PayPal launches its own stablecoin

PayPal now offers PayPal-USD, a brand-new cryptocurrency.

The online payments firm launched its stablecoin backed by the dollar on Monday, making it the first significant U.S. financial institution to do so.

Stablecoins are typically backed by a physical asset, such as commodities like gold or fiat currencies like the U.S. dollar, which helps the stablecoin maintain a relatively consistent price. This is in contrast to other cryptocurrencies, which derive their value based on how much crypto traders are willing to pay for them at the moment.

Short-term U.S. Treasury bonds, deposits in U.S. dollars, and other cash equivalents fully back PayPal USD. Additionally, one PayPal USD can be exchanged for one U.S. dollar and vice versa, thanks to the stablecoin’s 1:1 conversion rate.

PYUSD is a cryptocurrency that is issued by Paxos Trust business. This financial technology business specializes in blockchain and provides crypto brokerage services, and it is based on the Ethereum blockchain. Notably, in February, the New York State Department of Financial Services ordered Paxos to halt issuing BUSD, Binance’s stablecoin tied to the dollar.

Using cryptocurrency is not new to PayPal. The business started enabling customers to transfer, transmit, and receive a number of well-known digital tokens, including Bitcoin and ether, last year.

Beginning on Monday and during the following weeks, PayPal users who purchase PayPal USD will be able to convert any of the accepted cryptocurrencies of PayPal, send it to compatible external crypto wallets, send peer-to-peer payments, pay for purchases, and more.

Why PayPal USD stablecoin move makes sense

It may align with PayPal’s primary business strategy more than people originally believed to issue a stablecoin.

PayPal’s primary source of income is the fee it levies on retailers in exchange for processing customer payments. The company, however, would only be able to levy those fees if the same clients and merchants started conducting their business using cryptocurrency on the Ethereum blockchain.

What crypto investors need to know about stablecoins

According to Malekan, using stablecoins is no different than purchasing a gift card financially. Stablecoins can be bought with dollars and then used to buy other cryptocurrencies or to make other online purchases.

Stablecoins are only sometimes a guaranteed thing, despite their name.

Following the demise of the terraUSD (UST) stablecoin in May of last year, investors suffered losses in the tens of billions of dollars. But unlike PayPal’s stablecoin, UST’s peg to the dollar was maintained by algorithms rather than cash reserves.

Read Also: The San Francisco Hotel and Hospitality Sector will Soar in 2023 

Malekan advises anyone interested in using stablecoins only to purchase them from reputable, licensed issuers

According to Decrypt, several phony crypto tokens with the name PYUSD have already appeared on Uniswap, a decentralized exchange, in a bid to capitalize on the excitement around PayPal’s new stablecoin.

The platform claims that the only way to purchase its stablecoin is directly from the business. It has not stated that it intends to make it accessible on independent cryptocurrency exchanges. Malekan advises caution when it comes to the amount of money you invest in cryptocurrency, as with everything else. Use only the amount of money that you wouldn’t mind losing if something went wrong.

With PayPal’s USD, you can send money quickly to friends and family, send remittances, and make international payments. It also makes it possible for you to send money directly to developers and other creators, which encourages the biggest brands in the world to keep investing in digital assets. The majority of stablecoin usage at the moment is in web3-specific environments; it will be immediately interoperable with that ecosystem and will shortly be accessible on Venmo.

Reference: PayPal unveils cryptocurrency pegged to U.S. dollar

Coronation Stone: an emblem of prestigious crown

Charles III will be crowned with Coronation Stone of Scone on May 6, 2023, an ancient emblem of Scottish sovereignty whose history is fraught with dispute and mystery.

Westminster Abbey is one of the world’s most iconic religious structures and a popular tourist destination in London. It was erected in 1040 by Edward the Confessor and has hosted royal coronations since 1066. Visitors will have strolled by the graves and memorials of great artists and writers, including Geoffrey Chaucer, Shakespeare, Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling, and the Brontë sisters, if they saw the late Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral.

And this year, as Britain’s current king, Charles III, is crowned, people are paying particular attention to the Coronation Chair, on which English monarchs have been crowned since 1308.

Despite its age, the chair is merely part of the story of the coronation. A wooden platform lies beneath the bench and a few initials carved by mischievous Westminster School students. This was built in 1296 by King Edward I to contain the Coronation Stone, a precious rock with enigmatic origins that he brought from Scotland.

The platform is now empty, but before Charles III is crowned king of England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland on May 6, the stone will be carried from Edinburgh Castle (where it is held alongside the Scottish Crown Jewels) to the Abbey.

The Coronation Stone, sometimes referred to as the Stone of Scone or the Stone of Destiny, is an old emblem of Scottish sovereignty that has links to Ireland and Spain, was captured by the English, and is even mentioned in biblical mythology.

Despite its long (and contentious) history, it is a very commonplace rock: a rectangular piece of pinkish sandstone the size of a small suitcase weighing roughly 152kg. It is merely decorated with a roughly carved cross. Iron rings are attached at each end. When were they attached, and were they there to make the stone easier to move or chain it in place? That is only one of the numerous mysteries surrounding the stone.

According to folklore, it was the same stone used as a pillow in Bethel by the biblical character Jacob (the father of the Jews) when he dreamed of a ladder stretching to heaven. It is supposed that one of Jacob’s sons took it to Egypt, from where it traveled to Spain and later to Ireland, when the Spanish king’s son, Simon Brech, attacked the island in 700 BCE.

It was termed the Lia Fail, or “speaking stone,” because it was put on the sacred Hill of Tara near Skryne in County Meath and was reported to groan aloud if the claimant was of royal ancestry but remained silent if he was a pretender.

Ulster Scots historian, writer, and broadcaster Dr. David Hume observed, “There are several Lia Fail in ancient Irish history.” For example, “In 496 CE, King Fergus Mór mac Eirc of Dalriada, a realm that spanned the Irish Sea and embraced parts of Western Scotland, had possession of a stone.”

According to Hume, Fergus brought the Lia Fail stone from Ireland to Scotland in 498 CE when he relocated his royal residence to Dunnadd in Argyll. Yet, it needs to be clarified how much of the story is accurate. The main evidence is found in the Scottish Declaration of Arbroath in 1320 CE, which cites an “honor” flowing via the Mediterranean Sea and arriving from Israel in an appeal to the Pope to recognize Scotland’s independence.

Whatever the reality, we know that the stone was brought to Scone Abbey in Perthshire after Kenneth I, the first King of Scotland, relocated his capital from Western Scotland to Scone in around 840 CE. For centuries, the “Stone of Destiny” was utilized in the coronation rites of Scottish rulers.

However, following his victory at the Battle of Dunbar in 1296, England’s King Edward I marched north, seized the stone from Scone Abbey, and had it fitted into the base of a specially crafted wooden Coronation Chair, on which English monarchs have been crowned ever since inside London’s Westminster Abbey.

Coronation stone; a contestable history.

According to legend, the monks at Scone Palace hid the natural stone in the River Tay and duped the English troops into taking a substitute. Furthermore, geologists have established that the stone seized by Edward I was quarried near Scone rather than in biblical Judea. An older stone was used to crown the kings of Ireland, and it was probably taken to Antrim from Tara and then to Scotland by King Fergus, but it was eventually replaced by the current stone, which was quarried near Scone.

However, no one has ever discovered the hidden stone, and even though Scotland was not yet a member of the United Kingdom, the stone that Edward took symbolically granted the future English ruler power over Scotland. As a result, the current stone’s physical portrayal of the seat of monarchy has become a target for political activists over the years.

Suffragettes detonated a bomb under a chair in 1914. However, concerns about German bombing led to the stone being covertly buried beneath Westminster Abbey during WWII, while the Coronation Chair was relocated to Gloucester Cathedral until the war ended.

Read Also: The Covenant: Hollywood is afraid of Afghanistan

But, not long after they were recovered, on Christmas Eve 1950, a gang of Scottish Nationalist students burst into the Abbey. They took the stone, which had broken during the operation (due to damage inflicted by the suffragette bomb), and buried it until it could be repaired. Four months later, it was put on the high altar of the wrecked Arbroath Abbey, a monastery long connected with Scottish independence.

While the stone was returned to Westminster, the students were acquitted, and calls for Scottish independence continued to increase. Finally, in 1996, then-British Prime Minister John Major attempted to quell these concerns with an unusual public relations maneuver, saying that the stone would be restored to Scotland on the condition that it be returned to Westminster for future coronations.

Reference: The disputed history of the Coronation Stone

The Covenant: Hollywood is afraid of Afghanistan

A lot of gunfire and explosions in Guy Ritchie’s terrifying action movie The Covenant give you the impression that you’re in danger. Additionally, like so many war films, it has a flimsy plot about courageous choices. Jake Gyllenhaal portrays John Kinley, a soldier in the US Army stationed in Afghanistan in 2018. His life is saved by Ahmed (Dar Salim), his Afghan interpreter. After Kinley returns home and learns that the Taliban are after Ahmed and his family for supporting the Americans, he makes the decision to return to Afghanistan in an effort to save him on his own, a heroic deed usually seen in movies. Just one more business endeavor so far.

The movie’s little but present real-world resonance, however, refers to a growing trend in filmmaking for works that focus on the 20-year-long US war in Afghanistan, which ended in 2021 with the withdrawal of their forces. Apocalypse Now (1979) and The Deer Hunter (1978) are excellent films that emerged shortly after the US withdrew from Vietnam. While filmmakers are now setting their stories in Afghanistan, The Covenant and other hesitant responses imply that it might take much longer to depict that conflict on screen adequately. The US is too politically divided for movies to risk offending half the audience, and Hollywood is more cautious than ever.

Although the war in Afghanistan is now the longest in US history, the public rarely thinks about it first. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the US military invaded Afghanistan to stop potential strikes by terrorists headquartered there. However, the war was swiftly eclipsed by other international crises, first in Iraq and, most recently, in Ukraine. But now is a perfect time for the Covenant. Before the US army pullout and the tumultuous evacuation as tens of thousands of Afghans jammed Kabul Airport in an attempt to flee, the Biden administration published a report two weeks ago. Within weeks of US and UK soldiers leaving, the Taliban seized power, limiting human rights, particularly for women, and sparking a global refugee crisis due to Afghans.

Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant fits into that context. Still, it is not the first or only Hollywood portrayal of the conflict, specifically the relationship between US soldiers and their Afghan guides. That is the film’s full, awkward title, which at least sets it apart from several other movies called The Covenant. In reality, a new one will open the next month: In the action film Kandahar, starring Gerard Butler, a CIA agent and his interpreter are trapped in a hazardous area of Afghanistan. It was released in the US on May 26.

There have also been earlier ineffective attempts. A light buddy comedy on the CBS network, The United States of Al (2021–2022), centers on an Afghan guide who lives in the US with the Marine he helped and Marine’s family. The 2016 comedy-infused drama Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, in which Tina Fey plays a journalist in Kabul, was so culturally insensitive to appoint Christopher Abbott, an American, as her interpreter from the Afghan language. Despite its overblown premise and one-dimensional characters, the Covenant captures more reality than that.

What inspired the Covenant

Although The Covenant has an explosive surface, it is also grounded in verifiable truths and beliefs. For example, in the text near the film’s conclusion, it is said that 300 Afghans have died, and thousands more are hiding from the Taliban due to their cooperation with the US. The sentence “rings true,” according to Annie Pforzheimer, a former US diplomat who served as Deputy Chief of Mission in Kabul in 2017–18.

Additionally, Pforzheimer has witnessed a strong bond between Kinley and Ahmed that echoes their relationship. She adds that movies like The Covenant “reflect the real feeling of [their] helplessness and a little bit of wish fulfillment” for the soldiers and diplomats who worked closely with Afghan translators, police, military, and politicians for 20 years.

With its focus on how the US Visas promised to Ahmed and his family are entangled in so much bureaucracy that the Taliban would probably find him before he could leave the country, The Covenant also has an unexpected critical edge. Putting politics and flowery language aside, his annoyance reflects the reality that veterans’ organizations and other non-profits are raising awareness of a backlog of Special Immigration Visas to the US, the kind that Afghan guides were promised.

Documentaries may afford to be more scathing in their critique of the US strategy in Afghanistan because they have smaller budgets and fewer commercial expectations. Just before the US withdrawal, a camera team was embedded with US Special Forces, sometimes called Green Berets. It captures the relationship between US soldiers and their Afghan counterparts in Matthew Heineman’s Retrograde, a finalist for the best documentary Oscar.

Keeping politics out of it

However, most movies about the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are adamantly apolitical, praising the soldiers’ bravery to avoid more serious issues regarding the divisive wars themselves. For example, in Jarhead (2005), another Gyllenhaal picture set in the early 1990s during the Gulf War, a Marine casually deflects any questions concerning that battle by pleading with his buddies to disregard “politics, all right? We’re here, and “all the rest” doesn’t matter, he continued.

Similar things happen in the movie The Outpost (2020), which is about a significant battle in Afghanistan. A soldier remarks, “Freedom ain’t free,” the only obliquely political statement made in the movie, which focuses on the soldiers’ courage and the atrocities of the violence.

Read Also: Michelle Yeoh will star in the new Star Trek film  

Even the top Hollywood combat films adopt a Western worldview. Afghanistan-themed movies do exist, but they are frequently disregarded. Hava, Maryam, Ayesha is a 2019 feature film by Sahraa Karimi that had its Venice Film Festival premiere. It is a carefully observed, humorous, sobering tale about three pregnant Afghan women from various social backgrounds. Karimi, one of the most well-known filmmakers now working in Afghanistan, hastily left Kabul in 2021 when the Taliban gained power and resides in New York. She considers herself to be an exile. She intends to produce Flight from Kabul, a movie based on her escape.

Reference: ‘The Covenant’ Review


Home sales record 28% drop in the Orlando area

New numbers from the Orlando Regional Realtor Association show that from February to March, house sales in Central Florida climbed by 31.1%. Home sales increased by 696 from the 2,240 sales recorded in February 2023 to 2,936 in March. However, compared to March 2022, when 4,100 homes were sold, total sales in 2023 were down 28.4%.

In March, there were 5,052 houses available, down from 5,555 home sales in February, according to ORRA. Inventory (5,052) in March 2023 was 103.9% higher than it was in March 2022 (2,478 properties).

New listings increased by 22.1% from February to March, with 3,442 new properties on the market in March, up from 2,820 in February. However, pending home sales remained stable, at 4,184 in February and 4,220 in March, with 28 distressed homes (bank-owned properties and short sales) accounting for 1.0% of all home sales in March. This is a 27.3% increase from February when 22 distressed properties were sold.

The March median home sales price was $365,000, up from $358,000 in February. The median home price has risen for the second month in a row.

In March, homes stayed on the market for an average of 57 days, down from 62 days in February. However, this is 111.1% greater than the March 2022 average of 27 days on the market.

ORRA also notes that the March interest rate was 6.7%, up from 6.4% in February. This is the fourth month in a row that interest rates have risen.Spring has arrived in the Central Florida real estate market. “March data show increases in new listings, home prices, and overall home sales, as well as a reduction in inventory as buyer activity increased significantly,” stated Lisa Hill, President of the Orlando Regional Realtor Association. “The good news for buyers is that they now have a plethora of additional options to choose from.” In March, there were twice as many properties on the market as this time last year, and the median property price was only marginally higher.”

As home sales decline real estate agents are under pressure

As the pandemic’s homebuying fervor fades into memory, the slowdown in home sales has prompted real-estate brokers to evaluate whether the dwindling profits are worth the thousands of dollars and many hours they’re pouring into their firms. The difficulties are greatest for newer agents who are still building their networks, face tremendous competition from their seasoned competitors, and have yet to weathered a downturn like this one.

The spring homebuying season, when home sales normally increase and continue to rise through the prime summer months, will be a critical litmus test for agents of all levels of expertise. A rising tide does not raise all boats; the industry is waiting to see who is in it for the long haul.

The ranks of real-estate agents fluctuate in response to the property market’s ups and downs. Consider the tumultuous 2008 cycle: NAR gained about 100,000 members in 2006 alone, reaching a peak of approximately 1.4 million. However, after the boom burst in early 2012, membership had dropped to 964,000. And, just as the number of Realtors increased during the epidemic boom, the subsequent slowdown has already resulted in a 74,000 member drop in the five months after the October peak. It’s too early to tell if this is a seasonal drop, which happens every winter, or a harbinger of a long-term decline.

Even before mortgage rates began to rise last year, the frantic market offered difficulties for agents. A decade of underbuilding forced first-time homeowners to compete against investors and older, wealthier repeat buyers, making it more difficult for realtors to assist their clients in obtaining the homes of their dreams. Desperate buyers may make up to 30 offers and spend many hours squeezing through open houses before finally winning out.

Nonetheless, those were prosperous days for agents. According to the NAR, the average agent had 12 transactions in 2021, up from 10 in 2020, and their median sales volume grew to $2.6 million, a year-over-year rise of nearly 24%. In addition, agents with 16 years of experience or more saw their median gross income increase to $85,000 in 2020, up from $75,000 in 2020.

Read Also: Home prices sees biggest drop in a decade

All of that changed in late spring 2022 when the Federal Reserve began hiking interest rates to reduce inflation. This resulted in higher mortgage rates, bleak economic forecasts, and a scarcity of listings, which has frightened both buyers and sellers in the year since. Fannie Mae’s Home Purchase Sentiment Index examines how people feel about home prices, mortgage rates, job stability, and, most significantly, whether it’s a good time to purchase or sell a property. The index, which goes from 0 to 100, was 61.3 in March, close to its all-time low established in October and down from a COVID-era peak of more than 80 in the summer of 2021.

Reference: Real-estate agents are about to get slammed, big-time

After a week, Jamie Foxx remains hospitalized

According to a person close to the issue, actor Jamie Foxx is still in the hospital in Georgia, over a week after his daughter reported he had a “medical setback.”

Corinne Foxx, his daughter, revealed last week on Instagram that something happened to her father’s health on Tuesday, but she did not elaborate. In her message, she also stated that her father is “on his way to recovery” as a result of “rapid action and amazing care.”

On Friday, CNN said that Foxx was getting checked out by doctors in the hospital.

Foxx and Cameron Diaz have been in Atlanta making the Netflix movie “Back in Action.” The source had told CNN before that the medical problem did not happen on set and that Foxx was not taken to the hospital in an ambulance.

CNN heard on Friday from a source close to the movie’s production that filming is “currently going on” and should be done this week.

This source didn’t say if Foxx still had scenes to film or when he would return to the set.

Jamie Foxx is on his way to full recovery

TMZ said that Jamie Foxx was rushed to the hospital. Corinne, the actor’s oldest daughter, said that her dad had a “medical complication” but is “recovering” now.

A person close to the actor told People magazine that Foxx has improved. TMZ said that Jamie is doing better and has even been joking with his family.

Jamie, 55, was rushed to the emergency ward on Tuesday morning, and sources with “direct knowledge” of the situation told TMZ that his condition was “serious enough.”

Still, no one knows what caused Foxx’s health scare.

“He’s talking to people now, which is good news,” one of the media sources said. The 29-year-old shared a “from the Foxx family” message on social media Wednesday night.

Jamie Foxx is still in the hospital after having a health scare last week.

The singer and actor, who is 55 years old, is still getting checked out in a Georgia hospital to find out what caused his “medical complication” last week.

Foxx’s daughter Corinne Foxx told the press last Wednesday that the Oscar winner had a health scare while in Atlanta the day before.

She wrote on behalf of the actor’s family, “We wanted to let you know that my father, Jamie Foxx, had a medical problem yesterday.” “Thanks to quick help and good care, he is already on the way to getting better.”

Foxx, Cameron Diaz, and Glenn Close were in Atlanta making the Netflix movie Back in Action. People say that what happened to him did not occur on set and that he was not taken to the hospital by an emergency vehicle.

The statement starts with, “We wanted to let you know that my father, Jamie Foxx, had a medical problem.” “Thanks to fast action and good care, he is now on the way to getting better.”

“We know how much he is loved, and he appreciates your prayers,” the family’s message says. During this time, his family asks that his privacy be respected.”

