Finance Group Fails To Deliver at COP26

Link:https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2021/11/finance-group-fails-to-deliver-at-cop26.html

Excerpt:

Not One of 60 Major Commercial Banks Has ‘Leadership Position on Decarbonizing’

Yet the trend line of bank finance for fossil fuels is rising not declining, and not a single big commercial bank has released a plan to stop financing new fossil fuels.

It’s striking that unlike any of other sectors implicated in speeding global warming, not a single one of the 60 major commercial banks has staked out a leadership position on decarbonizing.

On the other labelled days of COP, there were all kinds of interesting mash-ups of governments, private sector actors, and think tanks offering a web of creative announcements about their determination to set ambition on one thing or another. By contrast, on Private Finance Day, the one and only announcement was relating to GFANZ. Banks and investors didn’t even try to push out additional good ideas. Everyone covered themselves in the GFANZ penumbra and then went quiet.

Author(s): Michael Northrop

Publication Date: 30 Nov 2021

Publication Site: naked capitalism

A Group of Midwestern Retirees Are Trying to Stop Wall Street’s Abuse of Retirement Funds

Link:https://jacobinmag.com/2021/11/ohio-teacher-pensions-hedge-funds-private-equity-strs

Excerpt:

Due to an active group of retirees and the assistance of a former Ohio attorney general, both the Ohio state auditor and the Ohio Department of Securities have launched inquiries into the Ohio State Teachers Retirement System (STRS Ohio), a $100 billion pension that has launched billions of dollars of investments into the riskier corners of the market, namely private equity and hedge funds.

“Ohio could be the first place where the secrecy surrounding public pensions and their investments in risky, speculative, and high-fee investment vehicles could be looked at in a serious way,” said Ted Siedle, a former SEC attorney and longtime pension whistleblower.

Pointing out that pension funds across the country have routinely invoked “trade secrets” exemptions to deny the public information about investment performance and fees, Siedle said the actions taken by the state auditor and securities commissioner “could be the beginning of the end” of such secrecy — not just in Ohio, but nationwide.

Author(s): MATTHEW CUNNINGHAM-COOK

Publication Date: 30 Nov 2021

Publication Site: Jacobin magazine

Is It Time for Eurozone Banks to Start Worrying About Turkey Again?

Link:https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2021/11/is-it-time-for-european-banks-to-start-worrying-about-turkey-again.html

Excerpt:

At the height of the last big wave of Turkey’s ongoing crisis, in August 2018, the European Central Bank issued a warning about the potential impact the plummeting lira could have on Euro Area banks heavily exposed to Turkey’s economy via large amounts in loans — much of them in euros — through banks they acquired in Turkey. The central bank was worried that Turkish borrowers might not be hedged against the lira’s weakness and would begin to default on foreign currency loans, which accounted for 40% of the Turkish banking sector’s assets.

In the end, the contagion risks were largely contained. Many Turkish banks ended up agreeing to restructure the debts of their corporate clients, particularly the large ones. At the same time, the Erdogan government used state-owned lenders to bail out millions of cash-strapped consumers by restructuring their consumer loans, many of them foreign denominated, and credit card debt.  

But concerns are once again on the rise about European banks’ exposure to Turkey. On Friday, as those concerns commingled with fears about the potential threat posed by the new omicron variant of Covid-19, Europe’s worst-affected stocks included the four banks most exposed to Turkey: Spain’s BBVA, whose shares fell 7.3% on the day, Italy’s Unicredit (-6.9%), France’s BNP Paribas (-5.9%) and the Dutch ING (-7.3%).

Author(s): Nick Corbishley

Publication Date: 30 Nov 2021

Publication Site: naked capitalism

Call Your State Securities Regulator And NASAA, Demand To See Public Pension Prospectuses

Link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/edwardsiedle/2021/11/30/call-your-state-securities-regulator-and-nasaa-demand-to-see-public-pension-prospectuses/?sh=d277a077f881

Excerpt:

State securities regulators and NASAA have historically had very little to say about Wall Street looting of these pensions. That’s not altogether surprising given that state securities regulators almost universally serve at the whim of elected politicians—politicians who depend upon Wall Street campaign contributions. If a state securities regulator aggressively pursues Wall Street pension looting, she may be swiftly out of a job.

