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Largest US mall owner, Simon Property, Furloughs 30% Of Workforce, Adding To Avalanche Of C19 Related Retail Layoffs

The biggest U.S. mall owner, Simon Property Group, has furloughed about 30% of its workforce, CNBC has learned, as the company copes with all of its properties being temporarily shut because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The furloughs impact full- and part-time workers, at its Indianapolis headquarters and at its malls and outlet centers across the U.S., a person familiar with the situation told CNBC. The person asked to remain anonymous because the information has not been disclosed publicly.

Simon permanently laid off some employees also, but the exact number could not be immediately determined.

CEO David Simon will not receive a salary during the pandemic, the person said. Salaries of upper-level managers at the real estate company will be cut by up to 30%.

As of Dec. 31, Simon had roughly 4,500 employees, of which 1,500 were part time, according to its latest annual filing. About 1,000 of those people worked from Simon’s Indianapolis headquarters, it said.

A representative from Simon did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Wave of retail furloughs

To date, hundreds of thousands of workers in the retail industry have been furloughed because of COVID-19, between recent announcements from J.C. PenneyMacy’sKohl’sGap, Loft-owner Ascena and others. 

Luxury retailer Neiman Marcus is furloughing most of its about 14,000 workers. 

With a $4.3 billion debt load, Neiman Marcus has been on many analysts’ so-called bankruptcy watch lists, as it is in more financial distress than some of its peers. The coronavirus will prove to be a bigger burden for these companies already fighting to stay in business. 

“Unlike past recessions, this does not seem like companies are trying to figure out how to run their businesses on lighter operations … or adjust their expense structure to their revenue base,” BMO Capital Markets analyst Simeon Siegel told CNBC. “This seems like companies are trying to press pause on the world.” 

Department store chain Macy’s said Monday it is moving to the “absolute minimum workforce needed to maintain basic operations.” It has furloughed the majority of its workforce, which is roughly 130,000 people. 

“While the digital business remains open, we have lost the majority of our sales due to the store closures,” a Macy’s spokeswoman told CNBC in an emailed statement. 

Kohl’s, meantime, said Monday it will be furloughing about 85,000 of its approximately 122,000 employees. 

Penney announced Tuesday it is furloughing the majority of its hourly store workers, effective Friday. Starting Sunday, the company said a “significant portion” of workers at its headquarters in Texas will be furloughed. It had previously started furloughing workers for its supply chain division and at its logistics centers. And Penney said Tuesday that these furloughs will continue. 

Apparel maker Gap is furloughing the majority of its store teams in the U.S. and Canada, or roughly 80,000 people, pausing pay but continuing to offer “applicable benefits” until stores reopen, it said. 

Ascena Retail Group, which owns Ann Taylor and Loft, said it is furloughing all of its store workers and half of its corporate staff. As of Aug. 3, Ascena employed 53,000 people. 

Tailored Brands, which owns Men’s Warehouse and Jos. A. Bank, has furloughed all of its store workers in the U.S., in addition to a “significant portion” of workers in its distribution centers and related offices. 

Urban Outfitters said Tuesday it is furloughing a “substantial” number of store, wholesale and home office employees for 60 days, effective this Wednesday. 

Nordstrom, Victoria’s Secret parent L Brands, David’s Bridal, Steve Madde and Designer Brands are among the other retailers that have announced their plans to furlough workers, amidst the coronavirus pandemic, where already so far at least 164,610 cases have been reported in the U.S., according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University. 

As retailers are working to slash costs, the furloughs are more akin to “Band-Aids” than a “structural shift” in these retailers’ business models, Siegel said. “Ultimately Band-Aids don’t heal.” 

The layoffs and furloughs at Simon show the commercial real estate industry is not immune to this, either. 

Similar cuts are expected to happen at other U.S. mall owners in the coming weeks, or days. Simon on March 18 announced it would be closing all of its properties temporarily, to try to help halt the spread of COVID-19. Others, such as Taubman CentersWashington Prime Group and Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, have followed suit. 

Rent is due

These landlords are grappling with the fact that countless retailers and restaurants, with their stores temporarily shut, will not be able to pay April rent. High-end mall owner Taubman, however, has sent a letter to its tenants saying they must still meet their lease obligations. 

Talks between many tenants and their landlords remain ongoing, as some are trying to work out abatements or deferrals. Mall owners still have their own obligations, such as utility bills and mortgage payments, that must be met. 

