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White House Considers Postponing Tariffs to Help Businesses: Live Updates

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The Trump administration is considering postponing tariff payments on some imported goods for 90 days, according to people familiar with the matter, as it looks to ease the burden on businesses hurt by the coronavirus pandemic.

Some businesses and trade groups have argued that the levies President Trump imposed on foreign metals and products from China before the outbreak continue to raise their costs and weigh on their profits as the economy is slowing sharply. But even after the global pandemic hit the United States, Mr. Trump and his advisers have denied that cutting tariffs would be one of the measures they would undertake to buoy the economy.

The White House now appears to be considering a proposal that would defer tariff duties for three months for importers, though it would not cancel them outright. The administration’s consideration of a deferral was reported earlier by Bloomberg News.

It is not clear which tariffs the deferral might apply to, or if the idea will ultimately be approved. But the proposal appears to be separate from a plan announced on Friday by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection that it would approve delayed payment of duties, taxes and fees on a case-by-case basis

The coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe with lethal and wealth-destroying consequences has proved so jarring to the powers-that-be on the European side of the Atlantic that they have discarded deep-set taboos to forge atypically swift and pragmatic responses.

“This pandemic is really like a war,” said Maria Demertzis, an economist and deputy director of Bruegel, a research institution in Brussels. “In a war, you do what you have to do.”

The British prime minister, from the party of Margaret Thatcher, has effectively privatized the national railway system, while forsaking budget austerity in favor of aggressive public spending. Germany has set aside its traditional detestation for debt to unleash emergency spending, while enabling the rest of the European Union to breach limits on deficits.

The European Central Bank has transcended a legacy often marked by calamitous inaction in the face of crisis to produce something that has frequently seemed impossible: a decisive and timely response.

Beyond the current moment of emergency, some argue that the crisis will be squandered if it does not prompt meaningful change in the structure of economies after life returns to normal. They portray the rescues as an opportunity to transform the nature of the state’s role in the economy.

“It’s about changing the way we do capitalism,” said Mariana Mazzucato, an economist at University College London.

The crucial question is not how bad economic numbers will get in the next few months. What matters is whether this will be a severe-but-brief disruption to economic life, from which the United States and other major economies can quickly recover, or the beginning of a long, scarring depression.

To reach the more optimistic outcome, the U.S. government is trying to build, at great speed, a three-legged stool. All three components need to come together to make it plausible to return to prosperity reasonably quickly once the coronavirus outbreak is safely contained.

First, the nation needs to ensure that those who lose their jobs do not experience personal catastrophe with long-lasting effects. Second, it must ensure that businesses with sound long-term prospects don’t collapse in the interim. Third, the system of borrowing and lending needs to remain functional to avoid a freeze-up of credit that would make the other two goals impossible.

The $2 trillion relief package that is on the verge of passing Congress and a series of extraordinary actions by the Federal Reserve constitute the United States government’s efforts to bolster each of those legs.

Investors left Asian markets mixed in early Thursday trading as they awaited news of the fate of a huge coronavirus economic rescue package in the United States.

Japan led the declines, falling 4 percent at one point, as investors also reacted to a sharp rise in confirmed coronavirus cases in Tokyo. Other markets rose or fell more modestly.

Futures markets suggested a similar hesitance awaited Wall Street for its Thursday opening. They predicted the S&P 500 index would open modestly lower.

The Senate Wednesday night unanimously approved a record-setting $2 trillion government relief bill.

Other markets also signaled hesitance.

Prices for longer-term U.S. Treasury bonds were up, sending yields lower and suggesting investors were looking for safe places to park their money. Oil prices, a proxy for the outlook for the world economy because they indicate demand for fuel, fell on futures markets.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index was down 3.8 percent midday. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was down 0.4 percent. South Korea’s Kospi index rose 0.8 percent after the country’s central bank announced further action to keep its economy supplied with money.

Australia was the Asia-Pacific region’s big gainer, with the S&P/ASX 200 index rising 2.6 percent.

South Korea is taking its boldest action yet to support its economy, pledging to put an unlimited supply of money into its financial system by buying up bonds.

The Bank of Korea said on Thursday that it will temporarily pump an unlimited amount of cash into money markets over the next three months through what is known as repurchase auctions. The action is intended to help banks and public institutions such as the land and housing authority, electricity providers and small business associations get access to much-needed cash.

