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About Julija A.

Julia A. is a writer at SmallBizGenius.net. With experience in both finance and marketing industries, she enjoys staying up to date with the current economic affairs and writing opinion pieces on the state of small businesses in America. As an avid reader, she spends most of her time poring over history books, fantasy novels, and old classics. Tech, finance, and marketing are her passions, and she’s a frequent contributor at various small business blogs.

Blog posts

The new year has started with a bang, and we’re not just talking about fireworks. This financial explosion has affected mortgage rates, which have plummeted to an all-time low just days into 2021. In a report published by Freddie Mac, the mortgage enterprise revealed that mortgage rates are continuing to drop steadily. An all-time low was reached just as the new year dawned, resulting in tectonic shifts in housing purchases across the United States. Currently, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage stands at 2.65%, a whole percentage point down from last year. The 15-year FRM is down to 2.16%, while the five-year ARM is sitting at 2.75% at the time of writing. The latter has seen the smallest drop of the bunch thanks to spikes in late November, but it continues to trend downwards. According to Freddie Mac’s data, the 30-year FRM experienced nine significant drops during 2020 alone, mostly thanks to the Federal Reserve bond-buying program. This led to an influx of $1 trillion into the mortgage market, with even more to come this year. This precarious situation has created a double-edged sword of sorts. On one hand, there’s a significant increase to demand as housing is becoming more affordable. At the same time, prices are steadily rising for the same reasons, offsetting the lower-than-ever rates. The experts from Freddie Mac predict this accelerated purchasing will lead to housing becoming much less affordable for potential buyers during this year alone. In a recent interview, Danielle Hale from Realtor.com further explained what’s actually going on with housing in America. Hale stated that, on average, listing prices in December 2020 were up 13.4% compared to the same period a year ago. Meanwhile, there were fewer than 700,000 homes for sale, which is another all-time low for housing in the US. She believes the current record low mortgage rates won’t stay so low for so long. “The future outlook for mortgage rates is likely higher thanks to a changing landscape in Washington," Hale said. This sentiment is shared by other analysts, too. Current forecasts for 2021 put the average 30-year mortgage at 2.7%, which is still below the previous annual average of 3.1%.

By Julija A. January 08,2021

You can finally afford shop space in Manhattan. That's the good news from the Real Estate Board of New York's Fall 2020 Manhattan Retail Report, a summary of vacancies and rental prices throughout Manhattan. The bad news is that the COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions on retailers and consumers have made it hard for even well-established retail giants to turn a profit in New York. According to REBNY, retailers are demanding discounts on rent for retail space following the departure of Papyrus, GNC, Modell’s Sporting Goods, Metro PCS, Mattress Firm, Duane Reade, and other major retailers across the island. Discounts of up to 25% are available, with prime retail space going for rates that haven’t been seen for decades. And that's just the asking price. REBNY says landlords are currently accepting an average of 20% less than their preferred price. This is a great opportunity for low-overhead businesses that can prosper in spite of the reduced rate of retail traffic caused by the pandemic lockdown. And when the economy recovers, retailers who take the leap of faith now will have more business than they’d ever dreamed of. Let’s not forget about the workers in this industry. New York City’s retail employment rate fell about 27% in April due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which at the time was spreading through the Big Apple like wildfire. According to the Center for New York City Affairs, 29,000 jobs in the city’s retail industry were lost in 2020. On top of all that, the insecurities, political turmoils, and other emotional or financial stresses of 2020 had a strong impact on many workers’ professional and private lives. So, what are the prospects for those affected by the crisis? Well, if you take a brief stroll down Fifth Avenue, you might be in for a shock. Due to the unprecedented impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, many businesses have had to abandon ship, which means more and more vacancies are showing up. Retail rental prices have fallen to historic lows, leaving nothing but empty stores and more-than-desperate retailers. The market might take years to recover. But let’s look at the situation from a different perspective. If you have a great idea and want to turn it into a startup, or if you already own a small business and are looking to expand, this might be just the right time. Why not open a store and tuck it among the gleaming windows of Fifth Avenue? If you can hang on until the end of the pandemic, you'll be sitting pretty, and you might find yourself helping the world’s biggest economy recover from the crisis.

