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8.12.2014

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Entries in International (741)

12:07PM

UK pension scheme deficits increase over 2013

According to Mercer's Pensions Risk Survey data, the estimated aggregate IAS19 deficit for FTSE 350 defined benefit (DB) schemes stood at £97bn, which equates to a funding ratio of 85%, at 31 December 2013. The deficits increased despite the fact that UK equities returned 19% over the year and there were continued "significant" cash contributions from employers, Mercer said.

Mercer said that the increase in deficits is predominantly driven by the increase in long-term inflation expectations over the year. "Over 2013 as a whole it has been interesting to see how the three key elements which drive the deficit calculation have independently influenced the deficit," Mercer head of DB risk in the UK Ali Tayyebi said.

  PF Inside

10:09AM

Reiche Norweger

Jeder Norweger ist Millionär – zumindest in norwegischen Kronen gerechnet und theoretisch besehen. Denn der Staatsfonds ist nach neuen Daten der Zentralbank 5,11 Billionen Kronen wert, umgerechnet rund 611 Milliarden Euro. Bei einer Einwohnerzahl von knapp unter 5,1 Millionen entspricht das einem Wert von mehr als einer Million Kronen pro Kopf, was rund 120.000 Euro entspricht. Das habe es noch nie gegeben, sagte Notenbank-Sprecher Thomas Sevang laut Handelsblatt.

Die Einnahmen werden für schlechte Zeiten und zukünftige Generationen zurückgelegt. Die Regierung darf davon pro Jahr nur vier Prozent ausgeben, etwas mehr als der Fonds an Rendite abwirft.

Experten erwarten, dass sich der Fonds auch künftig gut entwickeln wird. Sein Wert belief sich 2013 auf 183 Prozent der jährlichen Wirtschaftsleistung Norwegens. Bis 2030 soll er auf 220 Prozent steigen.

Allerdings hat der Reichtum auch Schattenseiten. Er hält die Regierung von Reformen ab, kritisieren Ökonomen. Das Land leistet sich hohe Subventionen, die anderswo unvorstellbar wären. Bauern bekommen beispielsweise Geld dafür, damit sie Milchkühe in beheizten Ställen in der Arktis halten können. Auch die Sozialleistungen sind generös. „Jeder Fünfte im erwerbsfähigen Alter bezieht irgendeine Art von Sozialleistung“, so Ökonom Dörum – obwohl die offizielle Arbeitslosenquote nur bei 3,3 Prozent liegt.

  Handelsblatt

1:55PM

D: Pensionskassen stürzen sich auf Immobilien

Pensionskassen setzen auf Wohnungspakete und Bürotürme, weil Bundesanleihen kaum noch etwas abwerfen. Mit ihrem Geld werden sie zu wichtigen Akteuren am Immobilienmarkt, schreibt Die Welt.

  Welt

12:26PM

Danish pension funds leave PRI organisation

Six Danish pension funds have decided to leave the private organisation behind the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI). The investors said in a joint statement that they will continue to follow the principles, but will remain outside the organisation "until it again lives up to basic requirements for good corporate governance – including restoring membership democracy in the organisation".

  Pensionfunds online

8:22AM

A New Science of Pension Fund Management

Public pension funds have become powerful and influential players in today's global equity markets, investing trillions of dollars of government employees' retirement nest eggs. Global pension assets are estimated at nearly $30 trillion, and these growing funds are managing an increasingly large proportion of the world's total wealth.

As a counterweight to the short-term mentality that motivates many stock traders, public pension funds have relatively long-term investment horizons. Many operate in the sunshine of regulators, under the close scrutiny of their beneficiaries, and have a fiduciary duty to act in the interests of retirees. That puts public pension funds' investment strategy and performance in the spotlight, and rightfully so. They are responsible for the retirement security of hundreds of millions worldwide, and they are among the largest institutional investors in public companies.

  Huffington Post

2:07PM

Bericht über die Grenzgängerbesteuerung in der Schweiz

Der Bundesrat hat an den Bericht über die Quellenbesteuerung der als Arbeitnehmer in der Schweiz tätigen Grenzgänger verabschiedet. Der Bericht gibt einen Gesamtüberblick über die verschiedenen Abkommen, welche die Grenzgängerbesteuerung regeln, sowie über mögliche Weiterentwicklungen dieser Abkommen.

