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Russia Adds 10,000 Cases Again; HK Eases Lockdown: Virus Update

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(Bloomberg) — Hong Kong will ease curbs on social gatherings and reopen shuttered schools, while California will start loosening its lockdown on Friday. Russia reported more than 10,000 cases for a third straight day and infections continued to decline in Germany.

The European Union will call for an independent probe into the origins of the coronavirus, Australia’s prime minister said. A New York Federal Reserve paper showed a link between the 1918 flu pandemic and the rise of the Nazi Party, in a warning for the potential political implications from the outbreak.

The economic fallout from the outbreak continued. India’s lockdown may have cost 122 million jobs, Spanish jobless claims surged again and U.K. car sales had the worst month since 1946. Qantas Airways Ltd. warned public appetite to fly overseas could take years to return.

Key Developments

Virus Tracker: global cases pass 3.5 million; deaths top 251,000Where Europe’s lockdowns are easing after weeks of restrictionsAntibody tests to get tighter oversight from U.S. regulatorsCoronavirus causes blood clots harming organs from brain to toesChina reports 1 new case, Germany’s fall for fifth straight day

Subscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus.

Russian Cases Top 10,000 Again (4:05 p.m. HK)

The number of confirmed cases in Russia rose by 10,102 in past day to total 155,370. This is the third straight day of more than 10,000 new infections, though the pace of increase has been slowing — Tuesday’s 7% increase in total cases is slowest gain since April 29. Total fatalities rose to 1,451 after 95 more people died.

EU to Propose Virus Investigation, Australia Says (3:55 p.m. HK)

The European Union will put forward a proposal to the World Health Assembly calling for an independent probe into the origins of the coronavirus, according to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. The assembly will consider the proposal at its May 18 meeting, Morrison told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday. He added that he had written to all Group of 20 leaders this week in his bid to create support for the investigation into how the virus started and spread.

Australia’s previous calls for the probe have raised the ire of China, its largest trading partner. In the U.S., President Donald Trump has accused Beijing of deliberately mishandling an outbreak that has killed more than 4,600 Chinese citizens to damage him politically and promised a “conclusive” report on the virus’s origins.

Study Shows 1918 Pandemic Linked to Rise of Nazis (3:44 p.m. HK)

In a warning for the potential political implications of coronavirus, a New York Federal Reserve paper has shown a link between the 1918 flu pandemic and the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany. The study shows that cities with the greatest fatalities saw a reduction in social expenditure and that “influenza deaths of 1918 are correlated with an increase in the share of votes won by right-wing extremists.”

Relaxed Lockdown Pays Off for Sweden (3:42 p.m. HK)

Sweden’s economy contracted far less than many of its European peers in the first quarter, according to a new indicator from Statistics Sweden that provides an initial economic assessment of the country’s controversial Covid-19 response. “This is clearly better than expected,” Handelsbanken chief strategist Claes Mahlen said. “However, Q2 will still print deeply negative and uncertainty surrounding this flash estimate is high.”

Sweden’s economic performance is being closely watched after it adopted a more relaxed approach to the coronavirus pandemic, leaving businesses, schools and restaurants open. France, Italy and Spain all reported GDP contractions of around 5% in the same period, while the euro area economy as a whole sank 3.8%.

U.K. Car Sales Have Worst Month Since 1946 (3:42 p.m. HK)

U.K. new-car registrations plunged 97% in April to a level not seen since February 1946, after the government closed auto dealerships and other businesses to slow the spread of the coronavirus. About 4,000 cars were sold during the month, based on preliminary numbers — mostly through fleet orders.

Metzler analyst Juergen Pieper expects European sales to drop by about a third, given the weak economy and widespread social restrictions, and doesn’t expect a sustainable recovery in demand and production before 2021.

HK Eases Some Curbs as Cases Stay Low (3:25 p.m. HK)

Hong Kong will ease social distancing measures after largely containing the spread of Covid-19, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said Tuesday. Cinemas and gyms will reopen while the limit on public gatherings will double to eight people from May 8. Restaurants will be allowed to have eight people per table, up from four, and bars can reopen with capacity restrictions, Lam said. Secondary school classes will resume in phases from May 27 although kindergarten levels 1 to 2 won’t return this academic year. The government also announced plans to give out re-useable face mask to Hong Kong identity card holders.

