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NEWS: VSBLTY Groupe Technologies Announces Closing of Second Tranche of Brokered Private Placement Led by Echelon Wealth Partners

Further to its new releases on February 20, 2020 and February 26, 2020, VSBLTY Groupe Technologies Corp. (the “Company” or “VSBLTY”) (CSE:VSBY))  (Frankfurt: 5VS) (OTC: VSBGF) is pleased to announce that it has closed the second tranche of its private placement (the “Offering”) of $1,000 principal amount 10% convertible unsecured debentures (the “Debentures”) for gross proceeds of $230,000, of which $200,000 was raised from the brokered portion of the Offering (the “Brokered Offering”) and $30,000 was raised from the non-brokered portion of the Offering (the “Non-Brokered Offering”). Echelon Wealth Partners Inc. (the “Agent”) acted as lead agent and sole bookrunner for the Brokered Offering.

To date, the Company has raised $1,860,380 pursuant to the Offering.

The Debentures will bear interest from April 9, 2020 (the “Closing Date”) at a rate of 10% per annum on an accrual basis, calculated and payable semi-annually, and will mature on April 9, 2022 (the “Maturity Date”).

The principal amount of the Debentures may be converted, in whole or in part, at any time before the Maturity Date, into units of the Company (each, a “Unit”) at $0.30 per Unit, if converted at any time prior to or on the date that is one year from the Closing Date, or otherwise convertible at $0.60 per Unit if converted after one year from the Closing Date but before the Maturity Date.

Each Unit consists of one common share in the capital of the Company (a “Share”) and one Share purchase warrant (each, a “Warrant”). Each Warrant will be exercisable into one Share (each a, “Warrant Share”) at a price of $0.60 per Warrant Share for a period of 24 months from the Closing Date, subject to acceleration. The Company may exercise its warrant acceleration right, if on any ten consecutive trading days, beginning on the date that is four months and one day following the Closing Date, the closing price of the Shares on the CSE is greater than $1.00 per Share. If the Company exercises its warrant acceleration right, the new expiry date of the Warrants will be the 30th day following the notice of such exercise.

In connection with the second closing, the Company paid a cash commission to the Agent of $16,000, a finance fee of 20,000 Shares and issued 53,333 non-transferable broker warrants (the “Broker Warrants”). Each Broker Warrant entitles the Agent to purchase one Share at the price of $0.30 per Share for a period of 24 months from the Closing Date. To date, the Company has paid total cash commissions to the Agent of $85,600, finance fees of 107,000 Shares and issued 285,333 Broker Warrants pursuant to the Offering. Each Broker Warrant entitles the Agent to purchase one Share at the price of $0.30 per Share for a period of 24 months from the Closing Date.

The net proceeds from the Offering will be used for acquisitions and general and corporate working capital purposes.

The securities issued in the Brokered Offering and Non-Brokered Offering are subject to a statutory four month and one day hold period, which expires on August 10, 2020.

Full release

Nearly a third of Americans didn’t pay rent this month, new data shows

With nearly 10 million Americans filing for unemployment in March, April 1 was always going to be a difficult day for US renters.

Now we know just how difficult: Nearly a third of American renters didn’t pay their rent this month.

That’s according to data from the National Multifamily Housing Council, a trade association for the apartment industry.

Of more than 13 million units in the US that the report covered, 69% of renters paid their rent between April 1 and 5. During the same period in April 2019, 82% of households paid their rent on time, the report said.

And just last month, 81% of renters paid rent by March 5.

It’s evidence of just how the coronavirus pandemic is devastating the US job market, and as a result, Americans’ financial health.

The federal government’s $2 trillion stimulus bill will pad some Americans’ falls: Renters in federally subsidized affordable housing can receive aid, including a 120-day moratorium on evictions and late fees.

But most rental properties are owned by private landlords and therefore aren’t eligible, though some multifamily landlords with federally backed mortgages may receive a forbearance on their payments as long as they don’t evict their tenants.

Ahead of the steep uptick in unemployment claims, at least half of states and dozens of cities temporarily halted evictions in March, but rent was still due. And while missing a payment may not immediately result in eviction, continuing to skip them would.

There are other avenues for aid, though. Solomon Greene, a senior fellow in housing policy at the Urban Institute, suggested that tenants alert their landlords to their inability to pay and seek out aid from nonprofits, or use their stimulus check included in the $2 trillion bill to cover some of their expenses.

