• Australian Associated Press

    AAP Markets report for Tuesday, April 7

    Movements on overseas markets.

  • RBA to assess whether QE needs tweaking
    Australian Associated Press

    RBA to assess whether QE needs tweaking

    The Reserve Bank of Australia board will meet on Tuesday to discuss whether the quantitative easing measures launched a fortnight ago need tweaking.

  • ASX to surge on encouraging COVID-19 news
    Australian Associated Press

    ASX to surge on encouraging COVID-19 news

    The ASX is set to climb again after global markets were buoyed by news that daily coronavirus-related deaths have eased in New York.

  • Think crooks won’t take advantage of coronavirus? Think again
    Yahoo Finance AU

    Think crooks won’t take advantage of coronavirus? Think again

    Dave Taylor writes that some businesses may try to game the JobKeeper system - but they shouldn't,

  • What to do if you’ve lost your job to the coronavirus crisis
    Yahoo Finance AU

    What to do if you’ve lost your job to the coronavirus crisis

    If you’ve recently been laid off, you’re not alone. This is what the experts say you can do about it.

  • Quibi tests market for quick-hit videos with A-list stars
    Reuters

    Quibi tests market for quick-hit videos with A-list stars

    LeBron James, Liam Hemsworth and other celebrities starred in a new type of quick-hit entertainment that debuted on Monday to a changing media market as Americans sheltered at home to help fight the coronavirus. A new service called Quibi is a gamble by Hollywood that it can carve out another category in the crowded streaming video landscape. After more than two years of work, the company considered postponing Quibi's launch as authorities urged people to stay indoors to prevent spread of the coronavirus.

  • Emerging Currencies Under Threat From Covid-19 Face Further Declines
    Bloomberg

    Emerging Currencies Under Threat From Covid-19 Face Further Declines

    (Bloomberg) -- Emerging-market currencies beaten down by Covid-19 fallout may face a fresh round of selling ahead of the foreign-exchange reserves data that are expected to show big drawdowns.Mexico’s weekly data is set to come out on Tuesday, along with figures from Indonesia, Taiwan, the Philippines, China, Malaysia, South Africa and Russia. That comes on the heels of a $9 billion slump in South Korea last month and a $6 billion decline for India since the end of February.Central banks in emerging economies are tapping reserves to stem a decline in their currencies as the coronavirus pandemic induces a rush into the U.S. dollar as a haven. The sliding stockpiles highlight the quandary they face trying to bring stability amid capital outflows, while ensuring they have ammunition for future actions.“I expect more weakness ahead for EM currencies as demand for dollars will remain strong,” said Khoon Goh, head of Asia research at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. in Singapore “We can expect to see reserves decline further as central banks continue to smooth FX moves and provide liquidity to the market.”While most emerging-market central banks have greater reserves than they did during the Asian financial turmoil of 1998 and global financial crisis of 2008, the macro economic outlook remains uncertain. The Federal Reserve’s swap lines and a new facility through which developing nations can secure dollars using Treasury holdings will help ease some pressure.Mexico’s monetary authority planned to auction up to $5 billion in dollar-denominated credit using the Fed’s swap line. Its peso is among the worst emerging-market currency performers this year, having lost more than 20% of its value.The nation’s reserves remain near a record high as officials appear reluctant to tap them, while Brazilian and Turkish stockpiles have been sliding.Capital FlightExpectations the pandemic will cause a global recession are keeping the risk of capital flight elevated in the weakest links of emerging markets. Global funds have scaled back stock investments in South Korea, Brazil and Turkey, while selling off bonds in countries such as India and Indonesia.The faster-than-expected erosion in Russian reserves also clouds the picture for the ruble given oil prices remain vulnerable to the market-share war with Saudi Arabia. India’s central bank has already been using its record foreign-currency arsenal to defend the rupee.(Updates Mexico reserves release date in second paragraph, auction in sixth.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Key Food Prices Are Surging After Virus Upends Supply Chains
    Bloomberg

    Key Food Prices Are Surging After Virus Upends Supply Chains

    (Bloomberg) -- As the coronavirus pandemic penetrates more deeply into global supply chains, prices for key staples are starting to soar in some parts of the world.Rice and wheat -- crops that account for about a third of the world’s calories -- have been making rapid climbs in spot and futures markets. For countries that rely on imports, this is creating an added financial burden just as the pandemic shatters their economies and erodes their purchasing power. In Nigeria, for example, the cost of rice in retail markets soared by more than 30% in the last four days of March alone.It’s unclear what the biggest drivers were for the retail prices, whether it was a trickle-down effect from grain futures or local logistical choke points or panic buying, or a combination.What is clear is that, while the world isn’t about to run out of food anytime soon, anxiety over policy makers’ ability to deliver it to the right place at the right time and at the right price is mounting.“Without the coronavirus, there would not be any problem whatsoever,” said Stefan Vogel, head of agricultural commodity research at Rabobank International. “People are getting worried about the supply chain.”Most price measures in the broader economy at the moment are moving things in a different direction. There are concerns over deflation as the pandemic shutters businesses, sparks unemployment and unravels the oil market. In fact, a gauge of global food costs fell sharply last month, primarily a ripple effect from the energy plunge which cripples demand for crops like sugar that get turned into biofuels.However, food prices don’t move uniformly around the world. Even within that broader drop, some critical staples were outliers. Rice posted a third straight monthly increase.While global grain inventories have been plentiful for several years, the response to the virus is unleashing ripple effects making it harder for staples to get where they’re needed and helping drive the price gains. That’s happening at the same time that demand has spiked with people loading their pantries while they stay home as much as possible.Adding to the pressure, countries including Russia, Kazakhstan and Vietnam are moving to secure domestic supply by restricting exports that the world depends on.The result? Export prices for rice from Thailand, the world’s second-biggest shipper, are at a six-year high. Wheat futures in Chicago, the global benchmark, shot up more than 8% in March, while Canadian durum, the type of grain used in pasta and couscous, is at the highest since August 2017.There are also signs that price gains could be making their way to consumers for some foods in the U.S. Wholesale egg prices rose to a record as grocers boosted orders by as much as six times normal volumes. Beef also surged, though some of the gains have eased in the last week.Wheat and rice are the world’s most consumed food crops. Staple-crop prices have a long history of fueling political instability. During the spikes of 2011 and 2008, there were food riots in more than 30 nations across Africa, Asia and the Middle East.To be clear, it’s likely the supply disruptions could prove temporary. And that will probably mean that wheat and rice will stabilize. In the last several years, food costs have been relatively benign thanks to plentiful supplies. Global rice and wheat reserves are both projected at all-time highs, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.But in the meantime, higher prices seen in recent weeks could hit countries that are more sensitive to fluctuations. That’s especially true for nations where food makes up a bigger part of overall household budgets, and it puts the world’s most vulnerable in further risk. Virus-related effects are also exacerbating price gains where food inflation was already an issue.And it’s not just staple crops rising. Prices of fruit and vegetables, essential in providing nutrition, are also going up in many parts of the world.“Within countries there are going to be a lot of people who currently can’t make money,” said Rami Zurayk, a professor at the American University of Beirut specializing in food security. “If their incomes decline, the quality and quantity of the food is going to be declining, especially if this matched by an increase in price.”In Nigeria, stay-at-home orders from state governments have sparked panic buying. Snarled transportation means fewer goods are getting to markets and grocery stores, and inventories are depleting, said Saudat Salami, who owns an online food retailer in Lagos. Some traders in the food markets where she get supplies have also been afraid to stay in operation as the virus spreads, she said.Rikotu Isah, a rice farmer from Kebbi, the country’s largest producing state, said there haven’t been significant problems with this year’s crop yet, since the harvest just started.“But if restrictions on movement persist and we can’t transport our produce to the market, there will likely be a shortage in the market that will affect prices,” he said.Governments are working overtime to keep prices stable and inflation under wraps.Algeria, Turkey and Tunisia have already stepped up their wheat purchases in recent weeks to secure supplies. Egypt and Saudi Arabia have said they will be boosting grain reserves. The Philippines is allocating more than $600 million for food sufficiency efforts and plans to buy 300,000 tons of rice.Not everyone expects that government intervention can keep things under control, though.Lalatendu Rath runs a small grocery store in the eastern Indian state of Odisha. He shut his shop for safety reasons as cases mount in the nation. Local authorities are controlling prices for essential commodities including food, but he has bought about 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of potatoes, or about three months worth of his household’s needs.“There is no guarantee if prices of staples will remain stable,” he said. “It’s better to buy a little more than the normal requirement, as we have children in the family to feed.”Overall food prices are still well below the peaks from 2008 and 2011 amid the big stockpiles. The oil slump should also help keep costs down for farmers, which tends to put a lid on crop prices.But food-importing nations are also up against a surging U.S. dollar, which makes commodities more expensive for importers. The dollar is the most expensive ever against the Algerian dinar, and near a record against the Saudi riyal and Indonesian rupiah.Climate change is also a major factor in the outlook. Drought has recently plagued rice crops in Thailand and Vietnam. In Australia, years of dryness have reduced vegetable plantings and sparked some shortages. If this year’s global wheat harvest sees problems, that could prompt more countries to place limits on exports and spark further price gains.The virus also hasn’t yet spread widely in places with food insecurity, particularly sub-Saharan Africa. If it does, there’s a chance that harvests will shrink, food prices will spike and more people will go hungry, the Agricultural Market Information System, a G20 initiative, said.“All bets are off the table right now,” said Neil Townsend, an analyst at FarmLink in Winnipeg, Manitoba. “Food security is going to be a big issue.”(Updates with comment in 16th paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Australian Associated Press

    Wall St jumps as coronavirus deaths slow

    US shares have opened higher amid signs investors were hopeful about efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

  • Australian Associated Press

    Bank of Israel cuts key rate to 0.10%

    Israel's central bank has cut its benchmark interest rate from 0.25 per cent to 0.10 per cent.

  • Bloomberg

    Coolest March in Years Is No Relief for Global Warming

    (Bloomberg) -- Europe’s hottest winter on record ever gave way to a milder March, with below-average temperatures in some parts of western parts of the continent.Last month was the sixth-warmest in Europe since 1979 and cooler than the three warmest months of March worldwide, according to a statement from Copernicus, the European Union’s Earth observation agency.Temperatures were below the average of 1981 to 2010 in the vicinity of the Svalbard archipelago, where the ice extended beyond its average limit. Northern and western Canada, Greenland, East Antarctica, the Indian subcontinent and eastern Australia were colder than average as well.March was still almost 2 degrees Centigrade (35.6 Fahrenheit) warmer than the average between 1981 and 2010. The 2-degree threshold is relevant because the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says it is vital to maintain the global temperature increase below 2 degrees, and ideally below 1.5, to avoid devastating consequences on the environment.The average temperature for the twelve months to March 2020 is close to 1.3 degrees above the level, Copernicus said. Some of the regions with above-average temperatures include Eastern Europe, Russia and other parts of Asia, as well as the western and northern coasts of Alaska. For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Reuters

    EU targets more U.S. imports after U.S. metal tariff extension

    The European Union has drawn up a list of U.S. imports including lighters and plastic fittings for furniture that it will hit with tariffs in retaliation for an extension of U.S. duties on incoming steel and aluminium. U.S. President Donald Trump signed a proclamation in January to extend tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminium to derivative products, such as steel nails and aluminium cables, because imports of the latter had increased.

  • Bloomberg

    Farmers in Australia Use Billboards to Calm Down Panicked Shoppers

    (Bloomberg) -- Australia’s farmers are turning to billboards to try and calm residents as grocery stores continue to see waves of panic buying by shoppers worried about food supplies.The National Farmers Federation is aiming to reach commuters directly in Melbourne with advertisements that read “Don’t panic. We’re experts at working from home.”Consumers have stripped grocery store shelves of essentials including meat and flour as the government gradually ratchets up restrictions to combat the spread of the coronavirus. That’s despite repeated assurances from officials that there’s an abundant supply of food, with Australia producing enough for 75 million people amid a population of 25 million.“Farmers want all Australians to know that running out of food is one thing they don’t need to be worrying about in these challenging times,” the federation’s president Fiona Simson said in a statement.The call for calm can be seen elsewhere in Asia Pacific. In Indonesia, the government said it will take firm action against individuals and retailers who hoard staple foods including rice and sugar, with the police already investigating several cases.Sugar prices in Indonesia have surged more than 40% this year, with many grocery stores empty of the key item. The country, the world’s biggest buyer of sugar, has boosted imports and asked refiners that normally supply the food industry to sell the sweetener to the retail market, according to the Indonesia Sugar Refiners Association.In China, the biggest consumer and producer of rice, government officials over the weekend called on citizens not to hoard the grain after a recent ban on new export sales by Vietnam sparked concerns over global supplies. The country holds sufficient rice and wheat stockpiles for one year of consumption, and imports only account for about 2% of demand, an official said.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Aussie shares start week with strong gains
    Australian Associated Press

    Aussie shares start week with strong gains

    The Australian share market has rallied, with all sectors gaining amid a fresh show of coronavirus volatility.

  • Business Insider

    Struggling Aussie restaurants and cafes pivoted to groceries to survive the coronavirus outbreak. Then Deliveroo 'ate their lunch'.

    * Australian eateries are battling to stay afloat during the coroanvirus crisis, with many moving into grocery delivery in the interim. * However, with platforms like Deliveroo and Uber taking commissions of up to 35%, the businesses are battling to make them sustainable. * Meanwhile, Deliveroo has launched its 'Essentials' service, directly competiting with many of the platform's partners. * Visit Business Insider Australia's homepage for more stories.* * *Necessity is said to be the mother of all invention, with the coronavirus giving businesses plenty of reasons to reinvent at the very least.With cafes and restaurants largely forced to shut their doors on normal trading by a combination of government lockdowns and dwindling demand, many Australian eateries have tried to pivot to one of the few markets still thriving: groceries.Hoo Haa bar and Miss Kuku restaurant on Melbourne’s Chapel Street were two such businesses, deciding to deliver fresh produce for the interim, but owner Paul Kasteal is struggling to make the new business work after delivery platforms take their cut."We did about $900 in sales in our first pivot week. After taking out our cost of goods and GST we are left with $476. Uber and Deliveroo then come along and hit us for another 30% which leaves us with about $230," he told Business Insider Australia in an email. "My wage bill to keep my visa workers employed on a bare minimum was $2,500 and l haven’t even included fixed costs. Even if we can make $1,000 per day, with only two to three staff working, we won’t survive with these guys taking 30% and no other revenue coming in."As unsustainable as the business was, Kasteal said he was incredulous when Deliveroo then went and launched its new 'Essentials' service, to deliver its own groceries to customers, directly competing with the businesses on its own platform."Like many restaurants on Chapel Street, we’ve started selling essential grocery items as a part of our delivery menu. Our business now relies on deliveries and Deliveroo Essentials is the final nail in the coffin. Rather than support us they want to cut our lunch," Kasteal said.Neighbouring businesses, like Italian restaurant Ladro, deli LaManna and Sons, and Lucky Penny cafe, are all in the same boat. Chapel Street Precinct Association (CSPA) general manager Chrissie Maus is calling on Australians to show where their loyalty lies."We recommend Australians help independent businesses by ordering direct from restaurants because every dollar counts during these exceptionally tough times," Maus said in a statement. "Many of our cafes and restaurants are jumping through hoops in order to survive and selling essentials was an innovative way to pivot and get money through the door during this harrowing period."Deliveroo’s action is short-sighted and a simple money grab at the expense of the Chapel Street Precinct cafes and restaurants they will need on the other side of this pandemic."While they attempt to grow their customer base, many are now looking to Mr Yum, a food ordering startup, which charges just a fraction of the commission. "Mr Yum is only charging 4.5% on the transactions," Maus said. "This is such a brilliant and innovative way for staff to utilise their workers who are now employed under JobKeeper and would otherwise be underemployed."But while the coronavirus crisis may have forced businesses to diversify into other markets, it may become the new status quo. "The pivot to takeaway and selling produce is more than a survival strategy during the COVID crisis, the silver lining is that these are sustainable new revenue streams," Mr Yum co-founder Kim Teo told Business Insider Australia.As the coronavirus crisis looking to stretch on for months yet, the reality ismany businesses will simply not make it to the other side.Deliveroo and Uber were both contacted for comment.

  • Business Insider

    Flight Centre to shut 428 Australian stores as it faces the most challenging period in its 30-year history

    * Flight Centre will permanently close 428 stores across Australia. * The travel group announced on Monday it has raised $900 million in equity and debt. * Flight Centre managing director Graham Turner called it the "most challenging period" in the company's 30-year history. * Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.* * *Embattled travel group Flight Centre will permanently shut 428 Australian stores by the end of July in an attempt to radically slash costs while raising $900 million in fresh equity and debt to last it through the coronavirus pandemic.The ASX-listed travel group on Monday announced a $700 million capital raising, consisting of a $282 million placement to institutional investors and a $419 million 1-for-1.75 entitlement offer for existing shareholders, both at $7.20 a share.The group said it had also negotiated $200 million in debt from its existing lenders, who had also agreed to waive covenant testing for its existing facilities.Flight Centre’s shares, which have been in a trading halt for almost three weeks, last traded at $9.91. Macquarie and UBS are lead managers and are underwriting the offer.The pandemic has caused the virtual shutdown of the global travel industry, and Flight Centre said on Monday that its transaction volumes fell to 20 to 30 per cent of its normal level in March, and was implementing initiatives that would cut its annual cost base by $1.9 billion.It will shut half its leisure brand shopfronts worldwide, including 40 per cent in Australia, or about 428 of its 944 local stores by the end of July. The company's store network also include the Universal Traveller brand. It will shut 371 of the 593 stores it has outside of Australia.Flight Centre had previously announced it would close up to 100 underperforming local stores, and has temporarily stood down 3800 Australian sales and support staff.Flight Centre said it was trying to renegotiate rent on its existing stores and was looking to sell its Melbourne head office building."It is – without question – the most challenging period we have encountered in over 30 years in business and it is inevitable that some businesses across our industry will fail," Flight Centre managing director Graham Turner said."With this funding in place and additional liquidity, we are in a much stronger position and are well placed to weather a prolonged downturn, which currently seems the likely scenario, and to then take advantage of the significant opportunities that will arise once conditions normalise”.Flight Centre said the raising and cost-cutting plan would give it $2.3 billion of liquidity and a monthly cost base of around $65 million, less one-off implementation costs of around $210 million.This story originally appeared on the Sydney Morning Herald. To view the original, click here.

  • A Wealth Fund Pioneer Targets Credit Markets to Save the Planet
    Bloomberg

    A Wealth Fund Pioneer Targets Credit Markets to Save the Planet

    (Bloomberg Markets) -- Knut Kjaer rummages through kitchen cabinets to find some water glasses. The founding chief executive officer of Norway’s oil fund now chairs Sector Asset Management, a firm focused on actively managed funds that he says can help create a greener planet by altering investor behavior. Right now, though, his challenge is to find some matching tableware in Sector’s offices, which are still under construction in Oslo. It’s a gray January afternoon. He looks out the windows and gestures toward the hills that surround the Norwegian capital. “They should be covered in snow at this time of year,” he says. “But it’s too warm.”After running one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds for Western Europe’s biggest oil-producing nation, Kjaer has become something of an activist. “Climate change is a threat to our civilization,” he says after gathering up some old Ikea glasses and heading to his 10th-floor conference room. “We only have a few decades to handle it.”That realization sent Kjaer, 63, down a somewhat unusual path—he’s become a green missionary who remains a suit-clad member of the investing establishment. He’s not one for making speeches at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. That, he says, should be left to the “jet set.” Instead he’s quietly begun to argue for change from within the more obscure corners of the global bond market.It’s a mission that’s growing more complicated now that the world’s attention has been hijacked by the spread of the corona­virus, with any momentum around fighting climate change subsumed by the need to fight what seems to be a more urgent threat. Covid-19 has spawned a kind of panic in markets not seen since 2008. Kjaer says he recognizes some parallels between pandemic risks and climate risks. “It’s also about human vulnerability and the limits of human life and civilization,” he says.Whereas global warming has been with us for generations, the pandemic is “a global catastrophe that we seem to be at the beginning of,” Kjaer says. The coronavirus threatens to leave public finances severely damaged, according to Kjaer, and at the other end of this crisis, a new economic reality awaits, characterized by volatile inflation and higher real interest rates.Because of that, Kjaer says he’s “pessimistic about the medium-term outlook for every risk asset.” That includes credit, which is the market he’s come to focus on in his campaign to fight climate change. The world’s worst polluters rely on debt markets more than on stock markets. As an asset class, stocks have a market capitalization roughly half that of fixed income; the 25 biggest carbon emitters are responsible for 25% of industry emissions globally, and only a quarter of those have publicly traded shares.In the current health-cum-economic crisis, the smart money was in bonds. With the sell-off in the first quarter, the MSCI World Index of stocks had lost roughly a third of its value as of late March, while global investment-grade bonds as measured by the Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate Index were down less than 10%.The dominance of debt over equity has given rise to a growing market in bonds linked in some way to climate change solutions. But rewarding clean debt issuers doesn’t get you very far, Kjaer says. “Just doing good by buying green bonds isn’t enough,” he says. “It’s such a tiny market, representing about 0.5% of outstanding bonds.”Kjaer says real change lies in punishing dirty issuers. For example, if you invest in green bonds in Sweden, he says, you’re investing mostly in the very concentrated real estate sector and therefore limiting your impact. To make a real difference, investors should sell short so-called brown bonds—betting against debt securities with a direct or indirect link to a high-carbon-footprint asset, such as a coal mine.Short selling requires borrowing bonds and then selling them with the intention of buying them back at a lower price. Profiting from this is difficult to do. One drawback to such a bearish bet is that, compared with equities, some corporate debt is less liquid and harder to trade.That illiquidity can drive up costs on what’s already an expensive trade. The short seller has to pay a brokerage fee to borrow the bonds until they’re returned—and the size of that fee often depends on how scarce the securities are.There’s also the risk of a short squeeze, which occurs when a shorted bond jumps in price, forcing a short seller to close out the position and buy back the notes. Even so, bonds are pretty much capped in terms of how high their price can rise, as opposed to the unlimited upside of a stock such as Apple or Tesla. Get the short trade right, however, and it could “have a positive climate impact” by pushing up the cost of capital for the borrower, Kjaer says.In one of his recent talks with investors, Kjaer makes references to shorting bonds from the coal industry—“by far the worst offender.” He uses the example of the Adani Group, an Indian conglomerate that’s developing the Carmichael coal mine, a contro­versial project in central Queensland, Australia. “The Adani case is critical” because, if it goes ahead, it would be such a massive polluter. The project is, in his opinion, “marginal,” and successfully shorting the Adani bonds could derail it.For some asset managers, the idea of doing green investing through short selling carries little appeal. “It’s expensive and can even add to the liquidity of brown bonds,” says Gordon Shannon, a portfolio manager at TwentyFour Asset Management LLP in London. “Most money is invested on a long-only basis, like us, and shorting just doesn’t fit with our view of investing in companies with positive momentum as they become more sustainable.”But some polluting industries, Kjaer says, can be reached only by shorting their corporate debt. “Most coal production comes from unlisted companies that are in the bond market,” he says. “Of course, a viable strategy is to go short those, and then you have a positive impact on the financing cost, and over time you are set up to win because of the repricing of the bonds.”Kjaer’s green credentials date back to long before 1997, when he began building Norges Bank Investment Management, which runs Norway’s oil-rich sovereign wealth fund. He grew up in Tonsberg, a small town 100 kilometers (62 miles) south of Oslo. As a high school student in the 1970s, when Norway was making world-class oil discoveries that would make it one of the planet’s richest nations, Kjaer says he started to worry about humanity’s consumption of finite resources. He wrote a 60-page paper on, as he puts it, “the fallacy that you need economic growth to build a good society.” While studying at the University of Oslo, he was elected as a candidate from the Green Party to chair a board that represented student interests.NBIM’s reserves increased from $25 billion to more than $400 billion during Kjaer’s 11 years there. (They’ve since ballooned to more than $1 trillion.) During that time, Kjaer also became chairman of the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research, Norway’s leading institute for climate research, which would later emerge as a crucial foundation for the development of green bonds, he says.Along the way, Kjaer burnished his reputation in the investment world. In 2005 he was part of a group assembled by then-Secretary-General Kofi Annan to draft the United Nations’ Principles for Responsible Investment, an early foray into environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investment.Henrik Syse, head of corporate governance at the Norwegian oil fund in the mid-2000s, says it was obvious from early on how seriously Kjaer took his responsibilities as one of the world’s largest investors. “His deep-seated engagement on climate issues has grown naturally from that awareness, and not least from his experience in seeing the sort of difference that engaged and serious long-term investors can make,” says Syse, now a research professor and vice chair of Norway’s Nobel Committee, which awards the Peace Prize.Over time, Kjaer became one of the most sought-after names in the investment industry. He’s an adviser to sovereign wealth funds in China and sits on the supervisory board of APG, which manages the Dutch pension fund ABP. In Norway he’s chairman of FSN Capital, where, he says, “our investors tell us that we’re leading in the global camp of private equity firms” when it comes to highlighting ESG issues such as the carbon footprint of portfolio companies. At Sector, which has about $2.5 billion of assets under management, all the funds have taken ESG principles into account in their investment policies.Kjaer says it takes time to make investors fully aware of the financial risks associated with climate change. That’s especially true now, as markets sink into panic. When he first started sounding the alarm to investors and governments two decades ago, he says, it was hard work getting people to listen to what he had to say, particularly in the U.S. He’s since seen signs that money managers are starting to wake up, citing the ABP pension fund as a leading example of how to actively manage carbon footprints.To show how attitudes are beginning to change, he points to Sweden’s central bank, the Riksbank, which in November announced it was dumping bonds issued by some local authorities in Canada and Australia with high carbon dioxide emissions. Not long ago, it seemed inconceivable that a central bank would take such a stand.Kjaer also says the crisis triggered by the coronavirus might teach the world some valuable lessons about how we organize our societies and economies: “It’s a wake-up call, and a reminder we need to have our house in order.”The opening slides of Kjaer’s presentation at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences earlier this year were filled with dire data. The last time the atmosphere’s concentration of carbon dioxide had reached today’s mark, the global sea level was as much as 20 meters higher than it is now. China is moving backward on climate change, opening a new coal-fueled power plant every second week. Some estimates suggest there may be 200 million climate refugees by 2050, and the damage could cost $54 trillion. “I have seen the maps of the planet in 30 years’ time, and there are places you cannot live anymore,” Kjaer says.He’s aware that clever investment strategies will never be enough to reverse the damage. “What is needed is a total shift in government policy,” he says. He calls the U.S. decision to abandon the Paris Agreement particularly disturbing. “I have to be more optimistic. Behind those governments there are real people, with children and grandchildren, who will see more and more evidence—and that will force those governments to act.”Kjaer feels the pressure within his own family. He says his mother teased him for “having a dishwasher, for having a car, for having a big house. So I am not good at all.” And then there are his own grandchildren to take into account. The youngest, who was born on Christmas Eve, will be 30 by the time the direst climate change predictions have played out: “Looking into their eyes, I ask myself, ‘What future are they going to inherit from us?’ ”Daly is the chief of Bloomberg’s Stockholm bureau. For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Reuters

