Santorum promotes new economic approach

first_imgSarah Olson | The Observer Former Pennsylvania senator and 2012 Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum spoke to a capacity crowd in the Carey Auditorium of the Hesburgh Library on Wednesday afternoon, and said Republicans must refocus their efforts and political strategy on strengthening the American family.Santorum, who was also promoting his book, “Blue Collar Conservatives: Recommitting to an America That Works,” said promoting family is economically and socially beneficial, but often draws criticism.“The biggest determiner of economic success: family structure, by far,” Santorum said. “If you come from a single parent family, [it’s a] much harder road.“And yet if you talk about the importance of family, the importance of marriage, the importance of mothers and father raising children, you are a dinosaur. You are a old-fashioned, out-of-step, moralizing hater, when all you’re trying to do is give kids in America a chance. Why isn’t the government on the side of marriage?”Santorum, who spoke at the invitation of Notre Dame College Republicans, said Republican candidates center their economic messages on three principles: lowering taxes, cutting spending and balancing the budget. These three points of emphasis cater almost exclusively to small business owners, who only comprise 3 to 5 percent of the population, he said.Instead, Santorum said, Republicans should focus on how economic policies impact workers. He told a story from the 2012 Republican National Convention, where he delivered a speech in the midst of other Republicans who only spoke to small business issues.“Imagine, now, instead of one after another [Republican politician] coming out, had someone walked out with an employee of a company, and the employee of the company stood up and talked about how important the policies that create opportunity for businesses are to grow for their job, and talk about the standpoint of a worker, and talk about how important policies are to help workers in America,” Santorum said.“Well that’s what we’re trying to do with this book. I believe in pro-growth policies. I believe that we need to grow the economy. Yes, we need smaller government. Yes, we need to look at our tax code [because] we have the highest corporate taxes in the western world. … We need to do something to keep companies here, to grow companies here [and] create opportunities. But that isn’t enough.”Santorum said his presidential campaign and his new book sought to create a more inclusive nation in the face of fierce political discord.“[My campaign] had a message that resonated,” he said. “We had a message that said, ‘We are inclusive, we care about everybody. We don’t just focus on business people or corporations. We want to create an opportunity for everybody, and we know that the problems confronting America are, in part, economic, and here’s something we can do about it.’“Imagine if we actually included people who didn’t think anybody cared about them. Well that’s the focal point of this book. And the amazing thing about this is it’s not a liberal [or] conservative issue. The policies and the ideas that we put forward actually do something that I think is really important in this country. I think people are tired of division.”The book, which was “born out of the 2012 campaign,” proposes a way to bridge the American political divide, Santorum said.“[The political climate] is certainly as ugly as I’ve seen it in my lifetime,” he said. “And people are tired of it. They’re sick of Republicans and Democrats not wanting to get anything done. They’re sick of pointing the finger at each other. There doesn’t seem to be any common ground. But, see, I believe what we’ve laid out here [in the book] is a common ground because it’s common sense.”Santorum said America “need[s] to recreate a manufacturing juggernaut in the United States” and work to give all citizens an equal opportunity, which is more difficult in the context of the current welfare system and tax structure.“We’re setting up a system that is harmful to women and children, and we call that benevolence and kindness and all these wonderful words the left likes to use,” he said. “There’s nothing compassionate about this. There’s nothing compassionate about stopping and discouraging people from forming solid bonds for themselves as well as for their children and their community.”Santorum said the interesting situation in immigration also contributes to political polarization and prohibits greater unification.“I can understand why corporate America, as they are the chamber of commerce, is all for more legal immigration: cheap labor, higher profits,” he said. “I just don’t happen to look at human beings in America as a commodity. I look at workers as men and women who are trying to provide for themselves, and in some cases their family or their relatives, and try to make a decent living. The government shouldn’t be out there undermining their ability to get a decent wage.“So here you have, the horrible confluence of people who are looking at [immigration] as political power on the one side and profits on the other side, and the guys in the middle, the average working Americans, get stiffed.”With his book, and his possible 2016 presidential campaign, Santorum said he aims to change the course of the polarization in the United States and instead unite people.“What I’m trying to do in this book, what I’m trying to do within the party, is try to rewrite the narrative, and write it in a way that brings people together,” he said. “People who are poor realize that the government programs harm them in many ways. I’m not saying that the money they get harms them, but the incentives are very harmful, the structure is very harmful. So it’s an opportunity for us to reach out and bring people who don’t think we care about them.”Tags: College Republicans, economy, family, Santorumlast_img read more

Q&A: Chuck Ross, from farm family to farm chief

first_imgGovernor Peter Shumlin’s appointment of Chuck Ross as secretary of agriculture won praise from Vermont farmers as well as political insiders. Ross, 55, is well known for his work as Senator Patrick Leahy’s state director for the past 16 years. He also served six years in the Vermont Legislature as a representative from Hinesburg, where he has worked as a farmer on his family’s homestead. Discussion with Chuck Ross, Vermont Agriculture Secretary Part 1 More videosVermont Business Magazine reporter Kevin Kelley recently spoke with Ross about his plans for the state’s agricultural economy. An edited transcript of the hour-long conversation follows (video of the interview can be found by clicking the picture above. All five parts of this interview can be found by clicking “More Videos” or going to www.vermontbiz.com/videos):         VBM: Please start by telling us about your background in agriculture.        ROSS: Two aspects of my background are relevant. One is certainly my experience working with Senator Leahy on the Agriculture Committee, on dairy and other farming issues.        The other part is that my family has been involved in agriculture for generations, both on my father’s and mother’s side.My father is a native Vermonter, seventh generation. His family owned an orchard on Lake Champlain and exported apples from their dock before World War I. They also raised trotters and owned a wood lot in Huntington where we cut Christmas trees.        I was running a part of the family business with 500 acres of square-baled hay in Hinesburg. I also managed farm operations in Iowa on land that was on my mother’s side. Her family were original sod-busters in Iowa.        VBM: In your work with Leahy you became probably one of the most knowledgeable people in the country on the complex subject of price supports for agriculture. What would you say is the likelihood that Vermont dairy farmers might finally get good, stable pricing for their product?        ROSS: Some years ago we started the interstate dairy compact which passed in Congress largely through the efforts of Sen. Leahy. It worked really well for the Northeast dairy community but it was never a permanent law; it always had a sunset provision. Dairy politics led to its demise because it not seen as being as favorable to other parts of the country with dairy interests.        Prices have been volatile since then. I remember about five years ago sitting in Sen. Leahy’s office with Vermont dairy farmers who wanted him to fix the problem. We said the senator can’t fix the problem unless his colleagues hear from their own farmers that they want a solution as well. Rather than lobby us, who are already supportive, we suggested they reach out to dairy farmers around the country.That led to a lot of Vermont dairy farmers flying around the country on their own nickel, which in turn led to awareness of the need for a new dairy pricing system and a unified approach for such a proposal.        Until about a month or two ago, it had the support of both processors and producers, but as it came closer to becoming an actual legislative proposal the processors broke away.        Congress is in a difficult place right now. They don’t need more budget impacts and they don’t want to jump into managing a divisive conversation about dairy. We’ve gone from having a great chance to see a unified dairy community pushing for a proposal that Congress would be quite likely to take up, to a situation that isn’t as positive.        But I haven’t given up hope. There’s still a good chance we can get something done. We’ve got a well-placed delegation from the Northeast.        VBM: Speaking of budget impacts, Congress is making lots of cuts in lots of programs. What do you think will be the effect in Vermont of Congress’ cuts in agriculture?        ROSS: The proposal we’ve been working on is believed to actually produce a savings for the budget, but it has not been scored by the CBO [Congressional Budget Office], and that’s the acid test.        We’re not immune from federal budget cuts on other fronts. It will play out in the farm bill with potential reductions in nutrition programs, which help people buy food, and probable reductions in conservation programs, which help fund practices that mitigate impacts on water quality in the state.        Energy programs involving agriculture will take a big hit. There will be a cut in the Agriculture Innovation Center supported by Sen. Leahy that has helped fund Vermont farmers on energy programs and in diversifying agriculture. It was going to be funded for a million dollars and it just got zeroed out.        