‘It’s largely gonna go to waste and it distorts the market’: Billionaire investor Chamath Palihapitiya blasts the Fed and Treasury for spending billions to help companies instead of consumers

  • Billionaire venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya criticized US authorities for helping companies more than consumers in a Yahoo Finance interview on Tuesday.
  • “We gave hundreds of billions of dollars in all kinds of random ways,” the Social Capital CEO and Virgin Galactic chairman said about the Federal Reserve and US Treasury’s actions during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Palihapitiya argued the interventions have distorted stock valuations and made it “very hard to be anything except long the market.”
  • He also described making bullish cases for Amazon and Tesla a few years ago and being “laughed off the stage.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Billionaire investor Chamath Palihapitiya blasted the US Treasury and Federal Reserve for bailing out industries and boosting financial markets instead of helping households in a Yahoo Finance interview on Tuesday.

“We gave hundreds of billions of dollars in all kinds of random ways,” the Social Capital CEO, Virgin Galactic chairman, and co-owner of the Golden State Warriors said.

“It’s largely gonna go to waste and it distorts the market,” he added.

Read More: An investment chief who doubled 3 of her firm’s ETFs within 3 years told us the most overlooked technological innovation on her radar — and shared the 3 stocks she’s been snapping up since the pandemic started

In a bid to offset the economic damage wreaked by the coronavirus pandemic, the Treasury made grants and loans to airlines, cruise lines, and other distressed companies.

Meanwhile, the Fed has pumped liquidity into the financial system to shore up lending and even purchased bonds issued by individual companies.

“It makes it very hard to be anything except long the market,” Palihapitiya said.

“Would I love to be isolating certain things that I think are not set up for success, or trying to buy cheap things? Sure, but it’s not possible right now,” he continued.

‘It doesn’t work anymore’

Palihapitiya argued US authorities should have focused on getting cash into people’s pockets instead of helping businesses, as consumer spending accounts for the bulk of gross domestic product.

If people received more money than they needed to live, they would buy products and services and transfer the excess cash to businesses, who would pass it on to their suppliers and so on, galvanizing economic growth, he added.

Read More: Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway struck a $10 billion deal to buy Dominion Energy’s natural gas business. Here’s why the energy giant sold.

“We did what we’ve been doing for the last 40 years, which is this top-down idea that trickle-down economics work,” Palihapitiya said. “It doesn’t work anymore.”

“It’s just a failed idea, a failed concept that’s had its day,” he added.

Federal support of corporations is also inflating the stock market, Palihapitiya said, which doesn’t help the roughly 48% of Americans who don’t own any shares.

“When equity markets go up it disproportionately helps institutional money and multigenerational money and that doesn’t have a real net positive impact on normal people,” he said.

“Putting money in the hands of those folks would have a much more positive impact,” he added.

‘Laughed off the stage’

Later in the Yahoo Finance interview, Palihapitiya shared several examples of people ridiculing his investments and predictions.

“I presented a $3 trillion market cap case on Amazon in front of 5,000 people at the Lincoln Center for Sohn and I was laughed off the stage,” he said, referring to the Sohn Investment Conference in 2016.

Palihapitiya is already halfway right on his prediction for 2025. Amazon stock has surged 60% this year, boosting the e-commerce titan’s market cap to $1.5 trillion.

Read More: The most accurate analyst covering companies like Amazon says these 7 stocks are great bets for the future of e-commerce — even as the coronavirus bump fades

“I presented a Tesla case when the stock was $200 and I was laughed off the stage,” he continued, referring to his comparison of the electric-car maker to Apple at the Sohn event in 2017.

Similarly, Tesla shares have more than tripled in value this year and now change hands at $1,390.

Palihapitiya was also mocked for buying a minority stake in the Golden State Warriors in 2011, he said.

“I invested in the Warriors and everyone around me thought I was a complete idiot,” he said.

The basketball team went on to make the NBA finals for four years straight between 2016 and 2019, and win two of those contests.

