Home Depot CEO warns Bankruptcies won’t be like what we’ve seen in past

Revelations 13:16-18 “Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.”

Important Takeaways:

  • Former Home Depot CEO issues grim warning over US bankruptcies: ‘It’s different than anything I’ve seen’
  • Former Home Depot CEO Bob Nardelli issued a grim warning over the U.S.’s “very complex” economy, cautioning consumers that middle market companies are under “tremendous pressure.”
  • “I think we’re going to see a lot of bankruptcies. Like Bed, Bath and Beyond. We got Walmart not only laying people off, but closing stores. We got Accenture laying people off. We got Amazon closing distribution centers. So I think there’s a tremendous-mixed message,” Nardelli said during an appearance on “Cavuto: Coast to Coast.”
  • The former CEO continued, saying that the “complexity” of the U.S. economy is “different than anything I have seen in my 52 years.”

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German tourist industry warns of job losses from tighter pandemic lockdowns

(Reuters) – The German tourist industry has warned of layoffs and bankruptcies if authorities further tighten lockdowns meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus including by enforcing quarantine for those returning from holidays abroad.

National and regional leaders meeting on Monday evening to decide the next round of measures to tackle the coronavirus pandemic are mulling requiring quarantine for all returning travelers, not just those who were in high-risk areas.

“From the point of view of the tourism industry, it is unacceptable and absolutely disproportionate to quarantine, irrespective of the incidence rate at the destination,” said Michael Frenzel, president of the BTW tourism association, adding that travelers already have to test for the virus.

Two other tourism industry associations, DRV and BDL, said that further restricting international travel could cost jobs for the sector’s 2,300 tour operators and 10,000 travel agencies.

State aid has so far only compensated for a fraction of the costs the industry has suffered as a result of the pandemic, they said.

Earlier in March, Germany removed regions in Spain, including the tourist island of Mallorca, and Portugal from its list of coronavirus risk areas. The decision pushed tens of thousands of Germans to plan last-minute Easter getaways to Spain’s Balearic islands.

Germany is set to extend a lockdown into its fifth month through April 18, according to a draft proposal, as infection rates exceeded the level at which authorities say hospitals will be overstretched.

(Reporting by Klaus Lauer; writing by Bartosz Dabrowski in Gdansk; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

Texas utility sues power grid ERCOT over ‘excessive’ cold snap charges

By Gary McWilliams

(Reuters) – The largest city-owned utility in Texas on Friday sued the state’s grid operator alleging it levied “excessive” power prices during a February deep freeze, and seeking to bar the grid from issuing a default that could affect its credit rating.

High prices for emergency fuel and power during a severe cold spell left Texas utilities facing about $47 billion in one-time costs. Those costs have led to two bankruptcies and knocked two other electric providers off the state’s power grid because of payment defaults.

San Antonio’s municipal utility, CPS Energy, faces about $1 billion in extraordinary charges for natural gas and electricity during a five day deep freeze last month. CPS Energy has about 820,000 electricity customers.

“We are fighting to protect our customers from the financial impacts of the systemic failure of the state’s grid operator,” said Paula Gold-Williams, chief executive of the city-owned utility.

The lawsuit, filed in a Bexar County court, alleges grid operator Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) mismanaged the cold weather crisis, and overcharged for power. It asked the court to prevent ERCOT from declaring it in default and to prevent ERCOT from charging CPS Energy for other grid defaults.

An ERCOT spokeswoman did not immediately reply to a request for comment. Nearly $3.1 billion in power charges to grid users have not been paid so far, ERCOT said on Thursday.

ERCOT officials hiked power prices by about 400 times the usual rate to $9,000 per megawatt for five days last month in a vain effort to bring in more power. State officials this week called on ERCOT and the utility regulator to cut those charges for high-price power for the 32-hour period after the grid emergency passed.

CPS Energy’s lawsuit called ERCOT’s handling of the crisis “one of the largest illegal wealth transfers in the history of Texas.” It brought the complaint “to protect its customers from excessive and illegitimate power and natural gas costs,” according to the lawsuit.

Credit rating firms have warned CPS and other Texas municipal and rural cooperative power provider could have their ratings lowered. The state’s largest and old cooperative, Brazos Electric Power Cooperative Inc, filed for bankruptcy earlier this month owing $1.8 billion to ERCOT.

(Reporting by Gary McWilliams; Editing by Marguerita Choy)