Italian premier to offer resignation as government wobbles

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first_imgROME (AP) — The office of Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte says the leader will tell his wobbly government he intends to offer his resignation. Conte survived two confidence votes in Parliament last week but crucially lost his absolute majority in the Senate with the defection of a centrist ally. The premier’s office said Monday night that Conte will inform his Cabinet at a meeting Tuesday morning of his “will to go to the Quirinale (presidential palace) to hand in his resignation.” Then Conte will head to the palace to meet with President Sergio Mattarella, who can accept the resignation, possibly asking the premier to try to form a more solid coalition.last_img read more

Bank of England upbeat on UK recovery after vaccine rollout

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first_imgLONDON (AP) — The Bank of England has kept its key interest rates unchanged amid rising optimism over the British economy’s near-term prospects in the wake of the rapid rollout of coronavirus vaccines. The U.K.’s rapid rollout of coronavirus vaccines has improved the economic outlook and lowered expectations of another move imminently. The bank’s rate-setting committee said the economy is “projected to recover rapidly towards pre-COVID levels over 2021, as the vaccination programme is assumed to lead to an easing of COVID-related restrictions and people’s health concerns.” That reduces the need for more stimulus policies from the Bank of England in the short term.last_img read more

Vermont’s General Fund, Transportation Fund and Education Fund revenues all exceed August targets

