“wake-up call for Europe”

119 ViewsJul 31, 2020
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1.4 million seek jobless aid as virus keeps forcing layoffs

More than 1.4 million laid-off Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, further evidence of the devastation the coronavirus outbreak has unleashed on the U.S. economy.
The continuing wave of job cuts is occurring against the backdrop of a spike in virus cases that has led many states to halt plans to reopen businesses and has caused millions of consumers to delay any return to traveling, shopping and other normal economic activity. Those trends have forced many businesses to cut jobs or at least delay hiring.
The Labor Department’s report Thursday marked the 19th straight week that more than 1 million people have applied for unemployment benefits. Before the coronavirus hit hard in March, the number of Americans seeking unemployment checks had never exceeded 700,000 in any one week, even during the Great Recession.
The number of new applicants was up by 12,000 from the week before, the second straight increase
All told, 17 million people are collecting traditional jobless benefits, a sign that unemployment checks are keeping many American families afloat financially at a time of big job losses and agonizing economic uncertainty.
The pain could soon intensify: An supplemental $600 in weekly federal unemployment benefits is expiring, and Congress is squabbling about extending the aid, which would probably be done at a reduced level.
A resurgence of cases in the South and the West has forced many many bars, restaurants, beauty salons and other businesses to close again or reduce occupancy. Between June 21 and July 19, for example, the percentage of Texas bars that were closed shot up from 25% to 73%; likewise, 75% of California beauty shops were shuttered July 19, up from 40% just a week earlier; according to the data firm Womply.
And many states have imposed restrictions on visitors from states that have reported high level of virus cases, thereby hurting hotels, airlines and other industries that depend on travel.
The virus and the lockdowns meant to contain it have hammered the American economy: Employers slashed a record 20.8 million jobs in April, restoring about 7.5 million of them in May and June as many states began to reopen their economies.
Last week, an additional 830,000 million people applied for jobless aid under a new program that extends eligibility for the first time to self-employed and gig workers. That figure isn’t adjusted for seasonal trends, so it’s reported separately.
Altogether, the Labor Department said that 30.2 million people are receiving some form of unemployment benefits, though the figure may be inflated by double-counting by states.
Since she was laid off by a tech industry nonprofit May 15, Miranda Meyerson, 38, has been trying to find another job and to sign up for unemployment benefits. ”It’s just incredibly frustrating and demoralizing,” she said. Potential employers seem to be delaying hiring decisions. “Nobody gets back to you,’’ she said. “You feel like there’s only so long you can submit (applications) into a void.’’
Meyerson and her partner moved from New York to Oakland, California, in March, just as the virus began to spread rapidly across the United States. The move to a new state has complicated her so far futile efforts to collect benefits from a swamped California unemployment benefits system. ”They’re obviously totally overwhelmed,” she said. “You can’t even get on the phone to talk to anybody.”
Allegra Troiano, 64, was stunned when the Milwaukee English language learning center she ran was closed in May. “They got through SARS. They got through the Ebola scare,” she said. “Nobody ever thought it would get to the point where we were shutting down.’’
The extra $600 in unemployment pay has been a lifeline as she contends with a $2,200 mortgage and $600 in monthly health insurance expenses. “It means surviving,” she said.
Laid off from his job as a bank security guard in March, James Adams, 53, of New Kensington, Pennsylvania, said that “losing that $600 a week would be devastating. I have been having a hard time sleeping.”
A Trump voter, Adams has a message for Republican senators reluctant to spend more money on unemployment aid: “I know they want to be fiscal hawks, but swallow the bitter pill and help out the people who need this help.”

 US economy collapsed 32.9 percent Q2 amid pandemic: government

The US economy collapsed in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic in the April to June period, contracting 32.9 percent in the second quarter, the government reported Thursday.
The decline, though slightly less bad than expected, was the worst on record, dating back to 1947. The Commerce Department figures are an annual rate so not comparable to the quarterly contractions reported in other advanced economies.
The plunge in GDP was driven largely by the drop in consumer spending, the largest component, which fell 34.6 percent annualized, according to the first estimate for the second quarter.

Trump suggests delay in presidential election over coronavirus fears

WASHINGTON, July 30, 2020 (AFP) – US President Donald Trump on Thursday suggested delaying the 2020 election, in which he is currently lagging badly in the polls, citing the coronavirus and what he said would be “fraudulent” voting.
“Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???” Trump asked in a tweet.
“With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA,” the tweet said.

12 killed, 13 wounded in southern Philippine clash

Twelve people, including two soldiers, have been killed and 13 soldiers wounded in a clash between government forces and terrorists in Maguindanao province in the southern Philippines, an army spokesman said on Thursday.
Lieutenant Colonel Anhouvic Atilano said the troops were tracking down Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) leader Hassan Indal, who was reportedly sighted with gunmen in a village near Datu Salibo town at around 5:30 a.m. local time when troops encountered some 20 terrorists.
As fighting lasted for six hours and intensified, the military troops decided to withdraw from the battle after the military noticed that BIFF sent reinforcements to fight the troops.
Atilano said an undetermined number of terrorists were also injured in the clash.
“Military pursuit operations are ongoing but locals confirmed that the retreating BIFF radicals have carted away their dead comrades,” Atilano told reporters.
The BIFF, composed of around 200 to 300 men, are blamed for bombings and other atrocities in Central Mindanao in the southern Philippines.

