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Trump Calls for More Stimulus as Impasse Drags On

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The $1.8 trillion package that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has proposed has proven to be a non-starter with Senate Republicans, making President Trump’s call for a bigger bill a complication.
Credit…Pool photo by Chris Kleponis

President Trump, struggling to gain traction among voters just weeks before the election, called on Thursday for a bigger stimulus package than he had previously offered, and the White House signaled it was willing to make concessions to Democrats. But the proposals were unlikely to win the necessary backing from Senate Republicans who are preparing a far smaller bill of their own.

White House negotiators have proposed a $1.8 trillion relief package. Mr. Trump said that he wanted one that was even bigger and suggested, without explanation, that China would pay for it.

“I would go higher,” Mr. Trump said during an interview with the Fox Business Network. “Go big or go home.”

The comments came after Mr. Mnuchin said that the White House was willing to make additional concessions to Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California in hopes of rekindling a stimulus deal before the election. But the $1.8 trillion package that he has proposed has already proven to be a non-starter with Senate Republicans who have panned it as too costly, making Mr. Trump’s call for a more expensive bill another complication in the already fraught negotiations.

Investors, who have been following the stimulus talks closely, seemed unmoved by statements from Mr. Trump and Mr. Mnuchin on Thursday, with stocks on Wall Street dropping for a third consecutive day.

In the interview on CNBC, Mr. Mnuchin did not directly address the lack of support for a bill by Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, suggesting that he has been briefed on negotiations between the White House and House Democrats while acknowledging that Senate Republicans prefer a more “targeted” relief bill.

But Mr. McConnell downplayed the prospects of a larger bill on Thursday.

“He’s talking about a much larger amount than I can sell to my members,” Mr. McConnell said about the president’s comments.

The relentlessly high level of claims for state jobless benefits indicates a labor market that “appears to be stalled,” one economist said.
Credit…Angela Weiss/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The number of workers newly seeking unemployment benefits jumped last week, underscoring the U.S. economy’s lingering weakness and the lack of fresh stimulus from Washington.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that 886,000 people filed new claims for unemployment benefits last week, an increase of nearly 77,000 from the previous week. Adjusted for seasonal variations, the total was 898,000.

After dropping in late spring and early summer as pandemic-related lockdowns eased, new claims for state jobless benefits had been steadily totaling about 800,000 a week.

With coronavirus cases again on the rise and little prospect of a new federal aid package anytime soon, stocks were down Thursday for a third straight day.

“It’s discouraging,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. “We’re still stuck at a level of claims that’s far higher than it was during the worst of what followed the crash of 2008. The labor market appears to be stalled, which underscores the need for new stimulus as quickly as possible.”

New claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, an emergency federal program that covers freelancers, self-employed workers, part-timers and others who don’t qualify for benefits under the regular unemployment system, were tallied at 373,000, down from 474,000. Most of the decline reflected an aberration in Arizona, which has been dealing with fraud issues in the program and reported no new claims.

The data do not include fresh figures for California, which has temporarily stopped accepting new unemployment applications to address a huge processing backlog and weed out fraud. Instead, the report incorporated the last weekly figures available.

The lack of fresh data from California makes it difficult to draw firm conclusions, but the latest numbers “point to a lot of churn in the labor market, and it appears the rate of firings has picked up,” said Michael Gapen, chief U.S. economist at Barclays.

Over the past month, large employers including United Airlines, Disney and Allstate announced tens of thousands of layoffs, and more are expected as sectors like leisure and hospitality struggle. In some states, restaurants have salvaged some business by serving diners outside, but many will lose that option as temperatures fall.

Despite the widespread economic pain, Republicans and Democrats in Washington have been unable to agree on a new relief package, a failure that may cause the economy to slow further in the coming months. Federal benefits created in March to supplement state payments to the unemployed are set to expire by the end of the year.

A copies phone numbers posted on the locked doors of a Georgia Department of Labor office. Fewer companies are recalling workers, even as federal aid as waned.
Credit…John Bazemore/Associated Press

More and more Americans are relying on a federal program designed to help the jobless as state unemployment benefits run out.

The program, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, was created by Congress in March to provide 13 weeks of aid when regular state unemployment benefits expire — typically after 26 weeks.

It has now been more than 30 weeks since unemployment claims spiked in March, when the pandemic first forced the economy into lockdown mode, so millions of unemployed Americans are starting to qualify for the extended benefits.

But getting on the rolls isn’t easy, experts say. “The transition from regular state benefits to P.E.U.C. is not going smoothly,” said Heidi Shierholz, senior economist and director of policy at the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning research group.

In some places, recipients of state unemployment benefits haven’t been notified of their eligibility for the federal extension, and aging computer systems have slowed the processing of applications.

Still, in the week that ended Sept. 26, the most recent period with available data, nearly 2.8 million people were getting Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits, a jump from fewer than two million the previous week. That increase was roughly equal to the decline in the number collecting state benefits.

The federal program is set to expire at the end of the year, and if it is not extended by Congress, “we’re going to see a disaster,” Ms. Shierholz said. “There will be a huge drop in living standards and an increase in poverty as well as downward pressure on economic growth.”

For those who qualify, the program has helped as they search for work.

Jared Gaxiola of Torrance, Calif., was laid off from his job as a freelance lighting technician in March, after live events were canceled across the country.

When Mr. Gaxiola’s state benefits ran out in mid-September, he was able to get a 13-week extension through Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation.

Mr. Gaxiola, 35, hopes to find a job by the time the payments run out again in December. But with entertainment work still scarce, he worries about how he will pay his rent in the new year.

“I could probably borrow money from my sister if I needed to,” Mr. Gaxiola said. “But I really don’t want to have to do that.”

Chloe Ezi, 19, was able to find a new job that allowed her and her boyfriend to move out of his parents’ house.

In a stark reminder that Americans continue to struggle during the pandemic, the Labor Department reported Thursday a surge in new claims for unemployment benefits last week, to 886,000 from nearly 77,000 the previous week, reports Gillian Friedman.

The rise in jobless claims comes as large employers, including United Airlines, Disney and Allstate, have announced tens of thousands of layoffs over the past month.

Despite the widespread economic pain, Republicans and Democrats in Washington have been unable to agree on a new relief package. Federal benefits created in March to supplement state payments to the unemployed are set to expire by the end of the year.

For many unemployed Americans, that means finding creative ways to make ends meet — by changing industries or even starting their own businesses.

Before the pandemic struck, Chloe Ezi was a lifeguard at a public aquatic center in Powder Springs, Ga. It was part-time work, at $11 an hour, but she was able to bring in an extra $300 a week by teaching private swim lessons.

In March, Ms. Ezi was sent home for three months when the aquatic center closed during coronavirus lockdowns. Because she continued to be paid half her wages — about $75 a week — the pool told her that she was not eligible to file for unemployment benefits.

Ms. Ezi, 19, was called back to work in May, but she was able to bring in only about $150 a week — barely enough to cover her $280 monthly car insurance bill, her $80 cellphone bill, and $100 monthly payments to Penn Foster College, where she is completing a dental assistant certificate program.

“That’s not a lot to live off of,” Ms. Ezi said. “I was zeroing out my paycheck every month.”

Ms. Ezi began looking for a job that would pay more. In August, she found a full-time position as a sales representative at a store that sells birding equipment.

