John Collier Japanese restaurant, Monday after Pearl Harbor, San Francisco Dec 8 1941
And so we boldly go.. To infinity and beyond.
Federal Reserve officials dismissed recent turmoil in global financial markets, and focused instead on “solid” employment gains that will keep them on a path toward an interest-rate increase next year. A majority of U.S. policy makers at their meeting yesterday also set aside concerns, both among their own members and in financial markets, about too-low inflation, voting to proceed with plans to end their third round of asset purchases. “The FOMC is making a pretty bold call here,” said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. in New York. “The economy’s momentum is strong enough to push through the headwinds of slower world growth.”
While bond and commodities markets have signaled concern about a global slowdown since Fed officials last met Sept. 16-17, U.S. central bankers decided to go with the facts in hand, said Paul Mortimer-Lee, chief economist for North America at BNP Paribas in New York. “They have concentrated on what they are sure of: the labor side of the economy is improving,” Mortimer-Lee said. On inflation, the message was, “We are going to take our time and look.” The Federal Open Market Committee maintained its commitment to keep interest rates low for a “considerable time.” The committee cited “solid job gains and a lower unemployment rate” since its last gathering in September. It said “underutilization of labor resources is gradually diminishing,” modifying earlier language that referred to “significant underutilization.”
It’s 2008. Your name is Ben Bernanke, the world’s most powerful central banker. The world’s financial system is going through its own version of the China Syndrome. Do you: a) do nothing and trust the self-correcting properties of capitalism; b) cut interest rates as far and as fast as you can in the hope that cheap money will avert catastrophe; or c) go for broke by trying something different? Bernanke, an expert on the 1930s, chose c). He embraced the idea of quantitative easing, which involves increasing the money supply in order to stimulate economic activity. The Bank of England quickly followed suit. Neither Bernanke nor Mervyn King wanted to be known as the central banker who failed to prevent a deep recession becoming a second Great Depression. The decision by Bernanke’s successor, Janet Yellen, to call time on QE is an appropriate juncture to ask some fundamental questions.
Has QE worked? Does it mean the end of economic stimulus? Who really gained from the policy? Were there any better alternatives? The answer to the first question is that QE has worked, up to a point. Sure, this has been a tepid recovery in the US and a non-existent recovery in Europe, but the outcome would almost certainly have been a lot worse had central banks not augmented ultra-low interest rates with their money creation programmes. The comparison between the US and Europe is telling: monetary policy has been far more proactive and expansionary in the US than it has been in the eurozone, which helps to explain the disparity in growth and unemployment rates. It is also the case, though, that the impact of QE has been blunted in the US and the UK by the combination of unconventional monetary policies with conservative fiscal policies. There has been a tug of war between stimulus and budgetary austerity.
Don’t be fooled by the theater.
To understand the direction that the Federal Reserve is taking in its new policy statement released today, look at who dissented – and who didn’t. Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota cast a dovish dissent, saying policy makers should have continued their asset purchases and done more to ensure inflation gets up to their 2% target. Last time it was hawkish Presidents Richard Fisher of Dallas and Philadelphia’s Charles Plosser, who voted against the September Federal Open Market Committee statement as being too downbeat about strength in the economy. “If you go by the dissents, we’re now leaning more to one side of the bird cage than the other,” said Beth Ann Bovino, chief U.S. economist at Standard & Poor’s. “We’re now seeing dissent from someone considered dovish.”
Today’s statement emphasized “solid job gains” as the FOMC ended its third round of asset purchases and kept mute about slowdowns in China and Europe. It maintained a commitment to keep interest rates low for a “considerable time.” Kocherlakota’s dissent, which echoed comments he’s made in recent speeches, cited falling inflation expectations. “The Committee should commit to keeping the current target range for the federal funds rate at least until the one-to-two-year ahead inflation outlook has returned to 2% and should continue the asset purchase program at its current level,” he said, according to today’s FOMC statement.
” … a levy of 1.5% on billionaire’s wealth over $1 billion would raise $74 billion, which would generate enough each year to get every child into school and deliver health care in the poorest countries.”