And in other cases, strangers are footing bills. A CNN viewer surprised a guest on Erin Burnett OutFront by paying her rent. The guest, like millions of other service industry workers, had lost her job.

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The Fed just unleashed another $2.3 trillion to support the economy

The Federal Reserve is continuing its extraordinary efforts to prop up the US economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The central bank announced a new $2.3 trillion round of loans that include even more support for small businesses and consumers — and, for the first time, for states, cities and municipalities, too.

The Fed said Thursday that it is creating a Municipal Liquidity Facility with up to $500 billion in loans and $35 billion in credit protection in order to “help state and local governments manage cash flow stresses caused by the coronavirus pandemic.”

Through this lending program, the Fed said it will buy short-term debt from states and Washington D.C., counties with at least 2 million people and cities with a population of 1 million and above.

“The Fed’s role is to provide as much relief and stability as we can during this period of constrained economic activity, and our actions today will help ensure that the eventual recovery is as vigorous as possible,” said Fed chair Jerome Powell in a statement.

The Fed also said Thursday that it will supply financing to banks taking part in the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program.

Additionally, the central bank said it was boosting its Main Street Lending Program for small businesses with an additional $600 billion in loans as well as $75 billion in funding from the Treasury Department via the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) fiscal stimulus.

And the Fed is also expanding three other loan facilities it had already set up for consumers and businesses with $850 billion more in credit backed by $85 billion in credit protection from the Treasury Department.

The Fed is hoping that these moves, coupled with numerous other lending programs and the cutting of interest rates to zero, will be able to support the US economy at a time when job losses are mounting and many businesses are being forced to close their doors.

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IMF chief says pandemic will unleash worst recession since Great Depression

The pandemic sweeping the world will turn global economic growth “sharply negative” in 2020, triggering the worst fallout since the 1930s Great Depression, with only a partial recovery seen in 2021, the head of the International Monetary Fund said.

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva painted a far bleaker picture of the social and economic impact of the new coronavirus than even a few weeks ago, noting governments had already undertaken fiscal stimulus measures of $8 trillion, but more would likely be needed.

She said the crisis would hit emerging markets and developing countries hardest of all, which would then need hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign aid.

“Just three months ago, we expected positive per capita income growth in over 160 of our member countries in 2020,” she said on Thursday in remarks prepared for delivery ahead of next week’s IMF and World Bank Spring Meetings.

“Today, that number has been turned on its head: we now project that over 170 countries will experience negative per capita income growth this year.”

If the pandemic faded in the second half of the year, the IMF expected a partial recovery in 2021, Georgieva said, but she warned the situation could also get worse.

“I stress there is tremendous uncertainty about the outlook: it could get worse depending on many variable factors, including the duration of the pandemic,” she said.

The IMF, which has 189 member countries, will release its detailed World Economic Outlook forecasts on Tuesday.

The novel coronavirus that emerged in China in December has raced around the globe, infecting 1.41 million people and killing 83,400, according to a Reuters tally.

Georgieva said the pandemic was hitting both rich and poor countries, but many in Africa, Asia and Latin America were at higher risk because they had weaker health systems. They were also unable to implement social distancing in their densely populated cities and poverty-stricken slums.

She said investors had already removed some $100 billion in capital from those economies, more than three times the outflow seen during the same period of the global financial crisis.

With commodity prices down sharply, emerging market and developing countries would need trillions of dollars to fight the pandemic and rescue their economies, she said.

“They urgently need help,” she said, estimating hundreds of billions of dollars would have to be pumped in from outside sources since those governments could only cover a portion of the costs on their own, and many already had high debts.

Georgieva said it was encouraging that all governments had sprung into action, enacting some $8 trillion in fiscal measures and massive monetary measures.

To ensure a future recovery, Georgieva called for continued efforts to contain the virus and support health systems, while averting export controls that could slow the flow of vital medical equipment and food.

“The actions we take now will determine the speed and strength of our recovery,” she said.

It was critical to provide affected people and companies with “large, timely and targeted” measures such as wage subsidies, extended unemployment benefits and adjusted loan terms, while reducing stress to the financial system.

Coordinated fiscal stimulus was critical, and monetary policy should remain accommodative, where inflation remained low.