The Cheesecake Factory, which has 294 locations in North America, has already said publicly that it will not be paying rent in April. Simon has 29 Cheesecake Factory locations, more than any of its peers, according to an analysis by RBC Capital Markets and CoStar Realty. 

Simon on March 16 announced it had amended and extended its $6 billion revolving credit facility and term loan, giving it additional liquidity. 

Simon shares have fallen more than 60% this year. It has a market value of about $17.3 billion. 

Source: by Lauren Thomas | CNBC

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Coronavirus job losses could total 47 million, unemployment rate may hit 32%, Fed estimates

J.C. Penney furloughs most of its 90,000 workers as stores remain closed until further notice

Macy’s will furlough the majority of its 125,000 employees

Kohl’s to keep its stores closed indefinitely, plans to furlough store employees

Gold Silver Ratio Spikes Through 100 Year High

The gold / silver ratio. It’s simple: Take the price of an ounce of gold and divide it by the price of an ounce of silver. Presto; the resulting number is the gold / silver ratio.

104 Gold Silver ratio

The ratio is most useful at its extremes. When the ratio has topped 80, it has signaled a time when silver was relatively inexpensive relative to gold. Silver went on to rally 40%, 300%, and 400% the last three times this happened.

Likewise, the three times the gold / silver ratio has fallen below 20 in the past, it has marked a period when gold was relatively inexpensive compared to silver.

This is the best of savvy investment strategy; take a simple mathematical equation and track historical price behavior. When relative valuations hit extremes and then revert to historical means time and time again, we seek to buy these temporary under valuations and wait for their inevitable pendulum swing in the opposite direction.

Adapted from GoldSilver.com

Bullion Shortages Hit As Price Of Physical Decouples From Paper Precious Metals

(BullionStar.com) In the last month, from 14 February 2020 to 14 March 2020, we have seen a record number of orders, record order revenue and a record number of visits to our newly renovated and extended bullion centre at 45 New Bridge Road in Singapore.

For the above-mentioned period, we have served 2,626 customers with a sales revenue of more than SGD 50 M, which is 477% higher compared to the same period last year.

The last few days have been our busiest days of all time. Our staff members have been doing a fantastic job in going out of their way to serve as many customers as possible.

Gold & Silver Shortages – Supply Squeeze

The enormous increase in demand is straining our supply chains. BullionStar has supplier relations with most of the major refineries, mints and wholesalers around the world. Most of our suppliers don’t have any stock of precious metals and are not taking orders currently. The U.S. Mint for example announced just this Thursday that American Silver Eagle coins are sold out. The large wholesalers in the U.S. are completely sold out of ALL gold and ALL silver and are not able to replenish.

We are already sold out of several products and will sell out of additional products shortly if this supply squeeze continues. All products listed as “In Stock” on our website are available for immediate delivery. For items listed as “Pre-Sale”, the items have been ordered and paid by us with incoming shipments on the way to us.

Paper Gold vs. Physical Gold

As we have repeated frequently over the years, only physical gold is a safe haven.

It’s noteworthy that the paper price of gold, although up 5.7% Year-to-Date denominated in SGD, has been trading downward in the last few days.

Paper gold is traded on the unallocated OTC gold spot market in London and on the COMEX futures market in New York. Both of these markets are derivative markets and neither is connected to the physical gold market.

This means that the physical gold market is a price taker, inheriting the price from the paper market, and that the derivative markets are the exclusive and dominant price makers. The entire market structure of this financialized gold trading is flawed. So while there is unprecedented demand for physical gold, this is not reflected in the gold price as derived by COMEX and the London unallocated spot market.

By now it is abundantly clear that the physical gold market and paper gold market will disconnect.

If the paper market does not correct this imbalance, widespread physical shortages of precious metals will be prolonged and may lead to the entire monetary system imploding.

And with progressive central banks in Eastern Europe and Asia having stocked up on gold in the last three years, gold will likely be the anchor of the new monetary system arising out of the ashes.

Mainstream media assertions that “Gold has been stripped of its Safe Haven Status” are utterly ridiculous and distorted beyond belief, when in fact the complete opposite is true. Unbacked paper gold and silver may be stripped of safe haven status, but certainly not real physical gold bullion.

