State of emergency in Arctic after 20,000 tonnes of diesel leaks into river 'threatening huge blaze'

ALMOST 20,000 tons of diesel has been released into an Arctic river in an ecological catastrophe thought to be caused by thawing permafrost.

Russian experts believe a giant fuel storage tank was damaged by collapsing soil due to polar warming.

Pictures show the horror unfolding in the Ambarnaya River near Norilsk in the Russian Arctic.

A video highlights how the river is covered in a toxic layer of diesel which can be set on fire.

The diesel seep is now flowing towards Lake Pyasino, which outflows as the Pyasina River into the Kara Sea, part of the Arctic Ocean.

A state of emergency has been declared in the region.

The exact reason of the leak is under investigation but a statement from Norilsk Nickel company which operates the site suggests subsidence caused by collapsing permafrost was to blame.

“Due to sudden subsidence of supports which served for more than 30 years without problems, the diesel fuel storage tank was damaged, resulting in a fuel leak,” said a statement from Norilsk Nickel, the world's largest producer of palladium and Russia’s leading nickel mining and smelting company.

Initially, it was thought the leak was caused by a car which erupted in flames close to the storage tank.

The vehicle was believed to have crashed into the facility – but now it appears that the permanently frozen ground under the tank caved in due to permafrost thawing.

There have been regular reports of warming weather in the Russian north.

Russia has brought in a special team from Murmansk to tackle what has been labelled an “ecological catastrophe”.

Norilsk Nickel said they have so far collected and pumped over 100 tons of fuel in the emergency area.

“The contaminated soil was replaced, the surface was treated with sorbents,” said a source.

“All soil has been removed for temporary storage to a territory with a waterproof coating.

“In the near future, petroleum products will be disposed of. ”

A second river – the Daldykan – has also suffered pollution.

The spillage threatens both migratory birds and spawning fish.

Ecological groups are monitoring the crisis.

If the permafrost collapse theory proves correct it poses huge potential problems for other oil and gas facilities built on the frozen soil in the Arctic as the climate warms.

Climate change explained

Here are the basic facts…

  • Scientists have lots of evidence to show that the Earth’s climate is rapidly changing due to human activity
  • Climate change will result in problems like global warming, greater risk of flooding, droughts and regular heatwaves
  • Each of the last three decades have been hotter than the previous one and 17 of the 18 warmest years on record have happened during the 21stcentury
  • The Earth only needs to increase by a few degrees for it to spell disaster
  • The oceans are already warming, polar ice and glaciers are melting, sea levels are rising and we’re seeing more extreme weather events
  • In 2015, almost all of the world's nations signed a deal called the Paris Agreement which set out ways in which they could tackle climate change and try to keep temperatures below 2C

In other news, the UN recently warned that humans risk living in an "empty world" if we don't halt the mass extinction of wildlife.

Humans are said to be putting more than one million animal species at risk of extinction.

And, here are some of the animals at risk of extinction and how we might save them.

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65% of pre-retirees worry they won't manage to pay for this major expense

Go into ‘conserve mode’ if coronavirus unemployment insurance starts running low: Chris Hogan

Financial expert Chris Hogan on saving up and cutting unnecessary spending if coronavirus unemployment insurance begins running out and the extra $600 payments end.

Retirement can be a daunting prospect, namely because of the vast expense it can entail. And while many Americans work hard and save diligently to avoid financial concerns later in life, sometimes, even the best savers worry about falling short in certain areas — like long-term care.

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A good 65% of pre-retirees are worried about that specific expense, according to a recent survey published by the Society of Actuaries. And when we look at the numbers involved, it's easy to see why.


What does long-term care look like today?

Long-term care can be an exorbitant expense — one that many people don't plan for properly. Here's what the costs involved look like today:

(Credit: Motley Fool)

But keep in mind that these are just averages, and in some parts of the country, you'll pay a lot more. Worse yet, Medicare generally won't pick up the tab for any type of care that's custodial in nature, not medical. And long-term care usually falls into that bucket.


Furthermore, it's too soon to tell whether the COVID-19 crisis will drive up the cost of long-term care, but the pandemic has certainly exposed vulnerabilities in nursing homes that will likely cost money to remediate. The potential result? An uptick in cost for seniors, and quite possibly a drastic one at that.

