More than 4 million homeowners skip mortgage payments amid coronavirus crisis

Fewer Americans are calling their mortgage servicers to ask for relief from mortgage payments, but the housing industry isn’t out of the woods yet.

More than 4.1 million homeowners are in forbearance plans now, according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

While mortgage servicers are still facing stress because of the record deluge of requests for payment relief, signs suggest that homeowners’ prospects have improved as parts of the country have begun to emerge from coronavirus stay-at-home orders.

Overall, 8.16% of all mortgages were in forbearance as of May 10, meaning borrowers can either skip or make reduced payments, the trade group said. That was up from 7.91% as of May 3, which is the smallest increase since March. Forbearance requests dropped from 0.52% of the total mortgage volume to 0.32%.

“There has been a pronounced flattening in loans put into forbearance — despite April’s uniformly negative economic data, remarkably high unemployment, and it now being past May payment due dates,” Mike Fratantoni, chief economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association, said in the report.

The potential exception to this trend is the segment of the market for loans backed by Ginnie Mae, including Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and Veterans Affairs (VA) loans. More than 11% of Ginnie Mae loans are in forbearance because of the coronavirus outbreak. These loans tend to go to borrowers who are first-time homeowners with weaker credit — people who could be more exposed to the economic downturn the pandemic has caused.

While the pace of homeowners requesting forbearance has slowed, the end of the mortgage industry’s troubles isn’t necessarily in sight. A recent report from U.K.-based economic forecasting firm Oxford Economics estimates that 15% of homeowners will fall behind on their monthly mortgage payments.

The outlook for homeowners will likely depend on their ability to bounce back, particularly for those who have lost their jobs. The good news for mortgage lenders is that job losses caused by the coronavirus have largely been concentrated in the service sector, according to a report from First American Financial FAF, +6.59% , a title insurance company. Because these jobs are lower skilled and lower paid, it’s less likely that the newly unemployed already owned homes.

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Thai GDP Falls At Fastest Pace In 8 Years; Govt Cuts Outlook

Thailand’s economy contracted at the fastest pace in more than eight years in the first quarter as coronavirus, or Covid-19, pandemic dampened tourism and trade, data from the National Economic and Social Development Council, or NESDC, showed on Monday.

Gross domestic product decreased by 1.8 percent year-on-year, following a rise of 1.5 percent in fourth quarter of 2019.

This was the biggest fall since the fourth quarter of 2011, when GDP was down 4 percent. This was also the first drop since early 2014. Nonetheless, the contraction was slower than the economists’ forecast of -4 percent.

On a quarterly basis, the economy shrank 2.2 percent after easing 0.2 percent in the fourth quarter.

According to planning agency, the economy will shrink 5.0-6.0 percent this year compared to a growth of 1.5 percent -2.5 percent projected in February.

Although the slump in the economy was less severe than expected in the first quarter, this will provide little comfort, Gareth Leather, an economist at Capital Economics, said. The second quarter data are set be much worse.

On the expenditure side, private final consumption expenditure grew 3.0 percent annually, following a 4.1 percent growth in the fourth quarter. However, the decline in government spending deepened to 2.7 percent from 0.9 percent.

Due to a fall in private investment, gross fixed capital formation was down 6.5 percent, reversing a 0.8 percent rise seen a quarter ago.

Exports of goods and services contracted 6.7 percent after a 3.4 percent drop a quarter ago. At the same time, imports slid at a slower pace of 2.5 percent following a 7.9 percent decrease in the previous quarter.

On the production-side, agricultural output decreased 5.7 percent, compared to a fall of 2.5 percent in the fourth quarter. Non-agricultural production declined 1.4 percent, in contrast to a rise of 2 percent in the preceding period.

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What to do if your credit card gets declined

It can be embarrassing, but it’s not necessarily your fault. (iStock)

Credit cards work on revolving credit, which means you have a credit line with a limit on how much you can spend. As you pay off some or all of your balance, that credit is available to use again.

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When you see a character’s credit card declined in a movie or TV show, it’s typically because the card has been maxed out. But there are several other reasons your credit card issuer may choose to decline a transaction.

Here are some credit card basics you should know if the situation happens to you.

Knowing the reason for your credit card being declined can help you determine the next steps and how long it will take before you can use the account again. Here are some potential reasons your credit card was declined.