Physical Premiums & Spreads

The current supply squeeze and physical bullion shortage has caused and is causing an increase in price premiums. It’s currently difficult and expensive for us to acquire any inventory. We have therefore had to increase premiums on products to compensate for the constraints. We have endeavored to also raise our prices offered to customers selling to us, but with the extreme volatility and wild price fluctuations, the spread between the buy and sell price may temporarily be larger than normal. It is regrettable that premiums and spreads are larger than normal but it is outside our control that the paper market is not reflecting the demand and supply of the physical market. As many of you know, we are one of the largest critical voices of the LBMA run paper market and its bullion bank members in London.

Please note that premiums are likely to be higher on weekends when the markets are closed compared to weekdays.

We do not take lightly the decision to alter premiums but feel that it is a better alternative than to stop accepting orders altogether during weekends. Likewise it is a better alternative than to stop accepting orders when the paper gold market is in turmoil and failing to reflect the demand and supply realities of the physical bullion market.

Currently, we are completely sold out on BullionStar Gold BarsBullionStar Silver Bars and are running low on several other products which we are not able to replenish for now. Several stock items will therefore likely go out of stock shortly. This is despite us having been aggressively buying bullion to create a buffer reserve inventory.

Source: ZeroHedge

Megxit Over: Harry, Meghan Reach Deal To Quit Royal Life

One family’s crusade to break from the unbearable bondage of royalty is finally over, or in other words, Megxit is a done deal.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, also known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, will no longer use the titles His and Her Royal Highness “as they are no longer working members of the Royal Family” Buckingham Palace announced Saturday, as part of an agreement that lets them build a life away from intense media scrutiny as members of the royal family.

“Following many months of conversations and more recent discussions, I am pleased that together we have found a constructive and supportive way forward for my grandson and his family,” Queen Elizabeth II said in a statement.

“Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,” she said. ” I recognize the challenges they have experienced as a result of intense scrutiny over the last two years and support their wish for a more independent life.”

As disclosed in the agreement, Harry and Meghan “understand that they are required to step back from Royal duties, including official military appointments. They will no longer receive public funds for Royal duties.”

They also shared their wish to repay Sovereign Grant expenditure for the refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage, which will remain their UK family home.

Frogmore House, a modest wedding gift from the Queen to Harry and Meghan

With Brexit no longer dominating the British press, the announcement that the couple wished to step back from the royal family had thrown Britain’s monarchy into turmoil and dominated the headlines. Even though Harry has only a remote prospect of becoming king – he’s sixth in line, behind his father, brother, nephews and niece – there was outrage that, with his wife, he wanted to become financially independent and “carve out” a “progressive new role.”

Still, as the following chart summarizing the net worth of UK’s royalty shows the former “Duke and Duchess” should be just fine.

According to Statista, Prince William and Prince Harry have similar incomes and net worth, and reportedly earn $6.6 million annually from the Sovereign Grant, which they split, and each have an estimated net worth that ranges around $40 million. Prince Harry’s income could fluctuate once his title is renounced. Rumors claimed Markle, who had a net worth of about $5 million before marrying Harry thanks to her acting career, was already inking up a deal with Disney to do voiceovers for future projects, though the money will reportedly go to charity.

In a separate statement, earlier this week the queen discussed the wishes of Harry and Meghan, a former actress, with her immediate family. The queen at the time described the talks as “very constructive.”

The Queen said the recent discussions led to a “supportive way forward for my grandson and his family.” She said she was “particularly proud of how Meghan has so quickly become one of the family.”

It now appears that it took Meghan even less time to leave the family.

Source: ZeroHedge

China’s Central Bank Crypto Currency Is “Ready”, After 5 Years Development

A senior official at China’s central bank announced at the China Finance 40 Group meeting today that the country will soon roll out its central bank digital currency (CBDC.)

Mu Changchun, Deputy Chief in the Payment and Settlement Division of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC,) stated that the CBDC prototype exists and the PBOC’s Digital Money Research Group has already fully adopted the blockchain architecture for the currency. China’s CBDC will not rely entirely on a pure blockchain architecture, as this would not allow the currency to achieve the throughput required for retail usage.

According to Changchun, the currency has been in the research and development phase since 2014. At the meeting on Saturday, he said, “People’s Bank digital currency can now be said to be ready.”

The CBDC will employ a two-tier operational structure, per Changchun:

 The People’s Bank of China is the upper level and the commercial banks are the second level. This dual delivery system is suitable for our national conditions. It can use existing resources to mobilize the enthusiasm of commercial banks and smoothly improve the acceptance of digital currency.