Taking another leaf out of Buffett’s book

Palihapitiya, who envisions Social Capital eventually going public and becoming a  modern-day version of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate, also plans to emulate the investor’s famous shareholder gatherings.

“To hold annual meetings, to see people that have owned the stock for 20 or 30 years and have done well for them and their family, it would be an enormous sense of accomplishment for me,” he said.

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Child Benefit: One mistake could halt payments entirely – how to avoid it

Child Benefit is available to anyone who is responsible for raising a child in the UK. To be eligible, the child must either be under the age of 16, or under 20 if they remain in approved education or training. Under the current rules laid out by HMRC, there are two tiers of Child Benefit to keep note of.


  • Universal Credit UK: This is how claimants could receive more support

If a person is making a claim for the eldest or only child, they will receive £21.05 per week in Child Benefit.

Any additional, subsequent children will receive £13.95 per week through the system.

There are a series of circumstances which are likely to alter the payments parents and guardians receive.

However, there is one in particular which is important to bear in mind – as it could stop payments entirely.

The government website has outlined that parents and guardians must tell the Child Benefit Office about any changes to family life.

It stresses: “If you do not report a change to your address, and the Child Benefit Office is not able to contact you, your payment will stop.”

This is vital for many people, as the payments can provide helpful support.

There are other changes to bear in mind which could stop or alter payments.

Rishi Sunak could gift Britons £500 each in move to boost the economy [INSIGHT]
Money saving tips: Savvy savers reveal ‘painless’ ways to cut costs [REVEALED]
Child Benefit: How to claim, how much you will get and payment dates [EXPLAINED]

Parents and guardians must inform the government if their child’s circumstances change.

Child Benefit traditionally stops on August 31 on or after a child’s 16th birthday if they leave approved education or training.

People must therefore inform the Child Benefit Office as soon as possible if a child leaves or stays in education or training.

Britons must also tell the Child Benefit Office straight away if the child undergoes any major changes.


  • Martin Lewis offers advice on lump sum savings – ‘best thing to do’

This can include starting paid work, living abroad permanently, goes into hospital long term, changes their name or gender, gets married or passes away.

Any changes to a child’s circumstances must be reported alongside the date of change to assist the Child Benefit Office in potentially altering a payment.

Family circumstances changing must also be reported to the Child Benefit Office.

This is because benefit amounts can vary dependent on a family’s situation. 

Changes in circumstances can include the death of a parent, the end of a relationship, change to immigration status or moving abroad.

It is worth noting these changes can be reported in a number of ways.

Parents and guardians can use the online form on the government’s website to let the Child Benefit Office know their circumstances.

If this is not a suitable option, then Britons can also call or write to the office to report the changes. 

Child Benefit can only be claimed by one person, so parents will need to decide who will make the claim.

The benefit is paid every four weeks to those who are eligible. 

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Zero percent interest credit cards: Everything to know

Thinking about getting a zero percent interest credit card? Here’s what you need to know. (iStock)

If you have to make a large purchase in the near future, you might be thinking about opening up a zero percent interest credit card. However, before you take the next step, it’s important to make sure that you understand how these credit cards work. With that in mind, we’ve laid out the top considerations for someone who’s looking to potentially add a zero percent card to their wallet. Keep reading to learn more.

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What is the benefit of a zero percent interest credit card?

As the name suggests, the biggest benefit of a zero percent interest credit card is that it allows you to avoid paying interest on your purchases for a set period of time. Many people use them when they have to make a large purchase so that they can spread paying off the purchase over a number of months without accruing any interest charges.

Credible can help you find the right credit card for you. Choose zero percent credit cards and get a breakdown of the annual fee, welcome offers, credit needed and more.


It’s important to note that zero percent interest is not the same as deferred interest financing. With deferred interest, interest starts accruing the day you make a purchase and is only waived if you pay off the balance in full before the deferred interest period has ended.

With a zero percent interest card, interest does not start accruing until after the promotional period. However, if you have not paid off your charges in full by the end of the promotional period, you will start to be charged interest on the remainder of your balance.