Why your credit card was likely declined

Card limit

You’ve reached your credit limit. It’s important to keep an eye on your credit card account to avoid this, but it can still happen, especially if you have a low credit limit. If this happens, pay down your balance before you try to use it again. Depending on the card issuer, it can take a few days for a payment to go through.

Credit card transaction 

You have a large pending transaction or hold. While it can take a few days for a transaction to post to your account, your available credit is reduced by both posted and pending transactions.


It’s also possible that a rental car company, hotel, or gas station has placed a hold on your account to ensure there’s enough available credit for their transaction. If this happens, you may need to wait until the hold falls off, which can take several days, or pay down your balance, so you have more room on your credit line.

Fraud alerts

Your purchase was flagged as fraud. If you’ve made a purchase outside of your normal spending habits, your card issuer could decline it because it thinks the transaction is fraudulent. In this case, you may receive a phone call, text or email from your card issuer to confirm that it’s you using the card. If confirmed, you can usually use the card again immediately. If you don’t get a message, use a backup payment method and call your card issuer to resolve the issue.

Credit card expiration

The card information is incorrect or expired. Credit cards are usually good for a few years before they need to be replaced. If your card has expired, you’ll need to get a new one to be able to use the account. Also, make sure you enter your card information correctly when shopping online.

 Missed payment

You’re behind on payments. If you’re delinquent on your payments, your card issuer may prohibit you from using the account until you get caught up. If this happens, get current on the account as quickly as possible.

How do you fix a declined credit card?

While having your credit card declined doesn’t happen often, it’s typically a good idea to have a backup payment method, such as a second credit card, a debit card, or cash. If a transaction doesn’t go through on your credit card, you can simply move onto your backup payment method without holding up the checkout line.


Once you’ve completed the transaction—or beforehand, if you specifically want to use the card in question—contact your issuer via the phone number on the back of your card and speak to a customer service representative to find out what happened.

In some cases, it may have been a simple misunderstanding or common reason and the representative can fix quickly the issue so the authorized user can use the card again immediately. In other cases, however, you may need to wait before the issue is resolved. The timing can vary depending on the reason for the decline.

Credit card tips everyone should know

If you want to use your card responsibly and take advantage of its features, here are some general credit card tips to help:

  • Always keep a backup payment method in case your first doesn’t work.
  • Pay your bill on time and in full every month to avoid interest charges.
  • Keep your balance low relative to your credit limit to maintain a good credit score.
  • Avoid using the card to make unnecessary purchases.
  • Keep track of your account balance and transactions to spot fraud.

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Alibaba’s Jack Ma quits SoftBank board after $18B Vision Fund loss

Billionaire Alibaba founder Jack Ma on on Monday resigned from SoftBank’s board in what is the latest departure by a high-profile ally of CEO Masayoshi Son.

SoftBank didn’t give a reason for Ma’s resignation, but it came the same day that SoftBank’s giant Vision Fund reported a staggering $18 billion annual operating loss — the company’s worst ever — fueled by $10 billion worth of losses at money-losers WeWork and Uber.

The departure of China’s richest man from the board arrives just months after he retired as Alibaba’s executive chairman in September in order to spend more time focusing on philanthropy.

To replace Ma, SoftBank will propose three new board appointments at its June 25 general meeting. The new additions come at the behest of activist investor Paul Singer’s hedge fund Elliott Management, which has pressed the Japanese conglomerate to improve board diversity, and also wants a new subcommittee to oversee the investment process at the $100 billion fund.

Ma’s exit follows the departure of Tadashi Yanai, founder and CEO of Uniqlo parent Fast Retailing, who resigned from the board late last year to focus on his fashion business.

Son, who has been pressured by Elliott to make share buybacks and bolster governance, said SoftBank would raise 1.25 trillion yen against its stake in Alibaba.

“The coronavirus is an unprecedented crisis,” a notably downbeat Son said during his earnings presentation, comparing it to the Great Depression and saying some of his tech unicorns had fallen “into the valley of the coronavirus”.

“I believe some of them will fly over the valley,” he added, standing beside a slide depicting cartoon unicorns dropping into a hole as a lone winged unicorn escaped to the other side.

SoftBank provided scant detail on which companies saw writedowns but offered a sector breakdown showing investments in construction and real estate were worth less than half of cost price, with flagship transportation investments also underwater.

With Post wires.

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Firms slash entry-level jobs by almost quarter owing to coronavirus

School leavers and graduates hoping to enter the labour market in Britain this year will struggle to find employment as firms slash entry-level jobs by nearly a quarter owing to the coronavirus crisis, a report warns.

