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Champions League fixture dates and results: Will Barcelona and Chelsea join Man City in the quarter-finals?

The 2019/20 Champions League tournament is approaching its finale, with eight teams set to head to Lisbon for the quarter-finals.

The Portuguese capital will host the Champions League finals, with the quarters and semis to be one-legged ties with Uefa shortening the tournament due to the coronavirus pandemic leading to postponed fixtures earlier in the season.

Six teams – Manchester City, Lyon, Atalanta, PSG, RB Leipzig and Atletico Madrid – have already booked their tickets to Lisbon, with two more to follow.

Saturday’s remaining round-of-16 action sees Barcelona and Napoli face off at Camp Nou after a 1-1 first-leg draw in Italy, while Chelsea must try and overturn a three-goal deficit at Bayern Munich.

Champions League fixtures and dates (all kick-off times BST)

Saturday 8 August

  • 2000 | Barcelona vs Napoli (1-1 agg.) | Camp Nou, Barcelona
  • 2000 | Bayern Munich vs Chelsea (3-0 agg.) | Allianz Arena, Munich

Champions League quarter-finals

Wednesday 12 August

  • 8pm | Atalanta vs PSG | Lisbon

Thursday 13 August

  • 8pm | RB Leipzig vs Atletico Madrid | Lisbon

Friday 14 August

  • 8pm | Napoli/Barcelona vs Chelsea/Bayern Munich | Lisbon

Saturday 15 August

8pm | Man City vs Lyon | Lisbon

Champions League semi-finals

Tuesday 18 August

8pm | RB Leipzig/Atletico Madrid vs Atalanta | Lisbon/PSG

Wednesday 19 August

8pm | Man City/Lyon vs Napoli/Barcelona or Chelsea/Bayern | Lisbon

Champions League final

Sunday 23 August | 8pm | Lisbon

All fixture dates are subject to change.

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Schools to receive £40m in funding to set up socially-distant transport networks

The government is to provide £40m in funding to help local schools and colleges establish socially-distant transport for pupils.

Local authorities will be allocated the money dependent on the number of young people in their area and how far they have to travel, and includes anyone escorting them to school.

It is hoped the funding will allow hundreds of thousands of students to avoid public transport, making it easier for the education system to enforce Covid-secure guidelines.

Those who can walk, cycle or use a scooter to get to school are also being strongly urged to do so, in line with the government’s £2 billion “active travel” plans.

The initiative aims to help deliver Downing Street’s goal of getting all children and young people back into full-time education by September, the Department for Education (DfE) said.

It also applies to 16 to 19-year-olds travelling to training.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson urged everyone to “play their part” in ensuring “everyone is able to get to school safely and on time”.

“For those that have no other option than public transport, this investment for local authorities will mean more students will be able to travel on dedicated home-to-school-and-college transport, creating even more capacity where it is needed most,” he added.

The DfE said local authorities will still be obliged to provide free school transport for all children who are eligible.

This comes as the government extended emergency Covid-19 funding for bus and tram operators in England ahead of expected increases in demand over the next month.

Some £218.4 million will be available for bus services over the coming eight weeks.

This will be followed by investment worth up to £27.3 million per week “until a time when the funding is no longer needed”.

Tram services have access to £37.4 million of Government investment over the next 12 weeks, after which their funding will be reviewed.

Bus networks are running more than 80 per cent of normal services – but weekday demand outside London is only around 37 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, according to the latest Department for Transport figures.

The latest round of funding will support services in September when schools are set to fully reopen and brings the total support during the pandemic for bus and tram networks in England to at least £700 million.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Buses are a vital lifeline – from getting to work, seeing the doctor or doing the shopping. Today’s extra funding will keep services running as we continue to recover from the impact of Covid 19.”

Additional reporting by PA

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anger over Scottish exam grades likely to be repeated across the UK – Channel 4 News

Students in deprived areas of Scotland were more likely to have their grades pulled down by the exams regulator than those in well-off parts of the country, it emerged this week.

Some otherwise high-achieving students complained of being marked down in all-important Highers exams – not because of their own ability or attainment, but because their school had performed badly in the past.

Schools in deprived areas tend to have worse exam records on average. So the decision to use an institution’s historical records in the allocation of grades has affected pupils in poorer parts of Scotland more than their richer peers.

One student said she was “devastated and really nervous for the future now” after the A and two Bs she had been predicted were brought down to three Cs and a D, jeopardising her place at Stirling University.

And it looks like exam watchdogs in the rest of the UK are on track to replicate the Scottish controversies when they release GCSE and A-level grades later this month. The English, Welsh and Northern Irish regulators all plan to take account of a school’s past performance when adjusting student’s grades this year.

What happened in Scotland?

Pupils throughout the UK have been unable to sit their usual exams because of the pandemic, leaving regulators with tough choices to make about how to award qualifications.

The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) asked schools to estimate what students would have got if teaching and exams had gone ahead as usual. It then moderated those results in an attempt to even out differences between schools and between years.

As it turns out, the SQA felt that many teachers had been too generous with their estimates. Of the half-a-million individual grades submitted by schools, 124,564 were adjusted down. Fewer than 10,000 were bumped up. Nearly all the adjusted results (96 per cent) were changed by a single grade.

One of the factors that the SQA used to decide whether a grade should be changed is the school’s performance over the last four years.

