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Remarks of Senator Patrick Leahy at the Economic Recovery Conference at Champlain College

first_imgThank you, President Finney and Champlain College, for hosting us at this timely conference today.  We welcome this opportunity to offer Vermonters, Vermont businesses, and Vermont communities a chance to learn more about how they can take advantage of the recently passed federal economic recovery act.  And the more rapidly and effectively that Vermont puts these resources to work, the better we will be able to keep Vermonters working today, and the better we will be able to lay the groundwork for growing our economy for the jobs of tomorrow.   I d like to thank the Vermont Procurement and Technical Assistance Center and the Vermont Small Business Development Center for sponsoring and helping to organize this event.  For those of you who don t know about the great work these organizations do and the many other organizations represented at this conference today I really encourage you to take advantage of their superb knowledge and expertise about doing business in Vermont.  I also want to thank Governor Douglas, Legislative leaders, and so many Federal and State officials for being here today.  The Congressional Delegation worked closely with the Governor and the Legislature under the leadership of Senator Peter Shumlin and Speaker Shap Smith and with State agencies to make sure that the economic recovery plan is a good match for Vermont s job needs today and in the future. Vermonters are hurting today because of the economic and financial crises gripping the world.  We have a rising unemployment rate.  The State s budget, local municipal budgets and local school budgets are all stretched to the breaking point.  Our roads and bridges are strained and worn.  And hard-working families are struggling to put food on the table.  This really is one of the worst economic messes our country has seen since the Great Depression. As President Obama so clearly told the nation last week before a joint meeting of the Congress, rebuilding the foundation of a strong economy won t be easy.  It will take sacrifice, and it will take wise, concerted and sometimes courageous action.  And this economic recovery package is just one part of the solution.  We still have to stabilize our financial markets, our housing market, and consumer confidence in our overall economy.Some want these efforts to fail.  Worse yet, some pundits and even some politicians seem determined to try to make these efforts fail.  We cannot afford that kind of corrosive negativism in the best of times.  And when it comes to setting right an economy that has been going off keel for many years, this is anything but the best of times.  As for this Vermonter — and I think as for many, many Vermonters — I want this President and this country to succeed.  Some of the tools we need for economic recovery are in this legislative package, and the workshops where these tools will be put to work are right here in Vermont and in other states.  If Vermont gets a little head start on other states — that s OK by me.  This conference, which we re told is the first statewide conference of its kind, can help us jump off the starting block.   And I must say that the interest you have shown in being here is a sign that Vermonters are ready to lead the way back to economic vitality.  The economic recovery package is bold action taken by the Federal government to help put Americans back to work and we must be prepared to quickly and constructively take advantage of it. The package includes tax relief for working families and for businesses.  There are investments for broadband deployment, for job training, for electrical smart grids, for water and transportation infrastructure, for better schools, for housing, for first responders, for new energy sources, and for a whole host of other items that will help cushion pressures on the State budget, and for helping to lay the groundwork for a renewed and vibrant Vermont economy.In all, we expect Vermont will receive more than $700 million in direct federal funding under this economic recovery package, with hundreds of millions more coming to the State through competitive grant programs and tax reductions for individuals and businesses.President Obama has ordered Federal agencies to detail all of their economic recovery plans on the www.Recovery.gov(link is external) Website a site that I suggest you all bookmark on your computers.  According to the site, most of the Federal funding won t be released to states or noticed for competitive bidding until May.  But all of Washington has been impressed by the quick and competent way that formula grant funds already are flowing to the states, including millions of dollars to Vermont. Nevertheless, we hope that today s sessions will give you a sense of the breadth of opportunities available in the economic recovery package, will help you get a sense of how these resources will be directed, and will get you started thinking about ways your business, your organization, your municipality, or you yourself can take advantage of these opportunities.I ll caution you now — we probably won t have answers to all of your questions today.  As this bill goes into implementation it s impossible to know the details of everything.  My staff, the governor s staff, and our workshop panelists will do their best with the information they have available.  Most Federal and State agencies are still working on their rules and distribution plans right now, so please feel free to follow up with any of us in the weeks and months ahead. Again, thank you all for coming.  We appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedules to be here today.  I hope you ll find this a worthwhile conference because the economic recovery package really is a unique opportunity to save and create jobs and to make life better here in Vermont. Thank you.last_img read more

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​UK DB schemes ‘holding too much’ in growth assets, illiquids

