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    Daily Digest 1/8 – New Study Shows How Much Asymptomatic People Spread COVID-19, Deutsche Bank Will Pay $125 Million Over Bribery Violations

    by Daily Digest

    Friday, January 8, 2021, 2:14 PM

Economy

New Study Shows How Much Asymptomatic People Spread COVID-19

Since the coronavirus pandemic began, scientists and public health experts have been puzzled by the role of asymptomatic spread. How many people have COVID-19, but no (or virtually no) symptoms? And to what extent do those silent carriers contribute to the spread of the virus?

Early estimates ran the gamut, but researchers are now settling on a much clearer number.

For nearly seven years it seemed like a good way to drum up business for Deutsche Bank: pay millions of dollars to consultants in countries like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Italy and China.

But federal authorities in the United States said those payments — often listed as “referral fees” in the bank’s records — were actually bribes to politically connected fixers that gave the scandal-marred German bank access to foreign officials. And on Friday, Deutsche Bank agreed to pay more than $125 million to resolve criminal and civil investigations into those and other practices.

Bitcoin Breaks Records, and the Exchanges Where It’s Traded

Bitcoin’s historic rally is causing growing pains for the platforms where it’s traded, leaving investors unable to buy or sell the digital currency for hours at a time.

As Bitcoin surpassed $40,000 for the first time on Thursday, the most widely used cryptocurrency platform was buckling under pressure. Coinbase said it’s investigating connectivity issues on both its web and mobile apps.

Some Americans learn they won’t get a stimulus payment until they file their 2020 taxes

As the U.S. Treasury rushes to distribute second stimulus payments, many Americans learned this week that they will not receive the $600 until they file their 2020 tax return, a delay threatening additional hardship.

The Treasury has paid out about 68 percent of the payments so far, with millions of Americans receiving their $600 via direct deposit or a check in the mail. Yet, some Americans are still waiting to receive their money, and others will not receive any money until they file their 2020 tax return.

US hit as jobs fall for first time since April

The US economy lost jobs last month for the first time since April as rising coronavirus cases took a toll.  Employers shed 140,000 positions, leaving the jobless rate unchanged at 6.7%.

Restaurants and bars led the payroll declines, as new restrictions in some places and cold weather sapped enthusiasm for outdoor dining.

Energy

In 2020, U.S. natural gas prices were the lowest in decades

In 2020, natural gas spot prices at the national benchmark Henry Hub in Louisiana averaged $2.05 per million British thermal units (MMBtu), the lowest annual average price in decades. Prices started the year relatively low because mild winter weather led to less natural gas demand for space heating. Prices remained low as economic effects induced by the COVID-19 pandemic reduced both natural gas production and consumption.

Boston zoning change would require net-zero emissions from new buildings

The city of Boston is laying plans to require newly constructed large buildings to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, a move supporters hope will help make carbon-neutral design more approachable and mainstream.

“There are going to be folks that find this incredibly challenging — there are a lot of industry norms that are being questioned and challenged,” said John Dalzell, senior architect for sustainable development at the Boston Planning and Development Agency. “But I’m pleased to see some of these old norms starting to fall away.”

Gold & Silver

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