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Economists have lower projections for Malaysia’s progress in 2021 as a result of Covid lockdown

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A woman can be seen in Kuala Lumpur with a Malaysia flag as a background.

SOPA pictures | Getty

SINGAPORE – Several economists have cut their growth forecasts for Malaysia for 2021 after the country announced stricter measures to contain a recent surge in Covid-19 cases.

The Malaysian government imposed a nationwide interstate travel ban and a ban on six states and territories for two weeks from Wednesday. The king of the country also declared a state of emergency which will last until August 1 or earlier if Covid cases are effectively lowered.

Here are some economists who have cut their forecasts for Malaysia:

  • Capital Economics, a consulting firm, said the Southeast Asian country will grow 7% this year, up from its previous forecast of 10%;
  • The Singaporean bank UOB downgraded its forecast from 6% to 5%;
  • The Japanese bank Mizuho lowered its forecast from 6.7% to 5.9%;
  • Fitch Solutions has lowered its forecast from 11.5% to 10%.

Malaysia was one of the worst performing economies in Asia over the past year. The International Monetary Fund announced in October that the Malaysian economy would contract 6% in 2020, up from 4.3% last year.

Alex Holmes, Asian economist with Capital Economics, said in a report Tuesday that Malaysia’s recent lockdown “is likely to hit the economy hard”. He pointed out that the six restricted states and areas – including the capital Kuala Lumper and Malaysia’s richest state, Selangor – account for 57% of the population and 65% of the gross domestic product.

The lockdown – known locally as a movement control order or MCO – includes banning all social gatherings and dine-ins, closing schools, and opening only “essential” businesses.

Most of the rest of the country has been made less stringent, with most companies allowed to operate but prohibited activities involving large gatherings.

UOB economists said in a Wednesday report that their growth forecast downgrade assumed the restrictions would be extended for another four weeks through the end of February. However, the macroeconomic impact of the latest measures is likely to be “less severe” than last year when the whole country was locked down, the economists added.

‘Blessing in disguise’

The state of emergency declared on Tuesday shook the country’s stocks and currency.

But the move will remove the short-term political uncertainty the country has struggled with over the past year – and that could be “a blessing in disguise” for the Malaysian ringgit, said Lavanya Venkateswaran, market economist at Mizuho.

The currency was down 0.5% against the US dollar in response to Tuesday’s state of emergency announcement. Since then it has strengthened against the greenback and has more than made up for these losses.

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said that in a state of emergency there would be no curfew and that the government and judicial system would continue to function. But parliament will be suspended and elections cannot be held, he said.

Muhyiddin came to power in March last year and has been increasingly called on by his ruling coalition to resign and make way for an early election.

The emergency statement “removes unnecessary and self-inflicted political uncertainties that could jeopardize the political response to the COVID resurgence,” Venkateswaran wrote in a report on Tuesday.

“Instead a stable political platform to (the) An emergency pandemic is ultimately positive in getting the economy going again. “ She said.

Rubio urges Biden to request $ 2,000 stimulus checks on day one

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Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Exits a subway car on the Senate subway on Wednesday, March 18, 2020, between votes at the Capitol in Washington DC.

Caroline Brehman | CQ appeal | Getty Images

Florida GOP Senator Marco Rubio urges President-elect Joe Biden to push for $ 2,000 in direct payments to Americans on the first day of his presidency as a token of unity following the DC uprising last week.

“Last Wednesday was one of the darkest days in our history. Everywhere in our nation people are looking for answers and calling for accountability, but they are also desperate for hope: hope that Washington leaders can take steps to help our deeply divided People to Heal Nation, “the Florida Republican wrote in a letter to Biden Tuesday.

He added, “It would send a strong message to the American people if, on the first day of your presidency, you asked the House and Senate to pass laws to you to increase direct payments to Americans for the economic impact that because of the pandemic to have to fight from $ 600 to $ 2,000. “

Rubio and Biden both supported $ 2,000 direct payments in the Covid-19 auxiliary bill that was passed late last year. That move was blocked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. Biden has not yet set his full agenda for the next round of coronavirus-related aid, but is expected to do so on Thursday. It was already expected that he would push for $ 2,000 in payments.

Democrats have more leverage over the next round of talks thanks to the party’s victories in Georgia’s two democratic runoff elections last week, which allowed them to control the upper chamber of Congress. Democrats will soon hold the Senate, House of Representatives, and White House. Biden will be inaugurated on January 20th at 12 noon.

Following news of the Georgia victories, Biden said he would be pushing for “trillions” in spending on Covid-19 aid.

“It is necessary to spend the money now,” Biden said last week. “The answer is yes, it will be in the trillions of dollars, a whole package.”

The economy, which has been plagued by the health crisis since March, has recently shown signs of deteriorating again after months of lukewarm recovery. The number of non-farm workers fell by 140,000 last month. This marked the first net job loss for the economy since the US lockdown began

In the letter, Rubio urged Biden not to let the payments “get entangled in normal political games by adding a wish-list of left-wing or other unrelated priorities to this legislation”.