What to consider when comparing zero percent interest cards 

Of course, before you open up a new line of credit, it’s important to compare cards so you can see which one will be the best fit for you. You can visit an online marketplace like Credible to compare different zero percent credit cards and find your perfect match.


Here’s a closer look at what you need to consider:

  • The length of the promotional period: Typically, on a zero percent credit card, the introductory APR promotional period will last anywhere between 12 and 21 months. The longer this period lasts, the longer you have to pay off your purchases, but the longest periods are usually given to those with a higher credit score. 

  • The regular annual percentage rate (APR): After the intro APR period is over, you’ll begin to be charged the regular interest rate on any charges on which you carry a balance. You’ll want to be sure that you understand what that regular interest rate is and that you feel comfortable accepting the possibility of being charged at that rate.

  • Additional rates and fees: Credit cards also have additional fees for things like doing a balance transfer or making a late payment. You should also confirm that you understand all additional interest rates and fees that you could be charged. 


Credit cards vs. personal loans: Which is better?

If you’re worried about being able to pay off your balance before the promotional period ends, you may want to consider taking out a personal loan instead. Personal loans offer fixed payment, often at lower interest rates than a credit card. Personal loans can also have loan terms that are longer than your average zero percent intro APR, so you could be given a longer period of time to pay off your purchases.

In the event that you think a personal loan might be a better fit for you, visit a marketplace like Credible to get a sense of your personal loan options.


Considerations when using a new line of credit

Whenever you take out a new line of credit, there’s always the possibility of encountering credit issues like experiencing a temporary drop in your score or becoming tempted to rack up credit card debt. With that in mind, follow the tips below to keep your credit in good shape:

  • Make your payments on time: Establishing a good payment history is important when you open a new line of credit. Focus on figuring out your billing cycle and making all of your payments on time to keep your credit score in good shape,

  • Pay as far above the minimum payment as possible: If you’re taking out a zero percent credit card, odds are you are unable to pay off your balance in full. However, you’ll still want to aim to pay as far above the minimum payment as possible to reduce your chances of accruing interest and sliding into credit card debt.

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World News

White House hits back at Dem criticism over Trump visit with Mexican president: 'It’s really a shame'

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A senior Trump administration official said that President Trump's upcoming visit from Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador will help build on the leaders' relationship — while pushing back against criticism from Democrats over the meeting.

The visit is the first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders. It's scheduled to take place Wednesday at the White House.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus, comprised entirely of Democrats, accused Trump in a letter last week of staging the meeting as a distraction from what they called a "failure to lead" as many states have faced spikes in coronavirus cases.


"It’s really a shame it's being used for political convenience," the Trump official told Fox News. "Everyone should be proud that these two leaders have the relationship they have to deal with these issues and the challenges that we've faced in these times and have done so fairly successfully."

"These days, everything is always about the political soundbite,” the official added.

The official said the Mexican president's visit does not have any set agenda, and that “this is really a trip about these two leaders finally meeting in person … for them to really sit down and have a one on one, to discuss the whole gamut of issues."


Given previous discussions, the official says the two will likely talk about the newly-implemented USMCA, COVID-19, supply chains, and counternarcotics. The official said there have been some “hiccups” in the counternarcotics relationship with Mexico, but that after Attorney General Barr’s trip to Mexico earlier this year, the Trump administration has seen progress in extraditions and targeting cartels’ financial assets.


The visit will include a dinner, where business guests from U.S. and Mexican companies will be in attendance. A second official said that the guests include CEOs and executives from telecom, auto, financial, transportation, energy, and media companies.

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World News

U.K. Puts $1 Billion Into Job Centers to Help Wave of Unemployed

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The U.K. will plow 800 million pounds ($1 billion) into job centers in an effort to cope with a surge in unemployment in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The government will double the number of work coaches to 27,000 to help benefit claimants back into work, with an initial 4,500 hires by October, the Treasury said late Saturday in an emailed statement.

“The additional army of work coaches will give job-seekers bespoke, personalized support to build skills, improve their employment prospects, and find local jobs that are right for them,” the Treasury said.