For some individual students, this was very significant. Previously high-achieving pupils who were on track for top marks had their grades reduced to reflect their school’s past performance, rather than their own work and abilities.

And it had a disproportionate effect on students in economically disadvantaged areas. This seems to be because the poorer the area, the more likely the school is to have a bad exam record.

In the most deprived areas of Scotland, SQA moderators reduced the proportion of students getting A-C grades in their Highers by 15 percentage points compared to teacher estimates. In the richest parts of the country, they were brought down by 7 points.

Asked about this disparity at a recent press conference, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told Channel 4 News the new moderation system was “necessary to make sure we have a credible – and that’s important for young people – system of results”.

She added: “Without that system of moderation, I would be saying that 85 per cent of young people in our most deprived areas had passed Highers this year, compared to around 65 per cent last year and in previous years.”

“Poorer young people don’t do as well as more affluent young people and that is something we are working very, very hard, from the early years right through our school system, to try to rectify.”

She said students in Scotland would be able to appeal their grades.

What’s happening in the rest of the UK?

It looks like regulators in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are on course to replicate these controversies when GCSE and A-level grades are released this month.

Ofqual, the English exams watchdog, has its own rules for moderating grades. We won’t know the precise details until results day, but it seems they’ve adopted a similar moderation process to Scotland, which could see pupils downgraded simply because of where they go to school.

Ofqual guidance says their model will “consider each centre [school or college] individually, comparing centre assessment grades to the centre’s historical results taking into account the prior attainment of the current students, to judge whether its centre assessment grades are more generous or severe than predicted”.

In other words, they’ll be adjusting “centre assessment grades” (teachers’ estimates of what their students should have got) by looking at the school’s past performance. That’s what proved to be the sticking point in Scotland.

And Ofqual seems to explicitly rule out the use of data on individual students: “The process will consider prior attainment at centre level, not at individual student level; students’ individual performance will not be predetermined by their prior attainment at Key Stage 2 or GCSE.”

So it’s possible that, as in Scotland, students who achieved top marks throughout their academic careers will have their A-level grades reduced if their school has historically performed badly.

This concern was raised with Ofqual in the spring during its public consultation on how to moderate school-estimated grades this year. In the summary of responses, the regulator quotes a teacher as saying: “I am worried that individuals who would have excelled given the chance to sit exams are going to be unfairly penalised due to poor performance of their predecessors.”

And the effects won’t just be felt by individual students. So-called “turnaround schools” – institutions that have recently improved their exam results – risk being penalised today for past failings.

Responding to the Qfqual consultation, a school or college said: “For schools which have struggled in the past and are predicting a steep improvement in results, it would be devastating to use historical results.”

But Ofqual says: “While we recognise that a small number of centres would like standardised grades to reflect their recent or expected improvements in results, our research into GCSE grading shows the performance of centres rarely improves (or deteriorates) consistently in the short term. On balance, it is therefore best not to try to predict improvements in performance.”

An Ofqual spokesperson told FactCheck: “Although exams have been cancelled because of coronavirus, most students will still be able to move on to further study or employment as planned, with calculated grades – based on judgements from their schools or colleges and standardised by exam boards to make sure they’re consistent between centres.”

The regulator confirmed last night that schools in England will be allowed to appeal grades if they can show that historic data does not represent this year’s cohort. But unlike in Scotland, individual pupils will not be able to challenge their marks.

Meanwhile the Welsh exams watchdog, Qualifications Wales, will also be using “historic performance, adjusted for the ability of this year’s cohort” to work out if teacher’s estimates should be changed.

A spokesperson told FactCheck: “The approach to awarding this year’s grades has been carefully thought through to be as fair as possible in the circumstances and to protect the value of results. The standardisation process will use information about an exams centre’s historic performance, but this will be adjusted to reflect this year’s students so that learners across Wales are treated in the fairest possible way.”

Qualifications Wales says that the teacher-estimated grades were “generous”. Without standardisation, 40 per cent of A-levels would have received a grade A* or A, compared to 27 per cent in 2019. Such an increase “would not be credible”, according to the watchdog’s chief executive, Philip Blaker.

And in Northern Ireland, the regulator will also use a school’s results in the previous three years as part of the “statistical standardisation model” to work out if teachers are being too harsh or too generous.

We won’t know how much weight the regulators will put on historic records until the results are published. But the fact that all three intend to use this data when moderating this year’s students means it’s entirely possible that we’ll see the controversies in Scotland replicated throughout the UK this month.

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Tanzanian miner finds third rare tanzanite gem worth millions after record haul

A small-scale miner from Tanzania made another record discovery of one of the world’s rarest gemstone this month, hauling in a precious, 14-pound stone valued at $2 million, according to a report.

Saniniu Laizer, 52, became an overnight millionaire in June after he sold two violet-blue tanzanite gemstones said to be the largest ever found in the country. Weighing a total of 33 pounds, he sold them for 7.74 billion Tanzanian shillings ($3.4 million U.S. dollars).

Laizer announced he would slaughter one of his 2,000 cows, have a big party, and invest in the local community after finding the two record stones earlier this summer, according to the BBC.


“There will be a big party tomorrow,” said Laizer, from the Manyara region. “I want to build a shopping mall and a school. I want to build this school near my home. There are many poor people around here who can’t afford to take their children to school.”

“I am not educated but I like things run in a professional way. So I would like my children to run the business professionally,” he continued.