It's for these reasons that securing long-term care coverage is crucial. If you're slowly but surely inching toward retirement and you don't have a policy in place, now may be the time to get moving.


When to apply for long-term care

Generally speaking, your mid-50s are a good time to apply for long-term care coverage. That way, you're young enough to snag a decent rate on your premiums, but you're also not signing up to pay those premiums for too long.

Of course, you'll get varying levels of coverage depending on the policy — and premium — you choose, so make sure you understand exactly what you're signing up for when you apply for long-term care coverage. Specifically, you'll want to understand your policy's:

  • Maximum daily benefit
  • Maximum length of benefits
  • Waiting or elimination period before benefits kick in

Also, don't make the mistake of buying too much long-term care insurance. If you have a very healthy level of retirement savings, you may not need as large a policy as someone who doesn't.


Another thing you should know is that you can use a health savings account to pay for long-term care insurance premiums. If you're too young to apply for a policy but are eligible for a health savings account, now's the time to try maxing out your contributions.

The fact that most pre-retirees are worried about long-term care isn't shocking given the costs involved. The best way to protect yourself in that regard is to secure long-term care insurance. The right policy won't just pick up the tab for an assisted living facility or nursing home stay; it could buy you some much needed peace of mind as retirement gets closer.


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'Tesla of China' sales plunge amid coronavirus outbreak

Listing Chinese companies on US exchanges hurts individual investors: Muddy Waters Capital CIO

Muddy Waters Capital founder and CIO Carson Block on delisting Chinese companies from U.S. exchanges and the Chinese education company GSX.

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Nio Inc.’s first-quarter loss narrowed from a year ago, but sales plunged 16 percent as the COVID-19 pandemic led to a drop in vehicle deliveries.

The so-called Tesla of China lost 1.69 billion Chinese yuan ($238.9 million), or an adjusted 1.6 yuan per share, on revenue of 1.37 billion Chinese yuan ($193.8 million) in the three months through March, according to unaudited results.

Wall Street analysts were expecting an adjusted loss of 1.85 Chinese yuan per share on revenue of 1.67 billion Chinese yuan.

“We delivered a total of 3,838 ES8 and ES6 vehicles in the first quarter of 2020, representing a 3.8 percent year-on-year decrease, due to the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak in China in the first quarter,” CEO William Bin Li said in a statement.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
NIO NIO INC 4.17 +0.35 +9.16%

Nio delivered 3,155 vehicles in April, up 106% from the prior month. Since the end of April, order growth has “rebounded to the level prior to the COVID-19 outbreak,” the company said.

The Shangai-based electric-vehicle maker had 2.4 billion Chinese yuan ($338.6 million) in cash at the end of the quarter.


The company on April 29 reached an agreement with a group of investors who will put 7 billion Chinese yuan into Nio China, an entity that will house its core businesses and assets in China, amounting to about 85 percent of the company. Those assets include vehicle research and development, supply chain, sales and services and NIO Power.

Nio, which will inject another 4.26 billion Chinese yuan into the entity, will own a 75.9 percent controlling interest while the strategic partners will hold the remaining 24.1 percent. The investments are expected to take place in five installments during the second quarter.

"The strategic investment will provide sufficient funds to support NIO’s business development, enhance our leadership in the products and technologies of smart electric vehicles, and offer services exceeding users’ expectations,” Li said.


Looking ahead, Nio expects to deliver between 9,500 and 10,000 vehicles during the second quarter, up as much as 182 percent from the prior year. Revenue for the three months through June is projected at 3.37 billion Chinese yuan ($475.7 million) to 3.53 billion Chinese yuan ($499.1 million), up as much as 134 percent year-over-year.


Nio shares gained 3.73 percent this year through Wednesday.

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Hertz may be on verge of liquidation

Carl Icahn’s car-rental company Hertz may be skidding toward liquidation, The Post has learned.

The 102-year-old Hertz — known for tapping O.J. Simpson as its spokesman in the 1970s — could file for bankruptcy in the coming days tied to a tardy collateral payment next due on Friday.