The super-rich club has become less exclusive, with the amount of billionaires doubling since the financial crisis, according to a report from global charity Oxfam. There were 1,645 billionaires globally as of March 2014, according to Forbes data cited in the Oxfam report, up from 793 in March 2009. Oxfam honed in on this figure to highlight the growing gap between the world’s rich and poor. Hundreds of millions of people live in abject poverty without healthcare or education, while the super-rich continue to amass levels of wealth they may never be able to spend. The report ‘Even it Up: Time to End Extreme Inequality’ noted that the world’s richest 85 people saw their wealth jump by a further $668 million per day collectively between 2013 and 2014, which equates to half a million dollars a minute. In January Oxfam issued a report highlighting that the world’s 85 richest people’s collective wealth is equal to that the poorest half of the world’s population.
“Far from being a driver of economic growth, extreme inequality is a barrier to prosperity for most people on the planet,” said Winnie Byanyima, international executive director of Oxfam. “Inequality hinders growth, corrupts politics, stifles opportunity and fuels instability while deepening discrimination, especially against women,” she added. The Oxfam report is the opening salvo of a fresh Oxfam campaign – Even it Up – which aims to push world leaders into helping ensure the poorest people get a fairer deal. “Action is needed to clamp down on tax dodging carried out by multinational corporations and the world’s richest individuals,” the authors of the report added. Oxfam suggests a levy of 1.5% on billionaire’s wealth over $1 billion would raise $74 billion, which would generate enough each year to get every child into school and deliver health care in the poorest countries.
This from the Bank of England’s chief economist. Who is very much a part of the global financial system.
The global monetary system has become so deeply interconnected that it poses an “incendiary” threat to stability unless a radical new international approach is taken, the Bank of England’s chief economist has warned. Andy Haldane said the world is not currently equipped to deal with the “darkest consequences” of an international monetary system and said a new set of rules and tools at a multilateral level would be needed to lessen the risks it posed. “The international monetary and financial system has undergone a mini-revolution in the space of a generation as a result of financial globalisation. It has become a genuine system.
This has altered fundamentally the risk-return opportunity set facing international policymakers: larger-than-ever opportunities, but also greater-than-ever threats,” he said in a speech at Birmingham University. “Today, cross-border stocks of capital are almost certainly larger than at any time in human history. We have hit a new high-water mark. The same is probably true of cross-border flows of goods and services and is most certainly true of cross-border flows of information.” He suggested measures to improve resilience might include an enhanced role and increased resources for the International Monetary Fund, with responsibility for tracking the global flow of funds and as a quasi-international lender of last resort.
Haldane said that part of the problem was that global investors tended to behave in the same way. “There is greater co-movement among similar asset types across countries than among different asset types within countries.” He said new macro-prudential tools at an international rather than national level would also potentially help. “If credit cycles are global in nature, there may in future be a case for national macro-prudential policies leaning explicitly against these global factors. This would help curb the global credit cycle at source. It would take international macro-prudential policy co-ordination to the next level.”
There were still some 600,000 homes in foreclosure in Q3 2014.
Zombie foreclosures are on the decline, but they’re still scaring people in 60 metro areas and 16 states. There were 117,298 owner-vacated foreclosures nationwide in the third quarter of 2014, representing 18% of total properties in foreclosure, down from 141,406 in the second quarter of 2014 (17% of all foreclosures) and down 152,033 (23% of foreclosures) in the same period last year, according to data released Thursday by the real estate website RealtyTrac. “Zombie” foreclosures occur when the owner leaves the property, but the bank has yet to take possession of it. Contrary to this national trend, there were increases in owner-vacated foreclosure in the third quarter in 16 states, including New Jersey, where zombie foreclosures surged 75% year-over-year, North Carolina (up 65%), Oklahoma (up 37%), and New York (up 30%) and Alabama (up 29%).
The New York metro area had the most zombie foreclosures (13,366) in the third quarter, followed by Miami (9,869), Tampa (7,509), Chicago (7,326), Philadelphia (5,405) and Orlando (3,732). A short and efficient foreclosure prevents zombies, says Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. Some states passed laws to give homeowners more time to avoid foreclosure through face-to-face mediation and other means, which sometimes just delays the inevitable, he says. “The best antidote for a zombie foreclosure infestation is a pro-active land bank program like that in Cleveland and, more recently, Chicago designed to aggressively take possession of vacant foreclosures or demolish them.”
That’s quite the quote: “Volatility is caused by the fear of snap elections and the possibility that these will be won by a party which is not normal.“ here’s rooting for Syriza.
