On Thursday, the California legislature unanimously passed a budget trailer bill that will create the state’s first guaranteed income pilot program.
Under the lawmakers’ plan, the state’s Department of Social Services (DSS) will get $35 million to dole out in grants to cities and counties that will then set up local basic income schemes. Grants will be prioritized for programs focusing on “pregnant individuals” and young adults 21 or older who’ve aged out of extended foster care programs.
State Sen. Dave Cortese (D–San Jose) said in a press release Thursday that participants of these pilot programs could end up receiving monthly payments of as much as $1,000 each.
Given Social Security’s dire financial condition, there is growing interest in attempting to harness the power of private capital markets to bail out the faltering system. However, despite its surface attractiveness, allowing the government to invest funds from the Social Security trust fund in private capital markets would be a terrible mistake that would have severe consequences for the U.S. economy.
Allowing the government to invest the trust fund in private capital markets would amount to the “socialization” of a large portion of the U.S. economy. The federal government would become the nation’s largest shareholder, with a controlling interest in nearly every American company. Government ownership brings with it serious problems of government control and is a threat to the efficiency and competitiveness of the U.S. economy.
Moreover, experience in other countries has shown that government investments seldom achieve the rates of return seen in private investment. Attempts by the government to manipulate the markets could further undermine returns and threaten general market stability.
At present, the state pension increases each year in line with the rising cost of living seen in the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) measure of inflation, increasing average wages, or 2.5%, whichever is highest.
As people come off furlough and return to full pay, this is recorded as a large rise in average earnings. Job losses have also affected those in low-paid work too.
This leads to a unique situation, and one which economists describe as an anomaly.
Predictions by the Bank of England suggest that average earnings could go up by 8%, hence the equivalent rise in the state pension.
As many as two of every five Americans who’ve died from COVID-19 were suffering from diabetes, making the chronic disease one of the highest-risk conditions during the pandemic, an expert says.
About 40% of deaths from COVID-19 in the United States were among diabetics, a “really quite sobering” statistic that should prompt people with the ailment to get vaccinated, said Dr. Robert Gabbay, chief scientific and medical officer for the American Diabetes Association.
That diabetes was implicated in up to 40% of COVID-19 deaths is particularly staggering if you consider only 10% of the U.S. population suffers from the condition.
The study, conducted by scientists at the University of Texas at El Paso, also found that one in 10 people with diabetes hospitalized with COVID-19 die within one week.
At least 65% of Asian people have been vaccinated, on average, in states that Bloomberg is tracking. That compares with 45% of White people with at least one dose, 40% of Hispanics and 34% of Black people. In New Mexico, New York and Washington, more than three-quarters of the Asian population has been covered.
Even as rates slowed, Asians remained the most likely to get newly vaccinated, with an average of more than 5% getting their first dose over the past month compared to 3.5% or less for the other groups.
Life and disability insurance, as well as annuities, traditionally have been analyzed as products providing protection against random losses. This article proposed that these products can be viewed as derivative instruments created to address the uncertainties and inadequacies of an individual’s human capital, if human capital is viewed as a financial instrument. In short, life insurance (including disability insurance and annuities) is the business of human capital securitization.
Author(s): Krzysztof M. Ostaszewski, PhD, MAAA, FSA, CFA
Here’s some good news: using the costs of actual annuities available for consumers to purchase in June 2020, and comparing them to bond rates which were similar to the investment portfolios those insurance companies hold, the authors calculated “money’s worth ratios” that show that, for annuities purchased immediately at retirement, the value of the annuities was between 92% – 94% (give-or-take, depending on type) of its cost. That means that the value of the insurance protection is a comparatively modest 6 – 8% of the total investment.
But there’s a catch — or, rather, two of them.
In the first place, the authors calculate their ratios based on a standard mortality table for annuity purchasers — which makes sense if the goal is to judge the “fairness” of an annuity for the healthy retirees most likely to purchase one. But this doesn’t tell us whether an annuity is a smart purchase for someone who thinks of themselves as being in comparatively poorer health, or with a spottier family health history, and folks in these categories would benefit considerably from analysis that’s targeted at them, that evaluates, realistically, whether annuities are the right call and whether their prediction of their life expectancy is likely to be right or wrong.