VBM: Governor Shumlin speaks of an agricultural renaissance in Vermont. What’s your strategy for making that happen?        ROSS: I’m actually very bullish on Vermont agriculture because we have a foundation, built by the dairy community, that includes the critical assets of farm land as well as highly talented businessmen and businesswomen. They’ve had to be highly talented in order to survive the recession of the past two years. We also have access to a powerful market stretching from Montreal, to Boston, to New York.        As for the renaissance, there are young people interested in agriculture ‘ some of them trained specifically in it, others educated in fields that have given them an interest in agriculture. They’re smart and motivated.Vermont is seeing an increasing number of non-dairy farmers but we’re also seeing an increase in dairy farmers. Yes, a lot of dairy farms are going out, but they’re also coming in. Some of them are organic or diversified farms.        The renaissance of agriculture in Vermont is mainly about dairy. You’ve got Commonwealth [a yogurt maker] starting up in Brattleboro as well as all the artisanal cheese makers. Vermont is recognized as one of the top three artisanal cheese locations in the world; there’s us, Quebec and France.        Our biggest challenge in the agency is providing the regulatory support to make the renaissance continue and expand.        VBM: Part of it has to do with community-supported agriculture [CSAs: farms that grow food for distribution to prepaid members.] There are more and more CSAs around the state, right?        ROSS: Yes, and there’s also the issue of slaughter facilities, making them more widely available for Vermont farms that raise animals. There’s a lot of demand for infrastructure support.        We’ve also had the growth of a whole food hub in Hardwick, which has been a bright beacon on the agricultural landscape in Vermont. But Hardwick isn’t alone. You can look at the Intervale right in Burlington which, despite the problems with composting, has been a raging success. There’s talk of having a food processing center there.        We’re also seeing it happening in Rutland, which has historically been quiet on agriculture. Now there’s a group there called RAFFL [Rutland Area Farm and Food Link] that’s creating local food hubs. If you go to the farmers’ market in Rutland, you’ll see it’s really dynamic.        VBM: The whole localvore ethic is important for Vermont ag, right? Maybe we’ll see more farms with non-traditional products.        ROSS: Yes, we have an increasingly diverse agricultural economy, but dairy will continue to be a huge and necessary part of it because of dairy’s support for infrastructure. Dairy has also kept the land open in Vermont and put opportunities in place.The localvore ethic helps new farmers stand up their businesses and get to the point of scaling up their businesses.Learning how to support a local agricultural economy is important for its positive health benefits as well as agricultural and economic benefits. Fletcher Allen has spent years figuring out how to source food locally. The hospital is buying food from the Intervale because it’s healthy and tasty for its clients. Dollars meanwhile go into the local economy and not away from it. It closes a circle by supporting local producers who are supporting your mother who may be in the hospital.VBM: What about agro-tourism? Do you think that will be important to Vermont’s farming sector?ROSS: I’d say agro-culinary tourism. We’re looking at proposals to build that market, working closely with the Agency of Commerce. I actually spend more time with Lawrence Miller [secretary of commerce] than with anyone else outside my own agency.Agro-culinary tourism does offer a tremendous opportunity. Vermont is becoming a popular food destination. NECI [the New England Culinary Institute] has had a big impact in populating our towns with people who know how to cook.VBM: You’ve been in office four months and have at least 20 months more to go. What do you want to achieve in this term? What’s the one biggest thing you want to achieve?ROSS: I’d like to assist in the implementation of Farm to Plate [a 10-year strategic plan to strengthen Vermont’s food systems.] It will be a comprehensive road map for how to build the future of agriculture.I would also like to participate in passing national legislation on dairy pricing. It’s something that’s beyond my control because it’s on