 

A two-tier system is preferable due to China’s complex economy, vast territory and large population. “From the perspective of improving accessibility and increasing public willingness to use, a two-tier operational framework should be adopted to deal with this difficulty,” Changchun said. He also welcomed the resources, talent and innovation capabilities of commercial businesses who will partner with the PBOC to roll out the currency. Finally, this system will help avoid concentration of risk and financial disintermediation.

At the same meeting, China UnionPay Chairman Shaofu Jun said that the goals of China’s CBDC would be difficult to achieve. While a CBDC could solve issues related to cross-border transactions, long lag times and legacy inefficiencies, the lack of clear operational processes and a detailed regulatory framework across countries will be challenging to overcome.

Choosing The Right Words

A lawyer, who had a wife and 12 children, needed to move because his rental agreement was terminated by the owner, who wanted to reoccupy the home.

When he said he had 12 children, no one would rent a home to him because they felt that the children would destroy the place.

So he sent his wife for a walk to the cemetery with 11 of their kids.

He took the remaining one with him to see rental homes with the real estate agent.

He loved one of the homes and the price was right. The agent asked, “How many children do you have?”

He answered, “Twelve.”

The agent asked, “Where are the others?”

The lawyer, with his best courtroom sad look, answered, “They’re in the cemetery with their mother.”

MORAL: It’s not necessary to lie; one has only to choose the right words. And don’t forget, most politicians are lawyers.

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Over-Taxed: The Middle Class Is Being Wiped Out, NJ Residents Flee In Droves

New Jersey residents are fleeing their state in droves thanks to the over taxation and immense financial burden placed on them by their socialist state government. In addition to the already sky-high federal tax that we are all forced to pay, those in New Jersey are struggling to make enough money to live after the state also steals a cut of their income.

The SALT (state and local tax) cap has hit high-tax states like New York, California, and New Jersey particularly hard because these states steal a higher portion of an individual’s income. As a result, affected residents have begun to move to other states – a trend that experts expect to accelerate, according to Fox Business.

They can’t tax us anymore, the middle class is getting wiped out,” former “Saturday Night Live” cast member and New Jersey resident Joe Piscopo told FOX Business’ Neil Cavuto on Friday, adding that wealthy individuals are leaving the state “in droves.” This is always the case, as governments all seek to find ways to steal more from the producers to fund their corruption. This problem is only going to get worse too and New Jersey Democrats are attempting to pass a state wealth tax.

Democratic Governor Phil Murphy renewed a push to implement the state tax (with a top rate of 10.75 percent) on people with incomes over $1 million. However, amid disagreements with the state legislature, which threatened to shut down the state government, Murphy said he will sign a budget over the weekend. State Democrats sent Murphy a budget proposal last week, which did not include the tax increase on people with more than $1 million. Murphy, however, has been a strong advocate for implementing the tax and it has been one of his top campaign promises.

Therefore, most residents have a difficult time believing that the issue has been completely put to rest. So instead, they’ve taken action and made the decision to leave the state entirely taking their wealth with them rather than having it stolen by tyrannical fascists.

New Jersey Rep. Josh Gottheimer was one of several lawmakers from states including New York, Illinois, and California who took to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to air out their grievances against the new SALT cap. Gottheimer called the cap a “double-taxation grenade” that was “lobbed at New Jersey and other high-tax states” by so-called “moocher states.” The average SALT deduction claimed in Bergen County, New Jersey, was more than $24,700 before the implementation of the cap-Fox Business

Piscopo says that a handful of states in the U.S. are already socialist.  And those are the states people continue to flee in droves and are facing homeless epidemics.

“I’m telling you right now, If Gov. Murphy, if Steve Sweeney does a primary, and I don’t mean inside around the rest of the country, but this is huge in Jersey because Jersey, New York, and California are now socialist states,” he told FOX Business‘ Neil Cavuto on Friday.

In “Parasites on Parade,” Larken Rose (author of “The Most Dangerous Superstition” and “The Iron Web”) uses his own direct experiences with bureaucratic and judicial stupidity, intrusion and corruption to illustrate why, everywhere and at all times, in every situation and at every level, government sucks!

This snarky, flippant look at the mentality and tactics of various state busybodies also provides an important lesson regarding the true nature of political “authority,” and the problems and abuses it naturally creates. –  Parasites on Parade

Source: by Mac Salvo | ZeroHedge