NYPD unions to pull out of pension fund group, Comptroller Stringer urges them to reconsider

Link: https://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/new-york-elections-government/ny-nypd-unions-pull-out-pension-fund-group-20210920-472g2q3jn5hr5hk2lhgtgitvia-story.html

Excerpt:

New York City police unions that hold partial control over how their members’ pension money is invested are planning to pull out of a consortium of other city pension funds that Comptroller Scott Stringer has credited with considerably augmenting their return on investment.

In 2015, Stringer launched what’s come to be known as the Common Investment Meeting, where the trustees of the city’s five largest union pension funds meet to hash out how their money is managed.

…..

According to Stringer, the CIM has boosted the pension funds’ growth overall, with their rate of return hitting 11.58% over the five years since the CIM was created, compared to a 7.02% rate of return for the five years prior to its creation.

The police pension funds’ trustees are made up of several police unions. The most powerful among them is the Police Benevolent Association.

The PBA’s head, Patrick Lynch, pointed out that the CIM began as a pilot program and disputed the idea that, over the past five years, it’s made life easier for the funds’ trustees.

Author(s): Michael Gartland

Publication Date: 19 Sept 2021

Publication Site: NY Daily News

As Comptroller, Lander Would Use ‘Environmental, Social and Governance’ Factors to Inform Pension Investment

Link: https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/10773-comptroller-lander-environmental-social-governance-esg-pension-investment?mc_cid=234d7207fb&mc_eid=1a5d3a1f3d

Excerpt:

The New York City Comptroller is an investment advisor and fiduciary for New York City’s $266 billion public pension system that serves 700,000 current and former teachers, firefighters, health care workers, police officers, and other retired city employees.

Brad Lander, the Democratic nominee for Comptroller, is all but certain to win the general election this fall in the overwhelmingly Democratic city after prevailing in a competitive primary earlier this year. If successful, Lander would be inaugurated in January and soon be able to make recommendations to the Boards of Trustees of the city’s five public pension funds on how their many billions should be invested, while also voting directly on four of the five pension boards, making him the key figure in almost all investment decisions.

The implications are significant given that city workers’ pensions are on the line, and because the city guarantees those pensions, billions are spent each year to make up for what the pensions themselves don’t produce in returns. Better returns from pension fund investments can save city government a significant amount of money that could be used for other priorities or put aside for a crisis.

Those investment decisions can also be made to further other goals than simply the funds’ bottom lines, though the returns and overall financial health of the pension funds are the comptroller’s main city charter-mandated responsibility.

Author(s): Carmen Vintro

Publication Date: 17 Sept 2021

Publication Site: Gotham Gazette

The New York City Unions Whose Backdoor Deal Sold Out Retirees, Helped Insurance Industry

Link: https://www.newsweek.com/new-york-city-unions-whose-backdoor-deal-sold-out-retirees-helped-insurance-industry-1604661

Excerpt:

In recent years, leadership of some of the nation’s largest unions have publicly opposed single-payer health care proposals, angering their rank-and-file and forcing Democratic politicians who back single-payer to take on a key constituency.

In New York City, for example, the umbrella organization for the city’s public sector unions—the Municipal Labor Committee (MLC)—recently helped the health insurance industry block a statewide single-payer bill, on the grounds that their members wanted to keep the health care benefits for which they had sacrificed wage increases.

But it turns out that the MLC, which bargains for health care benefits for city unions, was also engaging in backdoor negotiations with the city, resulting in a proposal to switch nearly a quarter-million people from Medicare to privately administered Medicare Advantage plans.

…..

Following the 2018 cost-cutting agreement, union leaders and officials came up with eight proposals to meet the cost-cutting requirements, including switching to a statewide single-payer system or setting up a self-insurance system.

A January 2021 study by The New School found that the city could save about $1.6 billion per year if it adopted a self-insurance program, as most major cities and large companies have done. That would involve setting up a health insurance plan just for the city’s employees and paying for claims directly, rather than paying premiums to a health insurance company which tends to be more expensive because insurance company profit margins are so large.

But since the negotiations between the MLC and Office of Labor Relations were held behind closed doors, retirees don’t know whether this option was ever considered.

Author(s): JULIA ROCK, THE DAILY POSTER

Publication Date: 28 June 2021

Publication Site: Newsweek

MTA scare highlights public finance cyber woes

Link: https://fixedincome.fidelity.com/ftgw/fi/FINewsArticle?id=202106070952SM______BNDBUYER_00000179-d86e-df56-a3fd-f8fe8d120001_110.1

Excerpt:

Subway safety in New York took on a new meaning when the Metropolitan Transportation Authority acknowleged a cyber intrusion, which set off loud alarm bells about the rising threat of system hacks.

