worked on Wall Street at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, where he led its junk bond division. He set up his hedge fund in Chatham, N.J., in 2002. Chatham often takes on the debts of struggling businesses that still have good cash flow. American Media and McClatchy fit that profile.

For more than two years, the hedge fund has been trying to unload American Media publications, including The Enquirer. In 2018, American Media announced the sale of The Enquirer to the family that founded the Hudson News chain of newspaper and magazine shops. That deal still has not closed.

Chatham pushed for a sale of The Enquirer and other tabloids after American Media was under federal investigation. The chairman, David J. Pecker, was said to have helped Donald J. Trump’s presidential candidacy through a deal struck with Karen McDougal, a Playboy model who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump. American Media acquired her story for $150,000 and never published it, a practice known as catch-and-kill.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/06/business/media/mcclatchy-newspapers-hedge-fund.html

Virus Revives Italy’s Age-Old Shadow Safety Net: The Pawnshop

“When things are going well you can buy your stuff back,” said Claudio Lorenzo, 65, a crossing guard who stopped working when schools closed and who waited outside the pawnshop of a Milan bank to pay interest on his and his wife’s wedding rings. “When things are going bad, you can’t.”

In July 2018, Affide’s parent company, Dorotheum, an auction house and pawn credit service based in Vienna that is more than 300 years old, bought the pawn unit of the Italian banking giant UniCredit. In February, Dorotheum bought its largest pawnbroker competitor, Creval, and now has more than 40 branches throughout Italy.

Affide is headquartered in a 16th-century palace in the Mount of Piety square in Rome, the home of pawnshops for centuries, purposefully established near the old Jewish Ghetto.

Mr. Steger said big banks had turned away from their pawnshop roots at precisely the wrong time, with the economic fallout from the virus sure to generate a need for ready cash.

“There’s movement,” he said as he looked at experts examining gold rings and watches through loupes in a marble hall. In an adjacent “Renewal and Disengagement” department, clients paid interest or bought back their items. Above their heads, black numbered boxes transported possessions from an upstairs vault, moving slowly along a suspended track like an upside-down train set.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/06/world/europe/italy-coronavirus-pawnshops.html

Copper prices may see ‘supercharged recovery’ in 2020

Three-month copper futures on the London Metal Exchange (LME) hit the $6,000-a-ton mark by the end of June, rebounding from its low of around $4,626.50 at the height of Covid-19 fears in March. On Monday, three-month copper on the LME rose 1.2 percent to trade at around $6,088 a ton.

According to Jonathan Barnes, senior copper analyst at Roskill, copper prices will be influenced by continued pressure on supply in the coming quarters. “So, what we might actually see is a supercharged recovery in the copper price this year, but actually next year we could see the prices more or less stabilize because this unique impact of Covid-19 and the dislocation to the scrap market suddenly is absent,” he told CNBC.

Experts at Citi say the metal could be overvalued going into the third quarter. “The copper rally over the past month, from $5,700 a ton to over $6,000 a ton, has occurred against a backdrop of flat-to-falling equity prices and bond yields, leaving copper looking overvalued by $220 to $420 per ton based on these historical relationships,” said the bank’s analysts.

“Overall, we stick with our very near-term point price target of $5,750 a ton (versus spot of $6,050 a ton) though we see a window for a pullback as the two to four weeks, and ultimately we recommend buying on dips,” they said.

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They were echoed by Saxo Bank analysts, with the head of its commodity strategy Ole Hansen saying: “Copper’s recent recovery to pre-pandemic levels will challenge the metal’s ability to reach higher ground in the third quarter.”

The strategist explained that “a recovery in Chinese demand, combined with supply disruptions at mines in South America, were the triggers that finally forced speculators back into long positions following the break above $2.50/lb. The risk of a second wave – especially in the US and China, the world’s two biggest consumers – may force a rethink and we see no further upside during the coming quarter.”

Demand for the metal is projected to be stronger in the second half of the year, as economies and industries restart across the globe.

“We have a positive outlook and expect quite solid demand growth over the next few years,” Eleni Joannides, principal analyst in Wood Mackenzie’s copper team, told CNBC. “But while the picture is looking positive for demand, it’s looking even stronger on the supply side. So, when we look at the balance between supply and demand, we’re still looking at a surplus market for the next couple of years, and that will put some downward pressure on prices.”

For more stories on economy finance visit RT’s business section

Article source: https://www.rt.com/business/493942-copper-price-supercharged-recovery/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS