Call for display suite lockdown tweak

Melbourne’s stage four lockdown cost the city about 1100 new home sales worth about $869m to the state’s economy in August.

Property Council of Australia modelling has estimated similar figures, enough to protect 11,200 industry jobs, could be returned to the state’s economy in the next month if the government opened display suites for COVIDSafe private appointments.

The figures are based on CoreLogic data which tracked a 40 per cent decline in new home sales in August this year compared to 2019, falling from 3647 to 2186.

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In regional Victoria, which dodged the harsh stage four restrictions Melbourne has, there was a more modest 9.5 per cent decline from 913 to 826.

The difference between a 40 per cent decline and a 9.5 per cent decline in Melbourne works out to about 1100 homes and shows what might happen if display suites were open for COVIDSafe private appointments in the city, as they are in regional Victoria.

Property Council Victorian executive director Cressida Wall said Melbourne’s average $272,000 new home build cost was a huge multiplier for the economy, with Australian Bureau of Statistics figures showing every $1m spent on construction leads to $2.866m in economic activity.

Across 1100 new homes, this level of economic activity supported about 11,200 jobs and $869m of economic activity, Ms Wall said.

“That includes spend for metal products, cement and timber,” she said.

It also shows how much benefit reopening display suites could have in a short time period, with the vast majority of new home purchases being considered at the moment being put on hold until buyers can do so.

“Bringing forward the reopening of Melbourne’s real estate market is a practical step that will

create jobs, drive investment and get Victoria’s economy moving again,” Ms Wall said.

“Every lease and contract of sale signed creates demand and commercial activity, as well as

generating investment in new projects.

“Reopening display suites and the real estate market safely is a huge opportunity for Melbourne’s economic recovery.”

MORE: Mortgage holidays: Banks to scrutinise borrowers seeking deferral extension

Melbourne suburbs where house prices really do double in 10 years

Live City Melbourne: Up to $90K off apartments as land steals demand

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Tweak Your Carb Timing to Optimize Your Health and Physique

Even the most casual bodybuilder knows a little something about “protein timing” — but if you’re in need of a quick refresher, it refers to the distribution of protein throughout the day, and before/after training sessions, for optimal muscle protein synthesis. There are different studies and philosophies on how this should be accomplished, depending on your overall goals, and if you train regularly then you probably have a system down pat already.

But are you paying attention to “carb timing?” If you’re not, you might be putting yourself at a disadvantage when it comes to your health and physique. You’re also probably not alone, according to Gabrielle Lyon, D.O., a functional medicine physician specializing in muscle-centric medicine.

“​The research for carbs and high-intensity exercise is very clear,” Lyon says. “The research about meal distribution for metabolic flexibility and body composition is not as well-established and definitely not widely-recognized.”

So why should you pay attention to how you distribute carbs throughout the day? It primarily has to deal with “metabolic flexibility,” or your body’s ability to adapt to different metabolic demands (aka the stress you put on it through eating and training).

We know that the consumption of any carbohydrates requires an insulin response so that our cells can absorb the sugars from the macronutrient for energy. Eat too many carbs, though, and your body might not be able to keep up.

“Research studies have shown that the body can use (burn) and store up to about 40 grams of carbs after a meal,” Lyon says. “Any meal that exceeds 30-40 g of carbs requires large insulin response that shuts down fat metabolism. This limits the body’s ability to burn fats, increases fluctuations in blood glucose and increases hunger.”

For the average person focused on keeping body fat to a minimum, Lyon recommends keeping carbs lower at the beginning of the day and higher at the end of it.

“The research has shown the first meal, breakfast, that limit carbs and increase protein maximizes metabolic flexibility for use of fatty acid fuels,” she says. “Carbs consumed at the last meal, dinner, have the least impact on metabolism and appetite.”

Of course, the strategy wouldn’t be the same for people who spend hours in the weight room and need plenty of energy for their training sessions. “Athletes focused on high-intensity performance may want more carbs earlier in the day,” Lyon says.

Keep in mind, that’s only for people who do intense training sessions — i.e. powerlifters or professional CrossFitters. “For routine training, normal meals are usually sufficient,” Lyon says.

But no matter what skill level you’re at, be sure your pre-workout carbs don’t involve foods high on the glycemic index (or foods that create a large spike in blood sugar), Lyon says.

Most people know that carb replenishment after a training session is vital to replace glycogen that’s been burned by the body. But Lyon says most gym-goers don’t have to stress too much about it. “For routine training, normal meals are usually sufficient,” she says.

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Whatever happened to Ottawa’s planned tweak to the mortgage stress test?

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While that change may be in limbo, the Canadian housing market is picking up steam after a slow period during the earlier days of the pandemic.

Five of Canada’s Big Six banks have also lowered their “posted” five-year fixed mortgage rates to 4.79 per cent as of Tuesday afternoon, according to Given the Bank of Canada’s benchmark is the mode — or most frequently used — of those six rates, the floor is likely to fall to 4.79 per cent from 4.94 per cent on Wednesday, when the central bank is due to update the figure.

Bank towers in Toronto’s financial district. Peter J. Thompson/National Post files

If the stress test’s floor was set the way the government had proposed, as of Monday it would be around 4.09 per cent, according to Dan Eisner, CEO of Calgary-headquartered brokerage True North Mortgage Inc.

“It was initially thought using bank posted rates would be a close approximation of market rates in general,” Eisner wrote in an email. “However, this has proven not to be the case.”

But for now, with people and businesses still recovering from the pandemic’s effects, and with hundreds of thousands of borrowers having deferred mortgage payments because of COVID-19, Ottawa has decided against adding fuel to the housing market. 

“If they did make go ahead with that change today, it would be a pretty big adjustment,” said James Laird, co-founder of and president of CanWise Financial mortgage brokerage. “And that might be why they’re hesitating, to be honest with you. They might not like the magnitude of the drop in the stress test because of the historically low rates.”

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Argentina says it will not raise ‘last’ debt offer, willing to tweak legal terms

FILE PHOTO: A pedestrian wearing a protective face mask, as a preventive measure against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), walks past posters on the street that read “No to the payment of the debt. Break with the IMF”, in Buenos Aires, Argentina May 27, 2020. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian/File Photo

July 25, 2020

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentina’s government reaffirmed on Saturday that it would not budge from its latest proposal to restructure around the $65 billion in debt, but signaled it would be willing to negotiate on the fine print around the deal.

The South American country is facing a standoff with bondholders after creditor groups joined forces to reject the government’s proposal earlier in July and put forward one of their own.

The government has repeatedly said it cannot offer more, though sources told Reuters this week it would be willing to negotiate key contractual terms.

“Argentina wishes to and will contribute to the development of contractual instruments that enhance the success of sovereign restructuring initiatives when they enjoy meaningful creditor support,” the Economy Ministry said in a statement. 

The ministry said the bondholder group’s counterproposal called for “yet more generous financial terms for the creditors compared to Argentina’s current offer,” while requesting that Argentina cover fees and expenses of the creditors’ advisors.

“Those aspects of the counterproposal that seek to impose additional burdens on an economy that is choking in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis … cannot be accommodated,” the ministry said in the statement.

Analysts say a gap of about 3 cents on the dollar between the sides at the negotiating table should be bridged in last-ditch talks ahead of a current Aug. 4 deadline for a deal to avoid a messy legal standoff.

Creditors’ legal demands include that amendments be made to the 2016 indenture for new debt issued in exchange for ‘Macri’ bonds, to prevent the government from using ‘Pac-Man’ style measures to make future changes to any agreement.

Argentina has been in default since May, the country’s ninth, and is headed for 10-12% economic contraction this year due to the impact of COVID-19, deepening a recession that began in 2018.

(Reporting by Eliana Raszewski and Jorge Iorio; Writing by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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Matt Toomua says scrums too slow, Super time needs try tweak

“Scrum without a boot. It really bugs me. You watch rugby league, and I know it’s not as technical and the front rows are different, but if you’re forced to pack the scrum and you can’t make it in time and a free kick is given against you, I guaranteed you’ll make the scrum.”

Toomua said ‘cuffo’ – referring to a sore rotator cuff joint in the shoulder – and ‘diesel’ were also used a lot and had to go for the sake of fans.

“It’s usually a ‘diesel’ call to your big boys, a fly-half will go up to a prop and give the call and he’ll fall over and say he’s injured,” he revealed.

“Or a ‘cuffo’, you complain that your rotator cuff is sore and a touchie comes in and tests your shoulder and you get some ice on it.

“I’ve done it many times, I’ve played for the Brumbies and Leicester Tigers, it’s a big part of our tactical approach in both teams. When we played two nights ago we were waiting for a second rower to ties his shoelaces. That part of the game needs a lot of work.”

Toomua stressed he did not want to compromise player safety, but allow fatigue to take its toll so games open up at the back end.

“Like you see in rugby league, a lot of guys out on their feet. You can manage stoppages in play too easily at the moment [in rugby],” he said.

“I don’t want scrums to be set super quick and impact safety, guys need to have their footing. But there’ll be a lot less people faking injury if they’re forced to pack a seven-man scrum and get turned over.

Toomua raised the issue in a note he sent to his fellow law variation group members not long after Friday’s anti-climactic draw between the Rebels and Reds at Brookvale Oval.

Tied at 18-18 after a dour 80 minutes, the game was enlivened by the first use of ‘Super time’ since the competition started. But fans’ intrigue soon turned to disenchantment after two consecutive five-minute periods failed to elicit a score, as kickers from both sides booted it back and forth. Reds fullback Bryce Hegarty missed a long-range penalty goal.

Toomua said penalty goals should be eradicated and Super time won by the first team to score a try.

“It was a case of no one wanting to lose,” Toomua said, conceding the Rebels’ weaker scrum made them extra conservative.


“Because it was too wet for us, if we knocked the ball on they’d get a scrum and probably get a penalty, so we wanted to pressure them with our kicking game.

“If a draw is like kissing your sister, then a draw after extra time is like giving her a French kiss. It’s much worse.”

Rugby Australia is unlikely to review the law variations after just one instance of Super time, as they would need to clear any further revisions with World Rugby. A review would take place after the competition finishes, a spokesman said.

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Nepal eyes citizenship law tweak; ‘roti-beti’ ties with India at stake | India News

KATHMANDU: A key parliamentary panel in Nepal has proposed to amend the country’s Citizenship Act that would require a foreign woman married to a Nepali national to wait seven years for naturalised citizenship.
Nepal’s main opposition parties decried the move, saying it would inconvenience people living in Madhes as cross-border marriage is prevalent there.
Both Nepali Congress (NC) and Janata Samajbadi Party (SJP) have said that such a provision could also affect the ‘bread and bride relations’ that Nepal has had with India for ages.
The Madheshi are residents of Terai region in the south of Nepal at the foothill of the Himalayas on the border with India in Bihar.
The bill to amend the existing Citizenship Act was registered at the Parliament on Sunday. It includes seven rights that a foreign woman married to a Nepali national can exercise till she acquires citizenship certificates.
Lack of a citizenship certificate will not bar them from running any businesses and earn, use and sell any fixed and movable assets, make profits through businesses and get involved in transaction of property of any kind.
The move to amend the citizenship act comes days after the Nepal government completed the process of redrawing the country’s political map through a Constitutional amendment, incorporating three strategically important Indian areas, a move that could severely jolt relations with New Delhi.

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How to tweak JobKeeper, if we must

JobKeeper was always quick and dirty. Its design was far from perfect, with shortcomings I and others cautioned against.

These were forgiven in the face of an impending calamity, but the health interventions have worked so well the generosity of the economic interventions is being reconsidered.

In light of a report the treasury is reevaluating the design of JobKeeper, it’s worth setting out where the scheme falls short and how it could be tweaked.

The fixed per-worker subsidy was a bad idea

The big flaw in JobKeeper is that it is paid as a fixed amount per worker, regardless of the hours worked or wage earned.

The COVID-19 economic crisis stems from businesses losing money and laying off workers due to a lack of customers – either voluntarily or by government fiat.

The ideal response would be to replace that lost revenue on the condition that businesses maintain their workers’ hours and wages.

Read more: That estimate of 6.6 million Australians on JobKeeper, it tells us how it can be improved

With that condition, there would be no need to tie the amount of the subsidy to the number of workers on the payroll.

Doing so will save some firms and their workers’ jobs. But those with low margins and large fixed costs such as rent will be undercompensated, and others will be overcompensated.

Forcing firms to pay the entire subsidy to their workers (even where it means giving them a pay rise) limits their ability to use it to offset other costs. And it leads to all sorts of inequities among workers.

If the scheme must be tied to payroll, there are far better ways.

It could instead cover a portion of total payroll up to a ceiling with some additional support for non-payroll costs, of the kind offered in the United States and other countries.

To ensure no business got too much, the entire payment could be capped so the business made no more under JobKeeper than it did before the crisis.

Pay it up front and tax it back later if need be

Most businesses are eligible for JobKeeper if they expect turnover to fall by at least 30% in the coming quarter (or month if turnover is more than $20 million).

If things go better than expected and they end up not needing that much JobKeeper, they get to keep what’s been paid to them for the entire quarter, as long as their expectation was genuine.

As the advice from the Tax Office puts it:

But reasonable expectations are hard to police.

A better approach would be to pay businesses up front some proportion of total payroll for the same time period in the previous year.

Then, after the fact, what they are eligible for could be calculated based on actual payroll.

Any difference could be reconciled through the ordinary tax return process. Anything overpaid could be taxed back and any extra due could be paid out.

This would be simpler, clearer and better targeted, and solve the cash-flow problems businesses are complaining about.

Six months won’t be long enough for some

The scheme is set to end after six months on September 27 regardless of economic conditions.

Some businesses in some sectors are already back at work and others will come back soon. But some, such as those affected by the international travel ban, will be out of action until next year.

For those businesses that recover quickly, the turnover test will cut off support automatically. But for some others, the maximum six-month time frame will be too short.

A better approach would be to tie the duration to objective benchmarks tailored to particular sectors (such as the end of the international travel ban, for instance).

Extend it to workers who have missed out

Short-term casuals, most temporary visa holders, workers at certain foreign-controlled businesses, and employees at most universities were left out despite many of them working in the hardest-hit industries.

The reported underspend on JobKeeper makes these omissions all the more puzzling.

Read more: Why temporary migrants need JobKeeper

There was never a good reason – morally or economically – to exclude these people, and the budgetary constraint has turned out not to be an issue.

If changes to JobKeeper are to be made, they should be offered it immediately.

The Treasurer could fix all this, but he should wait

The JobKeeper legislation is merely a shell, with the detail stipulated in regulations imposed at the behest of the Treasurer.

This gives him discretion to make whatever changes he sees fit.

But whether he should make changes is a tough call.

There are clear flaws in the current system, and for many businesses it could be wound up earlier as the outlook has changed somewhat for the better.

Read more: JobKeeper is quick, dirty and effective: there was no time to make it perfect

But the government made a clear commitment to these millions of businesses and workers to maintain a certain level of support for the full six months.

The last thing anyone needs right now, when the confidence of consumers and businesses is more critical than ever, is to have the government pull out the rug it extended.

While there’s a lot the treasurer could do, there’s also a good case for leaving things for now.

Author: Steven Hamilton – Visiting Fellow, Tax and Transfer Policy Institute, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University

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