Greek bond investors face a rollercoaster ride for the next four months as the government tries to contain the risk of snap elections, Minister of Administrative Reform Kyriakos Mitsotakis said. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has until February to pull together a supermajority in the national parliament to elect a new president or the anti-bailout opposition party Syriza will force a snap election. That would return Greek voters to their 2012 dilemma when the country’s membership of the single currency hung by a thread, Mitsotakis said in an interview. “The reality is that there will be a climate of uncertainty until February,” Mitsotakis, 46, said in his Athens office overlooking the Acropolis. “Volatility is caused by the fear of snap elections and the possibility that these will be won by a party which is not normal.”
A two-year rally in Greek government bonds has fizzled out over the past month, as investors wake up to the political risks still at large in Greece as Samaras struggles to hold onto office. The prime minister is trying to shake off the euro area and International Monetary Fund officials who have policed the budget cuts that have angered voters while retaining enough financial backup to keep investors onside. Asked whether investors should just dump their Greek bond holdings until the next president has been installed, Mitsotakis said: “Don’t ask me, I’m just doing my job. Ask Syriza.”
This means millions of people will lose 10% on the bulk of their savings. Better place the army on alert right now.
China property prices may decline as much as 10% this year and the slump may extend into 2015, according to SouFun Holdings Ltd. “Chinese property prices are seeing an adjustment after the rapid increase in the past two years,” Vincent Mo, founder of China’s biggest real estate information website, said in a Bloomberg Television interview with Haslinda Amin in Singapore yesterday. “Prices should stabilize by the middle of next year.” China’s new-home prices fell in all but one city monitored by the government last month from August, the most since January 2011 when the way the date is compiled changed, as the easing of property curbs failed to stem a market downturn amid tight credit.
Home sales slumped 11% in the first nine months, prompting the central bank to ease mortgage restrictions on Sept. 30. All but five of the 46 cities that imposed limits on home ownership since 2010 have removed or relaxed such restrictions amid the property downturn that has dented local revenues from land sales. The People’s Bank of China’s new rules give homeowners who have paid off their mortgages and want a second property the same advantages as first-time buyers, including a 30% minimum down payment, compared with at least 60% previously.
They can’t manipulate property prices the way they do growth numbers. Property is what people feel directly in their pockets.
With China headed for its slowest full-year expansion in a generation, the government has listed housing as one of the six consumption areas to be encouraged after years of trying to cool the property industry. China will “stabilize” property-related consumption and make it easier for people to access mandatory housing savings, the State Council said in a statement late yesterday after Premier Li Keqiang presided at a regular meeting. The last time China’s State Council documents mentioned “stabilizing” housing consumption was in April 2009, when the government was rolling out a massive stimulus plan to shield the economy from a global slowdown. Gross domestic product expanded 7.3% in the third quarter from a year earlier, the weakest pace in more than five years.
“The announcement marks a U-turn in stance towards the property sector after years of attempts to cool it down,” Dariusz Kowalczyk, a Credit Agricole strategist in Hong Kong, wrote in a note today. It’s the first time in recent years that the central government officially declared direct support for the housing market, according to Credit Suisse Group. New-home prices fell in 69 out of 70 cities monitored by the government last month from August. Property prices may decline as much as 10% this year and the slump may extend into 2015, according to SouFun Holdings Ltd.
Desperate illusions. Won’t be long now.
There is almost no way the central bank can hit the two-year, 2% inflation target Kuroda set when he unleashed unprecedented monetary stimulus in April 2013. Economists think it is unlikely to even get close in the foreseeable future. That could undermine Kuroda’s so far unchallenged authority to implement radical policies and cast doubt on his money-printing drive to revive Japan’s economy, interviews with more than a dozen current and former BOJ officials and insiders show. “The board members gave Kuroda’s experiment a one-year moratorium,” said a former central bank board member who still has close contacts with incumbent policymakers. “They decided to wait-and-see for a year. But now it’s time of reckoning.”
A divided board could undermine the public confidence essential to Kuroda’s success in embedding expectations of inflation, and leave markets fretting about how authorities will deal with the central bank’s massively expanded balance sheet. Kuroda has been relentlessly optimistic even as the economy, hit by a sales tax hike in April, flirts with recession and falling oil prices threaten to pull inflation below 1%. But most of his policymaking board has always been quietly skeptical of his signature “quantitative and qualitative easing” (QQE), a policy that floods liquidity into the banking system to end 15 years of falling prices, and now the fissures are widening.