Netherlands Weighs Easing Timeline (3:16 p.m. HK)

The Dutch government will consider reopening outdoor spaces of bars and restaurants starting June 1, while barber shops and hair salons could resume next week, Dutch press agency ANP reported late on Monday, citing unidentified sources. The proposals are set to be discussed on Wednesday. Other measures being considered are requiring masks on public transport, as is the case in neighboring Belgium. Current lockdown measures have been put in place until at least May 19 with a ban on mass events until Sept. 1. Some schools will start to reopen under certain conditions starting May 11.

Spanish Jobless Claims Surge (3:10 p.m. HK)

The number of Spaniards filing for jobless claims surged for a second month, underscoring the damage from the coronavirus crisis on an already fragile labor market. Claims rose by 282,891, the biggest April increase on record, the Labor Ministry said on Tuesday. Most were in the services sector.

Sunglasses Hit, Meal Kits Surge: Earnings Wrap (2:50 p.m. HK)

Ray-Ban maker EssilorLuxottica SA said business is getting worse in the second quarter because customers are putting off buying sunglasses and prescription lenses, while Germany’s Beiersdorf AG said sales of its high-end moisturizers and rejuvenation creams slumped as airports were closed.

A bright spot once again came from the food-delivery sector, with meal-kit firm HelloFresh AG raising its guidance as people being confined to their homes raised demand for its products. For more on European earnings, click here.

German New Cases Fall for Fifth Day (2:08 p.m. HK)

The number of new cases in Germany declined for the fifth day in a row as the government takes tentative steps to relax restrictions on daily life. There were 488 additional infections in the 24 hours through Tuesday morning, bringing the total to 166,152, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Germany has slowly eased curbs on business and leisure activities, allowing playgrounds, museums, churches and zoos to reopen this week as the government tries to revive the economy without triggering a second wave of infections.

India Lost Nearly 122 Million Jobs in April (1:49 p.m. HK)

More than a quarter of India’s labor force are without a job after businesses were forced to shut during a nationwide lockdown that began in the last week of March, according to a survey by the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy Pvt. The study estimates nearly 122 million jobs were lost in April with daily wage workers and those employed by small businesses taking a massive blow. The unemployment rate was 27.1% in the week ended May 3, Mahesh Vyas, chief executive of CMIE wrote in the Business Standard newspaper. The government doesn’t publish regular jobless data, with investors relying on surveys from CMIE, a private-sector economic think tank, to give them guidance on the labor market.

Australia, NZ to Work on Shared Travel Zone (1:19 p.m. HK)

Australia and New Zealand committed to introducing a shared travel zone as soon as it is safe to do so, Prime Ministers Scott Morrison and Jacinda Ardern said in a joint statement Tuesday. The zone would be put in place once necessary health, transport and other protocols had been developed and met, they said. Officials will work with business leaders from both nations as the plan develops. Earlier N.Z.’s Ardern attended Australia’s National Cabinet meeting via video link to discuss the zone and other aspects of the fight against Covid-19.

BNP Paribas Takes $1.2 Billion Virus Hit (12:59 p.m. HK)

BNP Paribas SA warned that full-year earnings will take a pounding from the coronavirus outbreak as it set aside more cash to cover problem loans and posted a $200 million hit at its trading unit. Net income could be 15% to 20% lower this year without any new crisis. The bank took more than $1 billion in charges and writedowns in the first quarter, including 502 million euros to account for future bad credit.

United Air to Cut Jobs (11:20 a.m. HK)

United Airlines Holdings Inc. will cut at least 30% of its managerial and administrative jobs in October, or about 3,500 positions, as the company braces for a prolonged travel slump. In addition, management and administrative employees must take 20 days off without pay between May 16 and Sept. 30 to help pare costs while workers in “non-operational” roles will begin working a four-day week, Kate Gebo, executive vice president of human resources, said in an internal memo.