The MTA is one of the largest municipal issuers and reports linked China’s government to the episode.

Despite MTA officials? assurances of quick troubleshooting and no evidence of compromise to its operational systems, employee or customer information, this marked the latest chilling cybersecurity event for public finance.

Author(s): Paul Burton

Publication Date: 7 June 2021

Publication Site: Fidelity Fixed Income

Who would want to leave New York?

Link: https://blog.datawrapper.de/new-york-city-immigration/

Graphic:

Excerpt:

In fact, just having been born here makes me an atypical New Yorker. Of the approximately 8.3 million people who live in the city today, just under half were born in New York State. Eleven percent come from other US states and 40% from the rest of the world. So we’re not wrong to associate New York with immigration—the average New Yorker comes from somewhere else.

I got these numbers from the US Census Bureau, who do their best to estimate not just how many people live in each county, but how they got there: by birth, by migrating from another country, or by migrating from elsewhere in the US. When you take away the people who died, moved abroad, or moved domestically, you’re left with each of these three streams’ net effect on the population that year.[1] Those are the numbers that will show us whether it’s unusual to move away:

Author(s): Rose Mintzer-Sweeney

Publication Date: 3 June 2021

Publication Site: Datawrapper

2.8 Million New York City Residents To Get Retirement Coverage

Link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/teresaghilarducci/2021/05/19/28-million-new-york-city-residents-to-get-retirement-coverage/?sh=5cbd24fb5d4a

Excerpt:

At the end of April, the New York City Council took a bold step and approved a city-sponsored retirement plan for private-sector employees who do not have retirement coverage at work, creating the city’s first ‘auto-IRA’ (individual retirement account). SCEPA’s Retirement Equity Lab, which testified in support of the policy, estimated the New York auto IRA plan will provide coverage to 2.8 million city workers that today have none. 

Mayor de Blasio signed the bill last week implementing the city’s auto-IRA program.

The NYC Auto IRA Bill Is Well- Designed

Employers with more than five employees will have to automatically deduct a percentage of their workers’ pay and forward it to city-facilitated, not-for-profit IRAs. (Employers with less than five employees, self employed, and gig workers need to voluntarily join.) Auto IRA account’s are individually-owned and professionally managed, and administered by an independent board headed by city-appointed trustees. While employers are required to participate, employees would have the right to change their contribution rates or opt-out of the program. The plan is also portable; participants can maintain their accounts when they change jobs. 

Author(s): Teresa Ghilarduci

Publication Date: 19 May 2021

Publication Site: Forbes

Data proves it: Pandemic is no excuse for NYC’s rising tide of violent crime

Link: https://nypost.com/2021/05/09/pandemic-is-no-excuse-for-nycs-rising-tide-of-violent-crime/

Excerpt:

So he [NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio] hasn’t acted with much urgency as the murder rate rose 47 percent last year, to a total of 468 people killed, and has risen this year, so far, by 17 percent. 

…..

In London, the global city that most closely resembles Gotham, the murder rate plummeted last year. It fell to 126 from 150, down 16 percent. 

Why? Well, that’s obvious: It was the global pandemic. “Many, many crime types have reduced as you would expect,” said Met Police chief Cressida Dick, noting that fewer people were outside to fight with each other. 

How about Italy, hit hard and early by the pandemic? There, murders fell by 14 percent, to 271 from 315. 

France with its troubled banlieues? The country’s murders were down 2 percent in 2020, to 863. 

….

But these are all safe countries anyway. So what about cartel-ridden Mexico? There, murders fell by slightly less than half a percent last year, to 34,523 — the first decline in six years. 

Author(s): Nicole Gelinas

Publication Date: 9 May 2021

Publication Site: NY Post

New York Taxes Go Skyscraper High

Link: https://www.wsj.com/articles/new-york-taxes-go-skyscraper-high-11617834769

Excerpt:

The budget deal Gov. Andrew Cuomo cut this week with the Legislature lifts the top marginal rate on the state’s income tax to 10.9%, from today’s 8.82%. Add New York City’s top local tax of 3.88%, and the total is 14.78%. Take a knee, California (top marginal rate of 13.3%), and recognize America’s new tax king. Wall Street types already are migrating to Florida, which has an income tax of 0%.

Mr. Cuomo’s budget deal also raises the business franchise tax to 7.25%, from 6.5%. This affects many independent proprietors and will be another incentive to escape from Manhattan. Both of these tax increases are sold as temporary “surcharges,” running through 2027 for the income tax and 2023 for the corporate tax. But politicians in Albany used the same line when they passed the “millionaires tax” in 2009. Does Mr. Cuomo think two decades is temporary?