As The Post has previously reported, the company’s executives have been trying to postpone the roughly $500 million payment — tied to the declining value of Hertz’s 500,000 cars — until after the coronavirus crisis passes. But so far they’ve failed to get enough lenders on board.

In the meantime, Wall Street financiers and analysts crunching the numbers say the former category leader might be worth more if it were sold in parts. If its senior lenders holding some $3.4 billion in debt agree, Hertz could be forced into liquidation even if it plans to continue operating with the consent of lenders through a Chapter 11, sources said.

“It may be in the interest of the senior lenders to liquidate,” said one Wall Street researcher. “I think it is a real distinct possibility.”

The researcher thinks Hertz’s creditors could fetch more than $2 billion through piecemeal sales, including two profitable business units — the Donlen division, which manages vehicle fleets for large companies like Anheuser-Busch and PepsiCo, and its European car-rental arm.

Other assets, including real estate, trademarks and its fleet of cars, could score another $750 million — for a total of $2.25 billion, or 66 cents on the dollar for senior lenders, the researcher said.

The researcher asked to remain anonymous because his firm has a stake in Hertz’s bankruptcy, but Jefferies analyst Hamzah Mazari also believes Hertz creditors could get a pretty penny selling off parts of the company.

While Mazari’s total numbers are more conservative — at $1.6 billion — it’s still more than creditors might expect otherwise. “I think liquidation is a possibility,” the analyst told The Post.

Hertz, which boasts Icahn as a 39 percent stakeholder, could also seek a buyer for the whole shebang, but with the industry in the tank during the pandemic, it could be hard to find someone willing to fork over enough to please creditors.

“Right now, I don’t think anyone will write that check,” a Hertz lender told The Post, adding that at least $1.5 billion would be required for creditors to agree to the deal. “Whether someone will invest depends on what happens in the economy.”

Hertz generated roughly $650 million in earnings before taxes, interest, depreciation and amortization in 2019, but it’s expected to make far less in the coming months and even years as its customers, including many corporations, have been severely hampered by the coronavirus outbreak.

European car-rental company Sixt has been looking to expand in the US and could be a logical suitor, sources said. Sixt also could seek to buy the Hertz trademarks out of bankruptcy for far less, sources added.

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Stock futures rise ahead of retail earnings

Kudlow: Entering gradual phase-in of coronavirus reopening

National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow on economic recovery from the coronavirus, helping workers and small businesses struggling from the outbreak and U.S.-China relations.

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U.S. equity futures are pointing to a higher open as a number of retailers prepare to report earnings.

The major futures indexes are indicating a gain of 1.1 percent when the Wall Street session begins.


Retailers including Target aand Lowe's will report their results on Wednesday.

Wall Street stocks ended broadly lower on Tuesday, as trading turned wobbly a day after the market notched its biggest jump in more than five weeks.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
I:DJI DOW JONES AVERAGES 24206.86 -390.51 -1.59%
SP500 S&P 500 2922.94 -30.97 -1.05%
I:COMP NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX 9185.104226 -49.72 -0.54%

The S&P 500 fell 1 percent after having been up by 0.4 percent in the early going. Losses in banks, health care stocks and household goods companies accounted for a big portion of the selling.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.6 percent. The Nasdaq composite dropped 0.5 percent.

Asian shares were mixed Wednesday as market players waffled between hopes for recovery as economies gradually reopen and worries over the havoc wreaked by the pandemic.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei rose 0.8 percent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.1 percent and China's Shanghai Composite fell 0.5 percent.

In Europe, London's FTSE slipped 0.2 percent, Germany's DAX declined 0.2 percent and France's CAC fell 0.8 percent.

Investors are betting that the economy and corporate profits will begin to recover from the coronavirus pandemic as the U.S. and countries around the world slowly open up again. However, concerns remain that the relaxing of stay-at-home mandates and the reopening of businesses could lead to another surge in infections, potentially ushering in another wave of shutdowns.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
WMT WALMART INC. 124.95 -2.71 -2.12%
KSS KOHL’S CORP. 17.38 -1.44 -7.65%

Walmart reported a 74 percent surge in fiscal first-quarter sales as people stocked up on crucial supplies while sheltering in place due to the coronavirus. Its earnings fell as it spent $900 million in additional compensation for workers, but still topped Wall Street's forecasts.