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first_imgVermont Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding released the August 2011 General Fund (GF) Revenue results today. Led by an increase in personal income tax receipts, the most important component, General Fund revenues totaled $90.06 million for August 2011, and were +$10.89 million or +13.75 percent above the $79.17 million consensus revenue forecast for the month, more than covering the prior month’s shortfall. Year to date, General Fund revenues were $176.33 million, and +$6.00 million or +3.52 percent above the two month target of $170.33 million. August is the second month of fiscal year (FY) 2012. Spaulding commented, ‘August General Fund receipts allowed us to recoup a July shortfall and placed us a little ahead of our year-to-date target. In addition, the year-to-date August 2011 General Fund revenues exceeded 2010 receipts for the same period by +7.6 percent. While this is indeed good news, it is in the rearview mirror. Recent events, including the impacts from Tropical Storm Irene along with continuing global fiscal instability and looming federal cuts, require us to be especially cautious looking forward.’ Current targets reflect the Fiscal Year 2012 Consensus Revenue Forecast adopted by the Emergency Board at their July 21, 2011 meeting. Statutorily, the State is required to revise the Consensus Revenue Forecast two times per year, in January and July; the Emergency Board may schedule interim revisions if deemed necessary. Personal Income Tax (PI) receipts are the largest single state revenue source providing approximately 50 percent of total GF revenue. PI Tax receipts are reported Net-of-Personal Income Tax refunds. Net Personal Income Tax is comprised of PI Withholding Tax, PI Estimated Payments, PI Refunds Paid, and PI Other. Net PI Receipts for August were recorded at $43.46 million, +$8.67 million or +24.94 percent above the monthly target of $34.78 million. Year to date, net PI Receipts were $87.97 million, +$5.08 million or +6.13 percent ahead of target. Corporate Income Taxes are also reported net-of refunds. August Corporate receipts of $1.99 million were +$0.62 million or +45.61 percent ahead of the monthly target of $1.37 million. Year to date Corporate receipts were $3.97 million, +$0.22 million or +5.86 percent ahead of target. Consumption tax results for August were mixed: Sales & Use Tax receipts of $17.34 million were slightly below target by -$0.04 million (-0.20 percent); Rooms & Meals Tax receipts of $12.42 million exceeded target by +$1.00 million (+8.72 percent). Year to date, both Sales & Use Tax ($38.66 million or +1.42 percent) and Rooms & Meals Tax ($22.79 million or +6.07 percent) were above target for August, as well as being above the two month total receipts for the prior year by +7.2 percent and +6.1 percent respectively. The remaining non-major tax components include Insurance, Inheritance & Estate Tax, Real Property Transfer Tax, and ‘Other’ (which includes: Bank Franchise Tax, Telephone Tax, Liquor Tax, Beverage Tax, Fees, and Other Taxes). The results for the remaining non-major categories for August were as follows: Insurance Tax, $6.97 million (+1.80 percent); Inheritance & Estate Tax, $3.78 (+188.36 percent); Property Transfer Tax, $0.75 million (-2.22 percent); and ‘Other’, $3.35 million (-36.70 percent). The year to date August results for the remaining non-major categories were: Insurance Tax, $7.38 million (+3.77 percent); Inheritance & Estate Tax, $4.16 (+40.71 percent); Property Transfer Tax, $1.53 million (-5.34 percent); and ‘Other’, $9.86 million (-20.44 percent). Cumulatively, the total non-major component receipts of $22.93 million were below the prior year total of $27.73 million by -$4.80 million, or -17.31 percent. However, the shortfall versus prior year in ‘Other’ is due to one-time extraordinary settlement activity in Bank Franchise Tax during August of the prior year.  Education Fund Secretary Spaulding also released the ‘non-Property Tax’ Education Fund revenues (which constitute approximately 12 percent of the total Education Fund sources) today. The non-Property Tax Education Fund receipts for August totaled $12.97 million, or +$0.01 million (+0.06 percent) above the $12.96 million target for the month. Year to date, non-Property Tax Education Fund receipts were $26.26 million, or 0.55 percent ahead of the year to date target. The individual Education Fund revenue component results for August were: Sales & Use Tax, $8.67 million, or -0.21 percent below target; Motor Vehicle Purchase & Use Tax, $2.47 million or -5.88 percent; Lottery Transfer, $1.83 million or +10.88 percent above target; Education Fund Interest for August was essentially $0. Year to date receipts by component were: Sales & Use Tax, $19.33 million, or +1.42 percent above target; Motor Vehicle Purchase & Use Tax, $4.11 million or -6.95 percent; Lottery Transfer, $2.83 million or +6.78 percent above target; year to date Education Fund Interest was essentially $0. As compared to prior year, FY 2012 year to date non-Property Tax Education Fund receipts are 7.9 percent ahead of the FY 2011 results for the same period.  Transportation Fund The non-dedicated Transportation Fund Revenue for August was also reported on by Secretary Spaulding. Total non-dedicated Transportation Fund receipts of $20.12 million for the month exceeded target by +$0.41 million (+2.09 percent), against the monthly target of $19.71 million. The excess August receipts covered most of the July shortfall, leaving August year to date Transportation Fund receipts of $35.38 million short of the $35.42 million target by -$0.05 million or -0.13 percent. Compared to FY 2011, year to date August Transportation Funds receipts now exceed the prior year by +$0.30 million or +0.80 percent for the same period. Individual Transportation Fund revenue receipts components for August were mixed: Gasoline Tax, $5.52 million or +0.25 percent ahead of target; Diesel Tax, $1.82 million or +39.25 percent above target; Motor Vehicle Purchase & Use Tax, $5.04 million or -3.78 percent behind target; Motor Vehicle Fees, $6.57 million or +5.11 percent ahead of target; and Other Fees, $1.17 million or -16.74 percent short of the monthly target. Year to date results for the individual Transportation Fund revenue components for August were: Gasoline Tax, $10.63 million or +0.48 percent ahead of target; Diesel Tax, $2.32 million or +10.84 percent above target; Motor Vehicle Purchase & Use Tax, $8.32 million or -5.70 percent behind target; Motor Vehicle Fees, $11.62 million or +2.39 percent ahead of target; and Other Fees, $2.48 million or -3.54 percent short of the monthly target. Secretary Spaulding said, ‘The Transportation Fund revenue seems to be holding its own and is, in fact, slightly ahead of the receipts at this point last year, although two months is not sufficient to project a trend and the after effects of Irene will impact T-fund revenues as well.’ The Secretary also reported on the results for the Transportation Infrastructure Bond Fund (’TIB’). TIB Fund Gas receipts for August were $1.98 million or +19.10 percent in excess of target; year to date TIB Gas receipts were $3.58 million or +12.34 percent ahead of target. TIB Fund Diesel receipts for the month were $0.22 million or -9.60 percent short of the monthly target; year to date TIB Diesel receipts were $0.28 million or -14.69 percent short of target. TIB Fund receipts are noted below the following table: center_img Conclusion Secretary Spaulding concluded, ‘Vermont’s August revenue results continued in line with the slow but steady recovery we had been experiencing. The future, however, is far from certain. We have yet to fully assess the recovery costs and economic impact of Irene on Vermont’s citizens, businesses and State operations. Additionally, global fiscal instability, paralysis in Washington, and unknown federal cuts continue to loom on the horizon. President Obama’s proposed Jobs Bill and the influx of federal disaster funds into Vermont may well have some positive economic impact on Vermont, although, it is too soon to tell how much and how the Jobs Bill will fair in Congress. We will continue our efforts to assess Irene’s impact, keep a close eye on our revenue performance over the next couple of months, and closely watch the wrangling in Washington over federal funding cuts and the Jobs Bill.’last_img read more