Now she and her boyfriend, who have been living with his parents to save money, can afford to rent a one-bedroom apartment in Smyrna, Ga. They moved in on Wednesday.

“My new job allowed us to finally get our own place,” she said. “I’m feeling pretty proud of myself right now.”

Credit…Jose A. Alvarado Jr. for GFN

For three years, Lea Polizzi worked more than 50 hours a week as a nanny and a freelance photographer in New York. But when the pandemic hit, the family she worked for on the Upper East Side left the city, and all of her photography gigs dried up.

Ms. Polizzi, 24, filed for unemployment benefits and started receiving about $200 a week from the state, as well as a $600 federal supplement. Those payments enabled her to meet expenses — including the $1,100 rent for her apartment in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn — while she looked for a job.

But the $600 payments expired at the end of July. Ms. Polizzi recently received $900 from Lost Wages Assistance, a short-term supplement from the federal government, and she expects one more payment from the program in the next few weeks.

In the meantime, she has taken matters into her own hands. She is making masks, lingerie, hats and jewelry and selling the items online at $25 to $200 apiece.

She has made about 60 sales. “Hopefully, I’ll be able to make it work and just pay all my bills through my art ventures,” she said.

A Paris restaurant earlier this month. Under a new curfew, restaurants and other businesses in Paris and other French cities must close at 9 p.m.
Credit…Thomas Coex/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Businesses in Paris and London are facing fresh restrictions aimed at curbing the soaring rate of coronavirus infections in their countries, but which also threaten efforts to revive their economies.

In France, President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday evening announced a one-month curfew on Paris and other major cities starting Saturday. The curfew, which will affect a third of the population, requires people to shelter indoors from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. and will be enforced by 12,000 police.

The move is expected to deal a fresh blow to France’s restaurant and tourism industries, which make up nearly 10 percent of economic activity.

“This decision amounts to a re-closing of our establishments and has serious consequences for the hotel, cafe and catering sector, already hard hit by this crisis,” unions representing those sectors said in a statement.

To cushion the blow, the government said it would grant up to 1 billion euros in financial aid to affected businesses, including restaurants and hotels struggling because of the restrictions, and extend through next summer an offer of cheap state-backed loans that were slated to end in December. The state will also direct money to theaters and other culture operations that can’t function under the new measures.

The French government also is encouraging people to continue taking vacations in France and to stay at hotels.

French leisure and tourism stocks fell, with the hotel group Accor closing more than 5 percent lower, and Air France 1.9 percent lower Thursday.

The British government, which last month ordered restaurants and pubs to shut at 10 p.m., is trying to control a second wave of infections using a system that puts local districts into one of three tiers where measures become increasingly severe. Liverpool, a large city in the north of the country, is already under the strictest, where pubs and bars are closed and households cannot socialize with others. The government provides extra aid in Tier 3 communities to businesses forced to close.

On Thursday, London was raised to the middle tier — meaning people from different households will be barred from meeting indoors, and people will also be discouraged from using public transportation.

The new restrictions came after the government published data that showed the country’s jobless rate had already climbed to a three-year high and there were a record number of layoffs in August, adding to concerns that Britain will experience a sharp rise in unemployment this winter

As in France, hospitality and travel industries were hit particularly hard by the impact of the new restrictions. Shares in Marston’s, a large chain of bars and pubs in Britain, fell as much as 8 percent and the company said it was looking to cut 2,150 jobs that are currently furloughed.

InterContinental Hotels Group, a British hospitality company, saw its stock fall about 3 percent. Ryanair shares lost 4.3 percent after the airline said on Thursday it would fly only 40 percent of its usual capacity this winter, down from previous plans for 60 percent.

  • Stocks slipped on Thursday, as earnings reports and new economic data reminded investors of the challenges that companies and workers face amid a second wave of coronavirus cases. New restrictions were imposed in London, and a curfew was put into effect in Paris and other French cities.

  • Share prices for airlines and other travel companies, already battered this year, fell as the tightening European rules cast a shadow over travel and spending in the coming holiday season.

  • On Wall Street, the S&P 500 fell 0.15 percent, after steadily recovering from an early loss of more than 1 percent. The drop in European markets was steeper, with the Stoxx 600 Europe down more than 2 percent.

  • The drop came even as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Thursday that the White House was willing to make additional concessions to Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California in hopes of rekindling a stimulus deal before the election, while President Trump said he would agree to a larger bill than the White House had already proposed.

  • Mr. Mnuchin had dampened sentiment in the markets Wednesday by cautioning that he did not expect a relief package before the Nov. 3 election, and his hopeful comments on Thursday were undermined by Senator Mitch McConnell, who downplayed the prospects of a larger bill.

  • Also on Thursday, data from the Labor Department showed that new state unemployment claims jumped last week to nearly 900,000, a figure that highlights the fact that employers continue to shed workers at a staggering rate.

  • The slide in markets on Thursday is “linked to spikes in coronavirus cases and fears that regional lockdowns will subdue the economic recovery,” said Susannah Streeter, an analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown. “We are seeing fresh losses for airlines and travel stocks.”

  • Shares of European airlines, Lufthansa and easyJet, fell sharply. Ryanair tumbled it said it would fly only 40 percent of its usual capacity this winter, down from previous plans for 60 percent.

  • On Wall Street, United Airlines dropped after the company said it lost $1.8 billion in the three months through September.

Poorer families were more likely to use their stimulus money to pay down debts, while richer families saved the money.
Credit…Jenny Kane/Associated Press

Americans used one-time stimulus checks they received from the federal government early in the pandemic to pad their savings accounts and pay off debt, new research from the Federal Reserve shows.

Households spent just 29 percent of the money they received earlier this year, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York said in a post on its website, citing its Survey of Consumer Expectations, conducted in June and August. Another 36 percent of the cash was saved, while 35 percent was used to pay down debt.

Americans adults who qualified for the stimulus received up to $1,200 each, with an extra $500 added per child in the household. Out of the Fed’s sample, 89 percent of households received money.

Poorer families and those who lost jobs or income amid the pandemic were more likely to use their money to pay down debts, while richer families saved the money.

“The economic impact payments, by increasing both household income and the debt pay down, contributed importantly to the sharp increase in the overall saving rate during the early months of the pandemic,” the central bank’s researchers wrote in the post.

Several factors might have been behind the relatively low spending and high saving. People were unsure when the economic crisis would clear up, the researchers wrote, and might have been acting cautiously. They were on lockdown, which might have limited opportunities to spend, and some rent payments — which count as consumption — were delayed.

The trends seem unlikely to change if new aid becomes available: In the August survey, the New York Fed asked what households might do if they received another $1,500 check. Respondents expect to spend even less of that money, about 24 percent.

The newfound savings buffer cushioned the blow as expanded unemployment insurance expired. Consumer spending has held up even though millions remain unemployed but are no longer receiving an extra $600 per week from the federal government.

“We’re still benefiting from the stimulus,” Randal K. Quarles, vice chair for supervision at the Fed, said during an event on Wednesday, noting that it makes it harder to guess what will happen to the economy once that tailwind fades.

  • Poverty has returned to levels higher than before the coronavirus crisis, two new studies have found. The number of poor people has grown by eight million since May, according to researchers at Columbia University, after falling by four million at the beginning of the pandemic as a result of the $2 trillion emergency package known as the Cares Act. Using a different definition of poverty, researchers from the University of Chicago and Notre Dame found that poverty has grown by six million people in the past three months, with circumstances worsening most for Black people and children.

