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Economy

AMC Entertainment plans to sell up to 15 million shares as 3Q sales fall

AMC Entertainment, the country’s largest movie theater chain, said Tuesday that it is looking to raise more cash as the coronavirus pandemic continues to hammer its business.

The cinema chain, which plans to sell up to 15 million shares, said in an SEC filing that it expects revenues for the three months ended Sept. 30 to plunge 91 percent to $119 million from $1.32 billion, a year earlier.

Shares of AMC fell over 9 percent in early morning trading on the news.

AMC, like rival cinema houses, temporarily shut down in mid-March amid the pandemic. The chain has reopened nearly 87 percent of its fleet of about 598 US-based theaters since Labor Day, but has been operating at limited capacity of between 20 percent and 40 percent, the filing said.

As a result, the struggling chain has scrambled to keep the lights on, recently raising close to $55 million by selling roughly 15 million shares.

AMC currently has cash and cash equivalents of  $417.9 million, according to the filing, which reiterated a recent warning that the company could run out of cash by the end of the year or by early 2021.

“As previously disclosed, in the absence of significant increases in attendance from current levels or the availability of significant additional sources of liquidity, at the existing cash burn rate, the company anticipates that existing cash resources would be largely depleted by the end of 2020 or early 2021,” AMC said.

“Thereafter, to meet its obligations as they become due, the company will require additional sources of liquidity and/or increases in attendance levels. The required amounts of additional liquidity will be material,” the statement said. “Due to these factors, as previously disclosed, substantial doubt exists about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern for a reasonable period of time.”

Last week, AMC said it is actively exploring potential sources of additional liquidity such as renegotiating leases, assets sales and minority investors.

Despite the dim financial picture, AMC remained optimistic over recent news that movie theaters in New York state can reopen this weekend, and hopes that the reopening of theaters in New York City is not far behind.

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Economy

Biden's economic plan could crush nation's recovery from coronavirus pandemic, conservative economists say

Biden ‘doesn’t embrace the radical left proposals at all’: Bob Kerrey

Former Democratic presidential candidate Bob Kerrey weighs in on the most pressing issues from the 2020 presidential election.

Joe Biden's economic agenda could destroy millions of American jobs and crush the nation's slow-but-steady recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, according to new projections from President Trump's former economists.

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The Democratic presidential candidate's plan would ultimately result in about 4.9 million fewer full-time employees and reduce the nation's GDP, the broadest measures of goods and services produced in the country, by more than 8% over the next decade, according to the report, which was authored by Casey Mulligan, a University of Chicago professor who previously served as chief economist of the White House Council of Economic Advisers; Kevin Hassett, also a former White House economist now at Stanford University's Hoover Institution; Timothy Fitzgerald and Cody Kallen.

BIDEN'S TAX PLAN COULD DESTROY 3M JOBS, FORMER TRUMP ECONOMIST PROJECTS

A Biden presidency would translate into a loss of roughly $6,500 per household per year, the study shows.

The economists projected that Biden's plan to expand subsidies for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act; undo some of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and increase the taxation of corporates; and establish new environmental standards, reversing years of regulatory reform, would discourage Americans from working more and earning more.

The former vice president has unveiled a multitrillion-dollar agenda that would be funded in large part by higher taxes on wealthy U.S. households – which he describes as anyone earning more than $400,000 annually – and corporations. That includes higher income tax rates, an expansion of the payroll tax for Social Security, new tax credits and fewer deductions.

BIDEN PLATFORM WOULD RAISE TAXES BY NEARLY $3.4T, STUDY FINDS

Almost 80% of the tax increases backed by Biden would land on the top 1% of earners in the U.S., according to a recent projection from the Penn Wharton Budget Model, a nonpartisan group at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School.

Biden has pledged to hike the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% on "day one" if he wins the Nov. 3 election, regardless of the nation's unemployment rate.

"I'd make the changes on the corporate taxes on day one," he told CNN's Jake Tapper in mid-September. "And the reason I'd make the changes to corporate taxes, it can raise $1.3 trillion if they just started paying 28% instead of 21%. What are they doing? They're not hiring more people."

On top of that, Biden has promised to roll back other changes made by Trump in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, including restoring the top individual income tax bracket to 39.6% from 37% for those earning more than $400,000 annually.