If 40 million Americans were suffering from the same severe problem, you might think it would be the subject of considerable media attention, a host of government programs, infusions of business capital and a hot topic of national conversation.
The number of new daily cases is currently around 25,000, somewhat fewer than in Britain, and rising. But whereas in Britain this surge has translated into an average of 18 daily deaths over the past week, in Russia it has resulted in an average of 670 deaths a day.
The contrast is all the more striking because Russia was the first country in the world to approve a working vaccine, one based on the same science as the British-Swedish AstraZeneca one and apparently just as effective. But whereas in Britain 78% of the population has received at least one jab, in Russia the proportion is only 20%. The difference is not the availability or the efficacy of the jab, but people’s trust in the government and its vaccines.
All of this could have been avoided. A year ago the government decided to lift a partial lockdown (Mr Putin called it “a holiday”), hoping to save itself money and to prop up the president’s faltering popularity after a prolonged slump in incomes. Mr Putin’s ratings did go back up—but so did the risk of infection.
Beginning in January 2022, pre-ASA candidates will also be able to begin work to earn new micro-credentials that recognize and demonstrate to employers their knowledge and skills gained along the pathway to ASA. These “milestone markers” will remain with candidates if they decide to leave the ASA pathway and are also applicable for those choosing to enter the pathway to only earn one or more micro-credential. All elements required to earn these micro-credentials are part of the ASA pathway and count in full toward earning the ASA and FSA designations.
These micro-credentials group together pathway components that represent distinct knowledge and skills to demonstrate the level of achievement candidates earn to employers, co-workers and their professional network. AQ/EQ and data science skills are driving changes to the ASA curriculum and will be incorporated into requirements for each micro-credential, allowing candidates the ability to demonstrate and build on those skills for their resume and jobs.
These micro-credentials do not make candidates qualified or “signing” actuaries; that work is reserved for those who earn the ASA and FSA designations. However, they do provide critical marks of candidates’ progress through the system and signal to employers the knowledge they’ve gained. We will be conducting an outreach program to employers to build awareness and support for the micro-credentials over the coming months.
After falling short of its goal of administering at least one dose of the vaccine to 70 percent of adults by July 4th (it reached 67 percent) the White House is now turning its attention to the toughest populations in the country. That includes places like barber shops in Englewood, which are part of the “Shots at the Shops” effort by the White House. It’s also sending “surge teams” to some of the lowest vaccinated spots in the country, enlisting trusted messengers like church leaders to go door-to-door. And they’ll add mobile vaccination units at places like music festivals, sporting events or neighborhoods with low vaccination rates.
It’s all in an effort to target the stubbornly resistant, or hard-to-reach populations as fear grows that the virus could reemerge thanks to the highly contagious Delta variant.
Much of the coverage of those populations has focused on Trump supporters who have resisted vaccination as a matter of political identity. And data show that vaccination rates do tend to overlap with partisan leanings. But there are other hard-to-reach communities, including young people, Black and minority groups that traditionally vote Democratic.
In late May, an obscure BlackRock Inc. commodities fund took in more than $1 billion in new money in less than a week.
The iShares GSCI Commodity Dynamic Roll Strategy exchange-traded fund was a relatively small fund in BlackRock’s larger suite of funds. But on the week of May 26, the ETF—which trades under the ticker COMT and tracks futures contracts tied to commodities from energy to metals to agriculture—scored its biggest one-day influx of new cash on record, according to FactSet data.
The surge helped the ETF more than double its assets under management to more than $2 billion.
The answer for why so much money flowed into the fund wasn’t solely because Wall Street traders were up in arms with inflation fears that were helping to drive idle funds into commodity investments. According to BlackRock documents and people familiar with the matter, BlackRock had sent instructions to brokerages and other financial platforms to alter a series of “model portfolios” to include this fund.
Model portfolios are ready-made fund combos delivered through financial advisers and brokerages to everyday investors. Brokerages can design their own model portfolios, or rely on guidance from fund companies like BlackRock. The May surge in the BlackRock fund shows just how powerful that guidance can be.