Is Bankruptcy The Light At The End Of Your Tunnel?

Is Bankruptcy The Light At The End Of Your Tunnel?

Many things can happen in life that can cause personal financial strain. It can be brought on by poor decisions, loss of income or even, a death in the family. No matter More »

How To Pick The Best Personal Bankruptcy Lawyer To Help Your Case

How To Pick The Best Personal Bankruptcy Lawyer To Help Your Case

Personal bankruptcy can be a scary situation for those who are facing repossession from the government and constant calls from debt collectors. If you find yourself in a hole that you cannot More »

Bankruptcy: What Are My Options And Limitations?

Bankruptcy: What Are My Options And Limitations?

Even though filing for personal bankruptcy can seem like something to put off, you should not wait too long to do it. Know what you are about to go through and then More »

Why Personal Bankruptcy Is The Best Option For Some People

Why Personal Bankruptcy Is The Best Option For Some People

Looking into bankruptcy can be like looking into a murky sea. With so many laws and regulations, how do you know what steps to take so you can file for bankruptcy and More »

 

The $600 unemployment boost has ended. What’s next?

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R- Ky., walks to the Senate floor at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, July 30. Democrats and Republicans have given no ground after three days of negotiations on a virus relief package as enhanced unemployment insurance for millions of out-of-work Americans and protections from evictions run out.

Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The $600 boost in weekly unemployment checks ends Friday.

With negotiations between Democrats and Republicans at an impasse, millions relying on that aid are in the dark as to what comes next.

Meanwhile, the economic recovery appears to have stalled or reversed, coronavirus infections are surging, eviction protections have expired for many and plans to reopen schools remain in flux, potentially requiring many parents to forgo work for child-care duties.   

“It’s not clear we’re on a very clear trajectory out of this economic downturn,” said Beth Akers, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research and a former staff economist on President George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisors. “So I’m very concerned for when we take away the $600 from unemployed people.”

‘Can’t make a living’

Americans are guaranteed to lose the weekly subsidy, at least temporarily, after Friday. The Senate adjourned for the weekend without an agreement to extend or replace it after July 31.

Given the scale of the problem, with roughly 30 million Americans collecting unemployment benefits, it’s likely lawmakers will pass some sort of additional aid, according to experts.

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“It’s more a question of how much it will be and how long it will take,” said Till von Wachter, an economics professor at the University of California, Los Angeles and director of the California Policy Lab.

Absent a federal supplement, the average American would get about $321 a week from state unemployment programs — less than half of prior earnings.

It’s hard when you’re already living your life on bare bones.

Artavia Milliam

unemployed worker in New York

That situation would hit low-wage workers — who are already more likely to be living paycheck to paycheck and represent a disproportionate share of the unemployed — particularly hard.

“You can’t make a living as a low-income worker making 50% of your prior earnings,” von Wachter said.

Between $200 and $600

The $600-a-week supplement to unemployment benefits has been a hot-button issue since a federal coronavirus relief law, the CARES Act, enacted the payments in late March.

The tension comes from some recipients being able to collect more from unemployment benefits than they earned from their jobs.

Republicans have unified against the $600 weekly enhancement, believing it to be a disincentive to return to work and therefore a drag on the economic recovery.

Democrats want to extend the payments, saying they pump money into the economy and help American families pay their bills. The House passed legislation in May to extend them through early 2021.

Senate Republicans unveiled a proposal this week to reduce aid to $200 from $600 a week through September. In October, they’d shift to a system where federal and state benefits replace 70% of a person’s lost wages, which would be in place through year-end.

It’s likely lawmakers will meet somewhere in the middle, economists said.

“I think that’s where people have put their stakes in the ground right now,” von Wachter said.

‘Bare bones’

Many families would likely still see financial hardship with a payment of $200. That would give Californians up to $650 a week in total benefits, for example. But $650 is less than the threshold for being considered “very low income” in this country, von Wachter said.

“It’s hard when you’re already living your life on bare bones,” Artavia Milliam, a recipient of unemployment benefits in New York, said during a House Ways and Means Committee press conference on Friday. “We just want to survive until we get through the crisis.”

The $600 supplement reduced food insecurity by 30% and led to a 42% reduction in eating less due to financial constraints, according to a paper published Thursday by academics at Boston University and the University of Pennsylvania.

And prospects of finding a new job are dim. There are about 14 million more unemployed people than job openings right now, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

“I’m not losing sleep over people getting an extra $600 a week right now because I think there are a lot more people looking for jobs in the economy right now than there are jobs available,” Akers said.

Wage replacement

A wage-replacement approach like the one suggested by Republicans is the ideal approach, but is also unlikely to materialize within their timetable, according to labor experts.

At the onset of the pandemic, lawmakers broached the idea of capping a subsidy, at 100% of lost wages. But antiquated state technology made that an impossibility in short order.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-CA., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY., speak to reporters following a meeting with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on July 30. Congressional leadership and White House officials are continuing negotiations on a new relief package for Americans affected by the coronavirus pandemic and the economic recession it has caused.

Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images

The $600 was a compromise: when combined with typical state-paid benefits, the federal subsidy aimed at fully replacing lost wages for the average jobless person (about $976 a week in the first quarter).

It’s unlikely all states would be able to administer such a policy within the next few months, economists said.

One compromise may be a flat amount ($200 to $600) that transitions to a system replacing perhaps 70%-100% of prior wages over a longer time period like early next year, von Wachter said.

Lawmakers can offer states a financial incentive to update their technology. That could take the form of offering extended federal funding to pay benefits for the self-employed, freelancers and others being covered by the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, he said.

Another option might be phasing out a flat payment over time as a state’s unemployment rate improves, Akers said. Some Senate Democrats have proposed such an approach.

While some people “on the margin” may be choosing not to return to work because of the $600 checks, there’s also been evidence that payments haven’t had a big impact on the labor market, Akers said.

“Evidence suggests that employers did not experience greater difficulty finding applicants for their [job] vacancies after the CARES Act, despite the large increase in unemployment benefits,” according to a paper published Thursday by economists at the University of Pennsylvania, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Glassdoor Inc.

Economists at Yale University also didn’t find evidence that generous benefits offered a disincentive to work “either at the onset of the expansion or as firms looked to return to business over time,” according to a paper published this month.

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Chevron shares fall after oil giant reports an $8.3 billion loss for second quarter

Chevron reported an $8.3 billion loss in the second quarter as the coronavirus pandemic “significantly reduced demand.” Amid a historic drop in oil prices, the company’s average price per barrel of oil and natural gas liquids fell more than 60% year-over-year.

The oil giant lost $1.59 per share on an adjusted basis, while revenue came in at $13.49 billion. In the same quarter a year ago the company earned $2.27 per share on $36.32 billion in revenue.

Analysts expected the company to post a loss of 92 cents per share, on $22.097 billion in revenue, according to estimates from Refinitiv.

Part of the company’s loss came from non-cash net charges of $5.2 billion, including a $1.8 billion writedown primarily associated with a downward revision in commodity price outlook, as well as a $2.6 billion impairment change related to Chevron’s Venezuela investment. The company also reported $780 million in expenses related to job cuts.

Shares of Chevron slid more than 3% during premarket trading on Friday.

“The past few months have presented unique challenges,” said Michael Wirth, Chevron CEO, in a statement. “The economic impact of the response to COVID-19 significantly reduced demand for our products and lowered commodity prices. Given the uncertainties associated with economic recovery, and ample oil and gas supplies, we made a downward revision to our commodity price outlook,” he added.

The company said that while demand and prices have started to show signs of recovery, they’re not back to pre-pandemic levels. Given the uncertain outlook, Chevon said that results could be depressed next quarter too.

During the second quarter, the company’s average sales price per barrel of oil and natural gas liquids in the U.S. was $19, down from $52 a year earlier. Natural gas prices rose to $0.81 per thousand cubic feet, up from $0.68 in the same quarter a year earlier.

“We’re focused on what we can control. Our actions are guided by our values and our long-standing financial priorities: to protect the dividend, invest for long term value and maintain a strong balance sheet,” Wirth added.

Earlier in July Chevron announced that it would buy independent oil and gas producer Noble Energy, in a move that Wirth said would be a “good deal” for shareholders in both companies. Including debt, the total value of the deal was $13 billion.

The acquisition would enhance Chevron’s portfolio in the oil-rich Permian Basin, as well as in Colorado’s DJ Basin. Noble Energy also has assets in Israel and West Africa, which will further enhance Chevron’s international footprint. It will also lead to around $300 million in annual cost savings, Chevron said in a statement.

The deal was the industry’s largest since oil prices plummeted in March and April, hit by a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia, as well as an unprecedented drop-off in demand due to the pandemic

For the first quarter, Chevron reported earnings per share of $1.93, which included $680 million in one-time favorable items, and $31.5 billion in revenue, helped by downstream margins and increased production in the Permian Basin.

Shares of Chevron are down 28% this year.

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Exxon shares fall after it loses money for a second straight quarter

Fuel prices are displayed at an Exxon Mobil Corp. gas station in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., on Wednesday, April 29, 2020.

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Exxon said on Friday that it lost $1.1 billion during the second quarter amid “global oversupply and COVID-related demand impacts.” It was the oil giant’s second straight quarter of losses.

The company lost 70 cents per share on an adjusted basis, while revenue came in at $32.61 billion. In the same quarter a year ago, Exxon earned 73 cents per share, on revenue of $69.09 billion.

Analysts expected the company to report a loss of 61 cents per share for the second quarter, and revenue of $38.157 billion, according to estimates from Refinitiv.

Shares of Exxon were about 1% lower during premarket trading on Friday.

“The global pandemic and oversupply conditions significantly impacted our second quarter financial results with lower prices, margins, and sales volumes,” said Darren Woods, Exxon CEO, in a statement.