The announcement comes as Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak prepares to give a statement on Wednesday outlining measures to help stimulate the economy and protect jobs as the country emerges from a national lockdown that began March 23. On Saturday, pubs were allowed to reopen, after non-essential shops were permitted to do so last month.

Sunak is focusing on protecting jobs — particularly for young workers who held more precarious roles before the pandemic and now face a struggle to find new work. He’ll put forward a wider stimulus package in a budget in the fall, when the effects of the lockdown and the unwinding of his furlough program to protect private-sector jobs will be more in evidence.

“What you’ll hear from the chancellor is a package focused on jobs, jobs, jobs, so that we can get the economic recovery from this virus as fast as we can,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News on Sunday.

Injecting Confidence

With officials downplaying expectations about his statement, Sunak is coming under pressure from business groups to ensure he doesn’t just do the bare minimum to revive the economy.

“I would very much urge them to be bold and try to get ahead of some of the problems that are coming in the autumn rather than adopt a watch-and-wait approach,” British Chambers of Commerce Director General Adam Marshall said in an interview on Friday. The necessary support “is going to cost a lot of money and be difficult in a number of ways, but it’s also incredibly important because if they want to avoid significant unemployment and if they want to inject some confidence into both business and consumers, the time to do it is now.”

Marshall called for wage subsidies for apprentices, a fund to support jobs for young people and a cut to national insurance payments made by employers. He also suggested the government could issue vouchers for households to spend on retail high streets to get the economy moving again. The Observer on Sunday reported that Sunak is considering Resolution Foundation proposals to issue 500-pound vouchers for all adults and 250-pound vouchers for children to spend in the sectors of the economy worst-hit by the virus.

Here’s What Rishi Sunak Could Do to Stimulate the U.K. Economy

The chancellor’s emergency measures during the pandemic mean the government is now supporting the wages of almost 12 million private-sector workers under programs for furloughed staff and the self-employed.

Despite that, jobless claims have already doubled to almost 3 million, as the economy plunges into what may be its worst recession in three centuries.

Under the furlough plan, the government is paying 80% of the wages for 9.3 million jobs at a cost of 25.5 billion pounds. That support will decrease starting next month as companies are forced to shoulder more of the cost.

Tsunami of Job Losses

That’s prompted concerns about more pain to come, with Tesco Plc Chairman John Allan warning of a “tsunami of job losses.”

On Sunday, the opposition Labour Party’s finance spokeswoman, Anneliese Dodds, called on Sunak to abandon what she called his “one-size-fits-all” approach.

“Let’s have an approach which reflects the fact that this is an economic crisis which is affecting sectors differently,” Dodds told Sky News. “Different sectors really need that strong support now. If we put it in place then we won’t see the kind of mass unemployment that is threatening our country currently.”

The toll is already beginning to show with companies including Airbus SE, Swissport International AG, shirtmaker TM Lewin and the London department store Harrods announcing thousands of job cuts among them. On Friday, the manufacturing industry group Make UK said that 42% of firms plan job cuts in the next six months, with another 31% saying redundancies are possible.

On Sunday, the Trades Union Congress and the leaders of the country’s four biggest labor unions issued a statement to the chancellor warning of “mass unemployment on a scale not seen since the 1980s.”

‘Short Window’

“We have a very short window to save hundreds of thousands of jobs,” the union chiefs wrote. They urged Sunak to “extend the job retention scheme beyond October for businesses who have a viable future but need longer to build back,” invest in green infrastructure and guarantee a job for every young person.

As well as the job center funding, the Treasury on Sunday announced a 17 million-pound package to provide more than 30,000 new placements in work academies, designed to provide training to those on benefits in skills needed for local jobs. That will triple the number of placements in the next eight months, the Treasury said.

By investing in job centers, Sunak is tapping a measure used by Gordon Brown’s government in the 2008-2009 recession, when another 10,000 staff were recruited. To coordinate efforts to protect jobs, officials at the Treasury and the Department for Work and Pensions have formed a unit reporting to Sunak and Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey, according to the statement.