The Bank of Korea’s vice governor, Yoon Myeon-shik, told reporters that it would not be wrong to see the new package as a form of “quantitative easing,” referring to huge bond buying projects that the United States and Europe undertook during the 2008 financial crisis.

South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, has pledged $81 billion in financial support to help companies facing bankruptcy and financing difficulties because of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The central bank’s move on Thursday comes as governments around the world are rushing to find ways to help shore up their own economies as they deal with the effects of the outbreak.

Reporting was contributed by Peter S. Goodman, Carlos Tejada, Alexandra Stevenson, Su-Hyun Lee, Heather Murphy.

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San Antonio man loses job, starts new family business

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SAN ANTONIO – Sunday marked day one for the Cabrales family’s new chapter — a shaved ice business to fight back against the impact of COVID-19.

Days after the shutdown began in mid-March due to the growing concerns surrounding the pandemic, Ismael Cabrales said he received a call from his supervisor.

“He said, ‘Hey, your name came up, and you and several others, today is going to be the last day that you guys are (employed) with us,” Ismael said.

Ismael said he had kept the same job for nine years. Although filled with uncertainty, Cabrales accepted his fate.

“In a way, it’s a sigh of relief,” Ismael said.

The company’s decision allowed him to spend more time with his wife Joana and their five children and to think about their future, Ismael said.

Related: A guide to unemployment benefits for Texans laid off during coronavirus pandemic

“My mind started wondering what our next step (would be),” Ismael said. “Necessity drives creativity (and) if your back is against the wall, you have to be creative with what you do. So, we just started dreaming and this came up.”

Until the Cabrela’s find a permanent spot to work from, they’ll announce pop-up locations and hours on their Instagram.
Until the Cabrela’s find a permanent spot to work from, they’ll announce pop-up locations and hours on their Instagram. (Cristian Ortiz-Salas)

Joanna and Ismael said after some brainstorming that they had the resources to venture into the food business and create Lina’s Treats and Cafe, a small traveling food truck that serves shaved ice.

“I don’t think you’ll find anything like us. We want to be different. Most of the products that we sell are natural. We want to stay biodegradable. We want to stay environmentally friendly,” Ismael said.

Sunday afternoon at the parking lot of Broadway Loft near The Pearl, marked the business’ first day open to the public, just in time to help keep locals cool in triple-digit heat.

Their menu offers a variety of options including sweet flavors like Berry Fun or The Hawaiian with pineapple and coconut, refreshing flavors like El Mojito with mint and lime and bold options like Cold Brew that features a locally roasted coffee from Solid State Coffee Co topped with vanilla ice cream.

The couple's children help make the strawberry drizzle that tops the Berry Fun shaved ice option.
The couple’s children help make the strawberry drizzle that tops the Berry Fun shaved ice option. (Ismael Cabrales)

Joana said the family jumped in to help with the new venture.

“I have four daughters and one son,” Joana said. “When they heard that we were going to start this business, they were all in just because they like helping in the kitchen. So, like the strawberry drizzle that we use, they actually help me cook it. They’ll cut up the strawberries and actually cook it and make the drizzle.”

Customers can also find frozen-favorites like mangonadas or fresadas, a delicious mango or strawberry-flavored shaved ice as well as traditional paletas.

RELATED: Only in San Antonio: Mangonada with hot cheetos, pickles & chamoy

The Cabrales family is eager for the San Antonio community to try their cool treats. Each purchase, they said, helps support their dreams as well as their goal to keep their family afloat during the pandemic.

The family hopes to find a permanent spot near downtown to work from on weekends. Businesses interested in renting out an area for the food truck can contact the family at linastreatsandcafe@gmail.com.

For Lina’s Treats and Cafe’s hours and current location, click here.

Copyright 2020 by KSAT – All rights reserved.



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Shaq joins coronavirus-driven koi pond trend

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A team of experts recently installed a huge koi pond at the Atlanta home of Basketball Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal.

The Shaq-sized water feature includes an 80-foot stream, six waterfalls, 180 tons of stone and a 22-by-50-foot pond with a sandy beach entry and a fire pit on one side, according to Greg Wittstock, the owner and CEO of Aquascape who’s also known as “The Pond Guy.”

“It’s a Ferrari of ponds,” he said.

The pond was built between the 8,600-square-foot home and a large treehouse that was installed for an episode of Animal Planet’s “Treehouse Masters” about two years ago. Wittstock showed off the finished product in a YouTube video.