the federal level, but I can certainly help if we do go in that direction.I also want to see us make strides on more effectively addressing water quality issues.Agriculture is part of that but it’s not by any means exclusively so. The problems that we have in Lake Champlain, for example, were not created in the past five years and are not going to be solved in the next five years. They’re a product of our society over the past 50 years or even 100 years. It’s not fair, in my view, to hoist today’s farmers on the petard of yesterday’s failures and to tell them you’re responsible for solving the problem.It will take years for Lake Champlain to get better. We have to all take responsibility for making that happen.The risk Vermonters face on the water quality issue is that we’ll stand among ourselves and point fingers, saying, ‘you’re the problem; no, you’re the problem.’‘ We should instead be standing together with our arms locked.There’s a lot of emotion around this issue but it needs to be channeled in a constructive way.        VBM: Let’s go back to the dairy situation in Vermont. Production is up even though there are fewer farms and even fewer cows. Do you think that trend will continue?        ROSS: Production fluctuates, but if the price of milk stays relatively stable I do expect production to go steadily up in Vermont. The reason is there’s a level of demand for our exports that we haven’t seen in a while.        Historically, prices move in a cyclical direction, so they’ll probably go down again at some point.        Yes, there has been a decline in the number of farms, but that’s been offset in terms of production by more efficient management and improvements in bovine genetics. Also, our dairy farmers are as good as any in being able to squeeze a little more output from their inputs.        VBM: Is it inevitable that Vermont dairy farmers will rely more on BST [bovine somatotropin, an injected growth hormone that increases cows’ milk production]?        ROSS: No. Consumers aren’t demanding it. We’re actually seeing an awakening of consumers’ interest in how their food is produced, who’s producing it and where. That’s expressing itself all over the country, especially in New England.        In Vermont, which is a small place, people can know who the farmers are, where that special cut of beef comes from, who produces their milk and cheese. Cabot has seen phenomenal growth in a declining market for cheese because they produce a great product.        VBM: So there’s an opportunity for marketing Vermont as BST-free?        ROSS: There was an upsurge in farmers’ use of BST and then consumers started asking questions about it and we saw many producers move away from it.        VBM: How widespread is the use of BST in Vermont now?        ROSS: I don’t have those statistics. The agency’s budget is being slashed and we don’t have the personnel to collect those stats.         VBM: Are there technologies related to agriculture that are being developed in Vermont that we might export to other states?        ROSS: Bio-digesters leap to mind. We’re the No. 1 state in bio-digesters per capita. This is a wonderful technology that helps farmers manage manure systems and produces a product that farmers can use. Bio-digesters also burn up methane which is 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas.        It’s a technology that’s also generating research opportunities at the University of Vermont. They’re exploring ways to mitigate the methane emissions of cows by looking at the ruminant systems of cows. Getting better bugs into the digesters would also allow them to generate more methane.        The aim is to drive the economics of methane digesters to they can be used on ever-smaller farms. Right now, they make sense for a farm of one size but not of another.        VBM: We should talk about climate change. It’s the elephant in the room for a lot of the issues we have been talking about. Maybe Vermont will jump up one agricultural zone so we become where Connecticut is now. That will have both positive and negative effects.        ROSS: You need to be careful about being a fortune teller. If the climate does change, which I personally believe is happening, that’s going to make it more difficult for us to do some of the things we’re doing now but maybe also give us some opportunities we don’t have today.        Vermont can play a role in initiatives to mitigate climate change. If we can figure out how to produce ethanol from material besides corn, that will be an opportunity for Vermont farmers. Certain grasses could be made into a biofuel that would be an alternative to Number 6 or Number 2 heating oil.        