The BBC reported that he has four wives and more than 30 children.

Saniniu Laizer poses with two rough Tanzanite stones back in June, said to be the largest ever found in the country.

Saniniu Laizer poses with two rough Tanzanite stones back in June, said to be the largest ever found in the country.

While a party isn’t on his schedule this time around, Laizer said on Monday he would continue with his dream in using the money to build a school, as well as a health facility in his community — located in the northern Manyara region.


Tanzanite is said to be a gemstone found only in the northern region of the country. It’s reportedly used to make ornaments — with its rarity defined by how clear or well defined the color is.

Tanzania President John Magufuli had ordered the military to build a wall surrounding a Manyara mining site in 2017 — believed to be the world’s only source of tanzanite — with its supply estimated to be depleted within 20 years, a geologist told the news organization.

Last year, Tanzania set up trading centers to allow artisanal miners, like Laizer, to sell their gems and gold to the government. Many reportedly mine by hand without any affiliation to mining companies. Following his recent discovery, Laizer encouraged other small scale miners to work for the government.


“Selling to the government means there are no shortcuts,” he said during a ceremony celebrating his find in the northern Mirerani mine, according to the BBC. “They are transparent.”

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Zhang Yuhuan: Chinese court overturns man’s murder conviction after 27 years in prison

Zhang Yuhuan, 53, was freed on Tuesday after the Supreme People’s Court in eastern Jiangxi province found him “not guilty” on the basis of a lack of sufficient evidence, Chinese state media Global Times reported.

The result came after a long-running legal battle to overturn the conviction, and highlights ongoing issues within China’s legal system.

In 1993, two boys were found dead in the city of Nanchang, Jiangxi province, according to the report. Police suspected the boys’ neighbor Zhang of killing them.

In 1995, Zhang was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve, meaning his death sentence would be commuted to a life sentence if he didn’t commit any other crimes within a two-year period, state-run China Daily reported.

But Zhang appealed to a higher court, arguing that he was not the killer and claimed that police had tortured him during interrogation, according to the report.

The higher court ordered a retrial, but that was not held until November 2001, China Daily reported. The intermediate court upheld the original judgment, and a later appeal was rejected.

Zhang and his family continued to insist that he was innocent — and finally in March last year, the Jiangxi Supreme People’s Court reopened the case, according to the report. On Tuesday, he was found not guilty.

“After we reviewed the materials, we have found there is no direct evidence that can prove Zhang’s conviction. So we accepted the prosecutors’ suggestion and have declared Zhang innocent,” judge Tian Ganlin was quoted as saying.

Zhang can now apply for state compensation, Global Times reported.

According to the China Daily report, Zhang said the wrongful conviction had cost him the best years of his life. His two sons are now married and have their own children.

“It’s hard for the compensation to make up for the damage of the wrongful conviction to me and my family, but I still hope to get compensated quickly to repair my house and care for my mother,” Zhang said.

Criminal justice

For years, human rights advocates have criticized China’s legal system, alleging that it allows unfair trials, torture and other ill-treatment in detention.

China has made attempts to reform its legal system. According to the Global Times report, China officially adopted the legal principle of “innocent until proven guilty” in 1996.

China's deadly secret: More executions than all other countries put together
In 2013, an influential Communist Party legal commission issued new guidelines asking for fairer due process in China’s much maligned court system.
However, problems with the country’s legal system remain. China’s judicial system has a conviction rate of around 99%, according to legal observers. It also remains beholden to the ruling Communist Party. Courts are seen first and foremost as a “political organ,” according to the country’s Chief Justice Zhou Qiang.

It remains uncommon for people to have convictions overturned — although Zhang is not the first.

In 2013, a man who served 17 years of a life sentence for murdering his wife was freed after a Higher People’s Court in Anhui province ruled that the “facts about the alleged homicide were unclear and the evidence inadequate.”
In 2016, China’s top court overruled a rape and murder conviction of Nie Shubin — more than two decades after he had been executed.

Ruan Chuansheng, a law professor at the Shanghai Administration Institute, said that the ruling in Zhang’s case showed the advancement of the rule of law, according to China Daily. But he also said judicial authorities could help prevent wrongful convictions by excluding evidence gained through torture.

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White House officials signal coronavirus relief negotiations will cease if an agreement is not reached by Friday

White House officials told Senate Republicans on Wednesday that if a deal is not reached with Democrats on coronavirus relief by Friday, negotiations will likely stop.

“I think at this point we’re either going to get serious about negotiating and get an agreement in principle,” Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told reporters Wednesday. “I’ve become extremely doubtful that we’ll be able to make a deal if it goes well beyond Friday.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer snapped back at Meadows’ remark, following another day of negotiations between the parties, saying that Democrats would not be the ones to leave negotiations.

“We are not walking away,” Schumer said. “We will stay here as long as it takes to get an agreement and we urge Mr. Meadows to sit down and continue to work with us and to do it as long as it takes.”

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin tried to walked back the deadline set by Meadows as he departed the Capitol following negotiations on Wednesday adding that he does not “want to describe this an an end of the week deadline,” but Meadows held firm.

He said Friday is not necessarily a “drop date” but then added, “my optimism continues to diminish the closer we get to Friday and certainly falls off the cliff exponentially after Friday.”