BIDEN PLANS NEAR $10T PRICE TAG

That would result in an average tax increase of nearly $300,000 for households in the top 1% of the country, compared with a $260 per year increase for those in the middle, according to the Tax Policy Center.

Biden has also said he will subject wages above $400,000 to the 12.4% payroll tax, creating a so-called "donut hole" for earnings between $137,700 and $400,000, which would be exempt.

Other analyses of Biden's tax plans are more optimistic: Findings from the Penn Wharton Budget Model estimate it would cause the nation's GDP to shrink by 0.4% in 2030, and increase by 0.8% in 2050.

A separate report released by Moody's Analytics found that Biden would create roughly 7 million more jobs than Trump if he wins the November election.

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Economy

Today's mortgage refinance rates hold firm at unprecedented lows, with one rate dipping further | October 19, 2020

Check out the mortgage refinancing rates for October 19, 2020 which are mostly unchanged from last week. (iStock)

Based on data compiled by Credible Operations, Inc., NMLS Number 1681276, mortgage refinance rates continue to hover at historical lows, with 20-year fixed refinance rates down slightly from this time last week.

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  • 30-year fixed refinance: 3.000%, the same as last week
  • 20-year fixed refinance: 2.875%, down from 3.000% last week, -0.125
  • 15-year fixed refinance: 2.375%, the same as last week

Rates last updated on October 19, 2020. These rates are based on the assumptions shown here. Actual rates may vary.

If you’re thinking of refinancing, consider using Credible. You can use Credible's free online tools to easily compare multiple lenders and see prequalified rates in as little as three minutes.

Current 30-year fixed-rate refinance

The current rate for a 30-year fixed-rate refinance is 3.000%. This is the same as this time last week.

Current 20-year fixed-rate refinance

The current rate for a 20-year fixed-rate refinance is 2.875%. This is down from this time last week.

Current 15-year fixed-rate refinance

The current rate for a 15-year fixed-rate refinance is 2.375%. This is the same as this time last week.

You can explore your mortgage refinance options in minutes by visiting Credible to compare rates and lenders. Check out Credible and get prequalified today.

Rates last updated on October 19, 2020. These rates are based on the assumptions shown here. Actual rates may vary.

How mortgage refinance rates have changed

Today, mortgage refinancing rates remain unchanged compared to yesterday.

  • 30-year fixed-rate refinance: 3.000%, Unchanging
  • 20-year fixed-rate refinance: 2.875%, Unchanging
  • 15-year fixed-rate refinance: 2.375%, Unchanging

If you think refinancing is the right move, consider using Credible. You can use Credible's free online tools to easily compare multiple lenders and see prequalified rates in as little as three minutes.

Rates last updated on October 19, 2020. These rates are based on the assumptions shown here. Actual rates may vary.

The factors behind today’s refinance rates

Current mortgage refinancing rates are affected by many economic factors, like unemployment numbers and inflation. But your personal financial history will also determine the rates you’re offered.

Larger economic factors

  • Strength of the economy
  • Inflation rates
  • Employment
  • Consumer spending
  • Housing construction and other market conditions
  • Stock and bond markets
  • 10-year Treasury yields
  • Federal Reserve policies

Personal economic factors

  • Credit score
  • Credit history
  • Down payment size
  • Loan-to-value ratio
  • Loan size, type, and term
  • Debt-to-income ratio
  • Location of the property

How to get your lowest mortgage refinance rate

If you want the best mortgage refinance rate, improving your credit score and paying down any other debt could secure you a lower rate. It’s also a good idea to compare rates from different lenders if you're hoping to refinance your mortgage, so you can find the best rate for your situation.

Borrowers can save $1,500  on average over the life of their loan by shopping for just one additional rate quote, and an average of $3,000 by comparing five rate quotes, according to research from Freddie Mac. Credible can help you compare multiple lenders at once in just a few minutes.

Be sure to shop around and compare rates with multiple lenders if you decide to refinance. You can do this easily with Credible’s free online tool and see your prequalified rates in only three minutes.