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Former BWR Publicists Launch New Bi-Coastal Agency The Initiative Group

Former BWR publicists Cindy Guagenti, Paulette Kam, Gary Mantoosh, Christina Papadopoulos, Lisa Perkins, Jamie Skinner and Alex Spieller are opening the doors to The Initiative Group, a new bi-coastal entertainment and corporate lifestyle public relations collective.

The group, who departed the BCW owned-BWR last month, will be equal partners in the new venture.

The partners are bringing with them their entire client roster of over 150 clients including Connie Britton, Drew Carey, Hero Fiennes Tiffin, Regina Hall, Garrett Hedlund, Danai Gurira, Anna Kendrick, Matt LeBlanc, Allen Leech, Melissa Leo, Mario Lopez, Joe Manganiello, Tatiana Maslany, Evan Mock, Kathryn Newton, Adam Rodriguez, MJ Rodriguez, Glen Powell, Zoe Saldana, Adam Sandler, Alexandra Shipp and Bellamy Young. The corporate lifestyle clients that will be joining include Beaches and Sandals Resorts, Gelson’s Markets, USA Cycling, Pair of Thieves, NALIP, among others. The company will operate out of Los Angeles and New York City.

In addition to its traditional personal, corporate-lifestyle publicity, special event services and brand/influencer collaborations, the Initiative Group will also include a digital arm focused on social media risk assessment diagnostics and reputation management.

“We see an exciting future for The Initiative Group”, said the partners, “We are a combination of young visionaries and veteran public relations professionals. Some of us began this journey with the original BWR founders Paul Baker, Larry Winokur and the late Nanci Ryder and will always be profoundly grateful to them for showing us the way.”

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Foreign travel boost as UK gives green light to overseas trips

Travel operators have reported a big rise in bookings and inquiries about international holidays as UK holidaymakers rush to book Mediterranean breaks after the government gave the green light to overseas trips from early next month.

TravelSupermarket, the holiday price comparison site, said this weekend had been the busiest for searches since the lockdown was imposed in March. Price comparison searches for holidays were up 100% and “click outs” and bookings were up 50% compared with last weekend, it said.

Tui, Britain’s biggest tour operator, and Hays Travel, which bought out the majority of Thomas Cook’s high street travel agencies last year, said bookings were up by at least 50%. Other operators, including online travel agency On the Beach and Dnata travel group, which owns brands including Travelbag and Travel Republic, also reported a big pick-up in inquiries.

Destinations in Spain, Greece, France and Italy were at the top of holidaymakers’ lists after the government said it expected to announce so-called “air bridge” arrangement with those countries, cancelling the need for 14 days of quarantine.

The list of safe countries drawn up by the government’s Joint Biosecurity Centre and Public Health England will rank countries as green, amber and red based on the risk from Covid-19. People will be able to travel freely to both green and amber countries.

Further details of the list will be given to Parliament on Monday and the full details will be revealed on Wednesday, when the current Foreign Office travel warning against all but essential international travel will be lifted from 6 July for countries deemed safe.

Irene Hays, the co-owner of Hays Travel, said inquiries had reignited over the last 10 days, but bookings jumped 52% on Saturday compared with Friday after the outline of the government’s plan emerged. “Its absolutely terrific,” she said. “The announcement hasn’t been made yet and the Foreign Office is advising against all but essential travel, so there is still hesitancy, but there is a burst of demand.”

Hays said that travellers were also looking at booking holidays outside Europe for late 2020, with New York, Iceland and Bali top of the list.

“This decision will save jobs and businesses. It’s been an incredibly hard time for the travel industry,” she said. Hays Travel has already brought most of its 3,000 staff back from furlough to deal with customer queries and expects to begin advertising for new staff this week. It will launch 700 apprenticeships in the autumn.

Andrew Flintham, managing director of Tui UK and Ireland, said bookings had increased by 50% week on week, with holidays to Spain and Greece looking the most popular this summer. “We know there were a lot of people hoping to travel and waiting for certainty that would be possible,” he said. “It’s a hugely positive step forward for the travel industry and I know our customers will be ecstatic that their summer is saved.”