Meadows continued to hold out the possibility of executive actions by President Donald Trump on student loans, unemployment insurance and evictions but declined to say what the timeline for action would be.

“We’ve got those proposals before him and he’ll make decisions on those in the coming days,” Meadows said.

At a White House press conference Wednesday, Trump also highlighted some of those possibilities.

“My administration is exploring executive actions to provide protections against eviction,” he said. “As well as additional relief to those who are unemployed as a result of the virus. Very importantly, I am also looking at a term-limited suspension of the payroll tax.”

He also complained about an effort by Democrats to help state and local governments.

“The Democrats are primarily interested in a $1 trillion bailout of the poorly run states,” Trump said. “We have some states and cities — you know them all — we don’t have to go through names, but they’ve been very poorly run over the years, and we can’t go along with the bailout money. We’re not going to go along with that, especially since it’s not COVID related.”

Entering negotiations on Wednesday, Schumer was asked about the possibility of a deal being reached by Friday and said that there are still divides between the parties.

“Well, we’re working very hard but we got a lot of issues,” Schumer said. “We see the problem as bigger, bolder and requiring more action than they do.”

Multiple senators leaving the GOP conference policy lunch Wednesday said that Meadows had conveyed that Friday was a firm stopping point.

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said that the negotiators relayed a similar message to the full GOP conference during their policy lunch.

“If there is not a deal by Friday, there won’t be a deal,” Blunt said. “At some point you have to set a deadline or just continue this Kabuki dance every day and nobody wants to.”

This follows Tuesday’s announcement that the negotiators had agreed to reach an agreement, if one is possible, by Friday.

But that seems to be about where agreement between Meadows, Mnuchin, Schumer and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi stops.

Senators who met with administration officials said the negotiations on Wednesday seemed almost identical to days prior.

“I still basically heard the same thing,” Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., said. “There’s a wide gulf between White House negotiators and Democrats.”

The Senate is approaching what would be the start of its August recess at the end of the week.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that the Senate will delay its recess and remain in session next week, though it is not clear what sort of action would take place during that time if negotiations on a package break down.

As tensions begin to boil over, Republicans are expected to begin offering piecemeal portions of their coronavirus relief proposal, the HEALS act, on the Senate floor.

Up first will likely be an effort to extend the paycheck protection program, whose application window closes at the end of the week.

Republicans have already attempted an extension of the unemployment benefits on the Senate floor — an effort which was quashed by Democrats.

Democrats have flatly rejected the idea of a piecemeal series of bills. They’ve argued that a “big,” “bold” and “comprehensive” bill is necessary to combat the ongoing health and economic crisis.

The Democratic proposal, which has already passed the House of Representatives, costs nearly $3 trillion. The Republican proposal is around $1 trillion.

ABC News’ Libby Cathey contributed to this report.

What to know about the coronavirus:

  • How it started and how to protect yourself: Coronavirus explained
  • What to do if you have symptoms: Coronavirus symptoms
  • Tracking the spread in the U.S. and worldwide: Coronavirus map
  • Tune into ABC at 1 p.m. ET and ABC News Live at 4 p.m. ET every weekday for special coverage of the novel coronavirus with the full ABC News team, including the latest news, context and analysis.

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    Are Gas Deposits in the Mediterranean Worth a War?

    This expert-driven national-security insight can’t be generated for free.  We invite you to support quality content by becoming a  Cipher Brief Level I Member .  Joining this experienced security-focused community is only $10/month (for an annual $120/yr membership). It’s a great and inexpensive way to stay ahead of the national and global security issues that impact you the most.



    The post Are Gas Deposits in the Mediterranean Worth a War? appeared first on The Cipher Brief.

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    Meghan Markle’s five pals who gave explosive interview to People mag could be named TODAY in High Court battle

    MEGHAN Markle’s five pals who gave an explosive interview to People magazine could be named TODAY in a High Court battle.

    The Duchess of Sussex is suing Associated Newspapers, the publisher of the Mail on Sunday, after a “private” letter she sent to her estranged father Thomas Markle was revealed.

    ⚠️ Read our Meghan and Harry blog for the latest news on the Royal couple.

    Meghan Markle is suing the publisher of the Mail on Sunday for revealing the contents of a letter she sent to her estranged father


    Meghan Markle is suing the publisher of the Mail on Sunday for revealing the contents of a letter she sent to her estranged fatherCredit: AFP or licensors

    But the publisher has argued that the existence of the letter had been discussed in an anonymous interview given by five of the former actress’ pals to People Magazine.

    Meghan’s lawyers last week applied for the duchess’ friends to remain anonymous as part of the proceedings – something the paper’s legal team has opposed.

    The 39-year-old says her friends gave the interview without her knowledge, and denies a claim made by ANL that she “caused or permitted” the People article to be published.

    In the article published by People in February of last year, the friends spoke out against the bullying Meghan said she has faced, and have only been identified in confidential court documents.

    In a written submission to the court, Justin Rushbrooke QC, representing the duchess, said it would be “cruel irony” for the friends to be identified in the privacy case.

    However, Antony White QC, acting for ANL, said the unnamed friends are “important potential witnesses on a key issue”.

    “Reporting these matters without referring to names would be a heavy curtailment of the media’s and the defendant’s entitlement to report this case and the public’s right to know about it,” he said.

    “No friend’s oral evidence could be fully and properly reported because full reporting might identify her, especially as there has already been media speculation as to their identities.”