However, since NASAA believes “every investor deserves protection and an even break” the organization should focus upon the disturbing fact that today public pension stakeholders in all 50 states are routinely denied prospectuses and other material investment information related to their pension assets—the very same information which is widely disseminated globally to wealthy individuals. In the absence of prospectuses, public pension stakeholders cannot possibly evaluate whether pension assets are prudently invested.

…..

Recently I filed a complaint with the Ohio Department of Commerce, Division of Securities regarding the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio which has failed since February to provide prospectuses and other offering materials related to the teachers’ pension investments in response to my public records request filed on behalf of 19,000 Ohio teachers. Not a single page of a single prospectus has been released to me by STRS Ohio since February. The Division is investigating my complaint at this time.

In Rhode Island, my request for the prospectuses regarding that state’s pension investments was also denied by Treasurer Seth Magaziner last week as the pension perversely asserts, on behalf of Wall Street, that widely distributed prospectuses can somehow be “trade secrets.” I intend to file an appeal and a lawsuit challenging Magaziner’s secret pension dealings in Rhode Island.

Given that public pensions in all 50 states today refuse to provide some or all prospectuses to stakeholders, including both participants and taxpayers, publci pension secrecy is a national problem that needs to be addressed.

Author(s): Edward Siedle

Publication Date: 30 Nov 2021

Publication Site: Forbes

5 Worst Cities for COVID-19 Case Count Trends

Link:https://www.thinkadvisor.com/2021/11/30/5-worst-cities-for-covid-19-case-count-trends/

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Excerpt:

The latest COVID-19 Community Profile Report, which is produced by public health specialists at the CDC and another federal agency, shows that the overall number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people fell to 504,056 in the week ending Nov. 28, down 21% from the total for the previous week.

But, at the metropolitan area level, week-over-week changes ranged from a drop of 100% to an increase of 12%.

Author(s): Allison Bell

Publication Date: 30 Nov 2021

Publication Site: Think Advisor

Massachusetts PRIM Proposes $1 Billion Investment to Boost Diversity in Managers

Link:https://www.ai-cio.com/news/massachusetts-prim-proposes-1-billion-investment-to-boost-diversity-in-managers/

Excerpt:

Massachusetts’ $95.7 billion state pension fund has preliminarily approved a plan to invest up to $1 billion in emerging-diverse managers over the next two years. The move is part of the Massachusetts Pension Reserves Investment Management (PRIM)’s initiative to abide by the state’s investment equity law, which contains a target of at least 20% diversity among PRIM’s vendor base.

“The PRIM team, by investing $1 billion into its emerging-diverse managers program, is taking important steps in addressing the inequities endemic in the financial services sector,” State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, who is also the chair of PRIM’s board, said in a statement. “This is real and tangible progress that will reduce barriers and expand opportunities for diverse investment managers.”

Author(s): Michael Katz

Publication Date: 1 Dec 2021

Publication Site: ai-CIO

Undermining Pension Reform

Link:https://www.city-journal.org/undermining-pension-reform

Excerpt:

The Biden administration is trying to prohibit California from receiving billions of dollars in new federal aid because, the administration claims, the state’s 2013 Public Employee Pension Reform Act (PEPRA) denied workers the right to bargain for changes to their retirement benefits. The move could undermine state-worker pension reforms passed over the last decade.

In a letter to the state, the Department of Labor says that the 2013 pension-reform act “significantly interferes” with the collective bargaining rights of public employees, including transit workers. As a result, California risks losing some $12 billion in transportation money, most of it from the recently passed federal infrastructure bill. The administration is strong-arming the state and its municipalities to choose between tens of billions of dollars in savings for a deeply indebted pension system and grants from Washington. And its move raises serious questions about similar reforms enacted by other states that allow collective bargaining by public employees, including New York and New Jersey.

….

The Labor Department’s ruling, California governor Gavin Newsom said in a letter to Walsh, “deprives financially beleaguered California public transit agencies that serve essential workers and our most vulnerable residents of critical support, including American Rescue Plan Act funds that those agencies need to survive through the pandemic.” Newsom called the decision a “complete reversal” from a 2019 ruling by the Labor Department, which held that the state’s pension reforms did not represent a violation of federal law.