“We have increased debt to a level we feel is appropriate to provide liquidity, given market uncertainties. Based on current projections, we do not plan to take on any additional debt,” he added.

Oil-equivalent production fell 7% year-over-year, and the company said average prices for crude oil and natural gas were “significantly lower” than in the same quarter a year earlier.

West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. oil benchmark, is down more than 30% this year, which has forced energy companies to slash spending and in some cases, cut their dividend.

But ahead of its quarterly results, Exxon once again reiterated that it has no plans to cut its dividend. The third quarter dividend will be 87 cents, according to a company statement released Wednesday.

In the first quarter the oil giant lost $610 million due to $2.9 billion in write-downs tied to falling oil prices. Exxon posted a GAAP loss of 14 cents per share, and a non-GAAP profit of 53 cents per share. Revenue fell to $56.16 billion.

Shares of Exxon are down 40% this year.

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Stocks making the biggest moves in the premarket: Caterpillar, Merck, Chevron, Under Armour & more

Take a look at some of the biggest movers in the premarket:

Caterpillar (CAT) – The heavy equipment maker reported quarterly earnings of $1.03 per share, beating the 64 cents a share consensus estimate. Revenue also topped forecasts. The beat came even as sales tumbled from a year ago due to a pandemic-related slump in demand.

Merck (MRK) – The drugmaker beat consensus estimates by 33 cents a share, with quarterly profit of $1.37 per share. Revenue also beat estimates and Merck raised its full-year forecast. The company’s results were boosted by a better-than-expected 29% jump in sales of its cancer drug Keytruda, among other factors.

Chevron (CVX) – Chevron reported a quarterly loss of $1.59 per share, wider than the 92 cents per share that analysts were expecting. Revenue also came in below forecasts, amid lower oil and gas prices and the pandemic-related drop in fuel demand.

Newell Brands (NWL) – The company behind consumer brands like Rubbermaid, PaperMate, and Sharpie earned 30 cents per share for its latest quarter, 12 cents a share above estimates. Revenue also beat forecasts. Newell said the pandemic hurt its results but added that it saw sequential improvement from month-to-month during the quarter.

Colgate-Palmolive (CL) – The consumer products company beat estimates by 4 cents a share, with quarterly earnings of 74 cents per share. Revenue exceeded estimates as well. Organic sales were up by 5.5%, with increased demand for soap and cleaning products contributing to that rise.

Under Armour (UA) – The athletic apparel maker lost 31 cents per share for its latest quarter, smaller than the 41 cents a share loss anticipated by analysts. Revenue was well above estimates, boosted by a surge in e-commerce sales.

VF Corp (VFC) – The company behind apparel brands like North Face and Vans lost 57 cents per share for its fiscal first quarter, smaller than the 67 cents a share loss predicted by Wall Street. Revenue was better than expected as well, as stores reopened toward the end of the quarter.

Apple (AAPL) – Apple earned $2.58 per share for its fiscal third quarter, beating the $2.04 a share consensus estimate. Revenue was well above forecasts. Apple saw gains in every product category, helped by consumers and students working and learnings from home. Apple also announced a 4-for-1 stock split.

Amazon.com (AMZN) – Amazon dwarfed the consensus forecast of $1.46 a share, with quarterly earnings of $10.30 per share. Revenue easily topped consensus as well. Amazon’s $5.2 billion profit was the largest in its 26-year history, helped by a surge in e-commerce amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Alphabet (GOOGL) – Alphabet reported quarterly profit of $10.13 per share, compared to a consensus estimate of $8.21. The Google parent’s revenue also exceeded analysts’ forecasts. Alphabet reported the first-ever quarterly revenue drop in its 16-year history as a public company, but it said Google ad sales have recovered from a March coronavirus-induced slump.

Facebook (FB) – Facebook beat estimates by 41 cents a share, with quarterly earnings of $1.80 per share. Revenue also beat estimates. Facebook also forecast growth in ad sales, despite a boycott by some key advertisers and cutbacks induced by the pandemic.

Ford Motor (F) – Ford lost 35 cents per share for the second quarter, considerably less than the $1.17 per share loss forecast by analysts. The automaker’s revenue beat estimates, and it said it expected to have sufficient cash on hand for the remainder of 2020 even if demand falls or the coronavirus forces more plant shutdowns.

Gilead Sciences (GILD) – Gilead fell 34 cents a share shy of consensus, with quarterly earnings of $1.11 per share. The drugmaker’s revenue missed Wall Street forecasts as well as sales of key hepatitis C and HIV drugs fell during lockdowns. Gilead raised its full-year sales forecast, however, due to expected contributions from sales of Covid-19 treatment remdesivir.

Shake Shack (SHAK) – Shake Shack lost 45 cents per share for its latest quarter, 8 cents a share more than analysts were expecting. The restaurant chain’s revenue was slightly below estimates as well. The loss came as some restaurants shut down during pandemic lockdowns, although digital sales nearly doubled during the quarter.

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