    Mr Justice Warby is due to deliver his ruling on the duchess’s application at 10.30am today.

    Meghan Markle wrote a letter to her father after he missed her wedding


    Meghan Markle wrote a letter to her father after he missed her weddingCredit: Splash News
    Thomas Markle was not at the 2018 wedding of the couple


    Thomas Markle was not at the 2018 wedding of the coupleCredit: PA:Press Association
    The interview with People magazine is at the centre of the legal battle


    The interview with People magazine is at the centre of the legal battle

    ANL, publisher of the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline, won the first skirmish in the legal action on May 1, when Mr Justice Warby struck out parts of Meghan’s claim.

    This included allegations that the publisher acted “dishonestly” by leaving out certain passages of the letter.

    Court papers have since shown Meghan has agreed to pay ANL’s £67,888 costs for that hearing in full.

    Meghan is suing ANL over five articles, two in the MoS and three on MailOnline, which were published in February 2019 and reproduced parts of a handwritten letter she sent to her father in August 2018.

    The headline on the article read: “Revealed: The letter showing true tragedy of Meghan’s rift with a father she says has ‘broken her heart into a million pieces’.”

    The duchess is seeking damages from ANL for alleged misuse of private information, copyright infringement and breach of the Data Protection Act.

    ANL wholly denies the allegations, particularly the duchess’s claim that the letter was edited in any way that changed its meaning, and says it will hotly contest the case.

    Meghan and Harry now live in the US


    Meghan and Harry now live in the USCredit: Getty Images
    Meghan Markle turns 39: Her year in review

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    Stars praised for sharing their experiences of racism in Channel 4’s The Talk

    Stars including Little Mix’s Leigh-Anne Pinnock, The Saturdays’ Rochelle Humes and Walking Dead actor Lennie James have been praised for sharing their experiences of racism in The Talk.

    he hard-hitting documentary featured celebrities explaining how black parents have to warn their children about the discrimination they can face because of their skin colour.

    Pinnock, who was joined on the show by her parents John and Deborah, revealed she was nine years old when a boy at school wrote her nationality as “jungle”.

    She said: “I had a little incident in primary school. I had a boy write on a piece of paper, name – Leigh-Anne, age – nine, nationality – jungle. And I saw it and my heart just dropped.

    “I knew it was racism – I was nine years old – I knew it was racism and I was just distraught by it.”

    Humes, who was seated next to husband Marvin Humes, broke down in tears as she recalled not being invited to a birthday party “because she was black”.

    The incident led to her trying to “scrub her skin off”. Humes, who is expecting her first child with Marvin, added: “I’m not upset for me.

    “I’m upset because my little girl is the same age and I just don’t know how I would handle that.”

    And James, 54, revealed he was 11 and riding his bike on the pavement when a police officer called him the n-word.

    “And it just knocked me for six,” the actor said. “I’d love to meet that guy and just ask him what the f*** did he think he was thinking?  What was he doing?  Who did he see?”

    Other stars to take part in The Talk included England rugby player Maro Itoje, rapper Tinie Tempah and singer Emeli Sande.

    Viewers shared their support on Twitter. TV presenter Jake Humphrey is the co-founder of production company Whisper, which made The Talk.

    He said he has “never been prouder” of the company and added: “We need to create a version of this heartbreaking show to be played to every school kid in the country.”

    One viewer said it was “such an eye opening programme,” adding: “Thank you to everyone who took part & everyone who created this.”

    Another tweeted: “That was so powerful. I really hope everyone has learnt something tonight and let’s make a change in society.”

    And another said The Talk is a “must watch,” adding it is a “powerful way to educate yourselves on growing up as a black person in the UK”.

    PA Media

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    About That Next Bailout: One Big Lesson from 2009

    In retrospect, most economists agree, more would have been better.

    Obama’s Recovery Act helped end the Great Recession and launch a decadelong recovery, but today even his former aides believe that the recovery was weaker and slower than it should have been because the stimulus was insufficient. There’s a broad consensus in the economics profession that despite the administration’s anxieties about undershooting, Washington still undershot.

    And now, in an even more severe crisis, it may be poised to undershoot again.

    “Once again, big picture, the risks of doing too little far outweigh the risks of doing too much,” Summers said in an interview. “This time, the hole is even bigger than it was in 2009, but I’m not sure that lesson has been learned.”

    The coronavirus has already delivered a more devastating economic blow than the financial meltdown 12 years ago, reversing almost a decade’s worth of job gains in April alone, shrinking the economy at an unheard-of 32 percent annual rate in the second quarter. Early in the pandemic, Congress acted aggressively to pump stimulus into the dying economy. It passed four bipartisan relief bills worth $3.6 trillion, dwarfing the deficit spending from the entire Great Recession, actually increasing household incomes while helping to stave off widespread starvation and an instant depression.

    Now Washington is considering a fifth package that could add at least another trillion dollars to the tab. But with unemployment still in double digits, expanded benefits to laid-off workers expiring at the worst possible time, and the virus still on the rampage, economists are warning that far more stimulus will be needed to lift the country out of the abyss.

    Nevertheless, stimulus fatigue seems to be spreading on Capitol Hill, especially among Republicans, and negotiations over the next package seem to be going nowhere fast. There’s a tension between massive relief bills and President Donald Trump’s message that the recovery is already rocking—and Republican senators like Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Ben Sasse of Nebraska are starting to express ideological discomfort with Big Government spending bills at a time of record-shattering deficits.

