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    Entries in investing (9)

    Thursday
    Aug032017

    Pension Plans Had a Great Year, But Retirees Likely Won't Benefit From It

    One good investment year isn't enough to fix struggling systems' problems.
    BY  AUGUST 3, 2017
    A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
    A trader working on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (AP/Richard Drew)

    Public pension plans are reporting double-digit investment returns, and some are even finishing with record highs this year.

    The high earnings are due to a robust stock market and are welcome news after two straight years of below-average returns for most pension plans. But finance experts say the investment boost likely won’t translate into an equally impressive reduction in pension debt because of the increasing cost of pensions.

    "Government contributions tend to be insufficient to reduce unfunded liabilities -- even if the plans meet their target," says Tom Aaron, vice president and senior analyst at Moody's Investors Service.

    Pension plans rely heavily on investment earnings because annual payments from current employees and governments aren’t enough to cover yearly payouts to retirees. As it stands, roughly 80 cents on every dollar paid out to retirees comes from investment income.

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    Friday
    Apr142017

    The Week in Public Finance: Pay to Play, High Investment Fees and the Small Business Credit Crunch

    BY  APRIL 14, 2017

    Pay to Play? Hardly.

    Pennsylvania is going with passive funds. That was the message this week from State Treasurer Joe Torsella, who says he plans to move the state’s $1 billion in actively managed public equity (stock) funds over to index funds within six months.

    Index, or passive, funds are known for their lower fees and lower volatility. Rather than managed by a trader, these funds are built using computer models that are designed to mimic the performance of stock indexes like the S&P 500. Torsella expects the shift to save at least $5 million a year in fees.

    The treasurer’s announcement is part of an effort to return faith in the office after his predecessor left in disgrace amid a pay-to-play scandal. Former Treasurer Rob McCord pleaded guilty in 2015 to federal charges that he used his office to influence future investment deals and other contracts as a way raise cash for a failed gubernatorial bid.

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    Friday
    Jan132017

    The Week in Public Finance: Trump's Infrastructure Plan, Risky Pensions and NYC's Surprising Fiscal Health

    A roundup of money (and other) news governments can use.
    BY  JANUARY 13, 2017

    How Will Trump's Infrastructure Plan Affect the Economy?

    Economic impact estimates are all over the map when it comes to how much of an affect President-elect Donald Trump’s 10-year $1 trillion infrastructure proposal will have on the economy. To that end, two reports came out this week that come to completely different conclusions.

    The first, by Georgetown University, says that Trump's plan could create as many as 11 million jobs. However, it cautions, the additional spending in combination with proposed tax cuts and other economic policy shifts could “overheat the economy” by increasing inflation and setting the stage for further interest rate hikes.

    The Tax Foundation had a much more modest take. This is partly because the report assessed the varying degrees of economic impact the proposal would have depending on what other policy measures are implemented. The foundation looked at the impact of a theoretical $500 billion investment by the federal government through five funding mechanisms: borrowing, cutting government spending, raising excise taxes, raising the top tax rate on individual income and raising the corporate income tax.

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    Friday
    Nov182016

    The Week in Public Finance: Trump's Impact on Muni Bonds, Panning Social Investing and More

    BY  NOVEMBER 18, 2016

    2 Takes on Trump's Impact on Muni Bonds

     President-elect Donald Trump’s proposed policies could partially change the landscape of the municipal bond market for investors in two primary ways.

    First, his election could put Build America Bonds (BABs) -- or a program like it -- back on the table for government issuers. BABs were introduced in 2009 and 2010 by the Obama administration as a way to stimulate the economy and create jobs. Republicans on Capitol Hill killed the program, but Trump has spoken favorably about it. He's interested in stimulating more investment in infrastructure.

    Unlike regular municipal bonds, BABs aren’t tax exempt, making them more appealing to investors such as international bondholders or institutional investors who aren’t eligible to claim an exemption. Thus, they broaden the municipal bond market.

    Second, an analysis by the Court Street Group Research (CSGR) says Trump’s income tax plan could affect the municipal market because it would eliminate or reduce the tax exemption for municipal bondholders. “The CSGR approaches the reality of a Trump administration with some trepidation as it applies to municipal bonds,” the analysis said.

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    Wednesday
    Aug032016

    Public Pensions Facing Worst Returns Since Recession

    A volatile stock market over the past year has taken a toll on public pension assets.
    BY  AUGUST 3, 2016

    Public pension plans are reporting dismal investment returns this year, a development that will likely mean governments will have to pony up more money in the coming years.

    So far, no major pension plan has reported a preliminary annual investment return of more than 1.5 percent. That's thanks to a volatile stock market that's seen wild swings spurred mainly by political and economic events abroad. Some smaller plans, such as the New Mexico Educational Retirement Board, have reported earnings as high as 2.6 percent. Still for many, this year marked their worst earnings year since the Great Recession.

    The slim earnings for fiscal 2016, which ended June 30 for most plans, is well below the average earnings target of about 7.5 percent. It also marks the second year in a row that plans have missed the assumed rate of return: Most reported an investment gain between 2 percent and 4 percent in fiscal 2015.

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