NOTES FROM THE FRONT LINES


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Nursing Homes Nursing Less. The number of people living in U.S. nursing homes has declined in 2020 by an estimated 100,000, or about 10 percent, according to data from various sources.
About 44,000 COVID deaths have occurred among residents and staff of the 15,000 long-term care facilities in the U.S., according to data compiled by the Wall Street Journal.
States record and report COVID deaths differently. The Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has required care facilities to submit data only since May; reports from earlier times were allowed but not mandated.
TREND FORECAST: As we have continually reported in the Trends Journal, the amount of elder care related deaths are inaccurate and represent a higher number than being reported in the United States.
Factually, the virus hit hardest in the winter months, not since May. But as evidenced by their openly rigging the numbers to keep spreading the media/political hype that “COVID Kills Everybody,” their elder care death estimates are trash.
And because nursing homes were centers for COVID deaths families will do more to take extra steps to avoid nursing home placement for the foreseeable future, putting downward pressure on the this $443-billion industry.
Legal to Rob the Poorest in USA. While the Federal Reserve and the government let gamblers and speculators borrow money for next-to-nothing interest rates, it’s OK in America to charge those with the least the highest interest rates.
So-called “payday lenders” – businesses making short-term loans at annualized interest rates as high as 1,825 percent or more to people short of cash – are thriving as millions of newly jobless are desperate for sources of quick cash.
These lenders have been targeted by legislators but largely have been able to avoid being regulated. Under the Trump administration, regulations have been even more lax than in previous years, according to the nonprofit Pew Charitable Trusts.
The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently abandoned plans to impose one of the first federal controls over the industry, saying consumers already have “robust” legal protection from predatory practices.
The lenders also have been able to survive ad bans recently enacted by Facebook and Google in which some of the lenders offered to cash federal stimulus checks for a 1.75-percent fee, or $21 for cashing a $1,200 government check.
Most of the search engine operators ban ads offering loans with repayment periods of less than 90 days. Google forbids lenders to advertise loans carrying interest rates above 35.99 percent.
The Wall Street Journal, however, found several lenders advertising loans through Google violating that policy. The paper found one lender offering loans at annualized interest rates of 1,875 percent, far above the 35.99-percent limit Google set for ads.
PUBLISHER’S NOTE: Payday lending parasites exist because they have donated to politicians’ campaigns – bought off lawmakers – and poured money into lobbying sieges to allow them to continue to prey on people too poor to get from one paycheck to the next without help.
Airline Stocks Up As Schedules Shrink. Again, in a clear illustration of fact vs. reality, some good news on Wall Street last week that drove stock prices higher was American Airlines announcement it will restore more than half of its regular domestic flights and 20 percent of its international schedule by the end of July.
On the 50 percent/20 percent of business plan, American’s stock price jumped more than 30 percent.
American’s announcement also hoisted share prices for Delta, up 12 percent; Southwest Airlines, up 7 percent; and United Airlines, up 15 percent.
On the same day, Virgin Atlantic Airways said it would resume five international flights from London to Hong Kong, Los Angeles, New York City, Orlando, and Shanghai.
As of 1 July, Ireland’s RyanAir will be covering 90 percent of its pre-pandemic routes.
EasyJet, the British budget carrier, plans to reopen half of its European routes next month; Hungary’s low-price Wizz Air airline plans to return to about 70 percent of its regular schedule by September.
The airlines will still observe strict health measures, including face masks for crew and passengers and social distancing in terminals and aboard aircraft.
Gambling Parlors Betting on a Better Future. Eldorado Resorts has reopened three Missouri casinos and two in Iowa, saying it will observe Iowa’s mandate to limit visitors to 50 percent of capacity.
Las Vegas Sands Corp. reports no luck in Macao, the independent island south of China known as the “Las Vegas of Asia.”
The company reported revenue of $9 million in April, 98.7 percent less than the $180 million in April 2019.
Macao’s overall gaming revenue plunged 96.8 percent this April compared to April 2019.
The losses resulted from the disappearance of visitors from mainland China, who make up almost all of Macao’s tourists.
Starbucks to Keep Cafés Closed, Employees on Short Hours. Starbuck’s, the world’s largest chain of coffee bars, will keep most of its outlets’ dining areas closed indefinitely and has urged workers to take unpaid leaves until September.
Most workers remain on reduced hours because the cafés are open only for drive-through, takeout, and curbside pick-up orders.
The company has asked workers to decide by 10 June whether they will take the leave or continue to work the lesser hours, which, for many workers, means they will no longer qualify for health insurance benefits.
If employees take the leave, Starbucks is encouraging them to apply for the $600 weekly unemployment benefit the federal government has added to state jobless insurance payments, which ends on 31 July.
Although Starbuck’s has restored limited service to about 85 percent of its stores, it has reported sales are down as much as 40 percent compared to similar periods in 2019.
TREND FORECAST: The airline, tourist, gambling, restaurant, and entertainment businessed – in fact, all businesses affected by the long list of COVID-Imposed restrictions, will not rebound as long as the restrictions remain in place.
Data Centers Thrive During Shutdown. With billions of people shut in at home to work, study, or find something to do or buy, data centers – the vast warehouse-like spaces where web-linked computer servers hum 24 hours a day in darkness – are busier, and more profitable, than ever.
Equinix Inc. and Digital Realty Trust, the data center industry’s main players, have seen their stock prices gain more than 20 percent during the economic shutdown to more than $100 billion combined as the S&P stock index sagged 5 percent.
Some of the gains in value have come from investors fleeing other sectors of the real estate industry, such as hotels and storefronts, and seeking safer shelters.
Colony Capital, a real estate investor with $50 billion under management, is moving as much as 90 percent of its portfolio into data centers by 2022, up from 2 percent in 2019, the company said.
Investors’ move into data centers is a trend “that will be measured in years, not quarters,” said Colby Synesael, an analyst with the Cowen consulting firm. The stocks are “recession-proof,” agrees Max Gokhman of Pacific Life Fund Advisors.

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