    “How long can we just keep throwing money at the problem?” asked one Republican staffer on the Senate side. He then answered his own question: “Not forever.”

    The initial fiscal stimulus bills, along with a fusillade of monetary stimulus the Federal Reserve has deployed to prop up corporations, were designed as stopgap measures to blast cash into the economy until the virus could be contained. But the virus has not been contained, and the Fed’s lending powers are not designed to provide direct aid to ordinary Americans. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, pushing the boundaries of traditional Fed rhetoric, has practically begged Congress to be more aggressive to prevent the recovery from faltering.

    Two months ago, House Democrats took up his challenge, passing an eye-popping $3 trillion HEROES Act crammed with aid to cash-strapped states, communities and individuals. Senate Republicans as well as Trump administration officials declared the bill dead on arrival, ridiculing it as an over-the-top left-wing wish list, citing early signs of recovery to justify a wait-and-see approach. GOP leaders now say they agree that more relief is needed, and last week, they finally unveiled a $1 trillion proposal that can at least be the basis for negotiations with Democrats. But they didn’t sound overly enthusiastic about it, especially a provision demanded by the White House to authorize a new FBI headquarters, and Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina warned that half the divided Republican caucus might oppose any stimulus deal.

    Meanwhile, if there are rifts over the details among Republicans, there are chasms between Republicans and Democrats. Republicans want to scale back the just-expired $600-a-month expansion in unemployment benefits that Democrats inserted into this spring’s CARES Act, while Democrats oppose liability protections for businesses that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has declared a prerequisite to any deal. Democrats also oppose Republican provisions like expanded tax deductions for business meals and conditions that schools must commit to open in person to qualify for certain assistance, while Republicans oppose Democratic efforts to boost funding for food stamps, aid to states, and election protections. The White House has even objected to Democratic calls for increased funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    After impressive job gains in May and June, unemployment claims are now rising again as new outbreaks create new restrictions, and polls show that most of the public wants government to do more to support the economy. But the urgency in Washington seems to be fading, and it’s not clear that Congress will manage to act before it goes home in August.

    “We’ve seen what happens when there’s not enough stimulus, but for whatever reason you don’t get the sense that people’s hair is on fire,” says economist Heather Boushey, president of the left-leaning Washington Center for Equitable Growth.

    Democratic veterans of the last stimulus wars have watched the new GOP approach to stimulus with a combination of rage, dread and eye-rolling amusement. They’ve grumbled as some of the same Republican leaders who denounced any fiscal support for Obama’s economy as deficit-busting recklessness poured taxpayer dollars into Trump’s economy without qualms. But now that qualms are emerging, they worry that another premature pivot from stimulus to austerity will produce even more pain for families and businesses—and they’re baffled that Trump doesn’t seem to fear the political consequences of an understimulated economy.

    “There’s an incredible temptation to say: ‘OK, we did some stimulus, things seem to be getting better, let’s move on,’” says Jared Bernstein, an Obama White House economist who is now advising Joe Biden’s campaign. “But as we saw in 2009, it’s incredibly misguided.”

    Shortly after Obama’s election, his aide Jason Furman met for coffee with the left-wing gadfly James Galbraith, one of 387 economists who had signed a letter urging Congress to move “quickly and decisively” on a $400 billion stimulus. Furman had two messages for Galbraith: It needs to be even bigger, and you need to say so publicly. The economy was imploding fast, and Furman was worried that unless advocates outside Obamaworld started floating much more aggressive spending demands, the president’s eventual proposals would sound extreme.

    Galbraith agreed that the stimulus needed to be much bigger—he was thinking $900 billion for the first year alone—but he was amused that the incoming power brokers were so eager to be outflanked. It felt like the establishment was trying to gin up an insurgency.

    “The push was: We need you to be out there, the bigger the better,” recalls Galbraith, a University of Texas professor whose father was the New Dealer John Kenneth Galbraith. “They thought it could help create space for a number they could actually get.”

    The rationale for emergency stimulus during a sharp downturn is simple: When the private sector contracts, only the public sector can expand into the void. Otherwise, businesses will slash their payrolls and investments, which leaves ordinary people with even less money to spend, which forces businesses to lay off even more workers and buy even less equipment, and so on down the drain. The godfather of stimulus, John Maynard Keynes, suggested that even if the government merely pays people to dig holes and fill them back up, it can help break this vicious cycle of fear. And a broad range of studies have shown that more effective forms of government stimulus, especially aid to lower-income families that are the most likely to spend it, can have a “multiplier effect” that promotes a virtuous cycle of renewed confidence.

    Fiscal stimulus does increase budget deficits, and there was some concern inside Obamaworld, especially from budget director Peter Orszag, that too much deficit spending by a Democratic president and a Democratic-controlled Congress would send a dangerous signal to markets about Democratic profligacy. But depressions that ravage household incomes, crush business profits and scuttle tax revenues are much worse for budget deficits. As Summers warned in a memo to Obama, “insufficient fiscal impetus could put the recovery at risk, with catastrophic consequences.” With the economy losing nearly 800,000 jobs a month, the Obama team ultimately agreed to pursue a gigantic short-term stimulus to try to avoid a depression while signaling concern about long-term fiscal discipline to try to reassure markets.