    'We're not hungry, we need masks' says Australian doctor on coronavirus frontline

    Australian hospital workers on the coronavirus frontline say they daily receive letters of thanks, some people even bring them pizzas, but what they really need is proper respiratory face masks to replace faulty and homemade face shields. While doctors and nurses in some hospitals struggle to obtain respiratory N95 face masks, Australians walking the streets can be seen wearing them.

  • Business Insider

    Google has been tracking Aussies during the coronavirus shutdown. These 3 graphs show where we've been going.

    Image: Home Alone/ IMDb * Aussies are actually staying home during the coronavirus pandemic, according to data from Google. * Google has released its COVID-19 Mobility Report which found a 13% rise in people staying home in Australia. * The report also showed a drop in Aussies going to places such as restaurants and public transport stations. * Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.* * *Google has revealed where Aussies have been going during the coronavirus pandemic.The tech giant released a COVID-19 Community Mobility Report to help public health officials in countries such as Australia, the US, Germany and the UK see how people have been responding to social distancing rules. The report covered a range of destinations including grocery stores and pharmacies, parks and public transport stations between February and March 2020.In Australia, travel to public transport stations experienced the biggest decline, at 58%.Following the federal government's order to shut venues including pubs, clubs, cinemas and restaurants – save for takeaway and delivery options – there has been a clear drop in Aussies heading to those destinations. Google found a 45% decline in travel to retail and recreation venues such as restaurants, libraries and cinemas.Also in decline was travel to parks (35%) as well as people heading to work (33%). And when it came to grocery stores and pharmacies, that dropped by 19%.Interestingly though, there was a 13% rise in people heading to their homes, a sign that at least some Aussies are taking heed of social distancing advice. Google also broke down travel figures by state The report comes from aggregated and anonymised sets of data from users who have their location history settings on – a setting which is off by default. You can opt to turn your location history off from your Google account. "No personally identifiable information, like an individual’s location, contacts or movement, is made available at any point," Google said in its report. The report shows how visits to different places has changed, using the same kind of data used to show popular times for places on Google Maps.According to the report, Victoria had the highest percentage of people staying home (16%), followed by New South Wales (14%). In Tasmania and Western Australia it was 13%, 12% in the Northern Territory, Queensland and South Australia and 11% in the Australian Capital Territory. Canberrans can perhaps be forgiven though. Google says they're mostly just going to the park.READ MORE:Scott Morrison has announced pubs, clubs and other venues 'where people congregate' will be shut across Australia

  • Business Insider

    Hundreds of thousands of Australians are freezing their home loan repayments – and lenders confirm it won't hurt credit scores

    * Since announcing they would freeze customers' mortgage repayments due to hardship, Australian banks and lenders have faced a flurry of applications. * Westpac CEO Peter King revealed last week Australia's second-largest bank had received more than 100,000 hardship requests alone, while all have had to hire hundreds of call centre staff to deal with the influx of requests for help. * A decision appears to also have been made by the vast majority of lenders to report customers as up to date with their repayments regardless, or not report at all for the period, so as to protect consumer credit reports. * Visit Business Insider Australia's homepage for more stories.* * *The country's banks and lenders have opened up the floodgates to customers wanting to freeze their mortgage repayments, and Australians have responded.Hundreds of thousands of them have applied to the major banks alone for mortgage relief, as the big four put on extra call centre staff as they're inundated with hardship applications. A cursory search of employment websites like Seek for example, turn up hundreds of job ads seeking additional online and phone customer service staff.Even then they can hardly keep up with the enormous caseload, according to the country's peak credit body. "Consumers are rightfully seeking hardship assistance and those conversations are being fast-tracked as quickly as possible right now," Australian Retail Credit Association (ARCA) CEO Mike Laing told Business Insider Australia. "Normally these requests can take days or potentially weeks for banks to resolve them. Now they're being pushed through in minutes as banks try to get on top of this.""The primary focus of lenders right now is just trying to help the desperate people who have suddenly lost their jobs."Newly appointed Westpac CEO Peter King told the ABC, Australia's second-largest bank alone has had more than 100,000 customers seeking hardship relief, with similar numbers expected across the Commonwealth Bank, ANZ, and NAB.They along with other banks and lenders have been in weeks-long discussions over how unprecedented hardship measures will impact customers financially when all of this when the coronavirus outbreak is said and done. Missed mortgage payments due to financial hardship should not affect your credit scoreWhen a mortgage holder misses a payment, due to financial hardship, it will mean your future repayments are higher. Despite this, a mortgage holder shouldn't be hurt by a negative credit report, according to ARCA, which represents the majority of the banks and lenders in the country."We've surveyed most of the significant lenders in the market as well as the small fintechs, and everyone who responded said they'll either keep reporting customers are up to date with their repayments or cease reporting for those accounts which have put repayments on pause," Laing said."The main story is that no customers with a mainstream lender will be reported [to credit agencies] as having missed repayments."It's an extraordinary agreement for troubling times. Under normal circumstances, any missed repayment would hurt your credit report, maintained to up to two years, and thus hurt your ability to borrow in the near future. The reassurance also strikes a contrast to what a tight-lipped Australian Banking Association (ABA) was saying in March, with the organisation maintaining reporting was a legal obligation. In light of the decision, customers struggling to get onto their lender also shouldn't feel anxious, Laing advised."Lenders are aware that some customers are finding it hard to get in touch. There are a large number of people seeking assistance at the same time. Don’t worry, you won’t be disadvantaged if you are delayed in making contact," he said."While you still need to advise your bank if you're struggling financially, they understand that some people can't get through. As long as you've made an effort to tell them, your lender can go back, put your account on pause and retrospectively fix a missed repayment on the system."While it will help ease some of the financial burden customers are carrying, it won't solve all of their anxieties. As the coronavirus and the health restrictions put in place to stop its spread pushes Australians out of work and shuts down businesses, countless more will need a helping hand this year.