Bitter tears and violent protests. The only possible outcome of this.
Japan’s $1.2 trillion pension fund will double its allocation target for local stocks, according to analysts, who’ve ratcheted up expectations for equity buying while sticking with projections for a reduction in bonds. The Government Pension Investment Fund will increase its domestic equity allocation to 24% of assets from 12%, according to the median estimate of 12 fund managers, strategists and economists polled by Bloomberg over the past two weeks. That’s up from 20% in a similar survey in May. The Topix index soared 4% on Oct. 20 on a Nikkei newspaper report that the fund would set a 25% local-share target.
Speculation about the behemoth’s new strategy has held Japan’s markets in sway since a government-picked panel said almost a year ago that GPIF was too reliant on domestic bonds. The fund will slash its local debt allocation to 40% from 60%, unchanged from May, the median survey prediction shows. Credit Agricole and Barclays say anticipation for the shift is so high that equities are vulnerable to a sell-off on the announcement. “I think investors will sell Japanese stocks on the fact after buying on the rumor,” said Kazuhiko Ogata, chief Japan economist at Credit Agricole. “Over the medium and longer term, the changes will buoy demand for shares and gradually support the market.”
A new player has emerged in the Argentine debt drama. The question is why, and what does it mean? Last week, Kenneth Dart, the billionaire heir to a Styrofoam cup fortune, jolted the Argentine debt negotiations by asking a New York judge to force Argentina to pay his bonds in full, too. Like Elliott Management’s Paul Singer, who has led a group of holdout bond investors trying to compel the Argentine government to reach a settlement with them, Dart is known as a “vulture investor” who has made a career of buying defaulted debt and then suing to be repaid at full value. Dart, it turns out, owns more defaulted Argentine bonds through his fund EM Ltd. than Singer’s fund NML Capital does, with $595 million worth to NML’s $503 million. Until now, though, he has remained quietly behind the scenes, as Singer and four other investors publicly battled the Argentine government through the U.S. court system.
His sudden appearance shows that settling with Singer’s group of holdouts may not actually solve Argentina’s problems. Argentina went into default on July 30 after a $539 million bond payment was blocked by a federal judge who said that the country can’t pay any of its exchange bondholders, who participated in the country’s two debt restructurings, until a group of holdout hedge funds are paid on their bonds. In addition to exacerbating what is already a difficult economic climate in Argentina, it has put the country’s leaders in something of a pickle. Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has made her battle against the American “vulture” hedge funds a central theme of her politics. To reverse course now, and pay Singer and the others what they want, would likely come at a high political cost. The goal then, from Argentina’s perspective, is to reach a resolution with the holdouts at the lowest price possible, and that can only be accomplished by diluting their leverage.
Anything but squeezing Russia. Not a terribly clever approach.
The reasons oil prices started sliding in June were hiding in plain sight: growth in U.S. production, sputtering demand from Europe and China, Mideast violence that threatened to disrupt supplies and never did. After three-and-a-half months of slow decline, the tipping point for a steeper drop came on Oct. 1, said Ray Carbone, president of broker Paramount Options Inc. That’s when Saudi Arabia cut prices for its biggest customers. The move signaled that the world’s largest exporter would rather defend its market share than prop up prices. “That, for me, was the giveaway,” Carbone said in an Oct. 28 phone interview. “Once it started going, it was relentless.” The 29% drop since June of the international price caught traders and forecasters by surprise.
After a steady buildup of supply and weakening demand, the outbreak of an OPEC price war is casting doubt on investments in new oil resources while helping the global economy, keeping inflation in check and giving motorists a break at the pump. Brent crude, the global benchmark, declined to $82.60 a barrel on Oct. 16, the lowest in almost four years, from $115.71 on June 19. In the U.S., West Texas Intermediate touched $79.44 on Oct. 27, the lowest since June 2012. U.S. regular unleaded gasoline is averaging close to a four-year low of $3.023 a gallon nationwide, according to AAA. The bear market exceeded the decline anticipated in exchange-traded futures, used by producers to hedge price swings. As recently as a month ago, Brent for delivery in November traded at $97.20 a barrel, 12% above the current price.
