New Survey Finds Inflation, Housing Costs And Eviction Threats Hitting Minorities Hardest

Minority communities have been the hardest hit financially by the current spike in consumer prices and housing costs, with high percentages of Black, Latino and Native American families reporting serious financial problems and even threats of eviction, according to a survey published Monday by the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, NPR and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

With the annual increase in consumer prices hitting a 40-year high of 9.1% in June, Americans, by a wide margin, cite inflation as the number one problem facing the U.S. But the actual impact on individual households is more dispersed. For example, in the new survey, 58% of Black adults, 56% of Latinos and 69% of Native Americans say inflation has caused them serious financial problems, compared to 44% of white and 36% of Asian adults.

Soaring rents are similarly hitting certain minority households the hardest. In the new survey, 16% of Black renters, 10% of Latino renters and 21% of Native American renters reported they had been evicted or threatened with eviction in the past year. That compares to 9% of white and 4% of Asian families. “This is just a warning from this survey, that unless the government can provide some help for vulnerable populations, a year from now they are going to have more people who are homeless,” said Robert J. Blendon, co-director of the survey and an emeritus professor of Health Policy and political analysis at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Programs of emergency rental aid helped around 5 million American families during the early months of the pandemic, with 1.5 million fewer evictions compared to pre-pandemic levels. After 22 million Americans lost their jobs during the start of the pandemic, Congress provided $25 billion in emergency rental assistance in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CAR AR +3%ES Act) passed in March 2020. A year later, in the American Rescue Plan, it added another $21.55 billion of rental assistance.

The CARES Act also included a temporary federal eviction moratorium that expired in the summer of 2020. It was later extended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and then by Congress, and then again by the CDC. Finally, on August 3, 2021, after a surge in Covid-19 cases due to the Delta variant, the CDC extended the moratorium yet again. Later that month, the Supreme Court ruled against it.

Meanwhile, the emergency rental funds Congress appropriated have either been used up or are being returned to the federal government unspent. For example, last Thursday, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves announced his state would halt the federally-funded Rental Assistance for Mississippians Program by Aug. 15, meaning as much as $130 million for the program would be returned to the federal government.

California, having used up its federal money, ended its Covid-19 rental assistance program on March 31, 2022. It sent more than $4 billion to 344,000 households –but around 5,400 tenants and landlords have received emails asking to return money received in Covid-19 rent relief.

The housing component of the CPI increased 5.6% in the 12 months ended in June, but that includes costs to both homeowners and renters. In many places renters have seen far greater increases. According to housing data collected by Redfin RDFN +14.3%, average asking rents in June were up 14% compared to June 2021. In some sunbelt cities like Miami, rent has increased nearly 40%.

The recent spike in rent prices leaves low-income and minority groups in particularly precarious situations. A May report by the Federal Reserve Board showed that as of last fall, about half of renters with income between $25,000 and $49,999 were already “cost burdened”—meaning they were spending more than 30% of their income on rent. In the Fed survey, 44% of Black households and 37% of Hispanic households reported they were renters, compared with just 21% of white households.

“Unless some sort of emergency help is provided, a substantial number of minority populations are going to be evicted over the next year,” Blendon warns.

MORE FROM FORBESMortgage Applications Rise In Potential Housing Market Respite-Could Home Buying Become More Affordable Soon?

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

I’m a summer intern reporting for Forbes Money and Markets. I graduated from Boston University with a degree in Journalism

Source: New Survey Finds Inflation, Housing Costs And Eviction Threats Hitting Minorities Hardest

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CDC Approves COVID-19 Vaccines For Children Under 5

U.S. health advisers on Saturday recommended COVID-19 vaccines for infants, toddlers and preschoolers — the last group without the shots.The advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention unanimously decided that coronavirus vaccines should be opened to children as young as 6 months. On Saturday afternoon, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky signed off on the panel’s recommendation.

“Together, with science leading the charge, we have taken another important step forward in our nation’s fight against COVID-19,” Walensky said in a statement. “We know millions of parents and caregivers are eager to get their young children vaccinated, and with today’s decision, they can. I encourage parents and caregivers with questions to talk to their doctor, nurse, or local pharmacist to learn more about the benefits of vaccinations and the importance of protecting their children by getting them vaccinated.”

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra released a statement calling the CDC’s move a “major milestone.”