New York offers $350 million to speed energy storage installations

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first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renewables Now:New York governor Andrew M Cuomo on Thursday unveiled a roadmap with a set of recommendations aimed at facilitating the state in reaching its goal of deploying 1,500 MW of energy storage by 2025.The comprehensive plan is part of the measures addressed towards fighting climate change, improving power grid resilience and enhancing the benefits of renewables generation to meet peak demand for electricity. “This roadmap is the next step to not only grow our clean energy economy and create jobs, but to improve the resiliency of the grid to keep our power running in the face of extreme weather and other emergency situations,” Governor Cuomo said.The short-term recommendations include the provision of $350 million in incentives to speed up deployment of advanced storage systems, as well as additional funding storage capacity linked to solar projects developed under the NY-Sun initiative. The proposed measures also include regulatory changes to utility rates, solicitations and carbon values, facilitating the project permitting and siting process so as to cut indirect and soft costs, and modifications to wholesale market rules.The plan was developed by the Department of Public Service and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).Separately, the NY Green Bank has committed to provide at least $200 million for storage-related investments. The state-sponsored investment fund is also expected to launch a request for proposals later this year for projects incorporating solar and energy storage technologies. At present, New York has around 60 MW of advanced energy storage capacity and an additional 500 MW in the pipeline. The state also owns 1,400 MW of traditional pumped hydro storage capacity.More: New York issues roadmap to achieve 1.5 GW energy storage goal New York offers $350 million to speed energy storage installationslast_img read more

New Device Invisible to Magnetic Fields

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first_imgBy Dialogo March 27, 2012 European researchers said on March 22 they have created a device invisible to a static magnetic field that could have practical military and medical applications. Fedor Gomory and colleagues in Slovakia and Spain designed a cloak for a direct current (DC) magnetic field that is static and produced by a permanent magnet or coil carrying a direct current. DC magnetic fields are used in MRI imaging devices, in hospitals and in security systems, such as those in airports. The researchers’ device, described in a study in the March 23 edition of the journal Science, features a cylinder with two concentric layers. While the inner layer consists of a superconducting material that repels magnetic fields, the outer layer is a ferromagnetic material that attracts them. Placed in a magnetic field, the device has no effect on the field lines, showing neither a shadow nor a reflection. So an object inside the device cannot be detected. “There are many applications – for some cars, ships or a submarine,” said study co-author Alvaro Sanchez of the Autonomous University of Barcelona. He told AFP the device could also be used for patients who have a pacemaker and need a MRI of a knee or other body part, so the image would not be distorted. Because it is made from commercially available materials, as well as operating under relatively strong magnetic fields and relatively warm liquid nitrogen temperatures, the device could easily be put to practical use, according to the authors. “For the submarine, you have to make a shell around the submarine that will make the submarine magnetically undetectable,” said Sanchez. “This could also be used to protect some (military and medical) equipment against electromagnetic disturbances.”last_img read more