Der Bericht wurde in Erfüllung eines von Nationalrat Meinrado Robbiani 2011 eingereichten Postulats (11.3607 «Überweisung der Quellensteuer bei Grenzgängerinnen und Grenzgängern») erstellt. Im ersten Teil des Berichts wird die steuerliche Behandlung der in der Schweiz als Arbeitnehmerinnen und Arbeitnehmer tätigen Grenzgänger aufgezeigt. Diese richtet sich nach den einschlägigen Doppelbesteuerungsabkommen und den von der Schweiz mit den Nachbarstaaten bilateral vereinbarten Lösungen zur Grenzgängerbesteuerung.

Im zweiten Teil des Berichts werden mögliche Entwicklungen der bilateralen Regelungen für die Grenzgängerbesteuerung skizziert. Im dritten Teil des Berichts werden die Ausgleichsmassnahmen zugunsten gewisser Kantone analysiert. Der Bericht gelangt zum Schluss, dass die geltenden Bestimmungen die Besonderheit der Beziehungen der Schweiz zu ihren Nachbarstaaten widerspiegeln. Er hält fest, dass es wichtig ist, für die Besteuerung der Grenzgängerinnen und Grenzgänger eine angemessene Lösung vorzusehen und aufrechtzuerhalten, die auch an veränderte Rahmenbedingungen angepasst werden kann.

  Bericht

10:44AM

Schweizer Pensionskasse und deutsche Einkommenssteuer

Die Website “Aussenwirtschaftslupe” orientiert ausführlich über einen deutschen Gerichtsentscheid zur Besteuerung der Kapital-Leistungen schweizerischer Pensionskassen (im konkreten Fall der PKBS) für Grenzgänger. Festgehalten wird insbesondere, dass die Leistungen nicht steuerfrei gemäss § 3 Nr. 3 EStG sind und keine mit einer Kapitalabfindung der deutschen gesetzlichen Rentenversicherung vergleichbare Leistung. Konkret heisst es: “Die Steuerfreiheit scheitert nicht daran, dass es sich um die Kapitalabfindung einer schweizerischen Pensionskasse handelt. § 3 Nr. 3 EStG enthält keine Beschränkung auf die Leistungen eines inländischen Versorgungsträgers. Die Kläger weisen zudem zu Recht darauf hin, dass der Begriff der gesetzlichen Rentenversicherung in den Vorschriften der §§ 10 und 22 EStG nicht anders als der identische Begriff in § 3 Nr. 3 EStG ausgelegt werden kann.”

  Aussenwirtschaftslupe

9:29AM

US: Pensions Make the Most of Stocks’ Surge

usA roaring stock market and rising interest rates are fueling the strongest recovery in the $2.4 trillion U.S. corporate-pension sector in more than a quarter century, giving companies new flexibility in dealing with some employee-benefit costs.

Investments in the average company’s pension plan are expected to be at levels that cover 96% of future obligations at the end of the year, according to a new estimate by J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. A separate analysis by Milliman Inc., which provides actuarial products and services, puts the figure above 94%, while pension specialist Mercer says the figure was 91% at the end of October. Funding levels are up from 77% at the end of last year, according to J.P. Morgan—a figure that was essentially unchanged since the financial crisis of 2008.

  WSJ

9:23AM

FT: Risk-transfer accelerates out of pension funds

Corporate pension schemes are set to transfer more liabilities to financial institutions through so-called bulk annuity deals than they have in any year since the financial crisis.

Insurers wrote £3.9bn worth of the deals in the UK in the third quarter alone as companies turned to them to end the instability that ballooning pension deficits bring to their balance sheets. A series of deals struck between insurers and pension schemes at companies including EMI Music Group, Philips and InterContinental Hotels added up to the highest quarterly value of such transactions on record.

It has put pension schemes on track to transfer between £7bn and £8bn worth of liabilities through such arrangements in 2013, the highest in five years, according to the consultants JLT Employee Benefits.

  Financial Times

9:19AM

Pension funds and the ageing population

Predictions suggest that by 2050 there will be more than two billion people aged 60 and over. According to the United Nations, this demographic shift is set, and we should not expect to return to the more youthful populations of our ancestors. To discuss the affect of an ageing population on the pensions sector, a panel of experts joined Guardian Sustainable Business for an online live chat. Here are the best bits.

  Guardian

11:14AM

Europe's incredible shrinking pension funds landscape

The move to fewer, larger pension funds in key markets such as the Netherlands and United Kingdom could work to the advantage of asset management groups, according to the November issue of The Cerulli Edge-Global Edition. A trimming of pillar II pension funds-many defined benefit but also some defined contribution-is well underway in Europe.

Switzerland's pension landscape, for example, shrunk from more than 2,700 vehicles six years ago to about 2,100 now. Cerulli understands that in three years there will be just 1,500. The Dutch pension watchdog is even more ambitious with a target of 100 funds. There were 672 pension schemes in the Netherlands in 2012. Elsewhere, more work is required.