Corinne is the actor’s daughter of his ex-wife Connie Kline. His 14-year-old daughter Anelise Bishop is his daughter with his ex-wife Kristin Grannis.

Jamie’s health problems come just a few weeks after the actor who played Django in “Django Unchained” went back to work on the set of “Back in Action” after having a “nervous breakdown.”

Late last month, he and Cameron Diaz were seen filming scenes in the snowy English countryside.

What did happen to Jamie Foxx’s health?

Fans are worried about Jamie Foxx’s health after he had a scare with his health. Corrine Foxx, the actor’s daughter, said last week that her father had a “medical complication” that needed treatment. This led people on the internet to think that he had had a stroke or an aneurysm.

But since then, someone close to the family has told Media Take Out that Jamie’s condition isn’t as bad as first thought.

Read Also: How much users spend on streaming services

The insider said that Foxx had a brain bleed, which was found when he went to the doctor for headaches. However, the source said doctors think the bleeding is minor and that Foxx should get better soon.

What’s next for Jamie Foxx?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have listed five common reasons why people have brain bleeds. These include head injuries, high blood pressure, amyloid angiography, aneurysms, and problems with blood vessels. Even though it’s unclear what caused Foxx’s brain to bleed, a source said it probably has nothing to do with these five things.

Foxx is a well-known actor, singer, and comedian who is 55 years old. He has won many awards, including an Academy Award and a Golden Globe. Even though he had a health scare recently, he has kept working on projects like “They Cloned Tyrone” on Netflix and “The Fortress,” an action thriller.


Jamie Foxx still in hospital a week after admission

Home prices sees biggest drop in 10 years

Home prices have fallen yet again at the end of last month.

Due to rising mortgage rates and a dearth of fresh listings, sales of already-constructed homes fell 2.4% in the United States in March.

In March, the number of previously owned homes sold in the United States fell to 4.44 million annually, according to the National Association of Realtors.

If purchases occurred every month at the same rate as they did in March, that number of properties would be sold in a year. The numbers are subject to seasonal variations.

Using the months-supply measure, the number of homes for sale in March was the same as the month before: 2.6 months. Before the plague, people usually had enough supplies for four or five months.

In March, homes were on the market for an average of 29 days. In February, they were on the market for 34 days.

Most places saw a drop in sales of already-built homes, but the Midwest saw the most significant drop. The Northeast was the only place where sales stayed the same.

About 27% of all sales were made with cash, and about 28% of homes were sold to first-time buyers. Individual owners or people who bought a second home made up 17%.

Buyers are keeping an eye on mortgage rates, and because there aren’t many homes on the market, they’re being careful and stepping back when the market doesn’t go their way.

This week, rates went up, meaning potential borrowers will have to pay hundreds of dollars more. This is making fewer people want to get a mortgage. The drop is likely a sign that home sales will get worse.

A low number of new listings is another problem for people who want to buy a home. People are looking for new homes, of which there are more and more. Because of this, builders are getting more of the market.

“It’s a unique housing market,” said Lawrence Yun, head economist at the National Association of Realtors.

Yun said that even though home prices and sales have gone down, multiple offers are back, especially for starter houses. The number of new ads is 17% less than it was a year ago.

So, he said, it’s hard to tell if the market is hot or cold.

“There are reasons to remain pessimistic about the outlook for the housing sector,” Thomas Simons, a U.S. economist at Jefferies, wrote in a note. “Prices and interest rates still make it hard to buy, credit standards are getting tighter, and the supply on the market is still very low.”

Home prices: The market keeps shrinking

Another bad thing for sellers is that fewer people put their homes on the market for sale for the 39th straight week, which ended on April 1.

“There aren’t as many new homes for sale as there used to be,” Speianu explains why home sales are still at historically low levels.

Even though the number of real estate listings is 53% higher than it was a year ago, many of these homes have already been picked and passed over. On average, items stayed on the market 18 days longer than they did at this time last year. This is a sign that buyers prefer to choose from something other than what they have to choose from. In fact, homes have been sitting empty for 35 weeks in a row longer.

But this slow pace might pick up if more people who want to buy a home go to open houses as the weather gets warmer and mortgage rates go down.

Speianu says, “It’s likely that the amount of time a home is on the market will keep going down this spring as we get closer to mid-April, which is always the best time to sell a home.” “However, sellers must change their pricing and expectations to fit the current market.”

“Buyer demand tends to be sensitive to changes in mortgage rates,” says Hannah Jones, an economist and research expert at “When mortgage rates go down, buyer demand goes up.” “The recent drop in mortgage rates should have a similar effect on the housing market.”

Read Also: Mortgage application activity drops by 8.8%

On the other hand, Jones says, “Despite these increases in demand, the housing market is still too expensive for many people who want to buy.”


Reference: U.S. Existing-Home Prices Fall Nearly 1% in March, the Biggest Drop in a Decade

Mortgage application activity drops by 8%

Fewer people attempted to obtain mortgages last week, according to new information from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA).

When the data was adjusted for the season, the trade group’s Market Composite Index, which tracks the volume of mortgage loan applications, decreased from the previous week by 8.8%, and when the data wasn’t adjusted, it decreased by 8%.