  • Shares in Big Hit, the management company behind the Korean boy band BTS, skyrocketed on their first day of trading in South Korea on Thursday, as investors rushed to get a piece of one of the world’s biggest musical acts. The stock opened at 270,000 won, or about $235, double the company’s offering price of 135,000 won, and was up 30 percent, the daily limit, in early trading. By day’s end, the stock was down over 4 percent from its opening price, with the company’s value settling at around 8.7 trillion won, or about $7.6 billion, by the market’s close.

  • Wells Fargo has found evidence that some employees filed fraudulent applications to get money from a Small Business Administration relief program supporting companies dealing with coronavirus lockdowns, according to an internal memo. The memo said the employees had created fake profiles to file for money from the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. “We have terminated the employment of those individuals and will cooperate fully with law enforcement,” the bank’s head of human resources, David Galloreese, wrote in the memo, which was posted on an internal website on Wednesday.

  • United Airlines lost $1.8 billion in the three months through September, with operating revenue down 78 percent compared with the same period in 2019. The airline said it ended September with more than $19 billion in cash and other available liquidity, boosted by a large debt offering backed by its mileage program and the ability to borrow $5.2 billion from the Treasury Department.

Revenue from the Morgan Stanley’s trading business rose 19 percent from the same period last year, as U.S. markets rallied.
Credit…Justin Lane/EPA, via Shutterstock

Morgan Stanley was the latest Wall Street bank to report a jump in earnings for the three months through September, helped in large part by an upswing in trading revenue.

Profit rose 25 percent to $2.72 billion over the same period last year, the bank said on Thursday. Revenue rose 16 percent to $11.66 billion.

As U.S. markets rallied during the quarter, revenue from the bank’s trading business rose 19 percent from the same period last year. Gains from loans held for sale as part of Morgan Stanley’s corporate lending activity also rose substantially.

Still, in what could be interpreted as a sign of optimism over the health of the corporate economy, Morgan Stanley’s provision for credit losses on loans and lending commitments was less than half of what it was in the previous quarter.

Morgan Stanley’s chief executive, James P. Gorman, said in a statement that the quarter was characterized by “consistent, high returns.” He predicted that the completion of his bank’s acquisition of the trading company E*TRADE and its recently announced purchase of Eaton Vance would position Morgan Stanley well for future growth.

The Treasury market may have grown too large to cope with periods of stress, said Randal K. Quarles, the Federal Reserve’s vice chair for supervision.
Credit…Erik S Lesser/EPA, via Shutterstock

Randal K. Quarles, the Federal Reserve’s vice chair for supervision, said on Thursday that the Fed and other regulators needed to look into what could be done to insulate the Treasury market after broad market turmoil in March caused it to jam up.

“We have to ask: What can be done to improve Treasury market functioning over the longer term so that this market can withstand a large shock to demand or supply?” Mr. Quarles said in remarks prepared for delivery to the Institute of International Finance.

In March, a mismatch between Treasury buyers and sellers amid widespread financial stress prompted the Fed to jump into the market, buying huge quantities of bonds and taking other measures to soothe conditions.

The Treasury market may have grown so large — swelled by debt issuance to fund America’s spending — that it has outpaced its ability to cope with periods of stress without help, Mr. Quarles, an expert on financial markets and the top regulatory official at the Fed, said during a question-and-answer session on Wednesday. It could be that “the sheer volume there may have outpaced the ability of the private market infrastructure to support stress of any sort there,” Mr. Quarles said.

That would be a major issue for financial regulators and financial market participants alike. The Treasury market is among the deepest and most liquid in the world — meaning that money invested in U.S. government bonds is expected to change hands easily and with little risk. Treasuries are used as the backbone for many other markets.

It also raised the prospect that the Fed might need to remain active in the market permanently, something that Mr. Quarles said on Wednesday that he had not yet concluded. The mere fact that he raised it, though, is a substantial statement. Just a decade ago, critics regularly blasted the Fed for large-scale Treasury purchases.

Mr. Quarles also highlighted on Thursday that short-term funding markets, including ones closely interlinked with Treasury markets, experienced widespread strain in March. “It is worth asking whether there may be other steps needed to secure these very important sources of liquidity,” he said.

Business

Earth911 Reader: This Week’s Sustainability, Recycling, Business and Science News Summarized

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The Earth911 team combs news and research for interesting ideas and stories about the challenges of creating a sustainable world. We pick the science, sustainability, recycling, and business stories to give you a summary of the week’s changes, along with ideas you can act on to support the environment and Earth-friendly initiatives. Sometimes it is good news we can all celebrate, sometimes it is bad news or a seemingly intractable challenge that should make us double-down on finding new solutions. We call it the Earth911 Reader and we hope you find it useful.

IN SCIENCE

California’s Catastrophic Wildfire Season Is 20 Years Early

Scientific American delivers a chilling report on the surprise among fire and climate researchers at the scale of California’s wildfires during 2020. Fires that burn up to 4.1 million acres in a single year were not forecast to happen until 2050. While one fire season does not constitute a trend, the massive Australian and Amazon wildfires during the past year confirm that there are real reasons for concern. Researchers predict that fires could burn 77% more land each year by 2100. California’s 2012 to 2015 drought, the worst in 1,200 in the region, and continued human migration into fire zones exacerbate the problem. In related news, NPR reports that 32 million homes were built in the “woodland-urban interface” between 199 and 2015, many of which are now at risk from annual wildfires.

Antarctic Weddell Sea Warming Five Times Faster Than Other Deep Ocean Areas

A new study from the Alfred Wegener Institute’s Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research reports that the deeper parts of the Antarctic Weddell Sea below 2000 meters (6,561 feet) are warming five times faster than other deepwater regions in the world’s oceans. “By using the temperature rise to calculate the warming rate in watts per square meter, you can see that over the past 30 years, at depths of over 2,000 meters the Weddell Sea has absorbed five times as much heat as the rest of the ocean on average,” Wade Crowfoot of the California Natural Resources Agency told Phys.org. The warming is caused by changing wind and sea current patterns in the Southern Ocean. The transition could disrupt currents worldwide, as the region is the setting for 15 percent of sea-current overturning globally. As oceans absorbed heat from the warming atmosphere, which has dampened the impact of climate change until now, the currents have shifted, and more warm water is flowing into the depths of the Weddell Sea. More warm water is forced into the area by shifting currents, raising the deepwater temperature by about 0.0024 degrees Celsius per year. Warming waters will accelerate Antarctic ice loss and atmospheric warming, fueling more global warming.

Less Disinfectant In Water Could Improve Quality, Reduce Pollution

Every water pipe in the world is lined with a biofilm of living organisms. For decades, water systems have used chlorine to disinfect water and pipes. A new study from the University of Sheffield (U.K.) found that reduced chlorine use improves water quality without increasing water-borne illness risk. “Drinking water is not sterile, and you wouldn’t want to drink it if it was as it would taste horrible. It’s the minerals and good bacteria in water that gives it the taste that we expect when we turn on our taps at home,” study co-author Professor of Water Infrastructure Engineering Joby Boxall told Phys.org. In fact, humans have used too much chlorine, killing organisms that enhance the quality and flow of water inside pipes. Leaving biofilms intact by lowering chlorine levels to kill only “free-living” microorganisms will produce cleaner water at home and when it is returned to rivers, lakes, or the seas.