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"The United Kingdom has more than 200,000 schemes, which is clearly impractical," commented Barbara Wall, a Cerulli director. "Auto-enrolment will give rise to fewer, larger pension funds known as 'Super Trusts.' With size comes economies of scale and skills, which should result in better retirement products and improved outcomes for members."

Italy is also struggling with too many schemes. There are currently 361 so called "pre-existing" pension funds, each tied to a specific company. Asset managers and investors want the number reduced because some are so small they cannot invest in a meaningful way.

"One likely effect of a fall in the number of pension funds in Europe is that larger asset managers could find working with the survivors easier," said David Walker, a senior analyst at Cerulli. "Mid-size and smaller rivals may be too small to absorb large allocations."

Another potential winner, in the Netherlands at least, is premium pension institution (PPI) vehicles, because shuttering pension funds could join them. "This would be welcome news for a structure the Dutch pension industry hoped would take off, but has partially misfired. There are fewer than 10 PPIs," noted Walker.

  Opalesque

9:52AM

“Pension Funds Love Wall Street”

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According to a recent report by Cliffwater LLC, an adviser to institutional investors, from 2006 to 2012 state pension funds more than doubled their allocations to alternative investments, which include private equity, real estate, hedge funds and commodities. Totaling almost $600 billion, these nontraditional investments now constitute 24 percent of public pension fund assets. In contrast, the funds dropped their investments in stocks to 49 percent from 61 percent over the six-year period.

There’s a reason for that big move, as explained in a recent International Monetary Fund report. Over the last 10 years, the average U.S. public pension fund earned a return of 6.4 percent a year, very healthy but not enough to meet the 8 percent return guaranteed to government employees. In an effort to take pressure off the state budgets that must cover those deficiencies, the IMF reports that state pension funds have been shifting billions to alternative investments promising higher yields.

  Bloomberg /   Cliffwater Survey

9:07AM

Re-insurers to test the heat from pension fund rivals

Europe's reinsurers will soon test the strength of competition from alternative investors like pension funds, whose activity may keep a lid on reinsurance price rises and add to challenges for a sector already facing crimped investment income.

Reinsurers, including the world's top three players Munich Re, Swiss Re and Hannover RE, gather over the weekend in the German resort of Baden-Baden for annual contract talks with insurance companies, whom they help cover the cost of disasters in exchange for part of the profit.

  Reuters

12:51PM

European pension funds move away from equities as Eurozone crisis deepens

imagePension fund allocations to equities are increasingly replaced with alternatives as European investors seek to cover themselves from the increasing volatility created by the Euro-zone crisis, Mercer's annual European Asset Allocation Survey says.

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With the recent warning from the European Commission that financial disintegration was imminent, the detected trend now seems to have started even quicker and fiercer than was predicted in the study.

The survey, which looked at 1200 European pension funds with assets of over €650bn, found that a wide set of alternative asset classes are being considered by pension funds, with 50% of schemes now holding an allocation to alternatives. This marks an increase of 40% compared to last year.

Mercer's study reveals that pension schemes in what could be called 'traditionally equity-heavy markets', such as the UK and Ireland, still have the largest equity weightings, although they have also seen the largest falls in equity allocations. This is mainly due to the desire to drive away from domestic equities. In the UK, average allocations to domestic and non-domestic equities fell by 4% (from 47% to 43%) during the past 12 months.

  Mercer Survey

2:48PM

Dutch pension funds slowly make their way to recovery

Increasing share prices have resulted in a higher average coverage ratio of Dutch pension funds. Compared to June the funding levels of the funds increased by an average of 3 percentage points to 97%.  However, the funds need a minimum of 105% to comply with the rules set by the Netherland's central bank, DNB. Currently 231 schemes do not reach this funding level and will have to take drastic measures if the trend continues. This could result in 4.9 million members and 2.5 million pensioners seeing their premiums rise and their pensions cut.

Already, most pension rights and payments have not increased in 2012, seeing them lack behind inflation and wage development, thus creating a fall in spending power. At the same time, DNB announced that the total pension premiums over 2012 have risen from 16.9% to 17.4% of people's salary.

  Pension Funds Online

4:09PM

Polish Plan on Pensions Arouses Sharp Criticism

The Polish government is expected to release details of its plan to transfer back to the state $47.6 billion worth of government bonds held by privately managed funds that invest retirement money on behalf of Poles.

Critics are calling it the most drastic nationalization of private assets since Soviet times. The government of Prime Minister Donald Tusk counters that it is no more than a bookkeeping change in the way it will handle the public’s retirement money. It has also defended the move as simply an accounting change that will not harm retirees.