Kohl’s, whose stores have been closed during the outbreak, fell 7.7 percent after reporting that it swung to a $541 million quarterly loss as its revenue sank more than 40 percent.

Traders also hammered shares in Home Depot after the home improvement supply chain reported quarterly results that fell short of Wall Street's estimates.


Benchmark U.S. crude oil added 12 cents to $32.10 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained 31 cents to $31.96 on Tuesday. Brent crude oil, the international standard, rose 36 cents to to $35.00 a barrel.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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Fears of a PS5 shortage when the console launches this year as Sony 'plans limited output', report claims

THERE may well be a shortage of PlayStation 5 consoles when the machine hits shelves later this year.

That's because Sony is planning to limit the number of PS5s it builds during the gizmo's first year of release, according to a report.

The rumoured decision could mean gamers struggle to get their hands on the hotly-anticipated console, which will release worldwide in time for Christmas 2020.

The revelation comes courtesy of anonymous insiders speaking to Bloomberg.

"Sony Corp. plans to produce far fewer units of its upcoming PlayStation 5 in its first year than it had for the previous-generation console’s launch," the site reports.

The Tokyo tech titan allegedly intends to build five to six million units of the PS5 in the fiscal year ending March 2021.

That's considerably lower than the 7.5million units shipped during the PS4's first few months of release.

On top of that, Bloomberg confirms earlier rumours that the PS5 will come with a sky-high price tag.

Game developers who've been creating titles for the next PlayStation told the publication they anticipated a price "in the region of $499 to $549".

In the UK, gamers can expect a similar price tag, meaning somewhere around £499 to £449.

PlayStation releases – what's the history?

Here's what you need to know…

  • The original PlayStation launched in Europe in 1995
  • This was followed by the PlayStation 2 in the year 2000
  • The PlayStation 3 arrived over half a decade later, in 2006
  • Then gamers had to wait a further seven years for 2013's PS4 launch
  • Sony has announced it will release the PS5 around Christmas 2020

It's not clear what's pushed Sony to cut production, but the current global health crisis is a prime suspect.

Many factories in China – where Sony builds its consoles – have been shut for weeks to allow workers to stay home.

The Sun has reached out to Sony for comment.

Announced last year, the PS5 is the first major consoles in seven years from Sony.

The company has given gamers a vague "Holidays 2020" release date, but hasn't even published photos of the console yet.

Microsoft has confirmed it will release its own console, the Xbox Series X, around the same time.

Previously, experts have suggested the two companies will not have to delay the release of their consoles, despite the recent health crisis.

That's because the gaming giants could shift production to other countries to dodge productions woes.

"Xbox and PlayStation don’t have to be produced in China, but obviously that is the lowest cost country," industry analyst Michael Pachter told TechRadar.

"I think Sony and Microsoft will quietly arrange for production in Taiwan and Vietnam (at a cost of maybe $5 – 10 per unit more at most) just to be safe."

Loading up a game on the PlayStation 5 will be ten times faster than on PS4, according to Sony.

We're expecting new God of War and Horizon: Zero Dawn titles to launch with the console.

In other news, Sony recently unveiled images of the PS5 controller.

Microsoft will reportedly sell the Xbox Series X with access to more than 100 games for £25 a month.

And, these are the cheapest console bundles you can buy online right now.

What do you think of the PS5 news? Let us know in the comments!

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Call of Duty Warzone best guns – the fastest 'time to kill' weapons revealed

LOOKING for the best Call of Duty gun to play Warzone with? Some kill faster than others.

Gamers have tested different weapons – and it turns out that the FN FAL has the fastest kill rate.

However, that doesn't necessarily mean it's the best gun to choose.

Each gun has its own advantages and disadvantages, with time-to-kill being just one aspect to consider.

When choosing your firearm, consider recoil, range, mobility and more.

But one of the biggest deciding factors is how long it takes to kill an enemy – from the word go.

Reddit user Sorangkun compared Modern Warfare's assault rifles to see which one came out on top.