 

IN SUSTAINABILITY

Achieving 100% Renewable Energy In the U.S. Could Save $321 Billion

Rewiring America, an energy policy organization, estimates that “If done right, [renewable energy deployment] would create millions of new, good-paying jobs in every zip code, save each household on average between $1,050 to $2,585 per year on its energy bills.”  The report explains that besides reducing energy-related CO2 emissions, the total savings across the entire country up to $321 billion annually. “If we electrify everything, the savings are more than enough to return money to households,” Adam Zurofsky, executive director of Rewiring America, told The Guardian.

Urban Sharing Can Reshape Cities, Sustainability, and Society

A five-year study of urban sharing organizations in Amsterdam, Melbourne, Seoul, Shanghai, and Toronto just reported its first findings. Sharing programs must be carefully defined to ensure sustainable results. Conducted by Lund University in Sweden, the research explores how the creation, growth, and governance of urban sharing programs perform in different cultures, Shareable reports. The five cities under study provide clothing, car, commute, and community-based toy libraries, among other projects. Researchers found that developing the basis for trust, individual and group empowerment, inclusive decisions, and social justice is essential to success. The Shareable article links to many useful resources, examples, and research. Start your sharing journey using the lessons provided by author Yuliya Voytenko Palgan.

China’s Aggressive Decarbonization Plan Is Doable

The journal Nature summarizes a collection of research about the viability of China’s promise to become a net-zero emissions society by 2060. The verdict is that the country can keep its promise if it makes “hard decisions” about retiring coal, adopting nuclear power, and aggressive investment in wind and solar power generation. Currently, coal is burned to produce 65% of China’s electricity. During the next four decades, China’s power requirements are expected to double. Still, renewable sources can step in to keep the economy growing. China will need 16 times today’s solar generation capacity and nine times its current wind-driven electric capacity. He Gang of Stony Brook University in New York told Nature that China could produce up to 60% of its electricity from non-fossil fuel sources, including nuclear power, by 2030. The U.S. needs to recognize that the first economy to achieve net-zero emissions will become a role model for the rest of the planet. Now is the time to accelerate our investment in renewables to lead the world.

Air Pollution Contributed to 6.6 Million Deaths In 2020

The State of Global Air 2020 report released by a global collection of academic and nonprofit organizations found that air pollution contributed to 6.67 million early deaths, including the loss of 500,000 infants. A newly developed method for tracking infant deaths due to air pollution propelled dirty air to the #4 position among premature death causes. Only high blood pressure, tobacco, and dietary causes kill more people each year, EcoWatch reports. It also confirms that COVID-19 lockdowns did result in lower levels of some greenhouse gases (GHG), but only temporarily. The most-polluted countries this year include India, Nepal, Niger, Qatar, and Nigeria. Emerging economies that rely on fossil fuels for energy generation are getting dirtier. However, Egypt, Thailand, Vietnam, and China all made progress on GHG reductions. The report is packed with useful information.

France Introduces Repairability Rating Product Labels

Resource Recycling reports that the French government will introduce a “compulsory rating system” for the repairability of smartphones, T.V.s, laptops, and appliances on New Year’s Day in 2021. It will be a simple score, from one to 10, on a sticker placed on the product packaging. More product categories will be added in the future. The right to repair movement in the U.S. lags behind Europe, so we will be watching closely to see how French consumers respond to this new rating system.

 

IN BUSINESS

Leading Banks Face Extreme Exposure To Climate Damage Risks

Ceres, a sustainability nonprofit that works with investors and companies to introduce climate- and human-friendly practices, released an GFN of the climate risk facing major banks. The news isn’t pretty. Over half of the current syndicated lending portfolios of the largest U.S. banks are exposed to one or more climate risks. The loans support industries that are not preparing for disruptions or have not set out goals to avoid climate-related losses. Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Well Fargo are the most exposed money center banks. As much as 18% of loans at U.S. banks could face “wide impact” losses due to secondary climate-related problems, such as economic and agricultural disruptions that change consumer spending. If you are an investor, the Ceres report is an essential read.

PepsiCo’s Green Bond Spending On Recycled PET Plastic Makes Minor Impact

After raising $1 billion in “green bonds” in October 2019, PepsiCo has poured approximately $200 million of the money to buy recycled PET (RPET) #1 plastic for use in packaging, Resource Recycling reports. Additionally, it spent another $227 million on fleet and operational efficiency improvements. The recycled content in its beverage packaging increased from just 3% to 4% during 2019. Pepsi plans to achieve 25% RPET content in beverage packaging by 2025. The company reports that supplies of RPET are not sufficient to meet demand, which is promising news. Plastic recyclers can count on selling as much RPET as they can make. PepsiCo will focus its RPET inventory on making its Naked juice, Tazo Chilled tea, and LIFEWTR packaging 100%-recycled before 2025.

IKEA Launches Furniture Buyback Program

Swedish home products retailer IKEA will start buying back used furniture from customers on November 27, TriplePundit reports. U.S. customers will have to wait to participate but the program will eventually reach 27 countries. IKEA’s commitment to circular thinking is impressive and aggressive. It will make all its products recyclable, reusable (including resalable through the buyback program) by 2030. IKEA will open its first second-hand store in Eskilstuna, Sweden, by the end of 2020. The concept requires a comprehensive rethinking of IKEAs product design, materials choices, and logistics to support convenient and profitable reuse. IKEA’s experience could teach retailers everywhere a great deal about circular strategies. The first beneficiaries will be customers who get new, lower-priced access to refurbished IKEA products.

Post-Secondary Sustainability Education Must Evolve, National Academies Urge

Solving sustainability problems requires cross-disciplinary thinking and deep emotional intelligence about a broad spectrum of issues, a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine argues. “[S]ustainability students and graduates need a common baseline understanding of content areas that include the history of sustainability, ethics and social justice, data analytics, business administration, sustainability science, diversity and justice, and Indigenous knowledge and culture,” the report suggests. Thinking across disciplinary boundaries — or, rather, based on my conversations with young innovator Adarsh Ambati, not seeing the boundaries as barriers — is essential to solving climate change’s systemic issues. You can download the report for free by registering with the National Academies publishing site.

Sustainable Tech Startups Among Most-Fundable Companies

Pepperdine’s Graziadio Business School recently announced its most-fundable companies selections for 2020, and several sustainability-related firms were recognized. Keep an eye on Lawrence, New York-based Flower Turbines, a maker of small wind turbines that can be used in and around cities, suburbs and other populated areas. It can also augment large-scale wind generation by filling in spaces under large turbines. AgTools Inc. is an Irvine, Calif-based maker of market intelligence and supply chain management software. It helps move meat and produce to market more efficiently and reduce food waste. Global Thermostat, a New York-based maker of CO2 capture and sequestration, was also recognized. Listen to our interview with Global Thermostat cofounder Graciela Chichilnisky to learn about raw company’s low-energy direct-air capture technology.

 

IN RECYCLING

Waste Management Reports Record Recycling Volume In 2019

The nation’s largest waste hauler, Waste Management, collected and processed 1.9% more recyclable material in 2019 than the year earlier, Resource Recycling reports. The notable change, in our GFN, is that Waste Management customers improved their recycling sorting practices. The company said that its materials were contaminated at a 17% rate, about five percent lower than the national average. Lower contamination rates mean more material will be successfully processed and used in new products. Waste Management invested approximately $100 million in 2019 to progress toward achieving 10% contamination rates by 2025.

