Fed stresses its commitment to low rates as economy stumbles

first_imgWASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve pledged on Wednesday to keep its low interest rate policies in place even well after the economy has sustained a recovery from the viral pandemic. The Fed said in a Thastatement after its latest policy meeting that the improvement in the economy and job market has slowed in recent months, particularly in industries affected by the raging pandemic. Fed officials kept their benchmark short-term rate pegged near zero and said they would keep buying Treasury and mortgage bonds to restrain longer-term borrowing rates and support the economylast_img read more


Finding Neverland’s Laura Michelle Kelly Is Broadway.com’s Newest Vlogger!

first_img Laura Michelle Kelly View Comments Related Shows Show Closed This production ended its run on Aug. 21, 2016 Finding Neverland It’s time to play make believe with an Olivier winner! Finding Neverland star Laura Michelle Kelly is Broadway.com’s newest video blogger. Get ready for her new series, Never Grow Up: Backstage at Finding Neverland with Laura Michelle Kelly.Broadway’s Sylvia Llewelyn Davies will grab a camera and show us around backstage at the Lunt Fontanne Theatre, where she—with the help of some lovely, wonderful thoughts and fairy dust—brings Neverland to life. Expect plenty of hijinks from the cast that’ll never grow up, including Matthew Morrison, Kelsey Grammer, Carolee Carmello and Teal Wicks.Kelly took home an Olivier Award for her performance in the title of role of Mary Poppins in the West End. She later reprised her performance on Broadway. Her additional credits include Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway and Speed the Plow, Les Miserables and Peter Pan in London. She returns to Finder Neverland after starring in the pre-Broadway engagement at Massachusetts’ American Repertory Theater.Never Grow Up will premiere on March 14 and run every Saturday for eight weeks. Star Fileslast_img read more


Governor Douglas hosts regional White House forum on health reform

first_imgThe second in a series of Regional White House Forums on Health Reform took place today in Burlington, Vermont.  The forum was hosted by the University of Vermont and was moderated by Governor Jim Douglas of Vermont and Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts. Nancy-Ann DeParle, Director of the White House Office of Health Reform, represented the Obama administration.   Forum participants included doctors, patients, providers, insurers, policy experts and health care advocates of all kinds both Democrats and Republicans who discussed the urgent need to provide high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans, and to curb skyrocketing health care costs that are draining our federal and state budgets, devastating families and small businesses, and undermining our long-term economic prosperity. Today s forum was a tremendous success, said Governor Douglas. The discussion was very helpful and with so many viewpoints represented, I know the White House will come away from this with many good ideas for how we build a more affordable and effective healthcare system in America.  In keeping with the Obama administration s commitment to an open, inclusive, and transparent process for health reform, the forum brought together a diverse group of people to voice their concerns and ideas on reforming our health care system. Health care reform in Massachusetts has become a national model with more than 97% of residents insured in just two years, said Governor Patrick. But affordability is still a big challenge and we need payment reform and better cost containment across America to make healthcare truly available for all. Vermont, like Massachusetts, is a model for the rest of the nation, Governor Douglas continued. Our Blueprint for Health, Green Mountain Healthcare products and our Chronic Care Initiative are all programs that will help us bring down the cost of healthcare and lead healthier lives. We really appreciate the opportunity to share these programs with the rest of the country.And Nancy-Ann DeParle represented the Obama Administration. Today we continued our important national conversation on health reform, DeParle said. Exploding costs are bankrupting families and burdening businesses, dragging down state and local budgets, and piling up our national debt. The time to act is now.Regional White House Forums on Health Reform will also be held in Iowa, North Carolina, and California throughout the rest of March and early April. Anyone interested in participating in the discussion can visit www.HealthReform.gov(link is external) to submit their questions.last_img read more


Nonprofit Invites Public to Rate Local Government Transparency

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A nonprofit government accountability group launched a website this week that encourages the public to help rate the accessibility of local municipalities and school districts across New York State.Reclaim New York, the group spearheading the effort, issued an open invitation for concerned citizens to help evaluate more than 2,000 government entities, including counties, cities, towns, villages and school districts on Long Island. Organizers call it the Online Transparency Index.“Now, every New Yorker can get involved and show whether their local government is open and transparent, or operating in the shadows,” said Brandon Muir, executive director of Reclaim New York.The group made news last year when it requested spending records from more than 200 municipalities, agencies and districts on LI in order to create a Local Government Spending Database that tracks how the entities use taxpayer funds. The group took those that refused to to comply with records requests court, where some of the efforts to get the documents released are still pending.The two databases are part of the nonprofit’s New York Transparency Project. The latest effort empowers approved users to measure the openness of municipalities and districts on up to 29 indicators, such as whether they properly publicize scheduled meetings in advance, if they proactively post records online and how easy it is to find officials’ contact information, among other factors. The results, once processed by website administrators, will result in percent grades for each entity. As of this story, only a few of the agencies have been graded.The effort is similar, but unrelated to a recently released Long Island Open Records Report Card, a 16-month joint project between the Long Island Press and the Press Club of Long Island, which issued percent and letter grades to nearly 200 Nassau and Suffolk county agencies as well as towns, cities and villages, but not school districts. In that project, agencies and municipalities were graded on their responsiveness to Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests. The cumulative grade for the region was a ‘C.’Both the report card and the Reclaim New York project were released Monday at the start of Sunshine Week, an annual national initiative highlighting the importance of access to public records.last_img read more