Tui will restart its operations in the UK on 11 July, with the first flights departing from London-Gatwick to Ibiza and Birmingham to Palma. It will operate 44 flights a week to eight destinations between 11 and 24 July and will increase to 19 destinations from 25 July, ramping up its short and mid-haul flying from August. However, Tui has cancelled all Florida holidays for at least the next five months after a surge in coronavirus cases in the US state.

Simon Cooper, chief executive of On the Beach, said it had seen a “significant increase” in last-minute searches and bookings for countries expected to be included in the air bridge scheme, albeit from a low base. “We look forward to the government announcing further details next week,” he said.

The announcement has long been awaited by airlines and travel operators who have been struggling to stay afloat. Virgin Atlantic is battling to line up a financial bailout this week, while thousands of jobs have been cut at British Airways, Ryanair, easyJet and Aer Lingus.

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Small traders fight for survival as BBLS loans take too long to bounce back

While 860,000 have received loans, which are 100 percent backed by the Government, thousands too remain in dire straits fearing they may go bust as their applications are not accepted in the first place, flounder in long holding queues or are rejected.

++ If you’ve been affected by this issue or feel you’ve been a victim of injustice, please contact consumer and small business champion Maisha Frost on [email protected] ++;

Complaints about the varying terms of the scheme, the process and pleas for help have poured into Crusader. 

Calls are growing from all quarters we understand for conditions to be amended, so fewer firms fall through the cracks and for a new, grant-based programme to be set up to catch those still left out.

Although problems vary, the gap is stark between what businesses say they were led to expect from what was billed as a straightforward, fast rescue and the reality they are experiencing. 

Even though the loans have attractive conditions, such as an interest-free first year and then 2.5 percent fixed interest and the chance to borrow up to £50,000 or 25 percent of turnover, within eligibility varies.

Firms’ main complaints centre on waiting times of weeks after making an application, delays getting the money even after approval, not hearing then getting rejected without any explanation, and even in a few cases being offered an overdraft with associated costs instead. 

In some instances insensitive lenders’ jargon such as “you do not fit our risk appetite” has rubbed salt into wounds and, in the face of silence, some business owners have wondered if the real reason is the money has already run out.

However the government is guarantor supplying lenders via the British Business Bank so this is not the case at present.

Account status and credit checks are proving unexpected stumbling blocks.

The loan would change everything. I could keep my studio and my equipment, keep producing and grow my business – everything that was happening before the pandemic

Elizabeth Welch

Many small traders, perfectly legally, run their affairs through their personal accounts, something possible under BBLS rules. 

But they then find they do not have sufficient tax returns information, or need to set up a new business account to access the scheme’s funds, something that is proving nigh on impossible, not least because of the colossal demand.

Businesses then resort to going from lender to lender in debilitating, last ditch searches to survive. 

Fraud, anti-money laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) checks are required and made.

But past, often small, personal credit problems paid off years ago are scuppering hopes too. 

Credit reference agency Experian warns: “As bounce-back loans are backed by government, applying for one won’t generally trigger a credit check and, as a result, won’t leave a hard footprint on your credit report. However, most banks are only providing bounce-back loans to existing customers, so new customers must first apply for a business bank account and undergo a credit check. 

“This means that customers who are shopping around for bounce-back loans do have to be careful because multiple credit checks, and therefore hard footprints, are not good news for credit scores.”

Artisan Elizabeth Welch in West Sussex, whose dazzling wildlife glass sculptures are becoming collectibles, is among many cases we are raising with lenders.

Her sales through galleries and trade fairs have been wrecked.

But an HSBC customer for 16 years and with a business account and no credit issues, she has been waiting to hear about a £10,000 BBL.

This relatively modest support would make a world of difference, she says. 

 “The loan would change everything. I could keep my studio and my equipment, keep producing and grow my business – everything that was happening before the pandemic,” she says. 