Explore What Canadian Producer Responsibility Programs Can Teach the U.S.

Extended producer responsibility (EPR) laws require the makers of products and packaging materials to collect, process, and recycle what they make. Resource Recycling provides a comprehensive assessment of the rules that govern these programs in Canada, where EPR laws are already in place. Depending on how directly responsible a producer is held to recover materials, the intervening collection and sorting infrastructure must be more or less tuned to identify individual items as a specific company’s responsibility. But consider a pie tin, as the authors suggest. It may be packaging for a pie or could have been sold in a box of pie tins — which company, the pie maker or the pan manufacturer, is responsible. The fee and incentive structure can take many forms. For example, a deposit fee could be applied to all items sold to pre-collect revenue. Conversely, payments could be collected from producers based on the volume of material they produce and recapture. And there are many other variables, such as the value of the recycled material or environmental impact of capturing the material, that can be factored into EPR fees. A deep, long, and valuable read.

Florida City Offers Personalized Recycling Feedback To Citizens

Apopka, Florida, is taking recycling to the street. It will deliver feedback to citizens about how well they sorted and cleaned their recyclables, Recycling Today reports. The Recycling Partnership Feet on the Street program is working with Apopka’s government to deliver “real-time personalized recycling feedback.” It is designed to help residents learn how to recycle, which can lead to reduced contamination. Earth911 experimented with at-hone recycling feedback last year, and we found people loved it. Contamination rates decreased during the four-month project. Partly funded by Coca-Cola and How2Recycle, the recyclable products labeling system, the Apopka program has already improved recycling results. Ultimately, suppose citizens don’t take the first steps in the recycling process. In that case, the rest of the system cannot succeed without massive investments in sorting and cleaning technology. So, you can recycle well at the expense of a little time each week now or pay later for expensive technology that will do the job for you.

New Jersey Follows California’s Recycled Content Lead

SB 2515, New Jersey’s minimum recycled content legislation, will be revised to be similar to California’s recently introducing recycling law. It appears to be poised for passage in 2021. The bill aims for 50% recycled material in products by 2030. Senator Bob Smith, who sponsored the bill, told Waste Dive that the new version will be “much more towards the California model than the way we started.” It will be introduced with a 25% recycled content requirement for rigid plastic containers and 15% in beverage containers. These levels would be raised by 5% a year until it reaches 50%.

Polypropylene Recycling Gaining Traction

While Plastic #1 (PET) and #2 (HDPE) plastic is widely recycled at the curb in the United States, polypropylene (PP), or Plastic #5, is picked up at only 60% to 65% of homes. PP is used in bottle caps, medicine bottles, food containers, and other everyday items. Now the material is getting attention from recyclers, Scrap Magazine reports. The Recycling Partnership recently launched the Polypropylene Recycling Coalition to raise $35 million from industry partners. Waste Management has spent as much as $200 million to increase, among other things, its PP identification and sorting capacities. Additionally, manufacturers are starting to buy recycled PP, and that demand will fund more recycling investment. What can you do? First, check that your recycling program accepts PP. Learn to recognize PP, wash and sort it, then place it in the bin. And ask whether the PP packaging you buy is made with recycled material.

 

ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE

Make Your School An Earth Day School

After the 50th anniversary of Earth Day was disrupted by COVID-19, the Earth Day Foundation aims to make next April 22 a global event. Consider registering your school or your children’s school to participate in Earth Day activities in 2021, and get involved as a volunteer. Visit EarthDay.org to join the Earth Day Schools program and find climate literacy material or connect with other volunteers to create local events and community clean-ups. Let’s bring one billion people out to participate in the 51st Earth Day.

Support Ceres, the Sustainability Nonprofit That Changes Business Priorities

Research and advocacy are essential to chaning minds. Consider supporting Ceres, a nonprofit that educates and advises investors and companies about making the transition to sustainable practices. The organization’s research, including the report about U.S. banks’ loan portfolios exposure to climate risk, impacts policy and business decisions. In particular, Ceres has captured the financial industry’s attention and is helping to reshape priorities in the energy, food, insurance, and transportation industries. Ceres’ annual fundraising campaign in two weeks, and now is the time to act to support next year’s research agenda. Visit Ceres.org to make a tax-deductible contribution. Few organizations have developed business and policy influence as broad and effective as Ceres. Together, we can amplify Ceres’ impact in 2021.

 

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Property taxes for New Orleans homes have surged; now businesses could get a huge tax cut

becker blake

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Over the past two years, thousands of homeowners across New Orleans have opened unwelcome letters from the Orleans Parish assessor’s office providing notice of big jumps in the assessed values of their properties and, with that, a sharp increase in their tax bills.

Now, some of the city’s biggest commercial property owners, many beaten down by months of business losses due to the coronavirus pandemic, are getting letters with much happier news: The assessor is awarding them what amounts to a huge, once-in-a-lifetime property tax cut.

Assessor Erroll Williams earlier this month finalized across-the-board cuts in 2021 assessments for hotels, retailers, restaurants, office towers and other commercial properties, in a push to alleviate the economic devastation inflicted by the pandemic.

Some of the biggest cuts will be for the largest hotels, including the Marriott on Canal Street, the Hilton Riverside and the Sheraton, as well as Harrah’s Casino New Orleans and its adjacent properties. Each could see its tax bill drop by $1.5 million to $2.5 million, based on current millages and estimates from data provided by the assessor.

The final property tax bills for 2021 will not be set until the City Council and other taxing authorities decide on their millages, but the valuation assessments for commercial property owners have already come through.

Hotels will get a cut of about 57% in their assessed property values. Event venues, restaurants and bars will see a drop of 45% to 46%. Smaller cuts will be given to retailers, office buildings, laundromats, funeral homes and banks. Even supermarkets and pharmacies will see a 5% reduction.

The result is that the assessed values of almost 10,000 commercial properties will drop by almost $300 million, or 25%, to slightly more than $916 million. At the same time, the assessed value for about 144,000 homes and other residential properties will rise by $193 million, or almost 8%, to $2.7 billion.

A sunrise hits the New Orleans downtown skyline, Thursday, July 6, 2017.

 



 

Overall, the changes will significantly shift who pays for police, fire, public schools and other government services. Commercial property owners, who account for slightly less than 25% of property tax revenue, will pay about $42 million less. Residential property owners, who account for more than half the property tax base, will pay about $30 million more, according to assessor’s office data.

If millages are held steady, City Hall and a number of other entities funded by property taxes will see a drop in revenue, with New Orleans’ total property taxes falling by a net $12 million, from $652 million to about $640 million, according to the assessor’s latest estimate.

Williams said he decided to make the unprecedented cuts because of the dire situation faced by New Orleans’ hospitality sector.

“Until tourism comes back to New Orleans, these hotels are going to struggle, and the restaurants, some of them are not coming back at all,” he said. “Rather than sit back and do nothing, we decided to study it and see what we could do, so they could sustain the period of being in the red.”

Property taxes make up about 45% of the combined budget for City Hall and about a dozen other parish-level entities, which include fire and police services, the Orleans Parish School Board, the Audubon Nature Institute and parks and recreation.

Massive valuation cuts: Downtown hotels are the biggest beneficiaries of property valuation cuts by the Orleans Parish Assessor’s Office. Here’s a look at the top 10 downtown properties’ assessed valuation cuts, in millions of dollars.