All types of entry-level roles have been reduced this year by 23%, said the Institute of Student Employers (ISE), with the “volatile” jobs market forecast to shrink further as 15% of employers expect to scale back recruitment further in 2021.

The latest findings appear to reflect concerns that the pandemic is likely to hit the job prospects of young people the hardest.

Employers are seeking 32% fewer entrants on apprentice or school leaver programmes than originally planned for this year, according to the ISE report, while graduate jobs have been cut by 12%. Internships and placements will also slump, by 40%, says the report, which is supported by the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (Agcas).

Even existing job offers are not secure, with one in seven employers admitting they have already withdrawn them and a further 14% considering reneging in the coming weeks. Almost a third of employers (31%) are delaying start dates and more than half are planning to induct new starters remotely.

Stephen Isherwood, the chief executive of the ISE, said: “There is no denying that this will be a challenging year for young people entering the labour market.

“Some employers are backing graduates over non-graduates and others have found it too difficult to start new apprenticeships, which means that school leavers will be among the hardest hit by the crisis.

“This doesn’t mean that students should assume the jobs market is dead. Many employers are recruiting and history tells us that we still see unfilled vacancies in a downturn. Switching off is the worst thing students can do. It will only hinder their prospects further when the upturn comes and the jobs market recovers.”

Health and pharmaceuticals was found to be the only sector set to increase entry-level recruitment this year while the built environment, finance, professional services, energy and engineering were making the biggest cuts.

Some of the UK’s biggest employers have already cancelled or delayed recruitment schemes and internships. Lloyds Banking Group, HSBC and the accountants PwC and BDO are among the large companies that have been forced to make changes to their recruitment plans because of the crisis.

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California officials deny Musk's SpaceX subsidy request after union objects

Elon Musk vs. coronavirus lockdown rules was ‘old Western standoff’: Wall Street analyst

Daniel Ives of Wedbush Securities provides insight into Tesla’s California plan reopening, whether Elon Musk will move the company to another state and reports that Uber is looking to acquire GrubHub.

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California officials denied SpaceX's request for a $655,500 in worker training subsidies on Friday after the Teamsters union sent a letter asking them to reject the request from Elon Musk's company because it's "not deserving of taxpayers' dollars."

California's Employment Training Panel, an eight-person board that includes four labor officials, voted down SpaceX's request.


"It is time for Elon Musk [and] Silicon Valley to slow down and stop breaking things at the expense of workers, and instead help create a California that works for all," board member Gretchen Newsom wrote on Twitter on Saturday. Newsom is also political director of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 569.

The panel's decision comes after Musk clashed with officials in California's Alameda County over reopening a Tesla plant and threatened to move operations out of the state.

Elon Musk, Founder and Chief Engineer of SpaceX, attends the Satellite 2020 Conference in Washington, DC, United States on March 9, 2020. (Photo by Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

"In his role as Tesla CEO, Mr. Musk violated the National Labor Relations Act in 2017 when he illegally threatened and retaliated against workers who supported a union, as an administrative law judge ruled last September," Teamsters leaders wrote in the letter. "He also violated Alameda County rules and reopened the luxury auto maker’s plant in Fremont this week despite the county’s health concerns."


Neither SpaceX nor Tesla are unionized.

FOX Business' inquiries to the California Employee Training Panel and SpaceX were not returned at the time of publication.


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Coronavirus package | What are the measures announced by the government to deal with the farm crisis?

The story so far: With mandi closures and supply chain disruptions causing havoc in agricultural marketing, the COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on some of the critical infrastructure gaps and long-pending governance issues that plague the farm sector. The third tranche of the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan listed measures to deal with those gaps, though there has been no announcement on an immediate economic stimulus for the sector.

What are the reforms announced in the farm sector?

The third tranche announced on Friday focused on long-term issues in the agricultural sector, by promising financing to strengthen infrastructure, build better logistics and ramp up storage capacities, as well as proposing three major governance and administrative reforms that have been in the pipeline for many years.

Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan | First tranche | Second tranche | Third tranche | Fourth tranche

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s rationale for the third tranche was that improving farmers’ income needed such long-term investments and changes, rather than a focus on short-term crop loans. However, a number of farmers and activists said that in the light of the COVID-19 crisis, immediate support and relief in the form of cash transfers, loan waivers, and compensation for unsold produce should have come before long-term reforms.