EU unemployment up slightly despite lockdown easing

BRUSSELS, July 30, 2020 (AFP) – Unemployment rose slightly in June in both the eurozone and the broader EU, while consumer confidence improved as coronavirus lockdowns eased, official figures showed Thursday.
In the 19-nation single currency bloc, the seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate reached 7.8 percent, up from 7.7 in May. In the 27-member union it was 7.1 percent, up from 7.0.
But the Eurostat agency warned that its method of calculating unemployment may not take into account the true scale of job losses caused by the coronavirus epidemic and its attendant economic lockdowns.
Eurostat uses the International Labour Organisation definition of the unemployed as people who have been actively seeking work in the last four weeks and are available to start in the next two.
“At the same time, a significant part of those who had registered in unemployment agencies were no longer actively looking for a job, e.g. limited by the confinement measures or no longer available for work, for instance, if they had to take care of their children during the lockdown,” Eurostat said.
“This leads to discrepancies in the number of registered unemployed and those measured as unemployed according to the ILO definition.”
Eurostat estimates that 15.023 million people are unemployed in the EU, 12.685 million of them in the euro area.
Separately, the European Commission’s ESI consumer confidence estimate or “Economic Sentiment Indicator” continued to improve in July after hitting an historic low in April.
Having been stable at roughly 100 points before the crisis, the ESI fell to 54.8 points in April and has now made up around half of its losses to 82.3 points in the eurozone.

U.S. withdrawal from Germany a “wake-up call for Europe”: CDU member

The announced U.S. troops withdrawal from Germany was a “wake-up call for Europe,” Friedrich Merz, potential candidate as next chancellor of Germany’s governing Christian Democratic Union (CDU), told the German radio station Deutschlandfunk on Thursday.
Merz, former chairman of Atlantik-Bruecke, a leading association for the promotion of transatlantic relations between Germany and the United States, described the U.S. plan as “disturbing.” However, he added that there was “no reason for panic on the European side.” Merz is among a slew of German politicians who voiced criticism against the U.S. move.

“The announced withdrawal of U.S. troops is disappointing,” Minister of State for Europe at the foreign ministry Michael Roth told the German editorial network (RND) on Thursday.
Roth, a member of the co-governing Social Democratic Party (SPD), said Germans should not complain now but rather regard the U.S. step as a “chance to strengthen our European sovereignty.”
“It is time for Europe to strengthen its role in the world and stand on its own two feet. It is about our self-assertion,” Roth stressed.

Describing the U.S. move as “a Kamikaze action,” Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, defense policy spokeswoman for the Free Democratic Party (FDP), told the German broadcaster ZDF that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) “is being destroyed by the current U.S. president.”
Kamikaze were Japanese suicide bombers in the World War II.
Germany’s Bavaria State’s Minister-President Markus Soeder told the German Press Agency (dpa) that Washington’s step “unfortunately strained the German-American relationship.”
On Wednesday, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced that the United States would withdraw a total of 11,900 soldiers from Germany. Around 6,400 soldiers would be sent home while almost 5,600 would be relocated from Germany to other NATO countries, according to Esper.
Criticizing Berlin’s “delinquency” on military spending, U.S. President Donald Trump last month ordered the U.S. military to withdraw 9,500 troops from Germany. Currently, about 36,000 U.S. troops are deployed in the European country.

UK extends coronavirus isolation period

Britain on Thursday extended the period of coronavirus self-isolation from seven to 10 days, as fears grew over a surge in cases.
The UK’s chief medical officers said scientific evidence now showed that people with the virus have a “real possibility of infectiousness between 7 and 9 days”.
“It is now the correct balance of risk to extend the self-isolation period from seven to 10 days,” they said, as ministers hinted they would take new precautions to try and contain the pandemic.
At the weekend, Britain introduced a 14-day quarantine period for anyone returning from Spain, the UK’s most popular tourist destination.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned of a “second wave” of cases in Europe and health secretary Matt Hancock said Thursday the government would announce similar measures to those imposed on Spain elsewhere, if necessary.
The latest official figures showed 753 people becoming infected with the virus on Wednesday.
Britain recorded a daily high of more than 8,700 cases in early April.
However, opposition MPs accused the government of panicking over the latest infection rates across mainland Europe.

The UK has been the worst affected country by the virus in Europe, officially recording almost 46,000 deaths.
The statement from the senior medical officials came as the Office for National Statistics announced that England had “the longest continuous period of excess mortality of any country” in the first half of this year.