He did this by recording the length of time it took to kill a target, shooting it at below head-height.

Targets were equipped with three armour plates, which is a common scenario in Warzone.

And here are the results, in milliseconds:

  • 1. FN FAL – 480ms
  • 2. AK-47 – 535ms
  • 3. ODEN – 552ms
  • 4. RAM-7 – 544ms
  • 5. M4A1 – 576ms
  • 6. Kilo 141 – 616ms
  • 7. Grau 5.56 – 640ms
  • 8. M13 – 650ms
  • 9. SCAR – 700ms
  • 10. FR 5.56 – 834ms

So the FAL comes out top, which might surprise many gamers – as it's not particularly popular.

That's generally due to the difficulty of using it, with single shots and significant recoil.

Somewhat confusingly, the M4A1 – generally perceived to be the best assault rifle in the game – comes in at number 5.

However, the M4A1 is notable for being an excellent all-rounder, with low recoil, a fast fire rate, and high damage over range.

This means that although it doesn't have the strictest time to kill on paper, it's still arguably the most versatile gun.

Sorangkun also suggests an "ideal build" for the M4A1 in Warzone.

The attachments are:

  • Stock M16 Grenadier
  • Monolithic Supressor
  • Commando Foregrip
  • Extended Mag
  • No Stock

That should give you a fast kill-time with very minimal impact on mobility.

In other news, check out our guide to Call of Duty Modern Warfare season 3.

Call of Duty recently banned 50,000 Warzone players for cheating.

We reveal the best places to land in Warzone.

And here are some Warzone Plunder tips revealed by Pro gamer Spratt.

What's your favourite load-out in Warzone? Let us know in the comments!

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Number of Qantas crew with COVID-19 after Chile flight climbs to 11

The number of Qantas crew members confirmed to have contracted coronavirus after a flight from Chile to Sydney has climbed to 11, raising further questions about the current exemption from quarantine rules for airline crew.

The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age first reported on Monday that four crew members operating the March 28 flight from Santiago later tested positive for the virus, and can now reveal that number stands at 11.

Qantas and Virgin Australia are preparing to resume international flying to bring stranded Australians back to home.

Passengers from the flight were put into forced 14-day quarantine in city hotels, but 10 of the flight crew were free to return to their homes under an exemption for airline staff, which one leading epidemiologist has called “illogical”.

The federal exemption says returned airline crew are not required to self-isolate, go into quarantine or complete an "Isolation Declaration Card".

The 11 crew members included four on-duty flight attendants and a pilot operating the flight and other crew members who were returning to Australia on duty, including an engineer. The engineer was placed into quarantine but the other 10 were exempt.

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, the key decision-making body during the pandemic, issued the airline crew exemption. But said it is up to states and territories to enforce quarantine rules and that they can also “implement additional requirements at the point of arrival". There appears to be confusion between state and federal authorities about the exemption.

Qantas sources, who declined to be named because they do not have permission to talk about the company publicly, said police had visited crew member to ensure they were self-isolating following their return from overseas flights, despite advice from the federal government that self-isolation was not necessary.

Qantas' medical director Dr Ian Hosegood said the exemption for crew was critical to help stranded Australians get home safely and that the airline had introduced new measures to protect crew while they are overseas, including requiring them to stay in their hotel room between flights.

"Whilst our crew have followed all Australian and other government advice when they are overseas, in some destinations the local community spread had been underestimated by local health officials," Dr Hosegood said.

"For example, previously crew were allowed to interact within hotels, and we suspect that’s how a number of crew contracted the virus in Santiago."

Qantas and Virgin Australia are preparing to resume some international operations, with government-subsidised flights to London, Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Auckland set to bring stranded Australians home.

Professor Mary-Louise McLaws, an epidemiologist and member of the World Health Organisation's COVID-19 expert advisory panel, said this week that the exemption for airline crew was “illogical” and "a hole in the system".

"Anybody that’s a traveller is a risk and that remains a risk for spread in Australia, be they the captain, the crew or the passengers,” Professor McLaws said.

A federal department of health spokeswoman said aviation crew provided an "essential service that ensures Australians can return home and essential movements of critical goods and supplies can continue".