Mortgage rates by loan type

Whether you’re looking for a 30- or 15-year mortgage or want to refinance, Credible can help you find the right mortgage for your situation:

  • 30 Year Fixed Refinance Rates
  • 15 Year Fixed Refinance Rates
  • 30 Year Fixed Mortgage Rates
  • 15 Year Fixed Mortgage Rates

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Economy

Airlines plan for prolonged coronavirus travel drought

Airline furloughs leads to massive air travel drop

The expired $25 billion stimulus package is causing airlines to furlough workers and cut flights. FOX Business’ Kristina Partsinevelos with more.

U.S. airlines expect it will be years before their business recovers from the coronavirus pandemic, even after pulling together over $100 billion by tapping government aid and mortgaging assets including planes and frequent-flier programs.

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Carriers have said they likely have enough cash to withstand a prolonged downturn. But passenger demand will be depressed for years, chief executives of United Airlines Holdings Inc.and Delta Air Lines Inc. said this week.

THOUSANDS ARRIVE IN HAWAII ON FIRST DAY OF PRE-TRAVEL TESTING

Airlines have two primary challenges: easing a fear of flying that has taken hold during the pandemic and reinventing themselves to compete for a share of an air-travel business that has abruptly become much smaller.

“While the pandemic is the worst crisis in the history of aviation, it also has presented us with opportunity,” United Chief Executive Scott Kirby and President Brett Hart wrote Friday in a memo to the airline’s corporate officers.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
UAL UNITED AIRLINES HLDG. 34.16 -0.09 -0.26%
DAL DELTA AIR LINES INC. 31.47 +0.13 +0.41%

United and Delta together lost $16.8 billion in the first nine months of the year. Both have shrunk their workforces by at least 20%, including more than 13,000 furloughs at United.

“Make no mistake—we’re still in the early miles of this marathon,” Delta Chief Executive Ed Bastian wrote in a memo to employees on Thursday.

DELTA, UNITED CEOS FORECAST THE RETURN OF BUSINESS TRAVEL

Airlines had pushed for a second round of government aid to prevent job cuts, hoping to be better prepared to bounce back when demand returns. However, negotiations over a broader relief package have dragged on for months with no resolution.

American Airlines Group Inc. and Southwest Airlines Co. are scheduled to report third-quarter results next week.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
AAL AMERICAN AIRLINES GROUP INC. 12.46 +0.23 +1.88%
LUV SOUTHWEST AIRLINES CO. 39.68 +0.88 +2.27%

Passengers have started to come back, but they are a trickle, not a surge. On Sunday, when almost 1 million people passed through U.S. airports, volumes were more than 60% lower than at the same time a year ago, and most days volumes are worse than that.

And with most corporate travel still on hold and international borders closed or subject to an array of entry requirements, some analysts see little room for improvement for a while. Delta expects fourth quarter sales to be 66% below last year’s levels. United’s Mr. Kirby said travel demand will likely be capped at half of typical levels until a vaccine has been developed and made widely available. Business travel probably won’t be back to normal before 2024, he predicted.

PUSH FOR MORE AIRLINE AID GAINS TRANCTION AS INDUSTRY WARNS OF MORE JOB CUTS

As people resume some elements of their normal lives—going back to offices or school in some cases—airlines are stepping up efforts to convince them that it is safe to fly again, too.

That claim was bolstered this week by the results of a study of how virus particles move around during flights, conducted by the Department of Defense, United, Boeing Co. and others.

Using coughing mannequins that spewed fluorescent tracer particles on Boeing wide-body planes lent by United, the study found that aerosols are quickly diluted by plane ventilation systems and air filters. Exposure risk is minimal even for passengers on long flights seated next to an infected person, the study found.

There were caveats: The study looked at what happens if one passenger is infected, not several, and didn’t account for added risks from passengers moving around the cabin or turning their heads to talk to one another.

Other academic researchers have documented close to four dozen instances when Covid-19 appears to have been transmitted during flights, many of them early in the pandemic before masks were widely required.

Military officials and airline executives said they were encouraged by the results of the new study. On social media, United touted the study, which Mr. Kirby said demonstrates that airplanes are “truly uniquely safe.”

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Even if people can be persuaded to board planes, there are fewer places to go.

Efforts at creating travel bubbles in Asia have floundered, and rising cases within Europe have resulted in tighter travel restrictions there.