  • 'Only the government can do this': The case against small government
    Yahoo Finance AU

    'Only the government can do this': The case against small government

    It is the government and not the private sector that is saving lives, writes independent economist Stephen Koukoulas.

  • Australian Policy Makers Under Siege as Oil Amplifies Crisis
    Bloomberg

    Australian Policy Makers Under Siege as Oil Amplifies Crisis

    (Bloomberg) -- Australia’s policy makers face a new challenge as they pump stimulus into a faltering economy: the Saudi Arabia-Russia clash that’s sent oil prices plummeting and belted the third-largest export Down Under.The cost of crude -- which liquefied natural gas is typically priced off -- fell by nearly two-thirds in the first three months of this year. While cheaper gasoline may help households, the rapid growth of the LNG industry in Australia now means lower oil prices aren’t the positive for the domestic economy they once were.Futures dropped by around 4% in London after surging over the previous three sessions in response to a production accord starting to take shape. However, a virtual gathering of the OPEC+ alliance that was originally scheduled for Monday was postponed to Thursday as Saudi Arabia and Russia traded barbs over who was to blame for the collapse in oil prices.It’s another headwind for the Reserve Bank to consider as it tries to cushion the economic impact of the coronavirus. Governor Philip Lowe on March 19 cut the cash rate to 0.25%, launched bond buying to lower yields, and set up a small business funding facility.There is little expectation that Lowe and the board will make any changes at Tuesday’s meeting as they continue to monitor the impact of the emergency moves. The cash rate is at the effective lower bound and financial markets have calmed amid the RBA boosting liquidity and buying government securities. The central bank on Thursday releases its semi-annual review of the nation’s financial system.A number of economists predict unemployment will surge beyond 10% and forecast steep contractions in GDP. The government and central bank have unleashed a fiscal-monetary injection of about A$320 billion ($193 billion) -- or 16.4% of GDP.Amid the health crisis, the Saudis and Russians -- two hydrocarbon superpowers -- crossed swords over oil output, prompting the former to ramp up production and send the global price tumbling.Australia is the largest LNG exporter in the world, having surpassed Qatar, shipping an estimated 77 million tonnes worth A$49 billion in 2019. This was Australia’s third-largest export, equivalent to around 2.5% of GDP, but will take a hit from the oil-linked prices.What Bloomberg’s Economists Say“The slump in oil prices hurts Australia’s economy more than it helps. That may come as a surprise, given Australia is a net oil importer. But the transformation of Australia’s economy over the last decade into the world’s largest LNG exporter means that the slump in oil prices could more than halve the value of Australian LNG cargoes landed Japan, placing exports worth 2.5% of GDP at risk.”James McIntyre, economistThe usual boost to strained household budgets from cheaper gasoline will also be negated in the current climate, with non-essential travel banned.The collapse in fuel prices comes as Australia’s fourth and fifth largest exports -- tourism and education -- were already reeling with the initial viral outbreak halting arrivals from China. As for iron ore -- the nation’s biggest export -- futures were headed for a third weekly decline as of Friday afternoon as the virus spread hits global steel makers.(Updates with latest from oil market, production talks in third paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • 307 new free courses: Where to up-skill for free during the coronavirus crisis
    Yahoo Finance AU

    307 new free courses: Where to up-skill for free during the coronavirus crisis

    Online learning and education platforms have made their services free of charge as thousands of workers are laid off.

  • A landlord’s guide to coronavirus tenancy problems
    Yahoo Finance AU

    A landlord’s guide to coronavirus tenancy problems

    Are you wondering what to do if your tenant can’t pay the rent due to Coronavirus? Michael Yardney clears the air.

  • Flight Centre, Reece to tap investor cash
    Australian Associated Press

    Flight Centre, Reece to tap investor cash

    Flight Centre is tapping investors for $700 million and plumbing firm Reece $600 million to help keep them afloat during the COVID-19 crisis.