Author(s): Steven Malanga

Publication Date: 23 Nov 2021

Publication Site: City Journal

Omicron is starting to spread around the world

Link:https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2021/11/29/omicron-is-starting-to-spread-around-the-world

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Excerpt:

Days after a new variant of SARS-CoV-2 was identified in southern Africa, countries around the world are confirming that they have found cases of it too. The new strain of the virus, B.1.1.529, was first detected in genetic samples from Botswana and South Africa. (Nearly 150 cases have been confirmed in southern Africa since, although the true number is thought to be higher.) On November 24th South Africa’s health authorities told the World Health Organisation, which quickly labelled it a “variant of concern” and assigned it the Greek letter Omicron. Just how long—and where—it has been circulating is not yet clear.

Publication Date: 29 Nov 2021

Publication Site: The Economist

Movember Fundraising: Men and Suicide

Link:https://marypatcampbell.substack.com/p/movember-fundraising-men-and-suicide

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Excerpt:

Let’s look at the rate trend for those over age 55 — the suicide death rates in 2019 are lower than they were in 1968. There has been an improvement.

But under age 55, we have a different story.

Indeed, from age 25 to 64, we see a flattening of the suicide death rate, as we have a rate in 1968 which was fairly low rising up to a level similar to that of much older men.

As I’ve said about other mortality trends — in many cases, I can’t tell you why this is happening. I don’t know. I can just see that it is happening. And I would like to do something about it.

Author(s):Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 30 Nov 2021

Publication Site: STUMP at substack

I’ve Stopped Using Box Plots. Should You?

Link:https://nightingaledvs.com/ive-stopped-using-box-plots-should-you/

Graphic:

Excerpt:

Well, as far as I can tell, the only advantage of box plots is that they show quartile ranges. The obvious next question, of course, is how often it’s necessary to show quartile ranges in order to say what you need to say about the data. In my experience, it’s not nearly as often as a lot of chart creators seem to think. Most of the time, you’re pointing out that distributions are higher or lower than one another, more concentrated or more dispersed than one another, have outliers, etc. None of these types of insights require showing quartile ranges and all can be communicated using simpler chart types. Some types of insights might require showing medians, but those can be easily added to simpler chart types:

Author(s): Nick Desbarats

Publication Date: 4 Nov 2021

Publication Site: Nightingale

City of Newport Beach Urges Greater Sustainability in State Pension Fund, Aims to Pay CalPERS Debt by 2030

Link:https://www.newportbeachindy.com/city-of-newport-beach-urges-greater-sustainability-in-state-pension-fund-aims-to-pay-calpers-debt-by-2030/

Excerpt:

Newport Beach City officials are advocating for policies aimed at increasing long-term sustainability in the state public employee pension fund, CalPERS, as Newport Beach continues to make significant progress in paying down its debt obligations to the system.

On November 16, the CalPERS Board of Administration decided to maintain the fund’s discount rate, or the expected rate of return of the pension fund investments, at the current 6.8 percent. The discount rate had been lowered from 7.0 percent to 6.8 percent in July through CalPERS’ Funding Risk Mitigation Policy, which automatically lowers the discount rate in years when investment returns are above the assumed rate of return. Prior to the recent discount rate change, Newport Beach had asked CalPERS to lower its discount rate to 6.5 percent or below, a more conservative number that could help further reduce future risk.

….

Newport Beach expects to eliminate its unfunded liability by 2030, thanks to an aggressive payment schedule. Beginning in 2018, the City Council decided to increase annual payments to $35 million a year, $9 million more than required. This fiscal year, for the second year in a row, the City will contribute $5 million more as an additional, discretionary payment, bringing the total contribution to $40 million.

Publication Date: 29 Nov 2021

Publication Site: Newport Beach Independent

Covid Mortality Update for November 2021: Before the Omicron Variant

Link:https://marypatcampbell.substack.com/p/covid-mortality-update-for-november

Graphic:

Excerpt:

As noted earlier, the Hispanic excess mortality was about a level as the other non-White groups, but then spiked with Wave 2 and stayed very high.

The Asian group saw its excess mortality peak with Wave 3 — remember, that’s the large wave with the most COVID deaths. But they have been at about 30 – 35% excess mortality for the other waves.

The Black group looks like it’s slightly rising in excess mortality, but staying within a fairly narrow range of about 33% to 37% excess mortality.

The White group is definitely showing an increasing trend of excess mortality. Interesting.

Due to the White group’s increasing excess mortality, the overall population is showing an increasing trend — look, Whites have been the majority of deaths for a long time, as they’re the majority of old folks. That’s how that works.

Author(s): Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 28 Nov 2021

Publication Site: STUMP at substack