Something similar could play out in the U.S., if infection rates continue climbing. Over the summer, an uptick in cases in parts of the country triggered travel restrictions that cut short what had looked like the beginnings of a rebound, leaving airlines to determine how to best serve fliers. Today’s customers are booking last-minute, paying bargain-basement fares and flying short distances.

“We’re literally looking at where people want to go next week,” Joe Esposito, Delta’s senior vice president of network planning, said at an industry event this week.

United is monitoring indicators such as occupancy rates in New York skyscrapers to get a sense of when people might start traveling for work again, Chief Commercial Officer Andrew Nocella said Thursday.

Carriers also are seizing the opportunity to grab space at once-congested airports. Southwest this week said it would start flights at major airports in Chicago and Houston, adding to its presence at secondary airports in both cities and going head-to-head against United in its hubs.

Mr. Kirby said United has its own plans. The airline has been angling to return to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, he said. Mr. Kirby has long said he believes United made a mistake by leaving JFK in 2015 before he joined the company.

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Economy

These Four Huge Parts Of America Have Been Savaged By Drought

Based on news reports of record-sized wildfires, it would seem that the worst drought scourged parts of America are in Southern California and Oregon. However, four huge parts of America are suffering from drought which is much more extreme and has already crippled the environment, living conditions, and the economy.

Drought levels are broken into five levels and measured by the National Drought Mitigation Center. Abnormally dry weather, known a “D0,” is when short-term dryness and some brief water deficits exist. “D1” drought, known as moderate drought causes some damage to crops, and water use may be curtailed.  “D2” drought, known as severe drought, means crop losses and water deficits. “D3”, known as extreme drought, means major crop losses and widespread water shortages. “D4”, known as exceptional drought, means devastating crop damage and water shortages in reservoirs and rivers.

Most of the areas hit by wildfires and Oregon and California are at D3 levels.

The largest area of D4 drought levels is in the western part of Colorado. It runs from Grand Junction in the north to the San Juan National Forest and the city of Cortez in the south. The federal government says that the Colorado River, which runs near the region, will be affected by drought for at least five years. Dry weather left snow levels low enough that as it melted, the area got very little help. In the early part of the year, Grand Junction received less than an inch of rain per month.

Another huge area which suffers from D4 drought levels runs from western Utah into eastern Nevada. The area begins, in its eastern portion, just south of Salt Lake City and Provo, and moves across to Ely, Nevada. The National Weather Service reported that Utah had had the third driest year on record. Reservoirs in this part of Utah as near dangerously low levels. For part of the state, the drought has been described as the worst in 1,200 years.

There is a D4 level drought in southern Arizona as well, particularly in the area around Tuscon. The entire area runs from the middle of the state almost down to the Mexican border. Temperatures have also been above 90 more days in 2020 than usual. Scientists have described the 2000 to 2018 period as the driest 19-year span in the area since the 1500s.

The last large area of D4 drought is in central and southern New Mexico–two areas broken in half by an area of D3 conditions. The area in the center of the state is around Albuquerque. In the south, it surrounds Las Cruces. Much of the area is irrigated, but over the last decade, several small towns have run out of water. The Rio Grande Reservoir sits near historically low levels.

There is no evidence in the forecasts for any of these four areas that relief can be expected. Most are in the midst of drought periods, which have lastest off and on for years. Changes to water use, farming, and businesses are now permanent.

 

 

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Economy

Unexpected Retail Sales Surge in September May Boost GDP

The widespread economic reports have shown mixed signals about the recovery. Some reports indicate that the recovery remains underway, while others signal that it is petering out. A fresh look at retail sales came in much stronger than expected.

The U.S. Census Bureau has released its advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for September 2020, and the seasonally adjusted report was up 1.9% at $549.3 billion. While the report is given a leeway of 0.5% on either side, the Econoday consensus was calling for only a 0.7% gain in September. August’s gain was also just 0.6%.

Excluding vehicles, retail sales were up 1.5% from August, beating the mere 0.3% that had been expected. Sales excluding vehicles and gasoline showed a 1.5% gain, versus 0.4% that was expected.

One reason for the slower gains that were expected ahead of the report was that no additional stimulus package has been passed. September marked the second month in which millions were without some enhanced benefits.