 

 

The rest of the revenue comes primarily from taxes on sales, motor vehicles and hotel room rentals, and fees for parking tickets, utilities and other items. Many of those, however, have seen substantial drops over the past year as the coronavirus shutdowns, aimed at slowing the virus’ spread, have resulted in empty hotels, postponed conferences and canceled events such as the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and the Essence Festival of Culture.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell and her administration are trying to plug a $40 million hole in the city’s 2020 budget, and few see on the horizon a big rebound in tourism that could boost sales tax receipts to pre-pandemic levels.

The mayor’s office would not comment directly on the cuts in commercial property valuations and any effect they might have. Said Cantrell Beau Tidwell: “The Orleans Parish assessor’s office is an independent entity from the mayor’s office, and holds sole responsibility for determining property valuations.”

Williams said his decision to cut values for commercial properties, which in many cases more than reverses big increases made a year earlier, comes after a summer of deliberation and consultation with other municipalities in Louisiana and elsewhere in the United States, as well as with academic experts, an independent appraiser and industry representatives about how to respond to the crisis.

Robert Penick, director of the University of New Orleans’ Institute for Economic Development and Real Estate Research, conducted a study for the assessor and determined that home prices appeared to be holding up well, even though the number of houses sold had fallen considerably during the pandemic.

For commercial valuations, Penick said, there were too few transactions to determine market values of the properties, so he advised the assessor to look mostly at how the businesses on the properties were doing to come up with a valuation that would reflect sales, or how likely leases were to be renewed.

 

Last summer, a citywide reassessment of property values covering about three-quarters of New Orleans properties sent tax bills soaring for tho…

The hardest-hit area of the economy has been the downtown hospitality sector, where the bulk of the valuation cuts are concentrated.

According to data compiled by the Downtown Development District, almost one third of the total cut in commercial sector valuations, or about $90 million, is accounted for by 10 downtown properties, including the cluster at the foot of Canal Street owned by Harrah’s New Orleans Casino, a division of Caesars Entertainment of Las Vegas. Harrah’s valuations were more than halved to about $15.3 million, which could reduce its property tax bill by an estimated $2.4 million, according to the assessor’s office.

Similarly, the Marriott Hotel on Canal, the Sheraton, the Intercontinental, the Crowne Plaza, the Roosevelt and the Ritz-Carlton will see their property taxes halved. All are owned by national hotel management groups, suggesting that any tax savings will head to corporate coffers outside of the city.

Spokespersons for Harrah’s and the hotel groups either would not comment or did not respond to requests for comment.

Property tax assessments in Orleans Parish have come a long way from the days when seven assessors with a mishmash of policies determined the …

Michael Sherman, a lawyer who was land-use adviser to Mayor Mitch Landrieu and whose current clients include 30 hotel owners, was among the industry representatives who consulted with Williams on the tax changes. Sherman pointed out that Williams had the authority to make the big cuts for commercial property owners because of a revision to a flood-damage law that came into effect after Hurricane Katrina. It required assessors to consider tax cuts after various types of disasters.

“This year, the state Tax Commission affirmed that assessors must look at factors such as properties being declared non-operational, like performance theaters, or economically obsolete, such as hotels that have little or no occupancy,” Sherman said. “The New Orleans assessor dove deep to understand the devastating impact of coronavirus on hotels, and as a result, fairly and accurately implemented the adjustments required by state law.”

Whatever the economic case, the shift in the property tax burden toward residential owners is likely to rekindle long-smoldering grievances about the assessor’s methods for influencing property taxes.

Last year, Williams’ office came in for widespread criticism after an 18% aggregate increase for residential sector valuations. That included “sticker shock” increases that more than doubled property tax bills for some owners.

 

New Orleans City Council members are pushing to lower the city’s tax rates to partially offset skyrocketing assessments for thousands of prope…

Among the critics was the public policy watchdog Bureau of Governmental Research, which said Williams should not rely so heavily on the sales value of houses in a neighborhood to determine the assessment for all of the neighborhood’s homeowners.

Morgan Clevenger, president of the Fairgrounds Triangle Neighborhood Association, argues that the assessor’s methods can end up penalizing people who have spent years improving rundown and dangerous neighborhoods, only to end up with bigger tax bills because new arrivals are paying more for their houses.

Clevenger said she understood the need to consider the hardship of local businesses. Her parents’ Uptown restaurant, Upperline, has remained closed for months during the pandemic and could use the property tax break.

But she added, “If the assessor is proposing an across-the-board reduction in 2021 commercial assessments, especially a 57% decrease for hotels, many of which are owned by out-of-state entities with deep pockets, we should all be very concerned.”

Another concern is that the broad cuts for commercial property owners mean the benefit is not always delivered to the intended target.

Julie Posner manages the two Uptown locations of Surrey’s Cafe. Both properties are leased, and she said that during the pandemic they had to scramble to secure loans to keep current on bills, including paying rent to the two landlords.

Julie Posner, business manager of Surrey’s Cafe, stands in front of the recently re-opened business at 4807 Magazine Street in New Orleans, La. Monday, Oct. 19, 2020. The business leases its premises and has scrambled to keep up rent payments even while closed for months, so won’t see any benefit from property tax cuts. (Photo by Max Becherer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

 



 

So now, Posner said, the landlords who did not suffer any hardship from rent delays will also get the benefit of a property tax cut.

Meanwhile, the city’s tax collectors have been hounding Surrey’s for sales tax payments, including adding more than $4,000 in interest and penalties on a sales tax bill of almost $13,000 that was due in April.

“I can appreciate that the city is in dire straits, too, but who is really benefitting from this?” Posner asks. She said her restaurants have had to take extraordinary steps to keep going, and she doesn’t think city officials have thought through how their actions will hurt front-line businesses.

Other big changes to assessed property values include the 30% cut for fast-food outlets, which includes some mom-and-pop burger and chicken shops but also benefits dozens of outlets owned by the big national chains. In New Orleans, for example, the 17 McDonald’s outlets are mostly located on property owned by McDonald’s Corp. rather than by their local franchise owners.

McDonald’s, like most retail outlets, suffered a sharp sales downturn in the second quarter of this year but recovered strongly in the third quarter. Its share price is up 14% since the start of the year, and earlier this month it increased its dividend for shareholders. A McDonald’s Corp. spokesperson said the company was unaware of the New Orleans assessment cut and had no comment.

Julie Posner, business manager of Surrey’s Cafe, places a sign with the hours of operation at the front door of the recently re-opened business at 4807 Magazine Street in New Orleans, La. Monday, Oct. 19, 2020. As renters, Surrey’s two locations won’t see the direct benefit of lower property taxes. (Photo by Max Becherer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

 



 

Williams said he recognizes the assessment breaks he is giving might be imperfect, but he says he had to act in order to help businesses while also minimizing the revenue drop for local government.

Indeed, he said, he understands that valuation increases for the residential sector do not take into account the fact that many individuals have lost their jobs or seen their incomes reduced because of the pandemic. He acknowledged that might become an issue next year when it comes to collecting taxes.

“The next challenge is going to be in January, February, when the city usually collects 85% to 90% of the property taxes,” Williams said. “I’m not the tax collector, but with so many people out of work I don’t see how everybody is going to be able to pay their taxes on time.”