By Julija A. January 12,2021

Roughly 900,000 Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits during President Donald Trump’s last week in office.That grim news comes from the US Department of Labor. About 40% of American workers - nearly 70 million people - have filed for unemployment benefits since the pandemic began. Nearly four times as many Americans filed for unemployment during the first week of January as the same period a year ago. Experts say the country is losing jobs to layoffs from small and large companies that have found revenue levels dropping due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The CARES Act of 2020 extended unemployment benefits with its Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance programs. Those programs expired at the end of the year. At the last moment, Congress passed and President Trump signed a second relief package the last week of December. The new legislation renews extended unemployment benefits and additional support for small businesses having trouble meeting payroll. The US economy lost 140,000 jobs in the last month of 2020, suggesting that a full economic recovery is still in the future.Newly sworn President Joseph Biden has proposed a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package to support workers and employers who have been hard hit as the coronavirus ravaged the US economy. The proposal includes direct payments of $1,400 to Americans. Republican lawmakers are expected to oppose parts of the bill because of concerns over the legislation’s effect on the national budget. President Biden’s long-term plan is to prop up the economy with the stimulus package and other programs until a national vaccination program allows businesses to resume their pre-pandemic operations. Biden has set a goal of vaccinating 100 million people in the first 100 days of his presidency.

By Julija A. January 22,2021

Robinhood Markets has announced that its online trading platform will resume accepting trades of GameStop and other highly volatile stocks, effective January 29. The company suspended GameStop trading on its platform January 28 following a storm of protest trades that were inspired by posts in a Reddit discussion group. Reddit members and other small investors deliberately drove GameStop’s price up in protest against institutional investors who had shorted the stock. Their actions caused the stock price to rise, potentially costing short-sellers more than $70 billion. Robinhood’s decision to halt trading GameStop and a dozen other highly active stocks caused outrage in the online community. GameStop’s price plunged 55% as short-sellers threatened legal action against Reddit members who participated in the protest investments. Another suit threatens Robinhood itself. Users claim that suspending GameStop trading constituted market manipulation in favor of large hedge funds. Robinhood announced that it would restore GameStop and the other stocks to its platform following a cash injection of more than $1 billion from investors. GameStop’s price soared 100% higher following Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev’s tweet announcing the company’s intention. GameStop’s share price stood at $193.60 on January 29 despite the previous day’s losses. The price is up nearly 950% over its January 1 share price of $20. The White House is monitoring the crisis, according to Press Secretary Jen Psaki. Strange bedfellows Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) have united in criticizing Robinhood’s management of the crisis.Amateur investors from Reddit say they do not plan to back off. Fed up with increasing inequality, they have vowed to beat Wall Street giants at their own game.

By Julija A. January 29,2021

Capitol Hill and the general public alike have been caught in a fiery debate about two crucial and divisive topics in the previous month: The long-awaited stimulus check and the proposal to gradually raise the minimum wage to $15/hour. The Raise the Wage Act of 2021 proposes the increase of the federal minimum wage to $15/hour by 2025 through annual increments. The Democrats introduced the bill a month ago, only to drop it after President Biden stated that it would not survive the COVID relief talks with the Republicans. However, the House Education and Labor Committee has added the $15/hour minimum wage provision to Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue plan. Biden has been trying to convince big businesses to help him push this agenda, but public support has been lacking so far. This comes as no surprise, as businesses of all sizes have been very vocal in their opposition to raising the minimum wage. A recently published survey by CNBC provides more insight into the rationale behind small-business resistance to this minimum wage increase. According to the survey, one-third of small-business owners anticipated that a $15/hour minimum wage would lead to layoffs. This goes hand-in-hand with the arguments put forth by the Congressional Budget Office, which claims that this move would lead to a loss of 1.4 million jobs. However, the CBO also asserts that an increased minimum wage would raise 900,000 people out of poverty. Big dollar-store retailers, such as Dollar General and Dollar Tree, also predict a massive hit to their profits if the proposal passes. According to newly published research by Jeffreys, these two companies would have to give out $700 million and $500 million in wages, respectively. Debates about increasing the minimum wage are not new in American political discourse. The last time the minimum wage was increased was in 2009 - from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour. Since then, it has remained the same, while the costs of living and inflation both kept rising for 12 years. As a result, the minimum wage is no longer a living wage, and many Americans are forced to take on multiple jobs to sustain themselves and their families. They would certainly welcome this proposed rise, but whether they will get it remains to be seen.

By Julija A. February 11,2021