The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased by 9%, while the seasonally adjusted index decreased by 10% from the prior week. Additionally, the unadjusted index was 36% lower than the same week in 2016.

The Refinance Index fell by 6% from the previous week and by 56% from the same week one year prior. However, from 27% the week before to 27.6% this week, refinancing-related mortgage applications increased in percentage.

In federal programs, the FHA’s share of all applications went up from 12.3% to 12.7%, the VA’s share went down from 12.8% to 11.7%, and the USDA’s share of all applications stayed the same at 0.5%.

“Last week’s rise in mortgage rates caused a drop in applications,” said Joel Kan, Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist at the MBA. “Because more first-time homebuyers are on the market, rate changes are still being felt more. In addition, the 30-year fixed rate went up 13 basis points to 6.43 percent, which made fewer people want to buy.

Kan said, “Affordability problems still exist, and there aren’t many homes for sale in many markets across the country, so buyers are still being careful about when they buy.” The 10% drop in FHA purchase applications and the rise in the average size of a purchase loan to its highest level in a month are also signs that first-time buyers have pulled back. Last week, the difference between the jumbo and conforming 30-year fixed rates grew by 15 basis points. However, this was a much smaller difference than in the past year. We expect this trend to continue as long as banks are less willing to hold jumbo loans.”

10% fewer people want to get a mortgage

Today’s homebuyers are paying an increasing amount of attention to the weekly adjustments in mortgage rates. Despite a decline in housing prices, many people still cannot afford them, especially as more first-time buyers enter the market.

Last week, the contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances of $726,200 or less went up from 6.30% to 6.43%. The number of points for loans with a 20% down payment also went up, from 0.55 to 0.63 (including the origination fee).

The seasonally adjusted index from the Mortgage Bankers Association shows that this is why mortgage applications to buy a home dropped 10% from the week before. Moreover, the number of buyers was 36% less than in the same week last year, when the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 5.20 percent.

But buyers with more money may need help getting credit as well. Banks used to offer better rates on jumbo loans than on conforming loans, but the difference between them is much smaller now than last year. But, again, this concerns the recent failures of some regional banks, which have sent shockwaves through the industry.

The number of applications to refinance a home loan fell 6% from the week before and 56% from a year ago. However, 27.6% of all mortgage applications were for refinancing this week, up from 27.0% the week before.

Another rate survey from Mortgage News Daily shows that mortgage rates went up a lot to start the week. Still, rates have been going back and forth between 6% and 7% for a while. Potential buyers may have gotten used to higher rates by now, but home prices haven’t gone down enough to make homes affordable again.

What is keeping potential buyers away?

Many people thought there would be a credit crunch because of high interest rates and bank failures, but a recent report said that wasn’t the case.

A recent First American report says that the tightening of credit after these bank failures have been small and nowhere near as bad as it was at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lenders tend to tighten their requirements when there is a higher chance of forbearance or delinquency.

First American Chief Economist Mark Fleming said that the mortgage credit tightening caused by bank failures has been better because banks usually don’t keep these loans on their balance sheets. As a result, lenders don’t have to pay for standard mortgage loans out of their deposits or worry about credit risks.

Read Also: Housing approval: SF’s Mayor wants more speed

But lending rules have become stricter for mortgages on banks’ balance sheets, such as non-conforming and jumbo loans.

Reference: MBA: Mortgage Application Activity Down 8.8%


How much users spend on streaming services

With the best streaming services, you can watch all the great shows and movies that aren’t on cable (on services that seek to replace cable). And after The Last of Us, the first significant new show of the year premiered on our favorite channel (HBO Max), the giant followed it up with season 4 of the already great Succession. The good news is… The coming merger between HBO Max and Discovery Plus won’t cost us a dime (at first).

Meanwhile, Netflix is starting 2023 by making it harder for people to share passwords. This is the company’s latest attempt to make more money while risking making customers angry. Unfortunately, we’re still waiting for it to go from Canada to the U.S.

We also like Apple T.V. Plus, which has greatly improved over the past few years by adding great shows like “Shrunken” and “Black Bird.” On the other hand, the price hike for Apple T.V. made it $2 more per month, and some Sling Blue customers got a higher bill and one more (very big) channel.

But these services are only half of what streaming is all about. Smart T.V.s and the best streaming devices, like Rokus and Chromecasts, are taking the place of cable boxes as they slowly die out.

How  much does streaming services cost?

According to Deloitte’s latest Digital Media Trends survey, “subscription fatigue” is getting worse among consumers, making it harder for direct-to-streaming video providers to keep customers.

According to Deloitte’s 17th annual Digital Media Trends report, as competition for streaming video keeps getting tougher, subscription growth rates have slowed, and churn rates have gone up. A survey by Deloitte found that, on average, people in the U.S. pay $48 per month for subscription video services. In addition, about half of the people surveyed agreed that they “pay too much” for SVOD services, and about a third said they plan to cut down on the number of subscriptions they have for entertainment.

In Deloitte’s Digital Media Trends survey, people were asked for the first time to put a dollar amount on how much they spend on subscription videos. Kevin Westcott, Deloitte’s U.S. technology, media, and telecom leader, says that the number of SVOD services per U.S. household has stayed around four for the last few years. However, the inflation rate has been higher than the rate of price increases in the sector.