EU unemployment up slightly despite lockdown easing

Unemployment rose slightly in June in both the eurozone and the broader EU, while consumer confidence improved as coronavirus lockdowns eased, official figures showed Thursday.
In the 19-nation single currency bloc, the seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate reached 7.8 percent, up from 7.7 in May. In the 27-member union it was 7.1 percent, up from 7.0.
But the Eurostat agency warned that its method of calculating unemployment may not take into account the true scale of job losses caused by the coronavirus epidemic and its attendant economic lockdowns.
Eurostat uses the International Labour Organisation definition of the unemployed as people who have been actively seeking work in the last four weeks and are available to start in the next two.
“At the same time, a significant part of those who had registered in unemployment agencies were no longer actively looking for a job, e.g. limited by the confinement measures or no longer available for work, for instance, if they had to take care of their children during the lockdown,” Eurostat said.
“This leads to discrepancies in the number of registered unemployed and those measured as unemployed according to the ILO definition.”

Eurostat estimates that 15.023 million people are unemployed in the EU, 12.685 million of them in the euro area.
Separately, the European Commission’s ESI consumer confidence estimate or “Economic Sentiment Indicator” continued to improve in July after hitting an historic low in April.
Having been stable at roughly 100 points before the crisis, the ESI fell to 54.8 points in April and has now made up around half of its losses to 82.3 points in the eurozone.

Samsung Electronics defies pandemic with profit rise
By Claire LEE

SEOUL, July 30, 2020 (AFP) – South Korean tech giant Samsung Electronics defied the coronavirus to report higher net profits in the second quarter Thursday, with strong demand for memory chips overcoming the pandemic’s impact on smartphone sales.
Long known as the world’s biggest smartphone and memory chip maker, it said net profits rose 7.3 percent to 5.56 trillion won ($4.66 billion) in the April-to-June period.
The firm is the flagship subsidiary of the giant Samsung Group, by far the biggest of the family-controlled conglomerates that dominate business in the world’s 12th largest economy, and it is crucial to the South’s economic health.

The figures — which beat expectations according to Bloomberg News — come as the coronavirus pandemic wreaks havoc across the world economy, and with the trade-dependent South having entered a recession for the first time in 17 years due to plunging exports.
But lockdowns imposed around the world — especially in Europe and the US — have boosted Samsung Electronics’ chip business with data centres moving to stockpile DRAM chips to meet surging demand for online activities.
“Even as the spread of COVID-19 caused closures and slowdowns at stores and production sites around the world, the company responded to challenges through its extensive global supply chain,” the firm said in a statement.
It also minimised the impact of the pandemic by “strengthening online sales channels and optimising costs,” it added.

Operating profit rose 23.48 percent to 8.15 trillion won, it said, even as sales dropped 5.6 percent to 52.97 trillion won.
The overall turnover of the wider Samsung group is equivalent to a fifth of South Korea’s gross domestic product.
Analysts said they expect Samsung Electronics’ memory chips and television businesses to improve.
Diplomatic and military tensions between India and China could also play in Samsung’s favour, analysts said, if Indian consumers choose to shun Chinese brands and opt for Samsung devices instead.
“The growth is likely to drive by memory chips and displays as both of these products are in high demand due to heavy content consumption during the lockdown,” Prachir Singh, a senior analyst at market observer Counterpoint, told AFP.

“India is showing a pent-up demand as the country recovers in the post-lockdown period.
“There is certainly an anti-China sentiment in the minds of Indian consumers. Samsung is surely benefiting from this.”
Huawei overtakes –
Samsung has long been considered the world’s biggest smartphone maker, but industry tracker Canalys said Thursday it had been overtaken in the second quarter by Chinese rival Huawei, on the back of strong domestic demand in the world’s second-largest economy.
But as the world economy recovers Huawei could struggle to retain top spot in the face of US sanctions and falling overseas sales, Canalys added.
Samsung Electronics declined to comment on the ranking to AFP.
Global smartphone sales slumped more than 20 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, their worst performance ever, according to market tracker Gartner, as the pandemic hit consumer spending.
And for the second half of the year, the outlook for Samsung’s mobiles is “still quite uncertain because while lockdowns in some countries are easing, there is a resurgence of cases in some places,” said Gloria Tsuen, a senior credit officer at Moody’s Investors Service.
LG Electronics, South Korea’s second largest appliance firm after Samsung, posted a second-quarter net profit slump of 38.1 percent to 65.6 billion won Thursday, saying it had been “affected significantly” by the pandemic.
Adding to Samsung Electronics’ challenges, its vice chairman and de facto leader Lee Jae-yong is currently being retried over a sprawling corruption scandal that could see him return to prison.
He is not being held in custody during the proceedings but a guilty verdict could deprive the firm of its top decision-maker.
Samsung shares closed unchanged in Seoul on Thursday at 59,000 won.
US economy collapsed 32.9 percent Q2 amid pandemic: government

WASHINGTON, July 30, 2020 (AFP) – The US economy collapsed in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic in the April to June period, contracting 32.9 percent in the second quarter, the government reported Thursday.
The decline, though slightly less bad than expected, was the worst on record, dating back to 1947. The Commerce Department figures are an annual rate so not comparable to the quarterly contractions reported in other advanced economies.
The plunge in GDP was driven largely by the drop in consumer spending, the largest component, which fell 34.6 percent annualized, according to the first estimate for the second quarter.


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