HSBC UK confirmed: “We are looking at these complaints as a matter of urgency. We’ve approved over 128,000 BBLs so far. As one of the few banks accepting applications from businesses that aren’t currently our customers, we’ve been inundated with requests to open accounts. As a result, the wait times for new accounts are significantly longer than they were pre-COVID-19.”

After a wait following loan approval, property company Arrive Homes, a NatWest customer for 11 years, should now get the funds within days.

“It will mean survival,” said director Philip Tierney when he thanked us for our support.

UK Finance, the body representing the finance and banking industry, said: “Lenders are providing an unprecedented level of support to firms affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

“Over 860,000 businesses have so far received a total of £26.3 billion in loans through the Bounce Back Loan scheme – an average of more than 140,000 approvals each week, with the vast majority of applicants being able to rapidly access the finance they need. Recent research showed that almost nine in 10 SMEs have had their applications for a Bounce Bank Loan (BBL) facility approved where a final decision has been made, higher than the industry average of eight out of ten for all loan applications from SMEs.”

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World News

Running For Reelection, Trump Talks Like He’s Running For President Of The Confederacy

WASHINGTON ― Donald Trump is running for a second term as president of the United States, but in recent weeks he’s spoken and written as if he wants to be the next president of the Confederacy.

Amid a national uproar over the recent killing of a Black man by a white Minneapolis police officer and an erosion in his own polling numbers, Trump has made the cornerstone of his response a vow to protect monuments and memorials to the leaders of the treasonous rebellion that cost 750,000 lives for the sole purpose of keeping Blacks enslaved.

In speeches, Trump has vowed to protect “our heritage” as protesters around the country call for the removal of memorials to Confederate leaders. He has even threatened to veto a major defense bill that includes a provision requiring renaming military bases that now honor Confederate commanders.

“These Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage,” Trump wrote in a June 10 statement he posted to Twitter.

Trump has even ordered Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to restore a statue of Confederate Gen. Albert Pike that had been torn down by protesters in Washington, D.C., according to NBC News.

“He obviously thinks it plays with his base,” said David Axelrod, the Democratic consultant who led the campaign of the first African American president, Barack Obama, in 2008.

In 2017, after neo-Nazis marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, and a counterprotester was killed when one of them drove his car into a crowd, Trump defended them for wanting to protect a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and said that there had been “very fine people on both sides” of the violent rally. In 2019, Trump called Lee a “great general.”

White House officials would not respond to HuffPost queries about Trump’s interest in the Confederacy’s heritage.

Rick Wilson, a GOP consultant from Florida who has been making ads for the anti-Trump Lincoln Project, said Trump is misreading the politics of the moment. He said an ad centered on the Confederacy called “Flag of Treason” is one of the most popular his group has made and aired.

He added that former Breitbart News publisher Steve Bannon, who ran Trump’s 2016 campaign in its final months and was a top White House aide in Trump’s first year, was the likely source of Trump’s continued support for all things Confederate.

“Bannon sold him on the ‘whites are 62% of the electorate, and we need to simply top out their numbers to win’ argument very early,” Wilson said of Trump. “Plus, he’s a racist.”

Bannon did not respond to HuffPost’s queries for this story. 

Trump’s Confederate Base 

Though the president who freed the slaves during the Civil War was the first nominee of a party created specifically for that purpose, Republicans began courting Southern Democrats angry about legislation designed to help Blacks after the 1954 Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education that led to the integration of public schools. The process accelerated following Lyndon Johnson’s push for the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and then was formalized in Richard Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” in 1968.

Since then, Republicans have successfully relied on the former Confederacy as an electoral base for presidential campaigns, and Trump was no different.

In 2016, while the 11 former Confederate states accounted for 32% of the country’s population, they made up 48% of Trump’s electoral votes, according to a HuffPost analysis of voting and population data.

Trump beat Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton 147 to 13 in electoral votes from those states and won the popular vote 52% to 44%. Among the non-Confederate states, Clinton beat Trump 219 to 159 in electoral votes and won the popular vote 50% to 43%.

Overall, Clinton won the popular vote 48% to 46%, winning 3 million more actual ballots, but she lost in the Electoral College 306 to 232.