Being able to leverage bio-digesters so they can be used on a greater number of farms will help mitigate the greenhouse gas impact.        Climate change could also bring us more invasive species, causing sugar maples to be crowded out in the forest. Buckthorn is a classic example of that.        VBM: So the Shumlin administration doesn’t have a definitive plan for dealing with potential climate change?        ROSS: I’m not aware of any definitive plan. I am aware of us working with the governor to figure out the most effective roles we can play on this issue.        Climate change is one of a number of ecological issues we’re facing in the 21st century. It may be the most important one, but it’s certainly not the only one. It will take a long-term effort to address it, and that’s not something you’re going to develop in the first three months of an administration.        VBM: How’s the Vermont apple industry doing these days?        ROSS: One of the biggest problems confronting apple growers in recent years is the ease with which they can get workers in from Jamaica to help them. Some of the Jamaicans have been coming here for generations ‘ 30 years to the same farms. These aren’t foreign workers who represent a threat to us or who are using all kinds of social services.        VBM: The same is true for dairy, isn’t it?        ROSS: Dairy farmers and apple growers are willing to employ Vermonters, but they aren’t getting them to sign up for these jobs. Just as the Irish and Italians did a couple of generations ago in the granite industry and textile industry, workers from Mexico and Jamaica are fulfilling an important role in agriculture. It’s important to remember that they were us a few generations ago.        VBM: Do you see Vermont wines as a growth sector or is that always going to be just a niche product?        ROSS: We’ve got two outstanding commodities now in maple syrup and milk/cheese. Are we going to get to the place where we compete on wines with California? I expect not. But we can get more competitive within a niche market.        Vermont has a lot of cachet. One of our opportunities is to leverage that cachet so we can do with Vermont wine what we’ve done with artisan cheese.Vermont meat is highly desired in certain marketplaces, so we’ve got to continue to ensure it’s of high quality because that’s what people are willing to pay for, which gives us better than an average price for the products we produce.        Vermont wine continues to grow as a commodity, and we will see our vintners get better at making it.        VBM: In introducing you and Lawrence Miller, Gov. Shumlin said something to the effect of ‘this is my jobs team.’ Can you talk about how agriculture can be a source of job growth and economic development in Vermont?        ROSS: I’ve been studying agriculture for much of my life, and I know it’s often overlooked as a fundamental part of our economy. There are agricultural businesses on Vermont Business Magazine’s list of the top 100 companies in the state. There are also some agricultural enterprises that don’t appear on your list but that should. Some of them would show up in the middle and some near the top of that list.        You may not think of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters as an agricultural business, but that’s what it is. Green Mountain imports an agricultural commodity, processes it and then exports it.        Governor Shumlin is right in saying that agriculture and commerce belong together. Farming is not some luxury habit that people engage in here. There may be a few of those, but when you talk to Vermont farmers, you’re talking to business men and women who know how to operate a tractor and how to balance their books.        The dairy industry alone accounts for some $2 billion a year in economic activity in Vermont. If we grow locally the amount of food we consume in Vermont, that will add 1,500 jobs in the next 10 years in agriculture. It’s not going to happen in one place, so it may not be as visible as a business that grows in one place.        If you want to know how to spend a dollar most effectively in the local economy, the answer is through agriculture. Farms are so plugged in to the local hardware store and feed store. When I was farming, I was in my town all the time buying stuff.        People continually miss the pervasiveness of agriculture in their local economy. Kevin Kelley is a freelance writer from Burlington.last_img read more