“All too often, popular and necessary legislation is used as a lever to secure passage for guidelines that cannot of their own accord,” wrote Rubio. “We saw it already in the middle of the pandemic, when additional funding for small businesses was repeatedly blocked for months.”

The Biden transition team did not respond to a request for comment.

One of the possible measures that Biden has proposed as part of the aid package for Covid-19 is an increase in the federal minimum wage to $ 15 an hour, a longstanding Democratic priority. Two-thirds of Americans said last year that they are in favor of raising the minimum wage to this level, according to a poll by the Pew Research Center.

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Inventory futures blended in after modest positive aspects on Wednesday

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US stock futures were mixed early Thursday morning as traders watched interest rates and the ongoing turmoil in Washington.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures traded 96 points higher. S&P 500 futures were trading above the flatline while Nasdaq 100 futures were in negative territory.

Earlier in the day, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite gained 0.2% and 0.4%, respectively. The Dow, meanwhile, closed flat.

Gains for the S&P 500 and Nasdaq on Wednesday came after Intel rose nearly 7% to lead tech stocks higher. They also followed U.S. interest rates, which fell from their highest level since March 2020.

The benchmark yield on 10-year debt fell to 1.09% per day after hitting a high of 1.18%. This fall in interest rates was due to two key officials from the Federal Reserve saying that monetary policy will remain simple for the foreseeable future.

The Fed vice chairman said the central bank will not raise rates until inflation hits 2%. Meanwhile, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard noted that there will be a time when policy will need to be tightened. “But boy, I don’t want to set an exact date at this point.”

Interest rates have risen this year amid prospects of increased fiscal stimulus in the US after Democrats secured a majority in both the House and Senate. Inflation expectations have also increased recently.

“We believe US inflation will be higher than expected in the next few years,” wrote Adam Hoyes, Assistant Economist at Capital Economics. “At the same time, we believe investors are overestimating how quickly the Fed will allow monetary conditions to tighten. The new flexible framework for the Fed’s average inflation target suggests that inflation will rise above 2% in the coming years . “”

Investors are also watching Washington when members of the House of Representatives voted to indict President Donald Trump a second time – making him the first U.S. president to be indicted twice – when a bipartisan majority accused him of a riot in the U.S. last week. To have instigated the Capitol.

However, the market has largely shaken off the political and civil unrest in its brow.

“Normally we would expect risk-weighted assets to pull out during an event like this, but the market appears to be more focused on the next administration at this point,” said Brian Price, head of investment management for the Commonwealth Financial Network. “”

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A Information to Rebuilding Your Small Enterprise for Latino Entrepreneurs

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Marc Romanelli | Tetra Pictures | Getty Images

The Covid-19 crisis has hit small businesses in Latino particularly hard, including the fact that they are unable to access PPP funds at a rate similar to other entrepreneurs. And many sole proprietorships or small family businesses may be feeling the effects of Covid more directly as the pandemic hit the Latino community disproportionately.

If you’re a Latino entrepreneur or small business owner, you know that you are not alone and that tools, funding, and mentoring are available to help you navigate this crisis. Below we’ve compiled a list of some key tools that can help Latino small business owners rebuild and thrive.

Social media & digital tools

Leveraging social media to your maximum benefit is an inexpensive way to market your business, strengthen customer relationships, and sell through new channels. Social media is an indispensable tool to create a level playing field and grow your business in good and challenging times.

Facebook offers a range of Latino speakers, free online training courses, and tools for Hispanic entrepreneurs who use their services to market their business.

Google offers digital coaches, online workshops, training, and videos to help Latino business owners get the most out of their tools.

HootSuite offers free online training in Spanish on how to use its platform and social media delivery for small businesses in general.

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Business accelerator

Start-up accelerators can help young entrepreneurs find training, mentoring, resources, and potential funding for their new ventures. Some are solely focused on Latin American owned startups and can be found in subway areas in the United States, including:

EmprendeLatino based in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The Rutgers Black and Latino Tech Initiative based in New Jersey.

The Latino NonProfit Accelerator with national reach.

The Manos Accelerator focused on tech startups in Silicon Valley.

Network and business support groups

The Latin American small business community is supported locally and nationally by a variety of organizations that help Hispanic business owners find the resources they need to be successful.

A good place to start: most major cities have a Hispanic Chamber of Commerce that can make it easy for you to access local assistance, and some heavily Latin American cities like Miami have many other network groups.

At the national level there are several others:

The US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce promotes the interests and development of 4.37 million Latin American-owned companies in the US through a variety of programs.

The Latino Business Action Network promotes entrepreneurship.