OPEC Secretary-General Abdalla el-Badri denied the existence of a price war. “Our countries are following the market,” he said yesterday at the Oil & Money conference in London. “People are selling according to the market price.” Prices stayed higher earlier this year as traders focused on the risk that armed conflicts in Libya, Iraq and Ukraine could interfere with oil production, according to Jeff Grossman, president of New York-based BRG Brokerage. The disruptions never materialized. “This one caught a few people off guard because they were still worried about some of these geopolitical things that were happening all over the world that never came to fruition,” said Grossman, a New York Mercantile Exchange floor trader. “We probably never should have been over $100.”
Why does it take so long to get a bill paid?
Ukraine’s efforts to unblock deliveries of Russian gas as winter sets in were deadlocked on Thursday as Moscow’s negotiators were quoted demanding firmer commitments from the European Union to cover Kiev’s pre-payments for energy. EU-hosted talks were adjourned after running late into the night, Energy Minister Alexander Novak and the head of Russian gas firm Gazprom told Russian news agencies. They would resume later in the day if Ukraine and the EU had a firm financing deal in place, Gazprom head Alexei Miller said.
There has already been agreement on the price Kiev will pay for gas over the winter, the amount to be supplied and the repayment of some $3.1 billion in unpaid Ukrainian bills but Moscow, which cut off vital pipelines in June as the conflict with Ukraine and the West deepened, wants more legal assurances that Kiev can pay some $1.6 billion for new gas up front. Some critics of Russia question whether its motivation is financial or whether prolonging the wrangling with ex-Soviet Ukraine and its Western allies suits Moscow’s diplomatic agenda. Ukraine is in discussions with existing creditors the EU and the IMF and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, concerned about vital Russian gas supplies to the rest of Europe has spoken of bridging finance for Kiev. But the Russian negotiators said they wanted to see a signed agreement on EU financing for Ukraine.
Europe is on the verge of an energy squeeze. Time for smart people to stand up. I haven’t seen them yet.
Europe may struggle to keep the lights on as temperatures drop as the switch to greener sources of energy complicates the balance between supply and demand in the region. The inconvenience of brownouts, though, should have the welcome effect of forcing governments to address their attitudes toward both nuclear power and fracking for shale gas. About 7% of the world’s population lives in Europe, yet regional spending of 500 billion euros ($625 billion) on renewable energy investment between 2004 and 2013 accounts for half of total global spending on wind farms, solar installations and the like. Renewable sources now provide more than 14% of the Europe’s energy, up from 8.3% in 2004, according to a report published this week by consulting firm Cap Gemini. The bigger the contribution from renewables, though, the more difficult it is to manage power-transmission grids. And that shift to greener energy coincides with disruptions in a host of Europe’s more traditional power-generation methods.
Governments are committed to curbing carbon emissions from coal-burning plants, and there’s a post-Fukushima aversion to nuclear power. Utilities have reduced output from natural-gas fired plants in response to Europe’s economic slowdown, and the region’s aging thermal generators are being retired from service. Global politics is also a threat; 30% of Europe’s gas comes from Russia, and about half of that travels through Ukraine. The result, according to Cap Gemini, is a market in need of massive investment: This winter, security of supply is already threatened in certain European countries. The present situation of chaotic wholesale markets, with negative wholesale prices and increasing prices for retail customers, is likely to prevail in coming years.
By 2035, Europe will need to invest $2.2 trillion in electricity infrastructure alone. With the present uncertain situation and the difficult financial environment for utilities, these investments could be delayed and security of the electricity supply could be at risk in the long term also. Fracking remains almost taboo in Europe. France has banned it, with Environment Minister Segolene Royal calling it a “very dangerous technique” and the benefits of shale gas a “mirage.” Germany said in July it would ban fracking at depths of less than 3 kilometers (1.9 miles), which effectively outlaws the practice for most companies. A July joint report by Scientists for Global Responsibility and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health said U.K. rules governing shale-gas exploration don’t do enough to safeguard public health.
Always a sunny topic.
What if you could live in a house that was mortgage-free and takes about 10 minutes to clean – a house that leaves you unburdened by possessions and the full-time job required to pay for them? The trade-off: Your new house is about the size of a biggish, albeit charming, storage shed. That’s the journey Dee Williams recounts in her new book, “The Big Tiny: A Built-It-Myself Memoir.” Williams got rid of her normal-size house, most of her possessions and her job as a hazardous waste inspector after suffering a heart attack 10 years ago. She built, and now lives with her dog in, an 84-square-foot house on a trailer parked in a friend’s backyard in Olympia, Wash.