Westcott said that when the price of gas, food, and housing goes up, people rethink their extra spending.

About half of the people surveyed (47%) said that their current financial situation has caused them to make at least one change to their entertainment subscriptions, such as canceling a paid service to save money, switching to a free version of a service with ads, or bundling services together.

According to the study done in the fall of 2022, the average number of people who stopped paying for subscription video-on-demand services over a six-month period was about 44%. This is the number of people who said they had stopped paying for an SVOD service in the previous six months. That’s a lot higher than the U.S. churn rate of 37% over six months that Deloitte reported in 2022. In the most recent study, the six-month churn rates for Gen Z and millennials go up to 57% and 62%, respectively.

Westcott said that subscription video services need to adopt and speed up new strategies to reduce churn. For example, original T.V. shows and movies are great at getting new customers but could be better at keeping them. “The race to keep adding customers by commissioning and buying really expensive content won’t work on its own,” he said. Westcott said that instead, SVOD services should put their money into making their content more varied. For example, they could add short-form videos, music, and games made by users. Netflix has already started working on a plan to add games to its main subscription service.

According to the 2023 Digital Media Trends survey by Deloitte, millennials are most likely to have changed their digital media subscriptions because of the economy. In fact, millennials spend an average of $54 per month on paid streaming video services, which is more than any other generation. In addition, a study by Deloitte found that almost 45% of millennials have “churned and returned” to a paid SVOD service. This means they canceled and renewed a paid subscription within six months.

Some other results

More than half of the people surveyed (54%) said they often watch a T.V. show or movie on a streaming video service after hearing about it on social media. In addition, almost three-quarters of Gen Z and millennials said they do the same thing.

At least 32% of the people surveyed said that they think online experiences can “meaningfully replace” in-person ones. This goes up to 50% for Gen Z and millennials.

Read Also: Why people like getting entertained at home

About 40% of the people who answered the survey agreed that it’s hard to tell when user-made videos are “sponsored” or contain an ad. However, nearly half of the consumers (46%) say they are more likely to trust a brand if a product from that brand has been reviewed by an online creator they trust.



Americans Spend $48 per Month on Video Streaming Services — and Half of Those Surveyed Say That’s Too Much

Why people like getting entertained at home

According to new data, consumers ate out less in March to save money and instead entertained at home. This meant that sales of home items and furnishings increased dramatically.

According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), the phenomenon of consumers entertaining themselves at home helped raise retail sales by 5.1% last month compared to the previous year.

It comes at a time when the cost of living remains high, putting further strain on families.

Inflation, or the rate at which prices rise, increased by 10.4% in the year leading up to February.

The BRC says that sales in March were “brightened up” by Mother’s Day, when people bought jewelry, flowers, and perfumes.

But the rainiest March in over 40 years kept people from buying clothes, gardening supplies, and do-it-yourself items.

But, according to the BRC and the accounting firm KPMG, home accessories and furniture sales went up the most during the month. This was the most growth of any category.

Paul Martin, in charge of retail in the UK for KPMG, said people entertained at home to save money. He also said that the trend would continue in April because council tax, cell phone, and utility bills were increasing, and personal tax allowances remained the same.

“Consumers will have to spend less on things they don’t have to,” he said. “Consumers will continue to change where they shop, what they buy, and how much they spend on fewer items to save money where they can.”

Does getting entertained at home actually work/

Barclays released a report on Tuesday showing people ate out less in March. However, as people spend more time or entertained at home, they spend more money on streaming services.

The bank said consumer card spending rose by 4% in March compared to last year’s.

Since October last year, digital content and subscription spending has grown the most as more people entertained at home. New seasons of TV shows like Succession and Ted Lasso were a big reason for this.

IGD, a retail research company, said that grocery stores would look for other ways to keep customers happy as food prices kept going up.

“They try to give customers a good deal by offering loyalty programs, good private label products, and meal solutions that let people re-create restaurant experiences at home,” said boss Susan Barrett.

Even though there are problems, the BRC said that consumer confidence was “edging up” and that big events like the coronation of the King in May would likely help retailers.

But boss Helen Dickinson warned that businesses still face “extensive” cost pressures, such as rising wholesale prices and wages.

“If these future costs aren’t brought down, high inflation will likely keep going for UK consumers, who are already seeing their bills go up as of this month,” she said.

The Bank of England thinks inflation will go down later this year when food and energy prices go down. However, after an unexpected jump in the UK inflation rate in February, Bank governor Andrew Bailey has warned businesses not to raise prices too quickly.

What the experts said

Even as people entertained at home, the number of people shopping on the first day of the Easter holiday weekend “exceeded all expectations,” but it is still lower than before the pandemic.

Analysts at MRI Springboard said more people were on the high street on Good Friday than the week before or the same time last year.

People also went to retail parks and shopping centers more.

At more people entertained at home due to COVID, overall visitors fell by 11% from 2019 to 2020.

MRI Springboard said the results were “a continuation of strong activity” from earlier in the week when people used the time off from school before Easter to shop.