Ørsted signs biggest-ever corporate deal for offshore windpower

first_imgØrsted signs biggest-ever corporate deal for offshore windpower FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Recharge:German high-tech materials specialist Covestro has signed a long-term deal to buy production from Ørsted’s planned Borkum Riffgrund 3 offshore wind project in the North Sea, in what is set to be the largest corporate power purchase agreement (PPA) to date in the fast-growing sector. Through the deal, Covestro will offtake 100MW of the wind farm’s total 900MW capacity at indexed fixed price over ten years, starting in 2025.Martin Neubert, CEO of Ørsted Offshore, said: “Our agreement with Covestro is the first tangible step to secure stable revenues for part of the power generated by Borkum Riffgrund 3 which will be built and operated without subsidies. At the same time, this corporate PPA shows that offshore wind can be a reliable source of green power delivering the large volumes required by energy-intensive industrial players. With this agreement, Ørsted and Covestro support the German energy transition and the continued build-out of renewable energy which is urgently needed to reduce carbon emissions in the German industrial sector.”Borkum Riffgrund 3, which is still awaiting a final investment decision, will be located next to the developer’s operational Borkum Riffgrund 1 and Borkum Riffgrund 2 projects.The wind farm, which will be built and operated without subsidies, is made up three offshore wind projects originally awarded in auctions in 2017 and 2018 under the names of Borkum Riffgrund West 1 (420MW), Borkum Riffgrund West 2 (240MW), and OWP West (240MW).Though corporate PPAs are common in onshore wind, the trend is only beginning to take off in the offshore sector, with Ørsted pioneering the concept in February via a ten-year deal with UK utility Northumbrian Water to offtake power from the 573MW Race Bank project off England.Web giant Google bought its first offshore wind power in September, adding 92MW-worth of output from the under-construction 370MW Norther wind farm in the Belgian North Sea under a deal with Engie. [Darius Snieckus]More: Biggest-ever offshore wind corporate power deal inked in Germanylast_img read more

FUSINA Destroys 28 Narco Airstrips in Honduras

first_imgBy Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo July 24, 2018 From January to June 2018, the National Interagency Security Force (FUSINA, in Spanish) of the Honduran Ministry of Defense found, secured, and disabled 28 clandestine airstrips in the eastern and western part of the country. International narcotraffickers used the rural airstrips to transport drugs, mostly cocaine, to the United States and Mexico. “Most of the destroyed clandestine airstrips were located in the Mosquitia area, department of Gracias a Dios, and one [airstrip] was found in the department of Cortés, near the Guatemalan border,” Honduran Navy Captain José Domingo Meza Castillo, director of Public Relations for the Armed Forces, told Diálogo. “We owe the results to FUSINA’s constant land and air patrols to keep the national territory free of narcotrafficking.” FUSINA’s actions fell under Operation Morazán, launched in 2014. “We established a land, air, and naval shield, deploying troops, air, and naval [resources] in great numbers to better control the area and create a peaceful and safe environment for the country,” Honduran Army Colonel José Ramón Macoto Vásquez, commander of Joint Task Force Policarpo Paz García, told Diálogo. Operation Morazán, a joint effort of the Armed Forces and state institutions under FUSINA’s leadership, aims to eliminate criminal groups in major urban cities and remote areas of the country. “In the last three years, narcotrafficking crimes have decreased considerably due to the coordinated efforts of the institutions that make up FUSINA, which dismantled criminal groups,” Col. Macoto said. From January 2014 to December 2017, authorities destroyed about 200 airstrips, most of them in Mosquitia, the easternmost part of Honduras. “The flat lands of the department of Gracias a Dios facilitate the landing of small drug smuggling planes [coming from South America]. We maintain constant air and land patrols,” Capt. Meza said. Destruction “Once a clandestine landing area is destroyed [by explosive ordnance specialists of the Honduran Armed Forces’ Engineer Battalion], a follow-up air and land reconnaissance operation is carried out to reduce the chances that the airstrips will be rehabilitated,” Capt. Meza said. “Explosive ordnance specialists carry out detonations that leave craters throughout the length of clandestine airstrips.” Authorities disable airstrips in three stages. First, landing areas are identified and located. Security personnel and sappers then transfer onsite with demolition materials to destroy the airstrip. Finally, authorities monitor operations with programmed reconnaissance. The task takes no more than 24 hours from the moment an airstrip is located. Col. Macoto and Capt. Maza estimate that criminal organizations use 30 to 50 people to set up an illegal airstrip. According to the officers, the drug trade uses clandestine landing areas to save time and resources. In addition to destroying airstrips, FUSINA also conducts patrols, searches for criminal gangs, and captures narcotraffickers responsible for setting up illegal landing areas. “Establishing checkpoints throughout the area of operations allowed us to keep the initiative and be proactive to prevent crime,” Col. Macoto said. “The goal is to keep the department of Gracias a Dios from becoming a drug trafficking hub.” According to the 2017 World Drug Report of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the Drug Enforcement Administration “estimated that in 2015, 76 percent of the cocaine departing South America transited the eastern Pacific, entering Central America or Mexico before being transported overland to the United States.” Moreover, the International Narcotics Control Board Annual Report 2017, said narcotraffickers have destroyed thousands of acres of forests in Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua by opening airstrips and damaging important natural areas in all three countries in the last decade. “Drug trafficking opens airstrips and damages important areas in the three countries, which suffer the ravages of illicit cocaine trafficking,” said Luis Otárola Peñaranda, INCB member in Perú, in a UN news report published in March 2018. Multilateral work “The fight against narcotrafficking requires multilateral efforts. It’s important to coordinate regional efforts to obtain better results,” Captain Meza said. As such, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras created the Trinational Task Force in November 2016 to improve cooperation and combined operations, as well as fight transnational organized crime head-on. U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), through the Joint Interagency Task Force South, helps detect, monitor, and alert partners about narcotrafficking routes as well as strengthen security capabilities of partner nations. “Combining efforts leads to better results,” Capt. Meza said. “SOUTHCOM supports us with information, identification, and location of clandestine airstrips,” Col. Macoto concluded.last_img read more