"While these groups are exempt from mandatory quarantine, all arrivals into Australia must continue to practise social distancing, cough etiquette and hand hygiene," he said.


An earlier version of this story said an exemption for airline crew had been issued by the Department of Health and Australian Border Force. The exemption was in fact issued by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee.

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Feeling the heat, Bank of America loosens criteria for small business pandemic loans

JPMorgan delays coronavirus business loans over litigation fears: Gasparino

Confusion and delays come with the small business loans program. FOX Business’ Charlie Gasparino with more.

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Bank of America said Saturday it’s expanding the list of customers eligible for a government-sponsored stimulus program designed to provide loans to small businesses hard-hit by the country's pandemic-related economic collapse.

The move follows intense criticism by Bank of America clients that the nation's second-largest lender was failing to properly process applications when the program commenced Friday morning.

In a statement, Bank of America said it had essentially scaled back the eligibility requirements to apply for loans that initially confused and angered many clients. The bank will now accept applications from small businesses if they had an individual or business checking account as of February 15 of this year as long as they have no borrowing or credit relationship with another bank.

As FOX Business has reported, Bank America clients say that they were turned away from the program if they didn't meet stricter requirements, such as having a business relationship and a credit card with the bank.

Katie Miller fills out shipping details for an order March 31 at Tennessee Valley Pecan Co. in Decatur, Ala. (Dan Busey/The Decatur Daily via AP)


FOX Business reported earlier in the week the turmoil among the bank's customers, who said they were being improperly rejected from the $350 billion small business loan program.

The small business loans are considered an integral part of the $2 trillion government pandemic stimulus efforts since companies with less than 500 employees comprise nearly 50 percent of the American workforce.

The confusion at the bank level was heightened by a bottleneck inside the government on lending rules. The Treasury Department, the lead agency in overseeing the loan program, had not delivered guidelines to the banks until Thursday night, just hours before lending was set to start on Friday morning.

President Trump, however, praised Bank of America's efforts in a tweet later Friday afternoon, saying officials at the bank were doing a "great job" doling out the loans despite the widespread complaints.

It is unclear why the president singled out Bank of America among the nation's top banks other than the possibility that the company was the first major financial institution to open the program Friday morning, while others like JPMorgan Chase began making loans later that day.

Small businesses have been ravaged by the economic slowdown that followed the country's massive quarantining to prevent spread of the novel coronavirus; the quarantines have continued as the death toll from the virus mounts, increasing unemployment to levels not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s.


In order to prevent a complete economic collapse, the small business loans are designed to keep salons, restaurants and other such outfits open while retaining much of their workforce until the virus's spread abates and the economy can begin climbing back to normal.

Under the plan, these businesses can apply for federal subsidized, low-interest loans for the lesser of $10 million or a percentage of their payroll. The government will pay off the loans made by the bank in their entirety if the business maintains its workforce.

A Bank of America spokesman would not comment on its about-face on eligibility other than saying the lender is operating with new criteria that will expand the number of clients eligible for loans.

"Now that SBA and Treasury have shared key implementation details and made important changes to the program, I expect banks of all sizes will participate and provide this important financial lifeline to small business customers," American Bankers Association President Rob Nichols tells FOX Business

A spokesman for the Treasury Department declined to comment beyond highlighting the “unprecedented” nature of the program and pointing out that billions of dollars in loans were registered on its first day.

But even as Bank of America expands eligibility for its loans, other more systemic problems are cropping up across the program. And many have to do with the halting guidance coming from the Treasury Department.

People at Bank of America tell FOX Business that the Treasury guidelines on eligibility remain unclear.


Another potential problem: Business owners have been given no insight into when they may actually get their hands on the money that they’ve been promised. And even bank officials aren’t completely sure what the answer is.

“We don’t want to fire people but we might not get this money in time,” one small business owner tells FOX Business. “There’s a deep lack of clarity about the timeline.”

As a result, while the bill is supposed to offer immediate economic relief, it could actually take weeks or maybe a month or more for money to reach the businesses in need of financing.

Other business owners tell FOX Business they worry the money isn't enough to support their current staff levels, since the loan terms are based on 2019 payroll numbers, and their workforce is significantly larger this year.