Fauci Says There Are Regions Where Rules Can Relax (9:34 a.m. HK)

Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, said there are regions and counties in the U.S. where “you can pull back” restrictions put in place to contain the pandemic. While some locations have done well to manage the spread of Covid-19, other areas aren’t in a position to Fauci told CNN in an interview.

Qantas Raises More Funds (7:13 a.m. HK)

Qantas Airways Ltd. raised an additional A$550 million ($353 million) to weather the crisis and put plans for the world’s longest flights on hold as it extended international flight cancellations until the end of July. The Australian carrier warned it could take years before the public’s appetite to fly overseas returns as it extended domestic flight cancellations by a month to the end of June. In March, the company raised A$1.05 billion and furloughed most of its 30,000-strong workforce due to the coronavirus.

White House Disclaims Projection Showing Surge (6:45 a.m. HK)

An internal U.S. government projection shows the nation’s coronavirus outbreak vastly accelerating by June to more than 200,000 new cases and 2,500 deaths per day — far more than the country is currently experiencing.

The White House disclaimed the projection, calling it an “internal CDC document” but saying it had not been presented to Trump’s coronavirus task force and didn’t comport with the task force’s own analysis and projections.

It isn’t clear who produced the document, obtained and published earlier by the New York Times, or what assumptions underlie the forecasts. The projections, on two slides of a 19-slide deck, are dated May 1 and attributed to a “data and analytics task force.”

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Why Are Certified Pre-Owned Cars More Expensive?

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The used car vs. certified pre-owned (CPO) argument can typically be summed up with the phrase “you get what you pay for.” Both are technically used vehicles, but CPO cars have a few advantages that may be worth their price tag.

Why CPOs Cost More Than Regular Used Cars

A CPO vehicle is commonly called the cream of the crop of used cars, and its price tag often reflects this. CPO vehicles tend to be more expensive than standard used ones.

But, why?

One of the biggest reasons why CPO cars are more expensive than their used counterparts is that CPOs are inspected by a manufacturer-certified mechanic. This means that every CPO vehicle must meet certain standards before it’s labeled as such. A true CPO is sold at a franchised dealership. Mom-and-pop dealers don’t have these vehicle options (and “dealer-certified” is not the same thing as a manufacturer-certified car).

Another reason for the higher price tag is that many CPO vehicles have just come off-lease. When a lessee returns a lease, the manufacturer’s likely to inspect to see if it qualifies for their CPO program. Since most auto lease terms are around two to three years, many off-lease cars make the cut when they’re returned clean and meet the low-mileage requirements. CPO cars are also refurbished, unlike regular used vehicles.

Each auto manufacturer has its own set of standards for their CPO cars, but the guidelines are usually in this ballpark:

  • Vehicles typically must have less than 80,000 miles
  • Some luxury brands require less than 50,000 miles
  • Typically must be less than ten years old, sometimes newer
  • Only one previous owner

Regular used cars don’t go through these rigorous manufacturer inspections before they’re sold. A used vehicle may be inspected in-house at the dealership before it’s sold, but likely not through the manufacturer like a CPO.

CPOs Are Covered

All CPO vehicles come with some sort of warranty, which adds to the overall cost, but offers peace of mind. Being on the newer side, many CPO cars may still be covered under their original manufacturer’s warranty and often include an extended warranty once that expires.

Some perks manufacturers may include in their CPO warranties include:

  • Why Are Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles More Expensive?12-months of 24-hour roadside assistance
  • A 12-month warranty after the manufacturer’s warranty expires
  • A vehicle history report
  • Powertrain coverage
  • Car rental coverage
  • Trip interruption benefits

Of course, manufacturers vary in what their warranties include when you purchase a CPO vehicle. Be sure to read through the exclusions of the warranty so you know what the terms are, how long you’re covered, and if there are any limitations.

Can Bad Credit Borrowers Finance a CPO?