Cost of funds for credit unions about to rise

first_img 6SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr Depository institutions need to plan for higher cost of funds, as higher interest rates cause depositors to shift higher yielding deposit accounts.Most Federal Reserve watchers anticipated that the Federal Open Market Committee will raise its target federal funds rate in the fourth quarter and continue to raise rates during 2018 and 2019. The federal funds rate will rise from 1.4 percent at the end of 2017 to 2.7 percent at the end of 2019.The following graph shows the median projected federal funds rate for the years of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020. continue reading »last_img

I’m 40. Here’s 39 Things I Still Don’t Know

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York It’s my 40th birthday. Like any monumentally important milestone, it got me thinking about who I am and what I know, who I thought I’d be by now and who I actually am. What, I wonder, do I have to show for 40 years on this green earth?But here’s the thing. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the older I got, the less I knew. I’m less sure about things I knew for certain when I was 30. At 20, life was a no-brainer: get a degree, marry the guy, get the job, have the kids. By 30, I had the kids and had no time to think about anything – but I could still tell you that breast beat bottle, that children shouldn’t watch too much television and that being a mom is the be-all and end-all of my life’s purpose.And now, on the big day?I’m glad that I breastfed my kids, but no longer have a strong opinion about what others do. My children have probably watched more TV than is acceptable by my compatriots in the mommy mafia.And is being a mom fulfilling? Absolutely. But is it everything? Where do my kids end and I begin?The answer is I don’t know. And the truth is that there are a lot of things I still don’t know. I have learned a thing or two here and there. I’ve learned not to have any heroes. Heroes often let you down. But that it’s okay because I’ve disappointed myself and I’m learning to forgive all of us.I’ve learned that I don’t want to be a brand. I don’t want to be defined by the things I buy or the candidates I vote for. I don’t want to be locked into a belief system that is so rigid I can’t be open to learning new things.Now the things I don’t know far outweigh what I’m sure of. Here are 39 of them. Maybe I’ll find the answers by my 50th.What I Don’t Know by Age 40:What I want to be when I grow upHow to keep it that way after I clean the houseHow to meditateHow to save moneyHow to make meatloafThe lyrics to “Yellow Ledbetter”How not to cry when I’m angryHow to thicken my skinHow to achieve great eyebrowsHow to be a wife, mother, employee and human being simultaneouslyHow to not order a second (or third) glass of wineThe difference between an alligator and a crocodileWhether Pluto is considered a planet or notHow to do a cartwheelHow to not care what others think of meWhy women vote RepublicanWhat happens when you dieHow to fold a fitted sheetHow to wear a scarfHow to organize anythingHow to achieve balanceWhy I can’t just use the fancy towelsWhy I need a pocketbook when I have pocketsThe difference between foundation and concealer, and how to apply eitherHow to be in the momentIf ghosts are realHow to disagree amicablyHow to be satisfied with what I haveHow some people don’t drink coffeeOr don’t like chocolateHow to code (or what that really means)How to do a headstandIf God is realHow Trump got this farWhat happened at the end of the SopranosHow to get through Joyce’s UlyssesHow to pronounce “quinoa,” “acai” and “manicotti.” I only want to eat the last one.Why pot isn’t legalMy placelast_img read more