Banks? We don’t need no stinking banks!

first_imgThat seems to be the attitude of many millennials based on the number of surveys that consistently report that those born between 1982 to 2000 are at best indifferent and at worst skeptical when it comes to financial institutions.For example, according to recent research conducted by Goldman-Sachs, 33% of millennials don’t think they will need a bank in the near future. In addition, 50% of the surveyed millennials are counting on tech startups to overhaul banks. Interestingly, this group is not only skeptical of banking, but profoundly impacted by the Great Recession. According to this survey, less than half of them have a credit card.This is consistent with what I’ve described in previous blogs: a generation that will make its banking relationship decisions in a vastly different way than any previous generation. In addition, this is a generation that is more than willing to scrap traditional banking models. After all, Facebook announced recently that it is debuting an App to allow its users to make account to account transfers. Can you imagine the previous generation so willing to transfer cash without breaking out the checkbook or walking down to the bank. continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more


Main Street in Susquehanna welcomes Christmastime

first_imgThe event was topped off with Santa Claus himself riding down Main Street on his sleigh. With Christmas music playing, local vendors and businesses lined up and down Main Street to take part in the event. Vendors sold food, Christmas ornaments, gifts, and other festive items along Main St.  The event also had pony rides for sale and reindeer feed to buy and put out on Christmas for Santa’s team. “We came out to enjoy the festivities,” one Susquehanna resident said, “and to have a good time.” SUSQUEHANNA, PA (WBNG) — Harper Hill Crafts hosted Christmas on Main Street in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania today. Christmas on Main Street provided holiday fun for the entire family to enjoy. last_img read more


German lockdown ‘snitches’ spark hot debate

first_imgPoisoning social relations  “Not all of the calls lead to police intervention,” said Heidi Vogt, a spokeswoman for the police in Berlin.At the end of March, overwhelmed by complaints, police in the German capital appealed to residents on Twitter to stop calling the 110 emergency number, stressing that it was “not designed for lockdown breaches”.Andreas Geisel, interior minister for the city-state of Berlin, called on citizens to restrain themselves.”We don’t want any snitching,” he told RBB radio. “With a soft lockdown like we have in Germany at the moment, people’s continued freedom depends on their ability to contain themselves,” political historian Klaus-Peter Sick told AFP.”If a group of young people are behaving in an undisciplined way, some people will see that as irresponsible and not thinking about others,” which can lead to frustration and denunciation, he said.But some informers are motivated less by social responsibility and more by the desire to settle personal scores.”This is always the case in times of crisis, especially when they give rise to new regulations that make it possible to invoke justice: anyone who is jealous of their neighbor now has the opportunity to denounce them for the slightest violation of the coronavirus rules,” said Behr.”That poisons social relations.” Telling on your neighbors is a highly sensitive subject in a country still haunted by memories of Nazism and the former communist dictatorship in East Germany, two regimes under which informing on others was practically a national policy.The term “Duninziant” (“snitch”) has been trending on Twitter, fuelling ever more reference to the Third Reich and the Stasi secret police.”All of this appears to confirm a deep-seated prejudice that Germans have against themselves: That when in doubt, a part of the population is willing to become an extension of state power,” psychology professor Christian Stoecker told Der Spiegel weekly.But Germany is not the only country to have seen a rise in the number of people reporting fellow citizens to the authorities for breaching virus-related social distancing rules. Similar observations have been made in countries around the world where lockdowns have been imposed: In New Zealand, a dedicated website was deluged with reports; in South Africa, a wedding was interrupted after an anonymous call; and in France, the emergency number 17 has been overrun with calls. On a sunny Sunday in April, 20 people were enjoying a barbecue in the city of Schwerin in northern Germany.The police promptly intervened, slapping them with a fine for breaking new social distancing rules to limit the spread of COVID-19.They were alerted to the festivities by a neighbor, “outraged by such behavior”, who also proceeded to boast about her efforts on social media, opening up a heated debate about the return of denunciation to Germany and whether it is acceptable in the current crisis.center_img Universal phenomenon “The phenomenon is universal, but with different regional characteristics. It happens more often in urban areas, where many people depend on each other, than in less populated areas where you have more space,” said Rafael Behr, a professor of criminology and sociology at the Hamburg Police Academy.”Acts of denunciation will increase, as will acts of solidarity,” he predicts.”The longer the state of emergency goes on, the more antisocial people will become and the more mistrust and suspicion will develop, for example about whether your neighbor is contagious.”In Germany, police are receiving several hundred complaints a day via phone calls, emails and social media, according to an AFP tally.In Munich alone, “around 100 to 200 citizens are calling every day” with violations to report, according to Sven Mueller, a spokesman for the city’s police force.In the state of Brandenburg, which surrounds Berlin, police intervened in 2,930 violations of social distancing rules between March 20 and April 7.”Around two thirds of these cases were linked to reports from citizens,” said police spokeswoman Stefanie Klaus.The majority of complaints are about people entering public spaces such as stadiums, parties in private homes or cars with license plates from outside the area. Topics :last_img read more