Where this number will really shine is in the annual readings with a 5.4% gain over September of 2019. Total sales for July 2020 through September 2020, used as a three-month period for a broader view, was up 3.6% from the same period a year ago.

The Census data showed that retail trade sales were up 1.9% from the prior month and up 8.2% from a year ago. The so-called nonstore retailers (e-commerce and catalogs) saw a whopping 23.8% gain from September 2019. The category for building material, garden equipment and supplies dealers was up a sharp 19.1% from a year earlier.

Sales for motor vehicle and parts dealers were $114.8 billion in September of 2020, up from the $110.8 billion in August of 2020 and from $103.5 billion in September of 2019.

The category for furniture and home furnishings stores saw sales of $10.4 billion in September of 2020, which compared to $10.35 billion in August and was up from the $9.9% billion reading in September of 2019. Clothing and accessories saw an 11% rise in September retail sales, and the category for sporting goods, music and books rose by 5.7%.

One category that posted a decline was electronics and appliances sales, down 1.6% decline from August.

Stocks were posting their first gain in four days on the heels of the stronger than expected retail sales. While the numbers may just be for one month, it is important to keep in mind that consumer spending activity historically has counted for nearly 70% of gross domestic product (GDP).

They are not yet updated, but the New York Fed’s Nowcasting Report was projecting a 14.07% gain in third-quarter GDP as of October 9 and the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta had a reading of 35.2% GDP as of October 9.

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Economy

China’s Inflation Slows In September; PPI Continues To Fall

China’s consumer price growth slowed in September on easing food price inflation and producer prices continued to ease, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed Thursday.

Consumer prices advanced 1.7 percent on a yearly basis in September, slower than the 2.4 percent increase seen in August. This was also slower than the economists’ forecast of 1.8 percent.

At the same time, core inflation, which excludes food and energy prices, held steady at 0.5 percent in September.

Driven by a slowdown in pork price inflation, food prices grew 7.9 percent following 11.2 percent rise in August. Pork prices grew 25.5 percent but much slower than the 52.6 percent increase logged in the previous month.

On a monthly basis, consumer prices gained 0.2 percent versus a 0.4 percent rise a month ago.

Another report from NBS showed that producer prices were down 2.1 percent annually after easing 2 percent in August. Economists had forecast an annual decrease of 1.8 percent.

With infrastructure-led stimulus still being ramped up and consumption rebounding, demand-side pressures on prices will probably strengthen in the coming months, pushing up underlying inflation, Julian Evans-Pritchard and Sheana Yue, economists at Capital Economics, said.

However, the economists noted that the rebound in core consumer price inflation will still leave it relatively subdued and food price inflation looks set to drop back further in the near-term as pork supply continues to recover from last year’s African swine fever outbreak.

The benign outlook for inflation means it is unlikely to be a major driver of policy decisions in the coming quarters, the economists added.

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Economy

DOJ charges Texas billionaire in $2 billion tax fraud scheme

Fox Business Flash top headlines for October 15

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Federal prosecutors charged Texas billionaire Robert Brockman on Thursday with a $2 billion tax fraud scheme in what they say is the largest such case against an American.

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Department of Justice officials said at a news conference that Brockman, 79, hid capital gains income over 20 years through a web of offshore entities in Bermuda and Nevis and secret bank accounts in Bermuda and Switzerland. Prosecutors announced that the CEO of a private equity firm that aided in the schemes would cooperate with the investigation.

Robert and Dorothy Brockman attend an intimate al fresco dinner celebrating the Rice University groundbreaking of James Turrell’s Rice University Skyspace project at the home of Phoebe and Bobby Tudor, Tuesday evening, May 17, 2011, in Houston. Feder

The 39-count indictment unsealed Thursday charges Brockman, the chief executive officer of Ohio-based software company Reynolds and Reynolds Co., with tax evasion, wire fraud, money laundering, and other offenses.

TAXES ARE DUE TODAY FOR AMERICANS WHO RECEIVED A FILING EXTENSION

Prosecutors also announced that Robert F. Smith, founder and chairman of Vista Equity Partners, will cooperate in the investigation and pay $139 million to settle his own tax probe. Smith, 57, stunned a senior class last year when he promised to wipe out the student loan debt of the entire graduating class at Morehouse, a historically Black all-male college.