Of course, handing out $350 billion in small business loans — which is the target number in the government's pandemic economic relief effort — was never expected to run seamlessly.

According to one person familiar with the policymaking process, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, “there will be issues initially given the program was rolled out so quickly, but that doesn’t mean it will turn into," the controversial website created to handle President Obama's health-care initiative, which was plagued by technical errors during its launch in 2010.

Even as questions swirl about the effectiveness of the small business loan plan, White House officials are considering another round of small business loans, meaning possibly tens of billions of dollars more will be added to the program because the demand is so large.

By Saturday afternoon, several thousand applications had been processed for about $2 billion in loans, the Wall Street Journal reported, but that amount understates the size and scope of demand, people with direct knowledge of the matter tell FOX Business.


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Globalisation could run out of puff in post-coronavirus world

The coronavirus pandemic could upend globalisation by dismantling global supply chains as it accelerates trends like ecommerce, flexible employment arrangements and alters investor appetite for equities, according to Australian fund managers.

Hyperion chief investment officer Mark Arnold said globalisation could "absolutely" break down as travel bans and trade restrictions forced companies to re-examine distribution processes, the ongoing advances in robotics and potentially localise manufacturing.

"Having the whole world reliant on China for their supply chains was pretty stupid," he said. "As robotics get better and better, that will accelerate this trend to manufacture more in higher cost environments because you're close to the consumer."

Mark Arnold, the chief investment officer for Hyperion, says a post-coronavirus world will embrace technology and renewable energy.Credit:Glenn Hunt

Investors Mutual Limited senior portfolio manager Hugh Giddy agreed, saying while lower cost items like garments will likely remain offshore, 3D printing could be used to build electronics or medical prosthetics in Australia or America.

"In some cases it actually pays to be able to have a plant close to where the demand is rather than China or Vietnam," Mr Giddy said.

The comments come as the chief executive of the world's largest fund manager, Larry Fink, sent an email to shareholders this week warning the crisis would fundamentally reshape business and society.

Mr Arnold also said the post-coronavirus world would refocus the climate change debate and inspire global economies to switch towards renewable energy as major changes to normal operations had proved to have drastic impacts on pollution.

"Now that they can see the impact of switching off the economy for a period of time and how much pollution there was when things were operating as normal and how much cleaner it was when we flick that off," he said. "In the longer term, with this event will probably have the impact of forcing govenrments to actually move more quickly towards dealing with climate change."

The current disruption was likely to last six months which could speed up longer-term trends, including the decline of bricks and mortar retail and physical office spaces, according to Mr Arnold.

"In stable economic times, there's a lot of inertia and people just fall into habits of doing certain things," Mr Arnold said. "In times of a crisis, you're forced to change habits."

There would be less international travel, Mr Arnold said, and advances in technology meant employers would embrace alternative working arrangements which could have positive flow-on effects to both businesses and employees.

"It's good for business because they can save money and good for happiness levels for workers as well," he said. "A shorter commute or even a non-commute is one of the most important things in terms of happiness levels."

The vice chairman of Crestone, Clark Morgan, said there was no replacement for face to face meetings but the corporate world's newfound appreciation for working from home arrangements was good news for new parents.

"The idea that a mother with a young child might be able to work for two hours when the baby is asleep is great," Mr Morgan said. "Now every industry has been forced to participate flexible working hours, I think that could be a significant change in the way we view the whole structure of commercial operations and how we can get the best out of the workforce."

Investor appetite for risk was also changing, with the extreme market volatility shaking confidence globally. Mr Morgan said his clients have become more aware of their exposure to equities and have requested to further diversify portfolios.

"Many in the high net worth segment of the market considered themselves to be conservative investors but when you looked at their portfolios they were actually aggressive," he said. "They will turn to diversification."

Hyperion's deputy chief investment officer Jason Orthman said investors were looking to put money into companies with earnings growth and potential beyond the value of its share price and the coronavirus crisis would trigger a turn away from a "scatter gun" approach of index investing.

"The lightbulb should come on this time. It's been a lot more brutal than the GFC so investors might start changing the way they think about finding a collective of quality companies," Mr Orthman said.

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