Next Avenue spoke with Williams, 51, about discovering a larger life in a smaller house: Next Avenue: Your heart problems (heart attack and a congestive heart failure diagnosis) sent you into a sort of existential crisis. Williams: It wasn’t that I was unhappy in my life before my heart attack. I was clipping along building my career, hoping to meet Mr. Right and fall in love and do all of that stuff. I loved my house. I wasn’t struggling to make the mortgage. It was just that I didn’t have any freedom to be able to quit my job if I wanted to. After my heart attack, what became clear was that I wanted my time.
I wanted every minute of my day for whatever I wanted to do. And I wasn’t going to be able to get that with a $250,000 mortgage. Your solution was to build an 84-square-foot house on a trailer. This idea floated in front of me in the doctor’s office when I read an article about (tiny house builder and advocate) Jay Shafer. It seemed like a logical solution for housing for me. I wasn’t sure how long my health would last. I wasn’t sure what that would mean for me as a single person. Would I move in with my friends? Would my brother come back from Iowa and take care of me? Where would I would be most comfortable if I got sick? The other part was when I saw a little pointy-roofed house — it was so cute. I was enamored.
If you didn’t know any better, you’d presume ebola was an American issue.
In the U.S. battle against Ebola, quarantine rules depend on your zip zode. For some it may feel like imprisonment or house arrest. For others it may be more like a staycation, albeit one with a scary and stressful edge. If they are lucky, the quarantined may get assigned a case worker who can play the role of a personal concierge by buying groceries and running errands. Some authorities are allowing visitors, or even giving those in quarantine permission to take trips outside to walk the dog or take a jog. A month after the first confirmed case of Ebola in the United States, state and local health authorities across the country have imposed a hodgepodge of often conflicting rules.
Fears about a possible U.S. outbreak were reignited after American doctor Craig Spencer was hospitalized with Ebola in New York last Thursday after helping treat patients in West Africa, the epicenter of the worst outbreak on record. Some states, such as New York and New Jersey, have gone as far as quarantining all healthy people returning from working with Ebola patients in West Africa. Others, such as Virginia and Maryland, said they will monitor returning healthcare workers and only quarantine those who had unprotected contact with patients. In Minnesota, people being monitored by the state’s health department are banned from going on trips on public transit that last longer than three hours – the aim being to reduce exposure to others if someone does start to develop symptoms during a journey. But people with known exposure to Ebola patients will be restricted to their homes without any physical contact allowed.
But in reality, it’s a real problem only in West Africa.
Liberia is making some progress in containing the Ebola outbreak while Sierra Leone is “in a crisis situation which is going to get worse,” the top anti-Ebola officials in the two countries said. The people of both countries must redouble efforts to stop the disease, which has infected more than 13,000 people and killed nearly 5,000, the officials said. Their assessments underscore that Ebola remains a constant threat until the outbreak is wiped out. It can appear to be on the wane, only to re-emerge in the same place or balloon elsewhere if people don’t avoid touching Ebola patients or the bodies of those who succumb to the disease. “We need to go ahead to stop the transmission in order to arrest the situation,” Palo Conteh said late Wednesday in the Sierra Leone capital, in his first press conference since the president this month appointed him CEO of the National Ebola Response Center. Conteh was previously the defense minister.
“Our proud country has faced so many challenges, but none more serious than today,” he said. “Today we have a new and vicious enemy, an enemy that does not wear uniform, that … attacks anyone that comes into contact with (it) and if unchecked will ravage our beautiful land and its fine people.” Although the outbreak is now hitting areas in and around Sierra Leone’s capital, posing a huge threat, Conteh noted that it is on the wane in the former Ebola hotpots of Kenema and Kailahun, across the nation in the east. “If people in other areas of the country copy the example of eastern Kailahun and Kenema Districts, then the spread of the disease will subside like in Kailahun and Kenema. As I speak, people (near the capital) are still touching people suspected with the Ebola disease, people are still burying corpses at night of those who have died of the disease,” he said.
With international assistance growing, Conteh said up to 700 beds would be set up in treatment centers and that the United Nations has four helicopters in the country. A British hospital ship is expected to dock in Freetown on Thursday. In neighboring Liberia, the rate of Ebola infections appears to be declining, perhaps by as much by 25% week over week, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.