“Thanks to the FDA and CDC’s rigorous, comprehensive, and independent review of the data, and their strict commitment to following the science, we are reaching another major milestone in our efforts to protect more children, their families, and our communities as we work to end the pandemic,” Becerra said. “We are following the data and science as we make sure all Americans are eligible and have access to COVID-19 vaccines and boosters to prevent severe disease and save lives. Based on CDC and FDA actions, we now know that vaccination for our children 6 months through 5 years old is safe and effective and we are ready to get millions of children vaccinated.”

The White House also weighed in on the decision in a statement calling the CDC’s decision a “monumental step forward in our nation’s fight against the virus.””For parents all over the country, this is a day of relief and celebration,” President Biden said in the statemente. “As the first country to protect our youngest children with COVID-19 vaccines, my Administration has been planning and preparing for this moment for months, effectively securing doses and offering safe and highly effective mRNA vaccines for all children as young as six months old.

“While the Food and Drug Administration OKs vaccines, it’s the CDC that decides who should get them. The government has been gearing up for the start of the shots early next week, with millions of doses ordered for distribution to doctors, hospitals and community health clinics around the country. Roughly 18 million kids will be eligible, but it remains to be seen how many will ultimately get the vaccines. Less than a third of children ages 5 to 11 have done so since vaccination opened up to them last November.

Two brands — Pfizer and Moderna — got the green light Friday from the FDA. The vaccines use the same technology but are being offered at different dose sizes and number of shots for the youngest kids.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
PFD FLAHERTY & CRUMRINE PREFERRED INC 12.30 -0.07 -0.57%
MRNA MODERNA INC. 128.03 +6.95 +5.74%

Pfizer’s vaccine is for 6 months through 4 years. The dose is one-tenth of the adult dose, and three shots are needed. The first two are given three weeks apart, and the last at least two months later. Moderna’s is two shots, each a quarter of its adult dose, given about four weeks apart for kids 6 months through 5. The FDA also approved a third dose, at least a month after the second shot, for kids with immune conditions that make them more vulnerable to serious illness.

Two doses of Moderna appeared to be only about 40% effective at preventing milder infections at a time when the omicron variant was causing most COVID-19 illnesses. Pfizer presented study information suggesting the company saw 80% with its three shots. But the Pfizer data was so limited — and based on such a small number of cases — that experts and federal officials say they don’t feel there is a reliable estimate yet.

Hospitalizations surged during the omicron wave. Since the start of the pandemic, about 480 children under age 5 are counted among the nation’s more than 1 million COVID-19 deaths, federal data show. “It is worth vaccinating, even though the number of deaths are relatively rare, because these deaths are preventable through vaccination,” said Dr. Matthew Daley, a Kaiser Permanente Colorado researcher who sits on the advisory committee.

U.S. officials expect most shots to take place at pediatricians’ offices. Many parents may be more comfortable getting the vaccine for their kids at their regular doctor, White House COVID-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said. He predicted the pace of vaccination to be far slower than it was for older populations.

Pediatricians, other primary care physicians and children’s hospitals are planning to provide the vaccines. Limited drugstores will offer them for at least some of the under-5 group. U.S. officials expect most shots to take place at pediatricians’ offices. Many parents may be more comfortable getting the vaccine for their kids at their regular doctor, White House COVID-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said. He predicted the pace of vaccination to be far slower than it was for older populations.

“We’re going see vaccinations ramp up over weeks and even potentially over a couple of months,” Jha said. It’s common for little kids to get more than one vaccine during a doctor’s visit. In studies of the Moderna and Pfizer shots in infants and toddlers, other vaccinations were not given at the same time so there is no data on potential side effects when that happens. But problems have not been identified in older children or adults when COVID-19 shots and other vaccinations were given together, and the CDC is advising that it’s safe for younger children as well.

About three-quarters of children of all ages are estimated to have been infected at some point. For older ages, the CDC has recommended vaccination anyway to lower the chances of reinfection.Experts have noted re-infections among previously infected people and say the highest levels of protection occur in those who were both vaccinated and previously infected. The CDC has said people may consider waiting about three months after an infection to be vaccinated.

Source: CDC approves COVID-19 vaccines for children under 5 | Fox Business

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Why All Investors Need To Own Gold and Bitcoin

I was lucky enough to find myself on GB News at the weekend, standing in for the veteran broadcaster Alastair Stewart, who was taking some no doubt well-deserved time off. No prizes for guessing what subject was the main focus of the two two-hour programmes.

The world has changed, and investors need to take that into account

There were all sorts of guests – Russian, Ukrainian, Polish – who all knew their onions, and added so many profound insights into the conflict. I sat there trying to ask sensible questions while absorbing as much information as I possibly could. I can’t pretend to be informed on this subject, despite being a lot more so now than I was a week ago – like most of us, I guess.