SHAQ ADVERTISES $2.5M CALIFORNIA HOME ON INSTAGRAM

“It’s awesome, brother,” Shaq says in Wittstock’s video. “You did a wonderful job.”

Shaq isn’t the only homeowner with a new koi pond. Wittstock said Aquascape, his Illinois-based business, has had a tremendous surge in business as the coronavirus pandemic has kept people at home.

“We cannot keep up,” he said. “We’re working 12-hour shifts six days a week, and I’ve got everybody and their kids working for me.”

Shaq’s new koi pond includes lighting for nighttime viewing. (Aquascape)

HOMEOWNERS SHARPEN THEIR SHORT GAME WITH BACKYARD PUTTING GREENS

Others in the koi business said they’ve also had an uptick interest. Mike Rice, the president of Mt. Parnell Fisheries in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, told FOX Business the coronavirus had reversed a downward trend.

“I feel that the hobby … was beginning to decline domestically prior to the COVID pandemic, but with more people getting into DIY projects there has definitely been an uptick this past spring/summer,” Rice wrote in an email.

Even Google search data show that there were more searches for “koi” in May and June than any other time in the past five years.

TINY HOME, BACKYARD COTTAGE DEMAND SURGES AMID CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

Wittstock said he believed people have been looking to create “an escape” at home to help counter the stresses the pandemic has caused.

“I think they just want the peace and tranquility and serenity that a water feature provides,” he said.

It’s a drastic turn compared to the last major economic downturn. The 2008 financial crisis saw a dramatic drop in business. This time, “We had one week in March whenever everybody was in limbo and then it was an explosion,” Wittstock said.

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Most of Aquascape’s business is not large projects like the water feature for Shaq, although Wittstock, who was also the star of the Nat Geo Wild reality series “Pond Stars,” said they do about one large-scale project each year, often for a celebrity client.

Aquascape sells all the pumps, filters, fish and plant care items and other goods one would need for a backyard water feature. A more typical setup for a new client would be an 11-by-16 ecosystem pond, an 8-10-foot stream and a 2-foot waterfall, all with filtration, pumps, plumbing, liner and stonework. A project of that scope would often run somewhere between $10,000 and $12,000, Wittstock said.

The interest since April has been “unbelievable,” he said.

“I can’t even begin to tell you,” he said. “It is insane.”

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Mask sale Uptown to raise funds for businesses | COVID-19

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When a former Uptown business owner saw people’s reactions to Greenwood passing a city ordinance requiring customers and employees at local businesses to wear protective masks, she wanted to do what she could to support business owners.

Nicole Munnerlyn, who owned Sweet Teas Children’s Boutique in Uptown for eight years, said she was surprised by negative comments she saw from people responding to the new ordinance.

“People were saying ‘I just won’t shop Uptown, then,’” she said. “Well, it’s not the city business owners that should be punished or hurt by a city mask ordinance that’s really there to protect people in the first place.”

The family business, Munnerlyn and Co., makes personal protective equipment, including masks and face shields. Munnerlyn said she’s planning to set up a tent from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday in front of Sweet Teas to sell protective equipment, but also to inform the public about masks. For every box sold, 10% of her sales will go to Uptown as a donation to help buy masks for Uptown businesses to use or give to customers.

“After everything that transpired, I just wanted to see what I could do to support our local businesses,” she said. “In addition to being out there, I’d like to educate people too about what needs to be used and what times and places different masks are beneficial.”

She wants to share what research she’s done into masks in order to ensure the ones Munnerlyn and Co. produce are up to FDA standards. The company sells the three-ply masks that are similar to surgical masks, along with KN95 masks that meet the FDA’s 95% filtration requirement.

She wants to show off different ways to test masks, such as by wearing it tautly and then trying to blow air through the fabric. She said if you can blow air through the fabric of the mask, it’s likely not offering much protection.

Before setting up her booth Tuesday, Munnerlyn said she’ll spend much of Monday meeting with Uptown business owners to find out other ways she can help.

Uptown Manager Lara Hudson said the funds raised Tuesday will go to helping businesses buy the protective equipment they need. She said Munnerlyn’s offer was greatly appreciated.

“So many of those businesses are already struggling with the loss of revenues, and they’re going to need to purchase masks,” she said. “Our main goal has been just to help them in any way we can.”

Hudson said even if Greenwood’s business owners might have differing opinions regarding COVID-19 protections, Uptown’s businesses always help one another out.

Contact staff writer Damian Dominguez at 864-634-7548 or follow on Twitter @IJDDOMINGUEZ.

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