Dutch pension funds need leeway on low interest rates, says PME

first_imgThe Dutch government should give the country’s pension funds more leeway in dealing with low interest rates, according to Marcel Andringa, CIO at the €40bn metal scheme PME.“Pension funds should either be permitted to use a higher discount rate for liabilities or be allowed to take more investment risk,” financial daily Het Financieele Dagblad (FD) quoted him as saying.Andringa took pains to explain that pension funds were gradually running out of investment options.“As yields of some German government bonds have even become negative, one could wonder whether it is still sensible from a long-term perspective to keep on investing assets against current low rates,” he said. And because many Dutch pension funds became underfunded at the start of the financial crisis, their risk profile has been fixed.“A snapshot of a situation seven years ago is still decisive for our investment policy,” Andringa said. “For schemes like us, making adjustments is very difficult.”PME’s CIO warned that, if interest rates fell further, the pension fund might have to apply another rights cut.Currently, PME’s coverage ratio is 103%.In other news, the ECB’s monthly bond-purchasing programme is likely to have caused a funding drop at several of the largest pension funds in the Netherlands.The €40bn metal scheme PME saw its coverage ratio fall by at least 1.5 percentage points during the first week of quantitative easing (QE), while the €48bn pension fund for the building industry, BpfBouw, suffered a 1 percentage point drop, according to IPE sister publication PensioenPro.The impact on coverage ratios is caused by the fall in interest rates, the criterion for the discount rate for Dutch pension funds’ liabilities.The 30-year swap rate has already dropped to less than 1%.A spokesman for the €60bn metal scheme PMT said the scheme had noticed an impact from QE but said it could not yet establish the scale of the problem.The large civil service scheme ABP declined to provide details on its current funding.However, Jos van Dijk, ABP’s spokeswoman, acknowledged that the pension fund had “recognised” the calculations of pensions adviser Mercer, which suggested the average funding of Dutch schemes would decrease by 2 percentage points during the first week of QE.Meanwhile, the large union FNV has warned against the impact of QE and called on the government to discuss measures to mitigate the consequences for pension funds.last_img read more


ATP to oppose pay rises for top management at Danish companies

first_imgDenmark’s DKK759bn (€102bn) statutory pension fund ATP is using its clout as a shareholder to keep a lid on rising pay for top executives at Danish companies, saying the right level of remuneration for corporate leaders increases shareholder value.Claus Berner Møller, vice president for Danish equity at the Hillerød-based pension fund, said: “In general, we are experiencing upward pressure because the level of pay is so much higher in, for example, the US and Switzerland.“We are trying to fight against this pressure because we think that generally, the level in Denmark is appropriate.“We are spending quite a bit of time discussing remuneration, because we believe that the right salary package for executive directors and supervisory boards increases shareholder value.” The supplementary labour-market pension fund was also concerned about overly generous recruitment or severance deals for managers, Berner Møller said.“Fundamentally, we don’t think that a severance package should equate to more than two years’ salary. Similarly, we are sceptical about excessively generous stay-on and sign-on bonuses, and this type of thing,” he said.Berner Møller made the comments in an interview with Danish broadsheet Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten, which were confirmed by a spokesman for the pension fund.Pension funds in the UK have also been vocal on the matter of executive pay in recent months, with industry association the PLSA saying in January that “provocative levels” of executive pay were damaging the reputation of British business.last_img read more


NFWF, NOAA: $43M in Coastal Resilience Grants

first_imgThe National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management has announced more than $43 million in grants to improve the resilience of local communities and wildlife habitat in the face of increasingly severe and frequent natural disasters. The grants will support natural and nature-based infrastructure that will help people and wildlife recover from hurricanes Michael and Florence, Typhoon Yutu, and the California coastal wildfires of 2018, and be better prepared for future events.The 27 grants awarded will support projects in Alabama, California, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The grantees will also receive more than $54.7 million in funds from other sources to generate a total conservation impact of nearly $98 million.“This new Emergency Coastal Resilience Fundoffsite link supports conservation projects that strengthen natural systems at a scale that will help protect coastal communities in the states that were impacted by these disasters from the future impacts of storms, floods, wildfires and other natural hazards,” said Jeff Trandahl, CEO and executive director of NFWF. “These same projects also improve the ecological integrity and functionality of coastal ecosystems to support populations of fish and wildlife.”The projects supported by these new grants are expected to protect or enhance more than 20 miles of shoreline and nearly 8,000 acres of wildlife habitat.These 27 projects will use nature-based infrastructure such as living shorelines, wetlands, dunes, coastal forests, floodplain habitat and coral reefs to achieve the dual benefits of improving human community resilience while also improving the ecological integrity of coastal ecosystems that enhance fish and wildlife habitats.last_img read more