Generally, bad credit borrowers are told to finance a used vehicle over a brand new one because used cars come with a lower sticker price, usually. However, while CPO vehicles tend to be a little more expensive than regular used vehicles, a CPO’s selling price is still likely less than a new car due to initial depreciation. Depreciation is loss of value over time due to mileage, age, and normal wear and tear.

Brand new vehicles lose a lot of value in the first two or three years of ownership, possibly up to 20% in that time, and it’s usually the steepest drop in value over the life of the vehicle. However, after those first couple of years, depreciation tends to slow down. If you opt for a CPO car, it’s usually much less expensive than its brand new equivalent, and very likely has already seen its steepest drop in value.

A CPO car is likely a more attainable option for bad credit borrowers than a brand new one. And if a borrower with credit challenges works with a special finance dealership that’s signed up with subprime lenders, CPO vehicles can be an option if they meet lender requirements.

Ready to Stop Looking and Start Shopping?

Sometimes the toughest part of car shopping is figuring out which dealership you can work with. There are so many dealers out there, and it can be tough for bad credit borrowers to tell which ones are signed up with subprime lenders that can assist with credit challenges.

At Auto Credit Express, we’ve crafted a nationwide network of special finance dealerships that are able and willing to help bad credit borrowers get the vehicle they need. Skip the search for a dealer with bad credit resources and let us do the legwork for you.

Starting is simple: complete our free auto loan request form and we’ll look for a dealership in your local area with no obligation.

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My husband signed for a car for a friend — against my wishes. Now we get notices for unpaid tolls and parking tickets. What if there’s an accident?

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My husband signed a car lease for a friend. He told me he was co-signing because his friend had bad credit even though I objected to that and asked why his friend can’t just buy a used car. Then at the last second, my husband told me that his friend’s credit “was so bad he had to take out the whole loan” in my husband’s name only.

Aside from the fact this story doesn’t add up, he is now getting second notices for unpaid tolls and parking tickets, and just sends them to his friend and trusts him to pay. He ensures the lease payments are made every month, and tells me that tolls will send collections notices before reporting to credit-collection agencies.

He also claims that his friend has insurance, but that doesn’t add up. The state we are in requires the owner to have insurance. He tells me that none of this is my business, and I have no right to be upset. Yet every time another “past due” envelope arrives I panic at the thought of the savings I worked so hard to put away might be gone in one accident, and that the home I wanted to buy with our excellent credit won’t be possible anymore.

Can you help me explain to him why this was a very bad idea, and why it’s not “none of my business,” as he says? What options do I have to get us out of this mess before we lose everything?

Panicking Wife

You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at [email protected]

Dear Panicking,

Yes, your husband is responsible for the vehicle insurance, especially if someone else is driving this car on a regular basis. If the documents say the borrower should be the primary driver, your husband’s arrangement with this friend is a “straw deal” and is likely also illegal.

But your problems go way beyond this car. Your husband’s willingness to take out a lease on behalf of a friend, and endure these collection notices, raises many red flags. What does your husband owe this person? Why would he go above and beyond any reasonable expectation of a friendship to risk his finances and credit rating in this way? The fact that he did this against your express wishes and good sense adds insult to injury. Something is wrong with the bigger picture.

As for your husband’s legal liability. According to Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi, a law firm based in Fort Lee, N.J., “As strange as it may sound, you can be held liable for a car accident that involves your vehicle — even if you weren’t present at the time. In most motor vehicle accidents, the negligent driver is the one held liable for any injuries or harm caused. However, in certain situations, the law can attribute fault to the owner of the car instead.”

The firm cites the legal principles of negligent entrustment and negligent maintenance. The first involves “entrusting your vehicle to someone who was unfit to drive.” Negligent maintenance “is the failure to properly maintain your vehicle, presenting a safety risk for anyone driving the car. This term ‘negligent maintenance’ is used because you have a duty to other drivers to keep your car in safe, working condition as to minimize the risk of an accident.”

Given that your husband owns the car and it is being driven by someone who is not paying its bills, and creating more costs through careless driving and bad parking, your husband is already fully aware that this is a bad situation. You are left without a “why” or action by your husband to address this. Take a closer look — with the help of an attorney — at your joint/separate finances, and explore ways to protect your savings. You also need to take action to restore your peace of mind.