first_imgUK defined benefit (DB) schemes have reduced investment risk in the last nine years as they have matured, but for some sponsors this process has still not gone far enough, according to a new report.Research by consultancy Barnett Waddingham showed that, as FTSE 350 DB pension schemes have matured, asset allocation has ratcheted down to 31% growth assets in 2019 – from 51% in 2010.However, schemes approaching buyout in the next five years had an average of 27% allocated to growth assets, which exposed companies to unnecessary risk, the firm said.Nick Griggs, head of corporate consulting at the firm, said: “As schemes have matured, a general de-risking has been inevitable, but corporates need to seriously consider whether they have gone far enough. “Especially for those close to the endgame, being proactive with your strategy is crucial in ensuring the level of investment risk matches the agreed objective, whether that’s an insurance company buyout or a run-off.”The consultancy said it would expect to see companies aiming for a buyout within two years typically holding 10-15% or less in growth assets. Those that were two to five years away should hold no more than 15-25% – although the recommendation depended on the individual scheme.UK DB schemes’ funding positions were still under threat from falls in long-term interest rates, according to the consultancy.“With economic and political uncertainty driving global bond yields lower, as investors look to move into safe haven assets, schemes can do more to neutralise the impact of this and reduce the volatility of funding levels,” it said.Some firms looking to buyout in the next five years were also holding illiquid assets, with 4% of their assets on average being property investments, the firm said.“These take time to dispose of, and are unlikely to be accepted by insurers as part of a premium payment for buyout,” it warned.Barnett Waddingham also said overexposure to growth assets – particularly illiquid investments – could cause cashflow issues. It said 90% of schemes were already cashflow negative, and one in eight FTSE 350 schemes had a cashflow burden above 5% of total assets.UK private sector pension deficit hits two-year highThe combined funding shortfall of UK private sector DB schemes hit £163bn (€182.6bn) at the end August, according to the Pension Protection Fund (PPF), as stock market volatility increased and bond yields fell sharply.According to the PPF’s 7800 Index, which tracks the net funding position of UK DB schemes, the figure marked the biggest deficit recorded since May 2017, when the deficit was £168bn.Total assets increased during August by 1.5%, from £1,730bn to £1,756bn, but aggregate liabilities rose by 5.4%, from £1,821bn to £1,919bn.Data from Mercer released last week showed the aggregate funding position of DB funds linked to FTSE 350 companies declined, from a £51bn deficit to £67bn.Funding position of UK private sector pension schemesChart MakerSion Cole, Head of UK fiduciary business at BlackRock, said: “Whether a scheme is in surplus or deficit will largely have decided how schemes have fared in August.“Generally speaking, better-funded schemes have more hedging and are taking less investment risk so will have coped better with the market turbulence in August. Conversely, their underfunded counterparts who need to chase returns will have been hit hardest.” Nick Reevelast_img read more

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Brash’s call on cannabis ‘dopey and dangerous’

first_imgONE News 26 Sep 2011Family First says a call by Act Party leader Don Brash to decriminalise cannabis sends the wrong message. Act leader Don Brash is calling for the decriminalisation of cannabis, saying prohibition of the drug has not worked. Brash told TVNZ’s Q + A programme policing cannabis costs millions of taxpayer dollars and clogs up the court system. But Family First spokesman Bob McCoskrie said decriminalisation tells the public, especially younger people, that small amounts of drug use is no big deal. “Brash also misunderstands the real harm that personal consumption of the drug actually does,” McCoskrie said. He said Act should instead be calling for better treatment facilities for addiction and mental illness. McCoskrie says a zero-tolerance approach to the use of drugs combined with treatment options is a far better solution.http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/brash-s-call-cannabis-dopey-and-dangerous-4419091ALSO – ACT leader questions marijuana lawsNZ Herald 25 Sep 2011Act Party leader Don Brash is calling for thought to be given to decriminalising marijuana. In a speech on law and order to supporters in Auckland on Sunday Dr Brash said he had some serious questions about current marijuana laws.http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10754275Bob Clarkson joins call to legalise cannabisBay of Plenty Times 27 Sep 2011Former Tauranga MP Bob Clarkson has supported calls for the decriminalisation of cannabis.http://www.bayofplentytimes.co.nz/news/clarkson-joins-call-to-legalise-drug/1117303/last_img read more

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FL Ag Commissioner Asks Governor for Stay-at-Home Order; More Testing Sites Planned

first_imgMeanwhile, Gov. DeSantis said during a briefing Saturday that said almost 1,200 tests were administered at the Memorial Health drive-thru testing site in Broward County.He also announced new testing sites at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, and TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville.Out of those who have been diagnosed with the virus to date, those with serious conditions have typically been over the age of 60. However the majority of the infected are under the age of 60, the governor added.As of Saturday evening, there are 763 confirmed cases in Florida, and 12 deaths. South Florida remains the epicenter, with 56 cases in Palm Beach County, 164 in Broward County, and 169 in Miami-Dade County. Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nicole “Nikki” Fried is asking Gov. Ron DeSantis to implement a statewide “stay at home” order in response to the increasing number of coronavirus cases.Read her full statement below:“I want to recognize the difficult choices the Governor has had to make in this public health crisis. No Governor in recent history would have expected to have to make a decision like California, New York, or Illinois have made in the past 72 hours. Shutting down one of the nation’s largest states is a decision that will have an economic impact – but it is a decision that will save lives. Based on the data, we know we are a week behind California’s vast increase in COVID-19 cases. The individuals and businesses I’ve spoken with are growing more anxious by the day. As the nation’s third largest state, we need to go further, and we cannot afford to lose another week.”She continues:“I am asking the Governor to consider implementing a statewide “stay-at-home” order, closing all non-essential businesses for a reasonable timeframe, after which time the situation could be reassessed. A piecemeal approach of closing certain communities and businesses risks sowing further confusion. I encourage the Governor to take this decisive action today to save lives and preserve Florida’s economy for our shared future. I will stand by the Governor should he make this difficult decision, and I implore him to do so now.”I want to recognize the difficult choices @GovRonDeSantis has made during this #coronavirus crisis.Data shows Florida is a week behind California in #COVID19 cases. So, I’m asking the Governor to issue a statewide “stay-at-home” order.This difficult decision will save lives.— Commissioner Nikki Fried (@NikkiFriedFL) March 21, 2020last_img read more

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