Nussle talks with FHFA’s Calabria on mortgage borrower assistance

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first_img ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle discussed how credit unions are serving members during the pandemic, and what the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) could do to help, Tuesday with FHFA Director Mark Calabria. CUNA previously wrote to Calabria outlining ways the agency could help credit unions assist members better.“Credit unions have a vested interest in keeping members in their homes and have worked diligently throughout this crisis to work alongside members to offer assistance and other relief as necessary,” Nussle said. “I shared this with Director Calabria, as well as the feedback we’ve heard from our members about what policy changes could help credit unions increase outreach to affected members and communities, and I thanked him for his time.”CUNA previously said that liquidity assistance, clear guidance and additional regulatory relief would help credit unions work better with mortgage borrowers.Some specific recommendations CUNA has made to the FHFA include: continue reading »center_img FHFAlast_img read more

UK local authority funds can divest tobacco shares, advisory board told

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first_imgLocal authority pension schemes in the UK could face successful demands for members for portfolios to drop tobacco company holdings, according to a legal opinion from a respected barrister.The Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) Shadow Scheme Advisory Board asked Nigel Giffin, a specialist in public law, to establish if the funds owed a fiduciary duty to its members and if wider functions, aims or objectives of the administering authority should impact the discharge of its LGPS investment duties.The LGPS Shadow Scheme Advisory Board, the pilot body for the new LGPS Advisory Board, was set up to encourage best practice, increase transparency and coordinate technical and standards issues among local government schemes.Giffin said that the administering authority of an LGPS fund has both fiduciary and public law duties. The fiduciary duties are both to the scheme employers and to the scheme members. He added that the administering authority’s power of investment needed to be exercised for investment purposes, and not for any wider purposes. Investment decisions must therefore be directed towards achieving a wide variety of suitable investments, and to do what was best for the financial position of the fund, balancing risk and return in the normal way.“So long as that remains true,” the advice continued, “the precise choice of investment may be influenced by wider social, ethical or environmental considerations, so long as that does not risk material financial detriment to the fund.“In taking account of any such considerations, the administering authority may not prefer its own particular interests to those of other scheme employers, and should not seek to impose its particular views where those would not be widely shared by scheme employers and members.“Nor may other scheme employers impose their views upon the administering authority,” he added.The LGPS Advisory Board said this opinion could also apply to social housing, for example.It said: “An administering authority may take account of social housing needs but only if an investment in this kind of asset stands up as an investment in its own right and can demonstrate that it is not preferring its own interests over other scheme employers in making the investment.”Among local authorities, the Newham Pension Fund has already removed tobacco from its portfolio.Catherine Howarth, chief executive of lobby group ShareAction, said: “This will help members of the LGPS who have ethical objections to investing in tobacco stocks, in proposing that their funds look for alternatives to tobacco that deliver the same long-term investment returns.”She said ShareAction would be making contact with scheme members’ groups which have been campaigning for the pension funds to disinvest from tobacco.In particular, she expected the recent influx of health workers into the LGPS following a restructuring of the National Health Service to continue acting as a catalyst for change.The Local Government Association, which commissioned the opinion on behalf of the shadow board, added that it welcomed the advice. “It makes clear that, while the administering authority’s power of investment must be used to get the best returns, wider social, ethical or environmental considerations can be taken into account – providing any replacement assets achieve similar returns.“It has confirmed our view that these are decisions best taken locally,” it added. “No one stakeholder group can impose its view on another when it comes to deciding how assets are best invested in individual pension funds.”last_img read more