    Some liberals still criticize Obama for failing to fight for even more than he got, but the size constraint was the Senate, where three Republicans and six moderate Democrats whose votes were needed to pass the bill threatened to kill it if the price tag exceeded $800 billion. As Furman puts it: The White House was in the deep end of the pool.

    “We needed to act quickly, and the politics didn’t support anything bigger,” Furman says. “We also figured that if we needed more, we’d just go back to Congress and get it.”

    That was a huge miscalculation.

    The Tea Party movement began agitating against Obama and the national debt almost immediately after the stimulus passed, and the president found that even stimulus measures that seemed relatively uncontroversial—aid to states to avoid teacher layoffs, tax cuts to encourage businesses to hire workers, repairs for crumbling bridges and other infrastructure investments—ran into ferocious Republican resistance in Congress. One routine bill to extend unemployment benefits was delayed for months after the death of West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd denied the Democrats a filibuster-proof majority. Fox News and conservative talk radio were on fire about a new era of porky socialism, and even many congressional Democrats were desperate to change the subject from Big Government and big spending.

    Obama’s rhetoric shifted, too, gradually focusing less on the economic nightmare he had inherited and more on the “green shoots” sprouting in the monthly economic data. There was an unofficial White House ban on “spiking the football” or “dancing in the end zone,” so the president and his team tempered all talk about progress with acknowledgments that people were still in pain. But after the Great Recession ended in 2009 and job growth resumed in 2010, they did start to accentuate the positive, with talking points stressing long-term fiscal responsibility over short-term stimulus. Especially after Republicans took back the House on a Tea Party platform, Obama wanted to show he got the message.

    In retrospect, Bernstein thinks he and his colleagues may have overemphasized the statistical evidence that the worst of the cataclysm was over, while underemphasizing the desperate need to continue to support struggling families and businesses. The recovery was real, and it would continue throughout Obama’s presidency and well into Trump’s, but by historical standards it was somewhat tepid. Bernstein remembers one time when he talked up green shoots on C-SPAN, a caller asked whether he was smoking green shoots.

    “There’s such a powerful temptation to see a phantom recovery in every optimistic data point,” Bernstein says. “And even real green shoots need to be watered, or else they shrivel.”

    A variety of econometric studies have concluded that the Recovery Act and several smaller under-the-radar stimulus measures over the rest of Obama’s first term helped save millions of jobs and avoid much worse outcomes. But several studies also found that the outcomes could have been better if the government sector had not contracted overall in the aftermath of the Great Recession, in sharp contrast to its expansions after previous recessions.

    The main problem was that stimulus at the federal level was offset by drastic layoffs, service reductions and tax increases at the state and local level, an anti-stimulus that could have been prevented with more federal aid to states and communities. As a result, the Obama economy didn’t rapidly bounce back with the kind of “V-shaped recovery” that recession-fighters yearn for. It slowly climbed back with years of steady but unspectacular 2 percent annual growth.

    As Summers said, the virus has created an even deeper crater than the Obama team had to try to fill. When Obama took office, his team believed America faced a $1.8 trillion “output gap” between its pre-crisis and post-crisis trajectories, and the Recovery Act filled less than half of it. Bernstein sent me nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projections suggesting that even after the initial coronavirus stimulus, America now faces a staggering $7.4 trillion output gap, more than one third of annual gross domestic product; the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates the gap at $5.2 trillion. Either way, if the economy falters again, that yawning gap will grow.

    University of Chicago economist Austan Goolsbee, another former Obama aide, says the crises of 2020 and 2009 are not identical twins, or even siblings, but cousins.

    The problem in 2009 was a classic collapse of demand caused by a financial panic that was triggered by a real estate bust. The problem in 2020 is an out-of-nowhere contagious disease that forced businesses to close and consumers to stay indoors. The stimulus bills of the Obama era combined emergency relief designed to stanch the immediate bleeding with longer-term investment designed to build a more resilient economy. This year’s stimulus bills have been pure relief, designed to tide Americans over for a few months under the assumption that the economy would quickly V-curve back to normal once the pandemic was under control. In 2009, the Republican opposition adamantly opposed any government support for the economy under Obama, even though he had just taken office; in 2020, the Democratic opposition has strongly supported stimulus under Trump, even though it’s an election year.

    The most striking difference may be the attitude of the president, who has exhibited none of Obama’s hesitation about spiking the football even though the economy is nowhere near where it was before the pandemic. Perhaps because the crisis hit long after he arrived in the White House, or just because he enjoys bragging about his own economy, Trump consistently downplayed the magnitude of the crisis even after the sudden loss of 20 million jobs, while hyping the partial recovery of 7 million jobs as a spectacular comeback. Goolsbee told me that Trump’s chest-thumping celebrations during an ongoing disaster reminds him of a 2014 game when a defensive lineman for his beloved Chicago Bears, losing by 25 points in the fourth quarter, blew out his knee celebrating a meaningless sack of a backup quarterback.

    “It just looks idiotic to celebrate when things are still awful,” Goolsbee said.

    Trump’s political brand is all about strength and winning, so it’s natural for him to put a positive gloss on a tough situation—and after successfully portraying 5 percent unemployment as a catastrophe in 2016, it’s not necessarily idiotic for him to think he can portray 12 percent unemployment as an accomplishment in 2020. But it does complicate the stimulus debate, because normally a president up for reelection would be pushing for as much as possible. His message that economic rejuvenation is already happening has undercut the argument that additional economic relief is needed, at a time when some anti-government Republicans are already grumbling about drunken-sailor spending.