The Latino Economic Development Center promotes the interests of small Latino entrepreneurs in the mid-Atlantic region.

financing

The Small Business Administration’s Minority and Woman-Owned Business Program can help Latino entrepreneurs find appropriate funding for their businesses, including Covid-19 aid. Similarly, many banks offer finance programs for minority entrepreneurs, and there are several other sources of finance worth exploring for businesses at any stage of development.

India kicks off an enormous Covid-19 vaccination marketing campaign on Saturday, January 16

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Bangalore Airport employees transfer cardboard boxes of vials of Covishield vaccine developed by the Serum Institute of India on January 12, 2021 in Bangalore, India.

Stringer | Xinhua | Getty Images

SINGAPORE – India is preparing for one of the largest mass vaccination exercises in the world starting Saturday.

The South Asian country plans to vaccinate around 300 million people, or more than 20% of its 1.3 billion population, against Covid-19 in the first phase of the exercise.

Indian airlines have started delivering the first doses of vaccine to Delhi and other major cities, including Kolkata, Ahmedabad and the Bengaluru Technology Center. The Minister of Civil Aviation, Hardeep Singh Puri, announced earlier this week.

Priority for the recordings is given to healthcare and other frontline workers – an estimated 30 million people. That would be followed by people over the age of 50 and other younger people at high risk.

The rollout will involve close cooperation between the central government and the states.

India has also developed a digital portal called Co-WIN Vaccine Delivery Management System. According to the Ministry of Health, real-time information on “vaccine stocks, their storage temperature and individual tracking of the beneficiaries” is provided.

India has a long history of vaccination campaigns … and will rely on this expertise in spreading coronavirus vaccines.

“India’s vaccine manufacturing expertise and experience with mass vaccination campaigns have prepared it well for the Phase 1 vaccinations scheduled to begin this weekend,” Akhil Bery, South Asia analyst with Eurasia Group, wrote in this week a report.

“India has a long history of vaccination campaigns, including its universal immunization program that vaccinates 55 million a year, and will rely on that expertise in distributing coronavirus vaccines,” he added.

Emergency approval

The Indian Medicines Agency has approved the restricted use of two coronavirus vaccines in emergency situations, both of which will be delivered to the various vaccination centers before Saturday.

One of them is a vaccine developed by the Anglo-Swedish company AstraZeneca and Oxford University, made domestically by the Serum Institute of India (SII) and known locally as Covishield.

Another vaccine was called Covaxin Developed domestically by India’s Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian State Medical Research Council. Emergency clearance has been granted as clinical trials continue.

Covaxin’s approval has reportedly been criticized by some after the regulator gave the green light shortly after asking Bharat Biotech for further analysis.

India’s Minister of Health said Tuesday the Indian government had signed procurement agreements for 11 million doses of Covishield at Indian rupees 200 ($ 2.74) per dose and 5.5 million doses of Covaxin at an average cost of Rs 206 per shot, which is likely cheaper than what it will cost in the private market.

Several other candidates, including a second domestically developed vaccine from Zydus Cadila, are currently in clinical testing.

Possible risks

India currently has more than 10.5 million reported coronavirus cases, second only to the US. According to the Johns Hopkins University, more than 151,000 people have died of Covid-19 in India. However, figures reported daily show that the number of cases of active infections is decreasing.

South Asia’s largest country is also the world’s largest manufacturer of vaccines and is believed to produce about 60% of all vaccines sold worldwide.

As a result, India’s production of Covid vaccines is expected to play an important role in global immunization against the disease.

Eurasia Group’s Bery said that despite the government’s optimism, two major risks could potentially slow the launch of the vaccination campaign.

“First, vaccine production capacity will be limited even in best-case scenarios,” he said, adding that if local vaccine manufacturers cannot produce the 600 million doses needed to vaccinate the first 300 million people, “India’s vaccination schedule – and the export of vaccines to other countries could be significantly delayed. “

The second risk is that India’s vaccination campaign is highly dependent on state governments, “whose capacities and expertise vary widely,” Bery said. “Effective coordination between the central government and the state government is required, which has not been (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi’s strength.”

Riz Ahmed reveals his spouse’s identify and particulars from their “secret” wedding ceremony

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Ahmed Rice finally spilled the beans on his recent wedding, not to mention his wife’s identity.

The Rogue One star appeared on the Tonight Show on Wednesday, January 13th Jimmy Fallon asked about the news that rose around Riz this week after quietly tying the knot. During an interview on Louis Theroux‘s Grounded Podcast, the actor had first referred to his wife but declined to share her name, stating that he preferred not to “delve into my personal life or dating history”.

While attending the Tonight Show, Jimmy asked Riz to clarify whether he was actually having a “secret wedding”. As it turns out, the 38-year-old Venom star claimed he really wasn’t trying to hide anything.

“It’s weird, isn’t it?” he answered. “I think because we live in a social media age, is it a secret not to use the megaphone? But I never know how much oversharing is.”

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