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Klépierre: BUSINESS REVIEW FOR THE FIRST NINE MONTHS OF 2020

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PRESS RELEASE

BUSINESS REVIEW FOR THE FIRST NINE MONTHS OF 2020

Paris — October 23, 2020

Klépierre, the European leader in shopping malls, today reported earnings for the first nine months of 2020(1). The significant events of the period include:

  • Continued improvement in retailer sales over the third quarter, reaching 90% of prior-year level
  • 90.3% collection rate for third-quarter rents, 81.7% over 9 months
  • 9-months revenues of €918.5 million, 92% of prior-year level
  • Strict control of cash outflows with only €162 million left to cash out by 2022 on extension/refurbishment projects already launched
  • Net debt of €9,181 million at end-September, strong liquidity position (€2.8 billion) covering upcoming refinancing needs through June 2022

Jean-Marc Jestin, Chairman of the Executive Board, commented, “Amid unprecedented uncertainty and new challenges, Klépierre’s business activity has been recovering over the last three months. A resumption in retailer sales and footfall has driven an encouraging improvement in rent collection. This is the result of the incredible work of Klépierre’s staff and their high commitment alongside all the communities we serve and I salute them for their dedication. Our teams are currently working closely with tenants to provide them with the necessary flexibility and new opportunities to grow their businesses. However, in a health and economic environment that remains highly unpredictable, the Group will preserve and capitalize on its unique combination of strengths: a high-quality portfolio and strong balance sheet. We are committed to financial discipline.”

Key financials

In € millions, total share basis 9M 2020 9M 2019 Reported
change
Gross rental income — Shopping centers 852.9 917.9 -7.1%
Gross rental income — Other retail properties 15.0 18.0 -16.9%
Total gross rental income 867.8 935.9 -7.3%
Management, administrative and related income (fees) 50.7 61.2 -17.2%
Total revenues 918.5 997.1 -7.9%

Operating performance            

Retailer sales

Total retailer sales at Klépierre’s malls reached 90% of the prior-year level during the third quarter of 2020, compared to 85% in June and 76% in May, benefiting from a consistent and better-than‑anticipated recovery(2). Over the period, all of the Group’s shopping centers posted improving performances, except those located near transport hubs that continue to be impacted by the lack of commuters and tourists.
The acceleration in the retailer sales recovery during the third quarter was driven mainly by the fashion segment, which recorded a substantial 13-percentage point improvement compared to June (89% of the prior-year level in September). Over the last three months, household equipment (up 5%, including a 7% increase in electronics), supermarkets (99% of the prior-year level) and sports (98% of the prior-year level) continued to post strong performances while food & beverage (78% of the prior‑year level) and to a lesser extent health & beauty (92%) continued to be impacted by persistent unfavorable health measures.
By geographic area, Scandinavia remained close to pre-Covid levels (98% of the prior-year level), while Italy and France-Belgium experienced the strongest improvement with respective sales reaching 89% and 94% of the prior-year level (compared to 79% and 87% in June). Conversely, retailer sales in Iberia remained sluggish due in particular to the lack of tourists, which weighed on the third-quarter performance, and the persistence of Covid-19 in Barcelona and Madrid which has given rise to new restrictions.
Footfall has also continued to improve during the period, albeit at a slower pace than sales, standing at 82% of the prior-year level in September, compared to 80% in July (and 75% in June).

Revenues

Over the first nine months of 2020, gross rental income generated by shopping centers amounted to €852.9 million on a total share basis, down 7.1% compared to the same period last year.
This reflected the combined impact of the following factors:
−        A €33.0 million decrease due to disposals, foreign exchange effects and other elements;
−        A €25.2 million decrease in variable revenues (including sales-based rents, specialty leasing and car park revenues) as a consequence of the lockdown; and
−        A €6.9 million impact from the straight-line amortization (in accordance with IFRS 16) of €24.7 million in rent abatements signed as of September 2020 for the second-quarter rents.
Gross rental income from other retail properties amounted to €15.0 million, down 16.9%, mostly as a result of disposals.
Management, administrative and related income (fees) decreased from €61.2 million to €50.7 million, mainly due to the postponement of certain development projects.
Overall, total revenues for the first nine months of 2020 amounted to €918.5 million, down 7.9% year on year.

Rent collection and leasing update

Over the first nine months of 2020, the Group invoiced rents and service charges for a total amount of €1,044.6 million(3). As of October 20, rent collection rate reached 81.7% over the first nine-months (i.e., €853.2 million collected)(4), out of which 96.4% in the first quarter.
Out of the €334 million in rents and service charges invoiced over the second quarter, Klépierre has collected 56.6%. Based on well-advanced negotiations with tenants, the Group estimates that the collection rate is expected to reach 60%-65% by year end. The outstanding amount of uncollected rents is expected to reflect:

  • Minimal bad debt allowances for insolvencies (€11 million);
  • A government recommendation in France to waive second-quarter rents for small businesses (€9 million);
  • Government measures to defer rents in Spain and Portugal (€2.3 million); and
  • The balance (€94 million to €111 million) comprising rent and service charges abatements (one month on average at Group level) that will be amortized on a straight-line basis over the remaining lease term (in accordance with IFRS 16).

Regarding the third quarter, the collection rate came out at 90.3%, which only includes 1.0% of rent abatements and 2.9% of security deposits exercised. The Group is confident that the third-quarter collection rate will continue to improve.

Although discussions were mostly focused on reaching deals in respect of the lockdown period, the Group has also signed 300 renewal/releasing/reletting agreements (compared to 400 over the third quarter of 2019). The reversion rate on renewals and relettings stood at a positive 3.7% for the period, in line with the first half of the year (3.9% uplift over the first nine months of the year), with estimated rental values showing good resilience in the current environment.
Over the last three months, the sports segment maintained its expanding momentum through the opening of a New Balance store at Porta di Roma (Roma, Italy), and of JD Sports stores at Centre Mayol (Toulon, France) and Tourville (Tourville-la-Rivière, France). At Rives d’Arcins (Bordeaux area, France), a new right-sized Zara store opened over 3,000 sq.m. in August, and Snipes unveiled a new flagship. More generally, Klépierre continued to support the expansion of growing retailers, illustrated by the signature of four new Normal stores and three Rituals in France. On the Jewelry segment, Swarovski opened a new boutique in Hoog Catharijne (Utrecht, Netherlands) and Pandora unveiled new flagships at Globo (Milan, Italy) and Sadyba Best Mall (Warsaw, Poland). Lastly, Huawei opened its first store in a French mall at Créteil Soleil (Paris region, France) at the end of September.

Debt and Liquidity

As of September 30, 2020, consolidated net debt totaled €9,181 million, versus €9,129 million as of June 30, 2020. The €52 million increase is mainly attributable to the second installment of the 2019 dividend paid in July, partially offset by cash inflows in the third quarter and the recovery of unpaid receivables related to the second quarter.
At the end of September, the Group’s liquidity position stood at €2.8 billion (revolving credit facility for €2,3 billion, bank overdrafts for €0.4 billion and cash for €0.1 billion), covering all refinancing needs through June 2022.
Current financial position is commensurate with S&P’s expectations related to Klépierre’s A-rating (negative outlook).

development and disposals

Development

Since the beginning of the lockdown period, Klépierre has actively reduced capital expenditure in order to preserve liquidity.
During the third quarter, Klépierre has been focusing on its main committed projects:
−      The completion of the redevelopment of Hoog Catharijne in Utrecht (Netherlands);
−      The refurbishment of Créteil Soleil in Paris (France), which should be completed by the end of 2021; and
−      The extension and refurbishment of Gran Reno in Bologna (Italy), slated to open in fourth‑quarter 2021.
Accordingly, over the nine-month period ended September 30, 2020, capital expenditure accounted for €77 million (versus €188 million over the full year in 2019). Only €162 million remains to cash out by 2022 on projects that have been already launched.