FILE – In this Oct. 22, 2019, file photo, billionaire businessman Robert F. Smith speaks after receiving the W.E.B. Dubois Medal for contributions to black history and culture, during ceremonies at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. Federal prose

“Complexity will not hide crime from law enforcement. Sophistication is not a defense to federal criminal charges,” said David L. Anderson, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California. “We will not hesitate to prosecute the smartest guys in the room.”

Brockman appeared in federal court from Houston via Zoom Thursday. He entered a plea of not guilty to all counts and was released on $1 million bond, said Abraham Simmons, spokesman for the Northern District of California.

“Mr. Brockman has pled not guilty, and we look forward to defending him against these charges,” said his attorney, Kathryn Keneally, in an email.

BIDEN TAX PLAN REVENUE 'SIGNIFICANTLY LOWER' THAN PREVIOUSLY ESTIMATED, UPDATED STUDY FINDS

Prosecutors said Brockman used encrypted emails with code names, including Permit, Snapper, Redfish and Steelhead, to carry out the fraud and ordered evidence to be manipulated or destroyed.

Brockman, a resident of Houston and Pitkin County, Colorado, is chairman and CEO of Reynolds and Reynolds, a 4,300-employee company near Dayton, Ohio, that sells accounting, sales and management software to auto dealerships. The software helps set up websites, including live chats with potential customers, find loans and calculate customer payments, manage payroll and pay bills.

Reynolds & Reynolds issued a statement saying the allegations were outside Brockman’s work with the company and that the company is not alleged to have participated in any wrongdoing.

In 2013, a charitable trust set up by Brockman’s late father withdrew a pledged $250 million donation to Centre College, a small liberal arts school in Danville, Kentucky, where Brockman attended class and once served as chairman of the board of trustees.

At the time the school said it was due to a “significant capital market event” that didn’t pan out. A spokesman for Reynolds and Reynolds said in 2013 that the event was a proposed refinancing deal involving Vista Equity Partners, Smith’s company.

WELLS FARGO TERMINATES EMPLOYEES OVER POTENTIAL COVID-19 RELIEF FRAUD

According to the indictment, Brockman gave an unnamed individual detailed instructions regarding the proposed gift to the college, including talking points, and directed the person to threaten to pull out if his demands were not met. In August, he instructed the person to cancel the gift.

Prosecutors say that Smith used about $2.5 million in untaxed funds to buy and upgrade a vacation home in Sonoma, California; purchase two ski properties in France; and spend $13 million to buy a property and fund charitable activities at his property in Colorado.

Anderson applauded Smith for stepping up, despite the serious nature of his crimes, which occurred from 2000 to mid-2015.

“Smith’s agreement to cooperate has put him on a path away from indictment,” he said.

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In 2019, Smith announced to the graduating class at Morehouse College that he would pay off the student loan debt of the entire class, saying that he expected the graduates to “pay it forward.” The estimated cost was $40 million.

FILE – In this May 19, 2019, file photo, billionaire technology investor and philanthropist Robert F. Smith announces he will provide grants to wipe out the student debt of the entire 2019 graduating class at Morehouse College in Atlanta. DOJ charges

Forbes lists Smith as #461 on its billionaires list, with a net worth of more than $5 billion.

He founded the tech investment firm Vista in 2000 and Forbes reports that it now has over $50 billion in assets and is “one of the best-performing private equity firms, posting annualized returns of 22% since inception.” Vista has offices in San Francisco and Oakland.

Vista did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Associated Press writers Tom Krisher, Juliet Williams and Jake Bleiberg contributed to this story.

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Economy

Another 898,000 Americans filed for unemployment aid last week as layoffs persist

Unemployment from coronavirus hit larger city economies much harder than smaller ones: Glassdoor CEO

Glassdoor CEO Christian Sutherland-Wong provides insight on unemployment in major cities amid pandemic.

The number of Americans applying for state unemployment benefits unexpectedly increased last week, indicating the pace of layoffs is still elevated, threatening to hamper the U.S. economy's recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

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The latest jobless claims figures from the Labor Department, which cover the week ending Oct. 10, show that 898,000 workers sought aid last week, about four-times the pre-crisis level. It was the highest number since Aug. 22, signaling the labor market's recovery is beginning to plateau just a few weeks before the November election.