How will they change the agriculture sector?

Taking the opportunity of a crisis situation, the Finance Minister has pushed through reforms that the Centre has been trying to implement for years.

For instance, the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 came into being at a time of food scarcity and famine; last year’s Economic Survey called it an “anachronistic legislation”. It allows the government to control price rise and inflation by imposing stock limits and movement restrictions on commodities, giving States the power to regulate dealer licensing, confiscate stock and even jail traders who fail to comply with restrictions. Earlier this year, it was used to control soaring onion prices.

Traders have long complained of harassment under the Act on the suspicion of hoarding, black marketing and speculation, while food processors and exporters have also pointed out that they may need to stock commodities for longer periods of time. The Act has disincentivised construction of storage capacity and hindered farm exports. Discussions about amending or repealing the Act have been going on for almost two decades. On Friday, the Finance Minister announced that the Act would be amended to deregulate six categories of agricultural foodstuffs: cereals, pulses, edible oils, oilseeds, potato and onion. Stock limits on these commodities will not be imposed except in times of a national calamity or a famine, and will not be imposed at all on food processors or value chain participants, which/who will be allowed to store as much as allowed by their installed capacity. Exporters will also be exempted.

It is hoped that the amendment will bring more private investment into warehouses and post-harvest agricultural infrastructure, including processors, mills and cold chain storage. It could help farmers sell their produce at more competitive rates if there is no fear of government intervention to artificially suppress market prices, and is likely to give a boost to farm exports.

What about the other planned reforms?

The Centre plans to bring in a new federal law to break the nearly half-century long monopoly of the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) mandis. It has already tried the route of trying to coax State governments into adopting its Model APMC Amendment Act which aims at developing unified State-level markets by offering a State-wide licence and single point levy of market fees while also allowing private markets, direct marketing, ad hoc wholesale buying and e-trading. However, only a few large States ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party, including Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, have amended their Acts. Now, the Centre proposes to bypass States altogether by bringing in a federal law to abolish inter-State trade barriers. The hope is that these reforms will bring in more options for the farmer, offering more competitive prices if there is a wider choice of buyers. The plan to bring in a legal framework for contract farming also aims to provide more certainty and choice for farmers, although some experts caution that recent drafts of contract farming law promote the interests of the large corporate player at the expense of safeguarding the small farmer.

How are infrastructure investments expected to help?

Reforming governance structures is of no use unless there is infrastructure on the ground to enable farmers to take advantages of the wider choices with which they are being provided. A ₹1-lakh crore agriculture infrastructure fund run by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development will help create affordable and financially viable post-harvest management infrastructure at the farm gate and aggregation points. The Finance Minister emphasises that her announcements would also bring better infrastructure and logistics support to fish workers, dairy and other livestock farmers, beekeepers and vegetable and medicinal plant growers. She also offered support to lakhs of small informal food processors, mostly women, who need technical upgradation and marketing support in order to compete in a changing marketplace.

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German Economy Shrinks Most Since 2009 In Q1, Enters Recession

The German economy contracted at the fastest pace since the global financial crisis in 2008-09 in the first quarter, as the nationwide lockdown to contain the coronavirus spread weighed on consumption and overseas demand, pushing the economy into a recession.

Gross domestic product fell 2.2 percent sequentially, which was the biggest fall since the first quarter of 2009, preliminary data from Destatis revealed Friday.

This was also the second largest decrease since German unification. The GDP rate came in line with economists’ expectations.

The stagnation in the fourth quarter was revised to reveal a 0.1 percent contraction.

Two consecutive quarters of contraction indicates that the largest euro area economy entered a technical recession.

The statistical office forecast 10 percent economic contraction in the second quarter.

On a yearly basis, GDP declined by calendar-adjusted 2.3 percent in the first quarter versus a 0.4 percent rise in the fourth quarter. Detailed GDP data is due on May 25.

Price-adjusted GDP dropped 1.9 percent annually, in contrast to an expansion of 0.2 percent seen in the fourth quarter. Economists had forecast a 1.6 percent fall.

Household final consumption expenditure fell sharply and gross fixed capital formation in machinery and equipment decreased considerably from previous quarter.

However, final consumption expenditure of general government and gross fixed capital formation in construction had a stabilizing effect and prevented a larger GDP decrease.

Meanwhile, both exports and imports logged a strong decline on the fourth quarter.