Diane Wehrle, who is in charge of insights at MRI Springboard, said that while people went to retail parks all day, they went to high streets and shopping centers “later in the day.”

Overall, 18.6% more people went to UK destinations this week than last. Compared to 2022, this was a 3.6% increase.

Since 2019, the number of people shopping on high streets has dropped by 14.5%, more than retail parks and shopping centers.

The biggest increase from one week to the next was 55.1% in shops in coastal towns, where people went because the weather was nice. But compared to market towns and old towns, the number of people in the coastal area is still lower than last year and before the pandemic.

Even though the gap between foot traffic before and after the pandemic is getting smaller, partly due to more people choosing to be entertained at home, shoppers still have difficulty making ends meet because energy bills and grocery prices have gone up a lot.

Read Also: Tupperware could soon become history

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said the recent number recovery has slowed because inflation is close to a 40-year high, and consumers and businesses are facing a “challenging economic environment.”

The BRC also said that people are shopping more on weekends now that more people are going back to work during the week. However, even as more peopl entertained at home, the number of people shopping on weekends is still lower than before the pandemic, and a recent rise in numbers has slowed.

Elizabeth Holmes to go to jail at the end of April

The founder of Theranos, Elizabeth Holmes, will have to go to jail at the end of the month. She failed in her attempt to stay out of jail while she fought her convictions in court.

Elizabeth Holmes was imprisoned for more than 11 years because she lied to people who wanted to invest in her blood testing business.

On Monday, a federal judge said that Holmes’s case would be thrown out if she couldn’t show that she had followed the right steps to appeal.

On April 27, she will go to prison.

Holmes said she would ask “substantive questions” that could lead to a new trial. However, her lawyers also said that she should be free to care for her two young children.

But in his ruling on Monday, US District Judge Edward Davila said that Elizabeth Holmes hadn’t shown that her appeal would lead to a new trial.

“Contrary to what she said, Ms. Holmes lied to Theranos investors about more than whether the technology worked as promised,” he said.

During Holmes’ trial, the prosecutors said she was a flight risk because she had bought a one-way plane ticket to Mexico.

Homes’ lawyers said she and her boyfriend, Billy Evans, were going to a wedding and hoped she would be found not guilty.

In his decision, Judge Davila said that buying the ticket was “not a good idea,” but he also said it was not an attempt to run away.

“It’s brave for a criminal defendant to book international travel plans in hopes of a complete defense win, and it’s dangerously careless for them not to cancel those plans right away after a guilty verdict,” he said.

Elizabeth Holmes was called “the next Steve Jobs” and the youngest self-made billionaire in the world.

She dropped out of Stanford University to start Theranos. In 2018, it was found that the company’s technology didn’t work, and the company went out of business. With just a few drops of blood, the device for testing blood was said to be able to do a lot of different tests.

A TV show, an HBO documentary, and a podcast all told how the company went bankrupt.

In January of last year, Holmes was found guilty of four counts of fraud. She told the court at the time that she felt “deep pain” for the people who fell for the scam.

She is likely to try again to stay free during the appeals process, which could take at least a year and will happen in a court in San Francisco where she wants her conviction overturned.

The BBC has asked Holmes’s attorneys what they think.

Sunny Balwani used to work with Holmes, and he was given a prison sentence of almost 13 years.

Prosecutors accused Elizabeth Holmes of trying to leave the US

Prosecutors say that Elizabeth Holmes, who started Theranos, tried to leave the US soon after she was found guilty of fraud last year.

A new court document says that the 38-year-old bought a one-way ticket to Mexico in January of this year.

Prosecutors said, “The trip was canceled only after the government found out about this illegal flight.”

Elizabeth Holmes was found to have lied to investors in her blood-testing business, which was once worth $9 billion (£7.5 billion).

The former star of Silicon Valley said that the technology could tell what was wrong with just a few drops of blood. But, unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. But it didn’t work, and in 2018, after being sued several times, the company went out of business.

The court document also said that Holmes’s partner had bought a one-way ticket to Mexico.

Holmes was found guilty of swindling investors in early January 2022, and he got more than 11 years in prison in November. She was told to go to prison on April 27 of this year when she was sentenced.

Even though she was found guilty, she quickly filed an appeal. Now, she wants a judge to let her stay out of jail past April while her appeal is heard in federal court. It might take a whole year to do that.

Her lawyers also said Holmes would raise “substantial questions” that could lead to a new trial.

In California, according to the most recent court filing, Holmes has been paying $13,000 (£10,500) a month to live on an estate while her appeal is being heard.

Elizabeth Holmes started Theranos when she was 19, right after she quit Stanford University. So when executives said it could change how diseases are diagnosed, the company’s value went through the roof.

Several popular podcasts and TV shows, like The Dropout on Hulu, which starred Amanda Seyfried as Elizabeth Holmes, told the story of Holmes’s rise and fall.

Read Also: Elizabeth Holmes accused of trying to flee the country

Sunny Balwani, who used to run Theranos and was Holmes’ business partner, got almost 13 years in prison in December.

Elizabeth Holmes has apologized for her business “failures” and said she has “felt deep pain for what people went through because I failed them.”