The reason for the tax increase isn’t the pandemic or a revenue shortfall. Mr. Cuomo last year pointed a gun at New York’s head and threatened to shoot unless Congress sent more money. He received the ransom he demanded, and more. The state is getting $12.6 billion in direct budget relief from President Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid bill.

Author(s): Editorial Board

Publication Date: 7 April 2021

Publication Site: Wall Street Journal

TRUST THE SCIENCE: THE BLUE STATE SURGE IS REAL

Link: http://www.newgeography.com/content/007004-trust-science-the-blue-state-surge-real

Excerpt:

What did make a big difference, it turns out, is not so much the severity of lockdowns but pre-existing conditions. The likely cause here can be best identified as “exposure density” brought on by crowded housing, transit, and office environments.

That helps explain why, after New York City’s suburbs were hit hard in the first wave, the current surge has hit the outer boroughs, where a much higher share of workers have had little choice but to continue taking the subway or other transit.

Nationwide, urban exposure to the pandemic also reflects their greater inequality. Higher rates of poverty and overcrowded housing accentuate the worst effects of the pandemic, which tore through impoverished parts of New YorkHoustonLos Angeles CountyChicago’s poor south side, and similar areas. The Bronx, for example, has suffered an 80 percent worse death rate than denser yet wealthier Manhattan, while Brooklyn’s rate is 50 percent worse than Manhattan’s.

Author(s): Joel Kotkin, Wendell Cox

Publication Date: 6 April 2021

Publication Site: New Geography

Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Subway Ridership in New York City

Link: https://www.osc.state.ny.us/reports/osdc/impact-covid-19-pandemic-subway-ridership-new-york-city

Graphic:

Excerpt:

Subway turnstile data published by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) shows a correlation between median household income and subway ridership. Neighborhoods with lower median household incomes tended to have significantly higher ridership as a share of 2019 levels compared to wealthier neighborhoods. This trend was clear not only in April, when COVID-19 had its most dramatic impact on ridership, but has continued through the recovery to date.

In high-income neighborhoods, residents are more likely to be employed in sectors that have easily adapted to remote-work models, such as financial activities and business services. In neighborhoods where residents are more likely to continue using the subway during the pandemic, common areas of employment are the health care and social assistance sector and the leisure and hospitality sector.

Author(s): Thomas DiNapoli

Date Accessed: 28 March 2021

Publication Site: Office of New York State Comptroller

NYS Comptroller DiNapoli: Wall Street’s 2020 Bonuses Rose Amid Volatility

Link: https://www.osc.state.ny.us/press/releases/2021/03/nys-comptroller-dinapoli-wall-streets-2020-bonuses-rose-amid-volatility

Excerpt:

The average bonus paid to employees in New York City’s securities industry grew by 10 percent in 2020 to $184,000, in line with the city’s most recent 9.9 percent projection, likely allowing the city to meet or exceed its income tax revenue projections in FY2021, according to annual estimates released today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

….

As a major source of revenue, DiNapoli estimates that the securities industry accounted for 18 percent ($15.1 billion) of state tax collections in state fiscal year (SFY) 2020 and 6 percent ($3.9 billion) of city tax collections in city fiscal year (CFY) 2020.

Pretax profits in 2020 for the broker/dealer operations of New York Stock Exchange member firms (the traditional measure of securities industry profits) increased by 81 percent to $50.9 billion. It was the fifth consecutive year of growth in profits, which are up 256 percent since 2015. Profitability in 2020 was the second highest on record, trailing $61.4 billion recorded in 2009.

Author(s): Thomas DiNapoli

Publication Date: 26 March 2021

Publication Site: Office of New York State Comptroller

New York City Comptroller: Ax Rule Forcing Private Equity to Pay Legal Bills

Link: https://www.ai-cio.com/news/new-york-city-comptroller-ax-rule-forcing-private-equity-pay-legal-bills/

Excerpt:

Scott Stringer is worried. New York City pension funds are having a tough time enlisting private equity (PE) firms due to a requirement that PE outfits pay for litigation expenses out of their own pockets instead of shunting the cost onto investors.  

So, as the city official overseeing the funds, City Comptroller Stringer is urging fund trustees to scrap this rule, which would help the buyout firms if they run into trouble with regulators or other litigants, as first reported by the New York Post. The idea is to get more PE players managing city pension money.

The New York City Public Pension Funds, the collective of the city’s five pension funds, implemented the private equity rule, called the “GP Expenses Provision,” roughly five years ago after Carlyle Group was swept up in a collusion case and had to pay a $115 million settlement, the Post reported.

Author(s): Sarah Min

Publication Date: 26 February 2021

Publication Site: ai-CIO