NEARLY HALF OF AMERICANS WHO LOST JOB TO PANDEMIC CAN'T LAST A MONTH ON SAVINGS

Economists surveyed by Refinitiv expected 825,000 new claims.

More than 64 million Americans — roughly 40% of the nation's labor force – have sought jobless aid since the coronavirus lockdowns began in mid-March.

The number of people who are continuing to receive unemployment benefits fell to a little more than 10 million, a decline of about 1.1 million from the previous week. The decline suggests that employers are calling their workers back.

Still, some of the declines in so-called continuing claims may represent workers who have used up the maximum number of payments available through state unemployment programs (typically about six months) and are now receiving benefits through a separate federal program that extends the aid by 13 weeks. Congress created the extra federal benefits earlier this year with the passage of the CARES Act.

TRUMP LASHES OUT AT 'HEARTLESS' DEMS OVER STALLED-OUT VIRUS RELIEF

Roughly 1 million unemployed Americans have been seeking aid each week for the past six months, when the COVID-19 crisis triggered an unprecedented shutdown of the nation's economy, pointing to a sluggish turnaround. It's down from the peak of more than 6 million claims in late March, but remains well above the 200,000 reported in February. Before the pandemic, the record high was 695,000, set in 1982.

“The latest figures on new workers claiming unemployment insurance (UI) cast a dark cloud over the nation’s slow economic recovery," said Glassdoor chief economist Andrew Chamberlain. "The number of new claims last week is more than four times higher than the pace of workers filing for unemployment a year ago — a sign that COVID-19 continues to deal heavy blows to the nation’s labor market."

In recent weeks, several large employers have announced tens of thousands of job cuts. Disney laid off 28,000 workers, mostly at its two U.S. theme parks. Royal Dutch Shell said it planned to cut between 7,000 and 9,000 jobs by the end of 2022, and U.S. airlines cut 35,000 workers as federal coronavirus aid expired.

TRUMP REJECTS DEMS' CORONAVIRUS RELIEF PROPOSAL, CALLS OFF NEGOTIATIONS 'UNTIL AFTER THE ELECTION'

The latest report comes amid a high-stakes impasse between the White House and Democratic leaders over another coronavirus relief package.

The deadlock has dragged on for months and has put at stake potentially trillions of dollars in aid for workers and businesses still reeling from the crisis, including extended unemployment benefits, a second direct payment and another round of funding for small businesses.

There are still roughly 10.7 million more out-of-work Americans than there were in February before the pandemic hit.

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Economy

Heineken fined for allegedly forcing pubs to sell ‘unreasonable’ amounts of beer

UK regulators fined Heineken’s pub business nearly $2.6 million for allegedly forcing British bars to sell “unreasonable levels” of the Dutch brewer’s beers.

Star Pubs & Bars “seriously and repeatedly” violated UK rules over a nearly three-year period by keeping an iron grip on pub owners who tried to exercise their right to serve products from different brewers, the British Pubs Code Adjudicator said Thursday.

Star — which operates Heineken’s UK pub arm — told 96 tenants who asked to offer competing brands that every drop of keg beer they sold had to be from a Heineken label, officials said. That was despite a legal requirement that pub “stocking terms” can’t stop an operator from selling competitors’ brands.

Star later changed its approach and allowed pub operators to offer competing beers while requiring them to sell certain “must stock” brands, according to regulators.

But some tenants still would have been forced to make 60 percent of their keg products Heineken brands within a year even though they sold little or no Heineken products at the time they asked to offer other brands, according to officials.

Star “did not engage frankly and transparently with its tenants or meet the standards required of a regulated business when engaging with” pub regulators, Pubs Code Adjudicator Fiona Dickie said in a statement, adding that the fine of 2 million British pounds would be a “deterrent to future non-compliant conduct.”

Star said it was “deeply disappointed and frustrated” with the regulators’ findings and said it is considering an appeal. The company said pub regulators did not respond to its requests for guidance on the terms that it was offering certain pub tenants.

“This penalty is unwarranted and disproportionate, and comes at a time when the entire sector is in serious financial crisis as we work around the clock to support our pubs and licensees to keep their businesses afloat,” Star managing director Lawson Mountstevens said in a statement.

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