Many people are only slowly beginning to realise the harm low to negative interest rates are causing and, without a lobby, the concerns of savers and pension funds are hardly taken seriously, the head of the board of trustees at Swiss multi-employer pension fund Profond told delegates at a trade fair in Zurich yesterday.All of Swiss pension funds’ assets have been affected by the low to negative rates environment, said Olaf Meyer, criticising central banks’ monetary policy as “politically motivated redistribution” of financing from the private sector to governments.Prices have become political prices rather than market prices, he said, adding: “We’re no longer operating in a market system.”He said Swiss Pensionskassen were faced with low yields in listed and unlisted assets, a domestic currency that had become a burden and a large gap between members’ pension expectations and the yields attainable via traditional investment strategies. Picking up a point made earlier by Dewet Moser, alternate member of the governing board of the Swiss National Bank (SNB), that real interest rates were still positive, Meyer said it was very difficult to explain this to individuals who tend to think in nominal terms.“That’s something we have to live with,” he said.As to how Pensionskassen can respond to the rates environment, there are two main choices, according to Meyer – adjusting investment activity (by buying real assets and hedging exchange rates, for example) or adjusting benefits.The latter is already happening in Switzerland to an extent that has not been seen for a long time, he said.By way of conclusion, Meyer noted that unlisted assets had become more attractive and that a failure to change investment strategy would entail lower benefits at most Pensionskassen.Monetary policy needs to become a more substantial part of Pensionkassen’s new investment strategies, he added.Meyer’s presentation came after the SNB’s Moser acknowledged that negative rates were a burden for Pensionskassen but also argued that the direct negative effect was limited.He defended the removal of the cap on the Swiss franc/euro exchange rate in January 2015 and the introduction of a -0.75% deposit rate the following month, saying the negative rate was working even though it is “not a magic cure”. As for the impact on Pensionskassen, he said he understood negative rates were a burden but that he could not offer any prospect of relief, as they were unlikely to disappear any time soon.When the Swiss central bank set interest rates at -0.75% in February last year, the country’s pension funds called for an exemption, asking to be granted accounts at 0% interest with the SNB instead – the request was denied.Moser yesterday said the international low-rate environment was the bigger challenge for Pensionskassen than the domestic situation but that, together, these still only represented “the tip of the iceberg”.Far more important, according to Moser, are aspects such as increasing life expectancy, investment regulations and the conversation rate applied by pension funds (Umwandlungssatz).He called for political solutions, saying Swiss occupational pension provision needed to be reformed.He declined to comment on the nature of such reform, however, saying later that, although he deliberately mentioned the need for reform, he could not elaborate, as this was not a matter for the central bank.The call for reform is by no means new in Switzerland, and the topic is the subject of much debate – and some concrete action.A reform package is in the midst of going through Parliament, with Altersvorsorge 2020 (AV 2020), as the package is known, having most recently been part of a three-day debate in the lower chamber earlier this month. The relevant committee, the commission for social security and health, is due to discuss AV 2020 again on 12-13 May.
Tottenham inflicted Maurizio Sarri’s first competitive defeat as Chelsea boss to leapfrog their London rivals into third in the Premier League with a 3-1 win at Wembley that barely reflected Spurs’ dominance.Dele Alli and Harry Kane put the hosts 2-0 in front inside 16 minutes and Son Heung-min’s brilliant individual run and finish early in the second-half hauled Mauricio Pochettino’s side back to within five points of league leaders Manchester City.Olivier Giroud pulled back a late consolation for Chelsea, who slipped eight points off the leaders with a dreadful display that left Sarri visibly frustrated. By contrast, Spurs couldn’t have started a huge week in better form with a do-or-die Champions League clash with Inter Milan and the North London derby against Arsenal to come.Chelsea were unbeaten in their first 18 games in all competitions under Sarri, but were blown away by a combination of Spurs’ flying start and some questionable defending.The world’s most expensive goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga also failed to cover himself in glory for both of Spurs opening goals.Alli got ahead of his marker to flick home Christian Eriksen’s free-kick despite the £71 million Kepa getting a hand to the English international’s header.Eight minutes later Kane was given acres of room to stride forward and take aim from outside the area, but again Kepa could have done better as the Spaniard stood motionless while the ball nestled in the net low to his right.Chelsea felt aggrieved as they could have had a penalty seconds before Kane’s goal when Juan Foyth appeared to trip Eden Hazard inside the area.Alvaro Morata was then denied at point-blank range by Hugo Lloris as the visitors briefly threatened to get back into the game. But they remained a shambles at the back and were lucky not to be put to the sword more comprehensively after the break.Spurs’ solitary second-half goal was delivered in style by Son as he accelerated past Jorginho and David Luiz before slotting his 50th goal for the club into the far corner.Kane then somehow fired over with the goal at his mercy and Alli also skewed a great chance off target as Sarri bellowed at his side to regain some composure.The Italian managed to make a difference with the introduction of Ross Barkley, Pedro Rodriguez and Giroud from the bench. And it was Giroud who grabbed Chelsea’s consolation five minutes from time when he powered home Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross at the back post.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram Son and Kane got a goal each in a dominant Spurs performance
It was initially fixed for July 1st but it’s likely the game will be brought forward a week due to the county’s minor footballers playing in the Munster final against Kerry on July 5th.There are a number of dual players on both panels and Munster council representative John Costigan says they want to accommodate everyone.