We covered so many subjects. The incredible bravery of the Ukrainian people and the resilience they have shown in the face of much better-armed opponents; the apparent strategic mistakes made by Russian forces so far, and the poor communication; the ruthlessness of Putin, the need to win and the risk that he doubles down.

We also covered sanctions, Swift and the weaponisation of money; the war on the oligarchs and the kleptocrats; the imminent refugee crisis; propaganda; the tacit alliance between Russia and China – and that China will be watching all of this and learning; the ramifications for Taiwan; the dependency of so many nations on Ukraine and Russia for food supplies. And much more besides. I watched, listened and tried to learn.

I left the studio with a distinct feeling of dread that this invasion may prove to be the beginning of something much bigger. Russian commentator Konstantin Kisin, who hosts the popular podcast Triggerpod, kept repeating the point that in terms of historic significance this invasion is “bigger than 9-11”. The geopolitical landscape has changed, he said, and the West is at war.

On both days, I left the studio feeling glad that I owned gold. It has been a source of immense disappointment and frustration to me, as regular readers will know, but there is a time to own gold and now would appear to be one of those times. I have reported more times than I care to remember on the vast amounts both Russia and China have accumulated over the last 20 years.

Meanwhile, the way that the West has weaponised its money and banking against Russia is extraordinary – unprecedented even, and made possible by digital banking and modern technology. China is surely looking at this weaponisation, looking at Taiwan, and thinking that to protect itself, it needs to de-dollarise as quickly and discreetly as possible. Indeed, we know China has already been doing that.

With so much money frozen abroad, one of the few ways in which Russia can actually fund itself is by selling its gold, probably via Dubai, so that may mean selling pressure. Even so, I think gold rises from here.

Hold gold, bitcoin and gold miners in the Americas

Inflation comes with war; money gets debased, no matter which side you are on. If there is some kind of China-Russia, anti-West alliance, then just as we have retaliated against Russia through Swift and the banking system, that alliance will do the same in reverse. Ergo, it will wage war on the dollar.

Western money is vulnerable. Fiat money has been printed into oblivion, while interest rates have been suppressed. Official inflation is already at 7%, while actual inflation is arguably much higher. Yet the system probably can’t take interest rates much above two or three percent. There is too much debt.

When the price of raw materials – commodities and natural resources – goes up even more because a key supplier, Russia, has been cut off, the pain of inflation is going to get worse. Governments may well attempt to impose price controls, but history shows that any relief that comes from price controls is only temporary. For the most part they don’t work and often just lead to shortages.

I’ve said for many years all China has to do is declare what its gold holdings really are – and you can see last year’s estimates here (I will do an update on this soon) – and that will be tantamount to a declaration of war. My theory, remember, is that China’s gold holdings are as big, if not bigger than those of the US.

I know I have long moaned about gold. It’s the most analogue asset there is in a world where all the value is digital. But I have also said many times that I continue to own it. It may be analogue but it has also been money since forever. It’s the first metal we ever used. 

We used it long before the Bronze Age, when we discovered smelting. Its purpose was the same as it is now – as reward, as display, as store of value, as tool of trade (in this case barter). In other words, as money.

But I have moaned about it because it has been such a perennial disappointment for so long.The currency wars are hotting up. Attacks on national currencies are going to become the norm; the rouble has been bombed already. Don’t think that at some stage the dollar, euro and the pound are not going to come under attack, because they will. Other fiat currencies will get caught in the crossfire.

Gold and bitcoin are the places to hide. On the subject of bitcoin, I see this conflict as an opportunity for it to decouple itself from the Nasdaq. If Swift is out of bounds, and governments in conflict have their tentacles running through the banking system, the use case for bitcoin suddenly got more compelling. What better way to transfer value across borders? You want to own both. And all those gold miners located far away from all of this in the Americas. There’s going to be a lot more demand for their product.

Source: Why all investors need to own gold – and bitcoin | MoneyWeek

More contents:

Could a Stronger Euro Bring Relief To Global Markets

This is generally regarded as the global “risk-free” rate. It’s not too much of an exaggeration to say that every other asset in the world is priced with reference to this slab of US government debt. But a close runner up is the US dollar.

A strong US dollar sucks money out of risk assets

The US dollar is one of the most important prices in the world. It’s the global reserve currency – everyone needs US dollars. As a result, when the price of US dollars goes up, you can view it as monetary policy getting tighter around the world (that’s an oversimplification, but it’s quite a useful one).