Despite the government’s assurances that pensioners will eventually get their money, critics say that withdrawing the bonds, without compensating the fund managers, is tantamount to a seizure of assets.

  NYT

2:31PM

Mercer Global Pension Index: Schweiz auf Rang 4

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Das Schweizer Vorsorgesystem hat sich um einen Platz verbessert und belegt nun den vierten Rang. Damit schließt die Schweiz zu den Spitzenreitern Dänemark, Niederlande und Australien auf, die ihre jeweiligen Positionen aus dem Vorjahr behaupten konnten.  Südkorea, Indien und Indonesien belegen in der Studie die letzten Plätze.

Dies ist das Ergebnis des Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index 2013, der von Mercer bereits zum fünften Mal in Kooperation mit dem Australian Centre for Financial Studies erstellt wurde. Die Studie untersucht und bewertet die Altersversorgung von 20 Ländern hinsichtlich der Kriterien „Leistungen“, „Finanzierung“ und „Rahmenbedingungen“. Dabei wurden neben den staatlichen Rentensystemen und der betrieblichen Altersversorgung auch private Anlagen und Vorsorgemaßnahmen berücksichtigt.

Dänemark belegt im Ranking weiterhin Platz 1 und erreicht als einziges Vorsorgesystem den Grade „A“. Mit dem Grade-A-Ranking werden das gut finanzierte Vorsorgesystem des Landes, die hohen Vermögenswerte und Beiträge, die angemessene Leistungen sowie ein gut reguliertes privates Vorsorgesystem anerkannt.

Das Vorsorgesystem der Schweiz hat seinen Gesamtindexwert gegenüber 2012 leicht verbessert (von 73,3 auf 73,9), was in erster Linie auf eine Zunahme der Sparquote zurückzuführen ist.

  Mercer

11:45AM

Pension Fund Money Melts away in Hungary

The Ft 3 trillion (12 Mrd. Fr.)  taken from private pension funds in 2011, when the government nationalised such funds, had dwindled to Ft 218.7 billion (49 Mio. Fr.) by the end of July, Világgazdaság writes. The bulk of the money, Ft 1.85 trillion, was spent on reducing the state debt, including the repayment of IMF loans. The state pension fund received Ft 406 billion in 2011, and now manages Ft 218.7 billion after paying Ft 233 billion to former pension fund members.

  xpatloop

4:37PM

US: The $4 Trillion Problem

A new assessment of state pension obligations suggests the problem is even worse than it already appears. How much worse? Using a more conservative method of accounting for financial gains in the marketplace, there is a $4.1 trillion gap between assets and liabilities — known as the “unfunded liability” — of all state-level pension systems in the United States, according to State Budget Solutions, a fiscally conservative think tank that deals with tax and spending issues at the state level.

On a per-capita basis, each American would have to fork over about $13,100 to fill that gap and fulfill the promises made to current and retired state workers. The new survey makes the pension crisis look worse than in other reports because of the way State Budget Solutions calculates the plans’ unfunded liabilities.

The group uses a measure called “market value liability,” which assumes that pension funds will earn about 3.22% annually — in line with what long-term U.S. Treasury bonds pay. That measure is more accurate than often bloated assumptions that underpin most state pension plans.

  Wall Street Pit / Budget Solutions

9:46AM

Detroit Spent Billions Extra on Pensions

Detroit’s municipal pension fund made payments for decades to retirees, active workers and others above and beyond normal benefits, costing the struggling city billions of dollars and helping push it into bankruptcy, according to people who have reviewed the payments.

The payments, which were not publicly disclosed, included bonuses to retirees, supplements to workers not yet retired and cash to the families of workers who died before becoming eligible to collect a pension, according to reports by an outside actuary and other people with knowledge of the matter.

How much each person received is not known. But available records suggest that the trustees approving the payments did not discriminate; nearly everybody in the plan received them. Most of the trustees on Detroit’s two pension boards represent organized labor, and for years they could outvote anyone who challenged the payments.

Detroit has nearly 12’000 retired general workers, who last year received pensions of $19,213 a year on average — hardly enough to drive a great American city into bankruptcy. But the total excess payments in some years ran to more than $100 million, a crushing expense for a city in steep decline. In some years, the outside actuary found, Detroit poured into the pension fund more than twice the amount it would have had to contribute had it paid only the specified benefits.“

This abuse of discretion was most egregious in 2009,” said Mr. Moore, a managing director at the firm of Conway MacKenzie. He said the pooled pension trust had lost 24 percent of the value of its assets that year, but the trustees appeared to have credited the individual accounts with 7.5 percent interest.

  Deal Book

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