Otherwise, you will be driving around in proverbial circles without knowing your legal and financial options. Whatever that potential action entails should be decided between you and your attorney in the first instance. I am willing to guess that this is not the first time your husband has made a decision in your marriage that has left you baffled. A lawyer should explain to you why it’s a bad idea to endure these kinds of unilateral decisions, and what you can do about them.

The Moneyist: ‘I cut his hair because he won’t pay for a haircut’: My multimillionaire husband is 90. I’ve looked after him for 41 years, but he won’t help my son

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Loans Bad Credit Online – China’s Very Bad Bank: Inside the Huarong Debt Debacle | Fintech Zoom

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Loans Bad Credit Online – China’s Very Bad Bank: Inside the Huarong Debt Debacle

It’s been 11 weeks since Lai Xiaomin, the man once known as the God of Wealth, was executed on a cold Friday morning in the Chinese city of Tianjin.

But his shadow still hangs over one of the most dramatic corruption stories ever to come out of China – a tale that has now set nerves on edge around the financial world.

Photographer: Anthony Kwan/Bloomberg

At its center isChina Huarong Asset Management Co., the state financial company that Lai lorded over until getting ensnared in a sweeping crackdown on corruption by China’s leader, Xi Jinping.

From Hong Kong to London to New York, questions burn. Will the Chinese government stand behind $23.2 billion that Lai borrowed on overseas markets — or will international bond investors have to swallow losses? Are key state-owned enterprises like Huarong still too big to fail, as global finance has long assumed – or will these companies be allowed to stumble, just like anyone else?

The answers will have huge implications for China and markets across Asia. Should Huarong fail to pay back its debts in full, the development would cast doubt over a core tenet of Chinese investment: the assumed government backing for important state-owned enterprises, or SOEs.

“A default at a central state-owned company like Huarong is unprecedented,” said Owen Gallimore, head of credit strategy at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group. Should one occur, he said, it would mark “a watershed moment” for Chinese and Asian credit markets.

Not since the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s has the issue weighed so heavily. Huarong bonds — among the most widely held SOE debt worldwide — recently fell to a record low of about 52 cents on the dollar. That’s not the pennies on a dollar normally associated with deeply troubled companies elsewhere, but it’s practically unheard of for an SOE.

Time is short. All told, Huarong owes bondholders at home and abroad the equivalent of $42 billion. Some $17.1 billion of that falls due by the end of 2022, according to Bloomberg-compiled data.

Huarong Bonds Tank

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Huarong was created in the aftermath of the ‘90s Asian collapse to avert another crisis, not cause one. The idea was to contain a swelling wave of bad loans threatening Chinese banks. Huarong was to serve as a “bad bank,” a safe repository for the billions in souring loans made to state companies.

Along with three other bad banks, Huarong swapped delinquent debts for stakes in hundreds of big SOEs and, in the process, helped turn around chronic money-losers like the giant China Petroleum & Chemical Corp.

After Lai took over in 2012, Huarong reached for more, pushing into investment banking, trusts, real estate and positioning itself as a key player in China’s $54 trillion financial industry.

Before long, global banks came knocking. In 2013, for instance, Shane Zhang, co-head of Asia-Pacific investment banking at Morgan Stanley, met with Lai. Zhang said his company was “very optimistic” about the future of Huarong, according to a statement posted on Huarong’s website at the time.

Before Huarong went public in Hong Kong in 2015, it sold a $2.4 billion stake to a group of investors including Warburg Pincus, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., and Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund. BlackRock Inc. and Vanguard Group acquired lots of stock too, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The stock has collapsed 67% since its listing.

Lai had no trouble financing his grand ambitions. A big reason: Everyone thought Beijing would always stand behind a key company like Huarong. It easily borrowed money in the offshore market at rates as low as 2.1%. It borrowed still more in the domestic interbank market. Along the way Lai transformed Huarong into a powerful shadow lender, extending credit to companies that banks turned away.

The truth was darker. Lai, a former senior official at the nation’s banking regulator, doled out loans with little oversight from his board or risk management committee.