Although the economy logged a notable contraction, Germany fared much better than France and Italy, where GDP declined 5.8 percent and 4.7 percent, respectively, in the first quarter.

Further, data showed that German employment increased by 147,000, or 0.3 percent in the first quarter from the last year. However, such a small annual increase was last reported in the second quarter of 2010.

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Will you get a second coronavirus stimulus check? Everything we know so far

Will Congress pass another stimulus package?

FOX Business’ Hillary Vaughn says House Democrats are preparing to roll out an additional phase of funding in a CARES Act 2.0 bill that could exceed $2 trillion. Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., later argues he doesn’t want to spend more money without cutting funds in other places.

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The worst economic catastrophe since the Great Depression prompted lawmakers earlier this year to send a direct check of up to $1,200 to millions of Americans impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, but the outlook is hazy for a second cash payment.

House Democrats unveiled a $3 trillion relief package on Tuesday that would send another round of $1,200 checks to American adults and children and expand the number of people who are eligible to receive the government aid. The payments would be capped at $6,000 per household.


“We’re talking about that with a number of different people," President Trump said earlier this week. "We’re talking about a payroll tax. I want to see various things, but we’re talking about that. We’re negotiating with the Democrats.”

But the House bill faces a steep, uphill battle: Senate Republicans have decried the bill as a "liberal wish list" and declared it stands no chance of passage.

Republicans have not yet released a relief bill, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday it could include enhanced medical malpractice protections for health care providers on COVID-19 cases and new legal protections for businesses, nonprofits and government agencies.


McConnell and other Republicans have said they want to pause and allow the nearly $3 trillion in spending already approved to begin trickling through the economy before passing additional aid.

On Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, a Republican, issued a stark warning about the state of the U.S. economy, warning the recession could become "prolonged" if the federal government does not pass additional policy measures. He did not specify which policies should be considered.

"Additional fiscal support could be costly, but worth it if it helps avoid long-term economic damage and leaves us with a stronger recovery," Powell said. "This tradeoff is one for our elected representatives, who wield powers of taxation and spending."


So far, Congress has passed four massive stimulus packages totaling nearly $3 trillion to blunt the economic pain from the virus outbreak. That includes the $2.2 trillion CARES Act signed into law at the end of March, which sent one-time payments of up to $1,200 to Americans who earn less than $99,000.

Some Democrats have taken a different approach to stimulus measures. Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Ed Markey, D-Mass. unveiled a bill earlier this month that would give most Americans a monthly payment of $2,000 until the virus outbreak begins to fade.

Similar to a House bill proposed in mid-April, the senators called for $2,000 cash payments to every American who earns less than $120,000. it would expand to $4,000 for married couples and also provided an extra $2,000 for each child up to three.


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Coronavirus pandemic eroded Americans' financial wellness, Fed says

Fed’s Powell warns coronavirus could cause prolonged recession

FOX Business’ Edward Lawrence on Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s comments on coronavirus’ economic impact.

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The coronavirus pandemic has battered Americans' finances, with nearly one-fifth of workers saying their job has been affected by the crisis, the Federal Reserve said in a new report released Thursday.

From the beginning of March through early April, 19 percent of adults reported losing a job, being furloughed or having their hours reduced, according to the Federal Reserve's Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking.

The report measures the economic well-being of households throughout the nation; though it was initially conducted in October, the U.S. central bank did a smaller supplemental survey in April to gauge the virus outbreak's impact on Americans' finances.


The study found that more than one-third expect to struggle to pay their bills in April. Among those who'd lost a job or had hours reduced, 35 percent did not expect to be able to pay all of their bills. A substantial number of adults said they were financially vulnerable and either could not pay their current month's bills in full, or would have struggled to do so if hit with an unexpected $400 bill.

Still, individuals who had been laid off remained optimistic: About 91 percent anticipated they would return to work for the same employer or indicated that they had already returned to the job.

The job losses appeared to be concentrated among low-income workers: About 39 percent of individuals working in February with a household income below $40,000 reported losing their job in March.


Fewer adults reported that they were doing okay financially in April, compared to six months earlier. In April, only 43 percent said they were "doing okay," down from 75 percent of adults who said they were "doing okay" in October. About 29 percent of Americans reported "living comfortably," in April, down from 36 percent in the fall of 2019.

The report comes on the heels of another bleak Labor Department report, which revealed that in the two months since pandemic gripped the nation and forced an unprecedented shutdown of businesses, more than 36 million Americans have filed for first-time unemployment benefits.


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