Disposals

The Group has completed disposals totaling €79.6 million (total share, excluding transfer taxes) since January 1, 2020. As of September 30, 2020, taking into account sales under promissory agreements, total Group disposals amounted to €151.0 million.

Outlook

During the third quarter of 2020, Klépierre observed an encouraging recovery in terms of sales, footfall and collection rates, marking a clear improvement compared to the first half of the year. Negotiations with retailers on the lockdown period are progressing well and the Group is confident in its ability to finalize the process by the end of the year, which will translate into even higher collection rates for the second quarter.
Concerning the fourth quarter, some countries have recently implemented temporary new restrictions. In the Czech Republic, the government has ordered the closure of all retail stores (except for stores providing essential goods) between October 22 and November 3. In Italy, the Piedmont, Lombardy and Basilicata regions have ordered the closure of shopping malls over the weekends until November 13, with the exception of supermarkets, pharmacies, tobacconists, food and beverage and cosmetics stores. These restrictive measures concerned 10% of our portfolio (in value). In light of this, Klépierre is maintaining a cautious stance regarding how the pandemic will evolve and impact its various geographies and the Group’s businesses. Against this backdrop, the Group will be seeking more than ever to capitalize on its core strengths: the high quality of its portfolio, its operational excellence and its financial discipline.

YEAR-ON-YEAR change in retailer sales – third-quarter 2020

Country Q3 2020 change(a) % of total
reported retailer sales
France -6% 36%
Belgium -11% 2%
France-Belgium -6% 37%
Italy -11% 25%
Norway +5% 8%
Sweden -9% 6%
Denmark -4% 4%
Scandinavia -2% 18%
Spain -30% 6%
Portugal -24% 2%
Iberia -28% 8%
Czech Republic -15% 2%
Poland -18% 2%
Turkey -2% 2%
CE & Other -12% 6%
Netherlands -12% 2%
Germany -10% 3%
TOTAL -10% 100%
Segment Q3 2020 change(a) % of total
reported retailer sales
Fashion -11% 38%
Culture, Gifts and Leisure -4% 19%
Health & Beauty -8% 14%
Food & Beverage -22% 10%
Household Equipment +5% 13%
Other -24% 6%
TOTAL -10% 100%

 (a) Change in retailer sales on a same store basis.

Total revenues

In € millions Total share Group share
9M 2020 9M 2019 9M 2020 9M 2019
France 316.7 323.3 256.5 263.7
Belgium 13.7 14.2 13.7 14.2
France-Belgium 330.4 337.5 270.2 277.9
Italy 147.6 154.0 145.9 152.2
Norway 46.5 52.0 26.1 29.2
Sweden 40.6 43.5 22.8 24.4
Denmark 39.1 43.9 21.9 24.6
Scandinavia 126.2 139.4 70.8 78.2
Spain 81.2 87.9 81.2 87.9
Portugal 12.0 15.9 12.0 15.9
Iberia 93.2 103.8 93.2 103.8
Poland 23.8 26.4 23.8 26.4
Hungary 0.0 14.8 0.0 14.7
Czech Republic 23.8 24.9 23.8 24.9
Turkey 12.4 14.8 11.2 13.4
Other 2.5 2.6 2.5 2.6
CE & Other 62.5 83.5 61.3 82.1
Netherlands 55.9 60.5 55.9 60.5
Germany 37.0 39.2 35.2 37.3
SHOPPING CENTERS
GROSS RENTAL INCOME
852.9 917.9 732.5 792.0
Other retail properties 15.0 18.0 15.0 18.0
TOTAL
GROSS RENTAL INCOME
867.8 935.9 747.5 810.0
Management, administrative and related income (fees) 50.7 61.2 46.9 58.5
TOTAL REVENUES 918.5 997.1 794.4 868.6
Equity-accounted investees* 60.5 63.2 58.1 60.4

* Contributions from equity-accounted investees include investments in jointly controlled companies and investments in companies under significant influence.

collection rate(a)

  Q1 2020 Q2 2020 Q3 2020 9M 2020
France-Belgium 97.0% 44.8% 92.0% 78.1%
Italy 92.8% 36.0% 85.7% 72.3%
Scandinavia 97.4% 94.3% 96.5% 96.1%
Iberia 97.1% 51.3% 86.8% 78.3%
CE & Other 94.4% 84.6% 79.6% 85.3%
Netherlands 99.6% 77.6% 92.5% 90.1%
Germany 98.3% 54.1% 92.6% 82.1%
TOTAL SHOPPING CENTERS 96.4% 56.8% 90.2% 81.7%
Other retail properties 98.3% 44.3% 91.2% 78.9%
TOTAL 96.4% 56.6% 90.3% 81.7%

(a) As of October 20, 2020, on a total share basis, excluding VAT and equity-accounted companies.

AGENDA  
February 3, 2021 2020 full-year earnings
May 6, 2021 Annual General Meeting
Investor relations contacts media contacts
Hubert d’Aillières, Group Head of IR and financial communication
+33 (0)1 40 67 51 37 — hubert.daillieres@klepierre.com
Mengxing Zhang, IR Officer
+33 (0)1 40 67 53 05 — mengxing.zhang@klepierre.com
Paul Logerot, IR Officer
+33 (0) 1 40 67 53 02 — paul.logerot@klepierre.com
Helene Salmon, Group Head of Corporate
& Internal Communications
+33 (0)1 40 67 55 16 — helene.salmon@klepierre.com

Delphine Granier, Taddeo
+33 (0)6 33 05 48 50— teamklepierre@taddeo.fr

ABOUT KLÉPIERRE

Klépierre, the European leader in shopping malls, combines development, property and asset management skills. The company’s portfolio is valued at €22.8 billion at June 30, 2020 and comprises large shopping centers in 12 countries in Continental Europe which together host 1.1 billion visits per year. Klépierre holds a controlling stake in Steen & Strøm (56.1%), Scandinavia’s number one shopping center owner and manager. Klépierre is a French REIT (SIIC) listed on Euronext Paris and is included in the CAC Next 20, EPRA Euro Zone and GPR 250 indexes. It is also included in ethical indexes, such as DJSI World and Europe, FTSE4Good, STOXX® Global ESG Leaders, Euronext Vigeo France 20 and World 120. These distinctions underscore the Group’s commitment to a proactive sustainable development policy and its global leadership in the fight against climate change.
For more information, please visit the newsroom on our website: www.klepierre.com

This press release is available in the “Publications section” of Klépierre’s Finance page: www.klepierre.com/en/finance/publications


([1])  The data disclosed in this release, including those set out in the appendices, have not been audited.

([2])  Change in retailer sales on a same store basis, excluding closure days.

([3])  Excluding VAT.

([4])  All collection rates are as of October 20, 2020.

  • PR_KLEPIERRE_2020_Q3_BUSINESS REVIEW_VF

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