One Huarong credit officer said Lai personally called the shots on most of the offshore corporate loans underwritten by her division.

Money also flowed to projects disguised as parts of China’s push to build railroads, ports and more around the world – the so-called Belt and Road Initiative, according to an executive at a state bank. Huarong didn’t immediately reply to questions on its lending practices.

Given Lai’s fate, both people spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Huarong snapped up more than half of the 510 billion yuan in distressed debts disposed of by Chinese banks in 2016. At its peak, Lai’s sprawling empire had almost 200 units at home and abroad. Heboasted in 2017 that Huarong, having reached the Hong Kong stock exchange, would soon go public in mainland China, too.

The IPO never happened. Lai was arrested in 2018 and subsequently confessed to a range of economic crimes in a state TV show. He spoke of trunk-loads of cash being spirited into a Beijing apartment he’d dubbed “the supermarket.” Authorities said they discovered 200 million yuan there. Expensive real estate, luxury watches, art, gold – the list of Lai’s treasure ran on.

This past January, Lai wasfound guilty by the Secondary Intermediate People’s Court in Tianjin of accepting of $277 million in bribes between 2008 and 2018. He was put to death three weeks later – a rare use of capital punishment for economic crimes. Some took the execution as a message from China’s leader, Xi Jinping: my crackdown on corruption will roll on.

At Huarong, the bottom has fallen out. Net income plummeted 95% from 2017 to 2019, to 1.4 billion yuan, and then sank 92% during the first half of 2020. Assets have shriveled by 165 billion yuan.

The company on April 1 announced that it would delay its 2020 results, saying its auditor needed more time. The influential Caixin magazine this week openly speculated about Huarong’s fate, including the possibility of bankruptcy.

According to people familiar with the matter, Huarong has proposed a sweepingrestructuring. The plan would involve offloading its money-losing, non-core businesses. Huarong is still trying to get a handle on what those businesses might be worth. The proposal, which the government would have to approve, helps explain why the company delayed its 2020 results, the people said.

Company executives have been meeting with peers at state banks to assuage their concerns over the past two weeks, a Huarong official said.

The Chinese finance ministry has raised anotherpossibility: transferring its stake in Huarong to a unit of the nation’s sovereign wealth fund that could then sort out the assorted debt problems. Regulators have held several meetings to discuss the company’s plight, according to people familiar with the matter.

In an emailed response to questions from Bloomberg, Huarong said it has “adequate liquidity” and plans to announce the expected date of its 2020 earnings release after consulting with auditors. China’s banking and insurance regulator didn’t immediately respond to a request seeking comment on Huarong’s situation.

Rising Stress

Onshore bond defaults by China’s state firms hit a record in 2020

Source: Fitch Ratings; 2021 data are for the first quarter

One thing is sure: Huarong is part of a much bigger problem in China. State-owned enterprises are shouldering the equivalent of $4.1 trillion in debt, and a growing number of them are struggling to keep current with creditors. In all, SOEs reneged on a record 79.5 billion yuan of local bonds in 2020, lifting their share of onshore payment failures to 57% from just 8.5% a year earlier, according to Fitch Ratings. The figure jumped to 72% in the first quarter of 2021.

The shockwaves from Huarong and these broader debt problems have only begun to reverberate through Chinese finance. Dismantling all or part of Lai’s old empire would show Beijing is willing to accept short-term pain to instill financial discipline among state-owned enterprises.

The irony is that Huarong was supposed to fix China’s big debt problem, not cause a new one.

“Allowing a state-owned financial institution that undertook the task of resolving troubles of China’s financial system to fail is the worst way to handle risks,” said Feng Jianlin, a Beijing-based chief analyst at research institute FOST. “The authorities must consider the massive risk spillover effects.”

— With assistance by Charlie Zhu, Jun Luo, Zheng Li, Dingmin Zhang, Evelyn Yu, Rebecca Choong Wilkins, and Tongjian Dong

Loans Bad Credit Online – China’s Very Bad Bank: Inside the Huarong Debt Debacle

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