ABP breaks ranks with peers in accepting high private equity fees

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first_imgThe larger pension funds in the Netherlands have come under pressure from the public to rein in costs for investments in non-listed companies, while the high bonuses received by private equity managers have also drawn fire.PFZW, the €166bn pension fund for the healthcare sector, and its asset manager PGGM have made clear their aim to cut private equity fees at all costs.PGGM has even established a 15-strong private equity team for this purpose.Last year, ABP paid more than €500m in bonuses to private equity managers.Erik van Houwelingen, a board member at ABP, conceded that the issue of bonuses was “difficult” for the pension fund as well.“But, as long the fees are linked to pension-enhancing performance, I can justify these costs,” he told the FD. Over the course of 2014, ABP’s 5.1% private equity allocation returned 23.3%.Over the last 10 years, the asset class has returned 14.9% on average for the scheme, while equity has returned 7.3% on average. Van Gelderen stressed that APG was not thinking to manage private equity investments on its own, “as this would require expertise we don’t have”.He added, however, that the asset manager took pains to reduce private equity costs through manager selection and co-investments.In other news, ABP has divested from Netherlands-based Mylan after engagement with the pharmaceutical company – over the use of Rocuronium Bromide for capital punishment in the US – proved “unsuccessful”. Van Houwelingen said Mylan refused to take steps to prevent its muscle relaxant from being used in executions.In a statement, Mylan said its products were meant to be used “in compliance with approved labelling and applicable care standards”.It said it did not directly supply the drug to prisons and that it had “no knowledge of its use for lethal injections”.The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, however, said it had shown Mylan pictures – obtained by UK human rights organisation Reprieve – from the Virginia Department of Corrections showing that the department was stocking the disputed drug.The US state still carries out the death penalty. ABP, the €356bn pension fund for Dutch civil servants, has broken ranks with other large pension funds in the Netherlands after suggesting it has accepted the relatively high fees associated with private equity. Eduard van Gelderen, CIO at ABP asset manager APG, said the pension fund had resigned itself to paying higher fees for exposure to the asset class.“A small number of successful private equity managers are in a position to demand high fees,” he told Dutch financial news daily Het Financieele Dagblad (FD).“If we don’t pay those fees, they don’t invest our assets. So, either we must fully withdraw from the asset class – and miss out on the returns as a consequence – or we must accept the cost level.”last_img read more

Delta Lloyd scheme splits matching holdings into LDI, spread portfolios

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first_imgThe Delta Lloyd Pensioenfonds said it will implement changes to its 25% return portfolio this year, including a reduction of its developed markets equity investments by one-third to 50% of its overall return portfolio.It will also raise its stake in emerging market equity as well as real estate to 16.7%, while introducing a portfolio for emerging market debt of a similar scale.Krekel explained that the portfolio changes followed the scheme abolishing its reinsured arrangements in 2017.It said that an asset-liability management (ALM) study – completed at year-end – had confirmed the portfolio changes underpinned a solid investment approach.The ALM also suggested the pension fund should reduce its investment risk at higher funding levels through increasing its liabilities portfolio at the expense of its return holdings.Last April, the pension fund’s coverage ratio stood at 125.2%, a decline of no more than 1.6 percentage points since year-end.Its funding level had enabled it to grant all its participants and pensioners a full inflation compensation of 1.73%, drawn on the consumer index. The €3.8bn pension fund of former Dutch insurer Delta Lloyd said it had split its matching portfolio into sub-portfolios for liability-driven investments (LDI) and “spreads”.In its annual report for 2019, it announced it had allocated two-fifths of its 75% matching portfolio to LDI holdings, including long-duration euro-denominated government bonds, interest swaps and cash.It said it had invested the remaining assets in Dutch residential mortgages, euro-denominated credit as well as corporate green bonds.According to Theo Krekel, the scheme’s chief executive officer, breaking up its liabilities portfolio would make management easier, as its spreads holdings could also be deployed to generate returns. Source: WikipediaThe former offices of Delta Lloyd in AmsterdamThe pension fund closed on 1 January 2020, following a new collective labour agreement (CAO) at NN Group.As part of the labour agreement, future pensions accrual of former Delta Lloyd staff will take place through NN’s CDC scheme.The board of the Delta Lloyd Pensioenfonds said it had concluded that keeping the scheme for now was the best of the currently available alternatives, which also included a buy-out and joining a consolidation vehicle or another scheme.The scheme said it will reassess its position in three-years time, but that it will keep monitoring its buy-out options in the meantime.It also said it is in discussions with its new pensions provider – NN subsidiary AZL – about switching its IT system Lifetime to a new platform.Whereas the scheme’s contract with AZL is to expire at the end of 2021, the provider wants to bring the change forward by one year, it said.The pension fund attributed its 19.8% return on investments largely to the performance of its equity holdings, which generated returns of 27.6%.The report disclosed that the scheme’s LDI portfolio, spread holdings and return portfolio had delivered 32.6%, 5.8% and 26.1%, respectively.The Delta Lloyd Pensioenfonds reported administration costs of €391 per participant.It spent 23bps on asset management and said a 5bps rise in transaction costs to 8bps was due to the reconstruction of its matching portfolio.The scheme has 2,365 active participants, 7,020 deferred members and 3,670 pensioners.To read the digital edition of IPE’s latest magazine click here.last_img read more