“Those with greater resources and policy space will need to do more; others, with limited resources will need more support,” she said.

The IMF was created for times like these, and stood ready to deploy its $1 trillion in lending capacity, Georgieva said.

The Fund’s executive board had approved doubling its emergency funding to $100 billion to meet the requests of over 90 countries, and staff were racing to process those requests.

The IMF was also looking at ways to provide additional liquidity support, including through creation of a new short-term liquidity line, and solutions that would allow lending even to countries whose debt was unsustainable, she said.

The IMF was also looking to increase its Catastrophe Relief and Containment Fund, which provides grants for the poorest countries to cover IMF debt service payments, to $1.4 billion from around $200 million, she said.

To further aid the poorest economies, the Fund and the World Bank were urging creditors such as China and other countries to temporarily stop collecting debt payments on their bilateral loans.

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Fed will keep rates near zero until economy has ‘weathered’ coronavirus impact, minutes show

Federal Reserve policymakers at their March 15 meeting indicated that not only did they consider it important to use all their rate power now, but also that they intend to keep rates anchored at the bottom for the foreseeable future, according to minutes released Wednesday.

The minutes reflected central bankers concerned about the impact the coronavirus was having on the economy.

“All participants viewed the near-term U.S. economic outlook as having deteriorated sharply in recent weeks and as having become profoundly uncertain,” the minutes said.

The meeting, held remotely on a Sunday afternoon, resulted in the committee taking down its policy rate to where it was during the financial crisis. All but one member voted in favor, with Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester offering dissent.

“In their discussion of monetary policy for this meeting, members noted that the coronavirus outbreak had harmed communities and disrupted economic activity in many countries, including the United States, and that global financial conditions had also been significantly affected,” the minutes said.

“Members judged that the effects of the coronavirus would weigh on economic activity in the near term and would pose risks to the economic outlook. In light of these developments, almost all members agreed to lower the target range for the federal funds rate to 0 to 1/4 percent,” the summary continued.

The decision also included a nod to the “forward guidance” the Fed uses to indicate the future path of policy. Market participants had been looking for whether the meeting summary would show an intent to keep the fed funds rate at its lowest level.

“With regard to monetary policy beyond this meeting, these participants judged that it would be appropriate to maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to ¼ percent until policymakers were confident that the economy had weathered recent events and was on track to achieve the Committee’s maximum employment and price stability goals,” the minutes said.

‘Whatever it takes’ approach

Mester said in a statement after the meeting that she voted no because she wanted to give the Fed more flexibility with policy. The central bank already had approved an emergency 50 basis point cut two weeks prior to the meeting.

The minutes indicated that Mester wanted a 50 basis point cut rather than the 75-point reduction approved. She felt that “further cuts in the target range … could be implemented when market conditions had improved enough to ensure that the monetary policy transmission mechanism was functioning,” the minutes said.

The release also included a summary of deliberations from an unscheduled May 3 meeting at which the Federal Reserve’s policymaking group announced a 0.5 percentage point rate cut.

In total, the minutes point to a Fed taking a “do whatever it takes” approach to monetary policy, said Bob Miller, head of Americas fundamental fixed income for asset management giant BlackRock. 

“We expect the FOMC will do what is necessary to maintain accommodative financial conditions for the balance of this year.” Miller said. “This includes the purchase of U.S. Treasuries in the amounts needed to prevent any meaningful backup in yields from the coming Treasury issuance.”

Indeed, along with zero interest policy the Fed has expanded its asset purchases from an original target of $700 billion to an unspecified level so long as they’re needed to keep markets functioning and economy afloat. Miller said he expects the Fed balance sheet, currently just shy of $6 trillion, to expand to $10 trillion or more.

Though the market has come to view the asset purchases akin to financial crisis-era quantitative easing, Fed officials stressed during the meeting that their role was to support market functioning.

Policymakers did, though, express concern about the economy’s future trajectory. 

“Participants noted that the timing of the resumption of growth in the U.S. economy depended on the containment measures put in place, as well as the success of those measures, and on the responses of other policies, including fiscal policy,” the minutes said.

The Fed has instituted a series of other programs since the meeting aimed at getting money to businesses and individuals. It also is expected soon to announce more details for a Main Street lending program to medium-sized firms.

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