Yet Trump’s vocal enthusiasm for monuments to the Confederacy, while it could help maintain support among a segment of his voting base, may well be turning off other groups.

Support for removing Confederate monuments has grown from 27%, according to a Reuters poll in 2017, to 52%, according to a Quinnipiac University poll last week.

The week before that, NASCAR ― long a bastion of fans waving Confederate flags and other iconography ― banned the symbol from its races. And Mississippi, which includes a Confederate battle flag in the upper left quadrant of its state flag, is moving toward changing it.

“When you’re on the wrong side of a cultural war from NASCAR? Dude,” said Stuart Stevens, a seventh-generation Mississippian who worked on the presidential campaign of George W. Bush in 2000, when Bush’s refusal to condemn South Carolina’s flying of the Confederate flag from its state Capitol became a divisive issue.

Stevens said the recent protests sparked by the May 25 police killing of George Floyd have rapidly moved popular opinion on the Confederacy, and Republicans are in danger of being stuck on the wrong side of history.

“We’re discussing the legitimacy of the Confederacy. In 2020. It’s just so depressing,” he said. “There’s no pretense anymore that it’s not about white grievance.” 

White Grievance Politics In The White House 

White grievance politics, though, has been a feature of the Trump White House from the start. Sebastian Gorka, a far-right activist and Breitbart editor, was hired as an adviser to the president. Bannon became Trump’s “chief strategist,” co-equal to his first chief of staff. And Stephen Miller, who just years earlier as a Senate aide used to collaborate with Breitbart to generate articles attacking immigrants, became Trump’s top policy adviser and speechwriter. And in recent months, Trump brought aboard Kayleigh McEnany, who as a law student eight years ago was among those, including Trump, spreading the “birther” lie that the first Black president was illegitimately elected because he was not born in the United States.

Given that nurturing environment, and given his own background of years of inflaming racial division, that Trump would embrace the history of the Confederacy is hardly a surprise, critics said.

“Racism is his warm, fuzzy blanket. It’s what makes him feel at home,” said Josh Schwerin, senior strategist at the Democratic super PAC Priorities USA.

Trump’s promise of a veto of the National Defense Authorization Act because of the Confederate names language, nevertheless, may be boxing all Republicans into a corner.

Trump was so adamant about spreading his pro-Confederacy message that he had McEnany distribute printed-out copies of his tweets to reporters at the June 10 briefing and then read aloud from them. She wound up spending a good part of that day’s session defending his stance.

The next day, Trump posted another statement to Twitter, urging Republicans in the Senate to reject the renaming language. “Seriously failed presidential candidate, Senator Elizabeth ‘Pocahontas’ Warren, just introduced an Amendment on the renaming of many of our legendary Military Bases from which we trained to WIN two World Wars. Hopefully our great Republican Senators won’t fall for this!”

What Trump apparently did not realize was that the Senate Armed Services Committee had already adopted the amendment from Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat. Removing it from the bill would require a vote on the Senate floor, forcing all 53 Republicans to take a stand on protecting the Confederacy, meaning that the final authorization act is now likely to contain the Confederate names language.

McEnany on June 10 said such a requirement would make the bill “an absolute nonstarter” for Trump and that “the president will not be signing legislation that renames America’s forts.”

Following through on such a threat would mean vetoing one of the few “must-pass” bills of each year, one which also contains pay raises for service members, possibly in the weeks prior to the election ― thereby putting the issue of the Confederacy front and center before the voters.

And that could saddle every single Republican with Trump’s position on that issue, Stevens said. “It’s a disaster for these candidates running under Trump,” he said.

One former White House aide said the great irony in Trump’s concern for the Confederacy is that he has such a vague grasp of history that he hardly knows any of the names involved.

“He thought that big statue in Lafayette Park is Lafayette,” the aide said on condition of anonymity. “Don’t get him going.”

That central statue is not, in fact, of Frenchman and Revolutionary War hero Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, the Marquis of Lafayette, but of Andrew Jackson, the seventh U.S. president and supposedly Trump’s great hero.

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