Ineos shuts Forties Pipeline System over crack in pipe. Serica cuts output guidance

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first_imgThe shutdown means that the offshore fields that use the pipeline will be unable to produce until the pipeline is back on.Serica Energy, a London-listed oil and gas company, has reduced its yearly output guidance as its only producing field, the Erskine, uses the FPS as the export route for Erskine condensate.The company has been informed by the operator of the Erskine field that the Forties Pipeline System (“FPS”) will be unavailable, potentially for some weeks, while the FPS owner plans and implements repairs to a hairline crack in the onshore section of the pipeline.“During this period the Erskine field, along with the other fields that use the pipeline, which include the BKR Assets1, will be unable to produce. This will impact Serica’s production guidance for the year to 31 December 2017, which has been revised to approximately 2,000 boe per day net to Serica from the Erskine field,” Serica, a partner in the field, said.The Erskine Field lies approximately 241 km east of Aberdeen, Scotland, in the Central North Sea, in water depths of about 90 meters. Discovered in 1981 in Block 23/26, Erskine is a gas condensate field. It was the first high-pressure, high-temperature field to be developed in the U.K. Continental Shelf. First production was achieved in November 1997.The field includes a normally unattended installation and is remotely controlled from Chrysaor’s Lomond platform. A 30 km pipeline links the two facilities.Commenting on the announcement that the Forties Pipeline System will be shut down to repair the crack, Deirdre Michie, Chief Executive of Oil & Gas UK, said: “We have been in touch with Ineos and are closely monitoring the situation and hope this can be resolved safely and as quickly as possible.” Forties Pipeline System that carries the UK North Sea oil to the shore for processing will be shut down for weeks after a crack was recently discovered in the onshore section.Ineos, which acquired the pipeline late in October, discovered the crack last week during a routine inspection Red Moss near Netherley, south of Aberdeen.“A repair and oil spill response team was mobilised on Wednesday, December 6, after a very small amount of oil seepage was reported.  Measures to contain the seepage were put in place, no oil has been detected entering the environment and the pipe has been continuously monitored. A 300 metre cordon was set-up and a small number of local residents were placed in temporary accommodation as precautionary measure,” Ineos said on Monday.The pipeline pressure was reduced while a full assessment of the situation was made.“Despite reducing the pressure the crack has extended, and as a consequence the Incident Management Team has now decided that a controlled shutdown of the pipeline is the safest way to proceed,” the pipeline operator said, adding the shutdown would allow for a suitable repair method to be worked up based on the latest inspection data, while reducing the risk of injury to staff and the environment.“As always, safety remains our top priority and local residents, FPS users and other stakeholders are all being kept fully informed of the situation as it develops,” Ineos said.Serica cuts output guidancelast_img read more