This is at least one reason markets have struggled in recent months; the Federal Reserve, America’s central bank, has been ahead of other economies in terms of raising interest rates, while the US economy has also looked relatively resilient. The US dollar is also a “safe haven” asset, which means that it benefits when investors are feeling jittery.

As a result of all this, the dollar has shot up in value against other major currencies. And risk assets don’t like that one tiny bit. As my colleague Dominic pointed out earlier this month, “if the US dollar keeps rising from here, it’s going to hurt”.

The good news is that after a burst higher, the dollar is now a little lower than it was when Dominic wrote that piece. One key reason for that is the European Central Bank (ECB) – we’ll explain why in a minute. First, what’s the ECB done?

Well, yesterday, ECB chief Christine Lagarde came out with a blog post in which she – unusually for a central banker – was really quite clear about what the central bank will be doing over the next couple of quarters.

To summarise, she said that the ECB will stop printing money soon, it will start raising interest rates in July, and by the start of October rates will be back to 0% (ie, out of negative territory).

That’s quite an emphatic change for the ECB. As Marcus Ashworth says on Bloomberg, “I struggle to recall any central banker, certainly not one from the ECB, ever having been this definitive about the monetary policy outlook.”

There are probably two reasons for it. One is that the ECB has been lagging somewhat. Inflation has taken off in the eurozone too, but unlike the US, the economy has looked weaker so it’s been a tougher juggling act. But now it looks as though the hawks (for want of a better word) have won.

The second reason is that the euro was threatening to hit parity with the US dollar. In pure market terms, parity is just another number, no more or less significant than 1.01 or 0.99. But of course, it’s not actually just another number; it’s a big scary round number and one that grabs headlines. It’s probably best avoided if possible.

Part of a central bank’s role is to act as the guardian of the currency. That’s even more important in the eurozone than elsewhere because the euro is young and the lack of full political union between all of its member countries means there are still serious fault lines that could threaten its existence.

This risk has retreated greatly. During the sovereign bond crisis of the 2010s, the ECB, under Mario Draghi, effectively won the right to print money to suppress national bond yields – and thus underwrite the solvency of individual eurozone nations – where necessary.

But it’s better not to get to the point where markets decide to test your resolve on that front.

Why a stronger euro might be good news for markets

So why is this good news from a strong dollar front? Because the euro is the “other” global reserve currency. It’s miles behind the dollar in terms of being stockpiled by central banks around the world, but it is the biggest component in the “DXY” index which measures the dollar’s strength against a basket of rival currencies. It is probably the most widely-watched barometer of dollar strength.

As a result, when the euro bounces against the dollar, DXY tends to fall. And what with this being quite a hawkish turn for the ECB, the euro rallied from falling as low as $1.03-ish last Friday, to heading above $1.07 now.

Meanwhile, on top of that, it helped that one of the monetary policy setters at the Fed – Raphael Bostic, the head of the Federal Reserve bank of Atlanta – said that it might make sense for the Fed to pause for breath in September on interest-rate rises.

That’s hardly a wildly dovish statement (it implies half-point increases in both June and July), but with the market currently sweating that Fed boss Jerome Powell hopes to inherit the mantle of inflation destroyer from Paul Volcker, any sign that the central bank might relent is welcome to investors.

A weaker dollar would be good news for investors, as it implies that the rush for safe havens will ease and investors will start seeking risk again.

That doesn’t mean it’ll happen. However, one feasible scenario in which this might continue is one in which inflation ebbs (even while remaining high) and other central bank policies start to converge with that of the Fed.

That’s certainly possible over the coming months. Does that mean you should be piling in as if everything is back to the tech bubble days? Not at all; the environment has changed and the winners over the next phase will differ from those of the last. But it does imply that the “crash-y” behaviour we’ve seen since the start of this year might be due a breather. Fingers crossed.

By: John Stepek

Source: Could a stronger euro bring relief to global markets? | MoneyWeek

Further reading:

Water Really Can Provide Some Relief From Anxiety and Help Us See The Glass Half Full

Many Australians can feel overwhelmed at some stage of their life with feelings of tension, nervousness and fear for the worst. A staggering 3.2 million Australians have an anxiety-related condition, with the largest increases over recent years witnessed in those between the ages of 15–24 years.

The growing field of nutritional psychiatry focuses on the effects of foods and drinks on our mental health. Despite water constituting 60–80% of the human body, it is often overlooked as a significant nutrient. A recent tweet by federal health authorities suggesting water could help reduce anxiety was received with some online scepticism.

