China Virus: A Black Swan?
Rarely does a disease spread fast enough and is labeled dangerous enough that it quickly gets the attention of the World Health Organization. A coronavirus, which has killed several people in China and has spread to other Asian countries, qualifies. If the disease moves to nations outside Asia and the death toll rises, it could become an international health emergency. Among the issues at stake is that it could affect populations around the world and curtail travel.
The coronavirus causes deadly pneumonia. It is found in both humans and animals. While it can cause colds, it may be best known for causing the SARS epidemic of 2002.
The WHO will meet on Wednesday to decide whether to put its considerable resources against the spread of the virus, which has already moved to Japan, South Korea and Thailand.
Among the worries about the virus is that it has no cure. The other is that it can spread very rapidly. The last is that it is very deadly, though not, apparently, as deadly as SARS. It is not hard to imagine that the disease could spread across Asia and beyond.
The National Center for Biotechnology said in a report about the SARS epidemic of 2002:
The SARS epidemic was not simply a public health problem. Indeed, it caused the most severe socio-political crisis for the Chinese leadership since the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown. Outbreak of the disease fueled fears among economists that China’s economy was headed for a serious downturn.
An extremely serious outbreak of the new disease could have consequences similar to 2002. That is why the incident has gotten so much coverage and poses such a considerable threat.
U.S. calls Iran's $3 million reward to kill Trump 'ridiculous'
GENEVA (Reuters) – A U.S. envoy on Tuesday called an Iranian lawmaker’s offer of a $3 million reward to anyone who killed U.S. President Donald Trump “ridiculous” and said it pointed to the “terrorist underpinnings” of the Iranian government.
“It’s just ridiculous but it gives you a sense of the terrorist underpinnings of that regime and that regime needs to change its behavior,” Robert Wood, U.S. disarmament ambassador, told reporters in Geneva.
China Keeps Loan Prime Rates Unchanged
China kept its benchmark lending rates unchanged for the second straight month, as widely expected, on Monday.
The one-year loan prime rate was retained at 4.15 percent and the five-year loan prime rate at 4.80 percent.
The rate was last reduced in November, which was the first cut since the new lending rate was introduced.
The loan prime rate is fixed monthly based on the submission of 18 banks, though Beijing has influence over the rate-setting. This new lending rate replaced the central bank’s traditional benchmark lending rate in August 2019.
The People’s Bank of China injected CNY 250 billion into the financial system via reverse repo on Monday.
The central bank conducted central bank bills swap, or CBS, operation to improve the liquidity of perpetual bonds. The CBS, valued at CNY 6 billion will be due on April 20, 2020.
According to official data released last week, China’s economic growth eased to 6.1 percent in 2019, the lowest in nearly three decades. Nonetheless, the economic activity improved towards the end of the fourth quarter.
The PBoC appears to have adopted a wait-and-see approach in response to the recent improvement in the economic data, Julian Evans-Pritchard, an economist at Capital Economics, said.
“But with a slowdown in property construction only just getting underway, we are skeptical that the latest uptick in economic activity marks the start of a sustained turnaround,” the economist added. The economist expects the LPR to decline a further 50 basis points by year-end.
Comerica Issues FY20 Outlook – Quick Facts
While reporting its financial results for the fourth quarter on Tuesday, Comerica Inc. (CMA) provided its financial outlook for fiscal 2020.
For fiscal 2020, the company forecasts a decrease in net interest income due to the net impact of lower interest rates, 2019 funding actions and lower non-accrual interest recoveries, to be partially offset by loan growth.
The company also projects 1 percent growth in fiscal 2020 non-interest income, reflecting growth in card fees and fiduciary income, partially offset by lower derivative and warrant income, and assuming no returns on deferred compensation assets.
Flooring company Interface fires CEO for cause over violations of policies
Flooring company Interface Inc. TILE, +1.28% said Tuesday it has terminated Chief Executie and President Jay Gould for cause over violations of its working environment policies. The company named Dan Hendrix, most recently chairman of the board, as new CEO with immediate effect as it launches a search for a successor. Gould was ousted after "an investigation concluded that he engaged in personal behavior that violated company policy and core values," the Atlanta, Georgia-based company said in a statement. In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said he would not be entitled to a severance payment. Shares were not yet active premarket, but have gained 7% in the last 12 months, while the S&P 500 SPX, +0.39% has gained 25%.
Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed Against Property Manager In Los Angeles
The US Department of Justice has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against property manager and owners of residential apartment buildings in Los Angeles.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, alleges that property manager Filomeno Hernandez has been sexually harassing female residents at the rental properties at 729 South Bonnie Brae Street and 720 Westlake Avenue, near MacArthur Park, since at least 2006.
Hernandez has been accused of frequently engaging in unwanted sexual touching, including sexual assault, making unwelcome sexual advances and comments, offering to reduce rent or excusing late or unpaid rent in exchange for sex, and entering the homes of female tenants without their consent.
Besides Hernandez, the complaint also names Ramin Akhavan, Bonnie Brae Investment Services LLC, and Westlake Property Services LLC as defendants.
The lawsuit seeks monetary damages to compensate the victims, civil penalties, and a court order barring future discrimination.
Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said sexual harassment in housing is unacceptable and illegal.
Since launching an initiative to combat sexual harassment in housing in October 2017, the Department of Justice has filed thirteen lawsuits alleging such practices.