    Senator Paul recently accused his GOP colleagues of sounding like socialist “Bernie bros,” and Republican senators have made it clear they aren’t happy about the FBI headquarters provision, which seems unrelated to the pandemic, but would benefit Trump’s Washington hotel by ensuring the location could not be used to build a competing establishment. In Capitol Hill negotiations, Republican leaders have proposed a slimmed-down deal that would merely extend unemployment benefits and provide some funding to schools before Congress leaves for its August recess, but Democrats have insisted on something bigger.

    Politically, it’s an odd situation. In 2009, stimulus quickly became unpopular—partly because it followed a massive taxpayer-funded Wall Street bailout, partly because Republicans were united in opposition. But in 2020, polls by the liberal group Data for Progress show that 69 percent of the electorate believes government should be spending even more, while only 5 percent believes it’s spending too much. Nevertheless, the Democrats—including Trump’s opponent in November, Joe Biden—are pushing much harder than the president and his party for more stimulus, even though another lesson of 2009 is that the public ultimately holds the incumbent president responsible for the state of the economy.

    “We learned the hard way that a bad economy is bad for the incumbent, and everything else is noise,” says Dan Pfeiffer, Obama’s White House communications director. “This is Trump’s economy! It’s bananas that the Republicans aren’t clamoring to do more to fix it.”

    Democrats are certainly clamoring to do more than Republicans want to do; the HEROES Act is three times larger than the GOP proposal, and some Democrats believe the recent bad news on the virus and the economy illustrate the need for an even larger package. Even Orszag, the most ardent budget hawk in the Obama White House, wrote an op-ed last week calling for more aggressive stimulus, warning that “as governments withdraw fiscal support, the economic picture is going to look worse than commonly appreciated.”

    The two parties agree that the next round of stimulus should include a second round of $1,200 checks for individuals, more money for schools and additional funding for public health. As Goolsbee says, the first rule of virus economics is that you can’t fix the economics until you stop the virus, and congressional Republicans have privately mocked White House suggestions that there’s no need for more money for testing or contact tracing. The big differences between the parties revolve around the Democratic push for far more aid to states and the poor, which were found to be the most powerful forms of stimulus in the Obama era, but also fund public employee unions and welfare programs aligned with the Democratic Party.

    Then again, not even the Democratic HEROES Act includes the provisions that Obama veterans consider the most important omission from the Recovery Act: “automatic stabilizers” that would ensure that stimulus keeps flowing as long as unemployment remains high without need for further congressional action. If the big economic lesson of 2009 is that more stimulus is better, the big political lesson is that getting Congress to approve more stimulus is hard, and many Democrats worry that if Biden is elected, Republicans will start making it impossible in 2021. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ultimately decided that automatic stabilizers would make the HEROES Act price tag too exorbitant, even though much of her caucus supported them.

    “We ought to have a more predictable environment, where government support depends on the condition of the economy and not just the political process in Congress,” says Rep. Suzan DelBene of Washington, a member of the moderate New Democrat Coalition.

    The likely alternative is more undershooting. Even President Franklin D. Roosevelt, after the early stimulus of the New Deal, pivoted toward spending cuts and balanced budgets in 1937, a shift that initially hobbled the recovery from the Great Depression, before the all-out mobilization for World War II created the ultimate federal stimulus. The politics of stimulus is always tricky. Evidence of economic improvement fuels the argument that more stimulus isn’t necessary. Evidence of continued economic pain fuels the argument that the previous stimulus isn’t working. In an instant-gratification political culture, it’s hard to make the case for repeated emergency actions, even when the emergency stubbornly refuses to end.

    Most economists believe the bipartisan stimulus bills early in the Covid crisis basically did what they were supposed to do, which was to get enough public money into private hands to prop up the economy for a few months while the virus was vanquished. The problem is that the virus wasn’t vanquished, so it’s understandable that there’s less enthusiasm about repeating such an expensive process with no guarantee of a different outcome. Unlike the Recovery Act, which poured money into solar power, electronic medical records and other infrastructure designed to improve America in the long run, the CARES Act was only designed to stave off short-term deprivation. It seems to have done so successfully, but as Goolsbee puts it, we didn’t fix the furnace, so we’re just successfully burning money to stay warm.

    There’s a clear comparison between the fight to revive the coronavirus economy and the fight against the virus itself. Early government efforts to contain the virus with lockdowns and mask mandates inspired Tea Party-style protests, but they also produced immediate improvements in public health statistics. Those improvements, however, only increased the political pressure to ease restrictions before the statistics justified it. Now the statistics have turned ugly again, and there doesn’t seem to be much political will for renewed lockdowns, especially when the president keeps insisting, as he did in his coronavirus briefing last week, that “we’re doing very well all over the country.”

    The basic problem is that the most effective measures to fight the virus, like the most effective measures to support the economy, require an acknowledgment that things aren’t going very well, requiring the government to act in a big way. Presidential rhetoric can frame reality, and Trump’s base usually embraces his framing, but reality is still reality.

    “The real lesson of 2009 is that the substance matters more than the optics,” Pfeiffer says. “There’s no communications strategy that can explain away double-digit unemployment.”

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