In fact, the evidence shows water and hydration can play a role in preventing and managing the symptoms of anxiety.

A well-oiled machine

We all enjoy the cooling sensation a cold drink of water provides on a sweltering summer day. Our bodies are masterfully programmed to let us know when it’s time to rehydrate. We may be nourishing our brain too.

Several years ago, a group of researchers undertook a review that focused on the various ways hydration impacts health. The results were promising.

Overall, negative emotions such as anger, hostility, confusion and tension as well as fatigue were found to increase with dehydration. One trial induced mild dehydration and found increased reports of tension or anxiety and fatigue in participants.

Researchers have also found people who usually drink lots of water feel less calm, less content, and more tense when their water intake drops. When researchers increased the participants’ water intake, people in the study felt more happiness, no matter how much water they normally drank.

Another large study found people who drink five cups or more of water per day were at lower risk of depression and anxiety. In comparison, drinking less than two cups per day doubles the risk. This link was less noticeable for anxiety alone (although feelings of depression and anxiety often influence each other).

More recently, researchers found water with electrolytes may prevent anxiety more than plain water, but it was noted that the placebo effect may explain this connection as study participants were aware when they were given the electrolyte drink.

The link between dehydration and anxiety is also observed in children, who are a group at risk of dehydration. Dehydration might also affect how well we sleep. Poor sleep can exacerbate feelings of anxiety.

Water on the brain?

Almost every bodily function relies on water. Because 75% of brain tissue is water, dehydration reduces energy production in the brain and can change brain structure, causing the brain to slow down and not function properly.

At the molecular level, if water levels are too low, our brain cells cannot function properly, with the brain showing signs of working harder to complete tasks.

Our cells recognise a state of dehydration as a threat to survival, leading to a state of anxiety. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter (a chemical messenger between brain cells) that stabilises our mood and regulates emotions. During dehydration, we struggle to get the chemicals required to produce serotonin into our brain.

Being just half a litre dehydrated may also increase the stress hormone cortisol, which has been associated with a range of mental disorders, including anxiety.

So, based on what is currently known and emerging evidence, the government health communication provides some good advice. Addressing lifestyle factors including your water intake in the context of your overall diet, physical activity levels, and sleep are important foundations that can support a person’s mental health. And there is evidence to suggest dehydration can affect our mood.

But it’s important to note there are a wide range of factors that affect an individual’s level of anxiety. No single thing is likely to be responsible for completely resolving those feelings. This is particularly true in people experiencing significant anxiety, where simply drinking more water is unlikely to be helpful on its own.

By:

Dr Nikolaj Travica has a Bachelor in Psychology and Psychophysiology and an Honours degree in Science, majoring in Psychology. Nikolaj Completed his PhD at the Centre for Human Psychopharmacology at Swinburne University, which examined the relationship between vitamin C and cognitive function in healthy adults and post-operative patients.

Source: Water really can provide some relief from anxiety and help us see the glass half full

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Critics:

The key to re-balancing a deficit of fluids is to drink eight glasses of fresh water daily. However You have to spread this intake of water throughout the day and not drink it all in one go. Otherwise you don’t give your body a chance to absorb it and the excess will just pass through your body.

Sip your water throughout the day for maximum absorption. When you are aware that dehydration is a factor that contributes to anxiety and nervousness you start to pay much greater attention to how much you are drinking daily. Personally, I have found that not only does regular intake of water ward off any subtle feelings of anxiety, but it is also incredibly useful for building stamina and avoiding fatigue.

Increasing the amount of fresh water you drink to eight glasses a day is a very easy step to incorporate into your daily routine and can have such a huge impact on the speed of your recovery from anxiety. The easiest way to ensure you are getting enough is to make it easy for yourself by having water placed in strategic locations.

That might mean having bottled water in the car , at your desk or any place you spend time Beside the TV or computer) . If you place it in positions that are visible you will be reminded ot drink it. If the water is out of sight it quickly goes out of mind. With all new habits you want to form you have to make it easy for yourself or else you will drop it after a few days. So most of the effort you have to make is just ensuring there is water around you and that the bottles stay full. The drinking part is easy.

More contents:

How to swap meat for nutritious alternatives – and why it’s a good thing to do

The insect brain: we froze ants and beetles to learn how they remember their way home

Hoarding: people with ADHD are more likely to have problems – new research

Transgender youth on puberty blockers and gender-affirming hormones have lower rates of depression and suicidal thoughts, a new study finds

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