Geologist-turned-bureaucrat appointed as Indonesia’s top mining regulator

first_imgThe Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry has appointed Ridwan Djamaluddin as the ministry’s number one man in regulating Indonesia’s mining industry.Energy minister Arifin Tasrif inaugurated the geologist-by-training on Monday as the ministry’s new mining director general, an echelon one-level bureaucrat, which is a rank just below a minister. Arifin tasked Ridwan with implementing the recently released Coal and Mineral Mining Law that seeks to upheave Indonesia’s mining industry. The tasks include developing the downstream mining sector, raising state income, training mining inspectors and cutting bureaucratic red tape.“And, in the near future, to immediately prepare the executive regulations for Mining Law No. 3/2020,” said Arifin during a live broadcast of the inauguration ceremony, which was held at the ministry’s headquarters in Jakarta.Read also: Explainer: New rules in revised Mining LawThe government needs to issue at least 18 government regulations (PP) to implement the Mining Law. Minister Arifin appointed two other echelon one officials on Monday but Ridwan’s appointment was the most prominent, owing to his office’s central role in shaping the domestic mining industry, which is a key pillar of Indonesia’s international trade.Eko Budi Lelono and Prahoro Yulijanto Nurtjahyo were also appointed as the new geology body head and human resources head on Monday, respectively. The former’s predecessor has retired while the latter’s predecessor has picked up a teaching job at the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB).Eko’s work includes monitoring volcanic activity and mapping underground fresh water while Prahoro’s work includes training civil servants and issuing industry certifications.Ridwan told reporters after the inauguration ceremony that his office would focus this year on helping the government tackle COVID-19 and the economic recovery before fully executing the new Mining Law. He will also use the time to learn about his new job.“Let’s be safe first for this year. Indonesia can still survive under existing conditions,” he said.Ridwan was formerly the deputy head of transportation and infrastructure at the Office of the Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister, which oversees the energy ministry. He replaces Bambang Gatot Ariyono, who has retired after five-years of service.“These [industry] issues are not easy, but neither are they difficult if we work together,” said Bambang in his farewell speech, also on Monday.Read also: Indonesia sets price floor for nickel ore to protect small minersTwo mining associations publicly congratulated Ridwan on his appointment last week, although it was not officially confirmed by the energy ministry until Monday. The associations are the Indonesian Nickel Mining Association (APNI) and the Indonesian Mining Experts Association (Perhapi), which partook in drafting the Mining Law.APNI – the most vocal opposition to Indonesia’s ongoing nickel ore export ban – was quick to lobby the new director general. The association issued a statement on Monday asking Ridwan to, first are foremost, enforce a price floor for domestically sold nickel ore.“May you carry out your responsibilities and the hopes of all Indonesian miners,” wrote APNI in a statement on Monday.Topics :last_img read more

​IPE Views: Defining true risk for pension funds

first_imgThe true measure of riskThe real problem long-term investors face is not short-term volatility. It is how to deal with the uncertainty surrounding the likely paths asset prices might take over their investment time horizon. This is not volatility. Instead, this is about understanding the range of possible macroeconomic outcomes, judging the likelihood of those outcomes occurring and choosing an asset allocation that best fulfils the investment objective within that context.Investors’ objectives can and should vary widely, based on their particular investment beliefs and characteristics. As such, their measures of risk should also vary widely and, ideally, be bespoke to the individual investor. In identifying their objectives, investors also need to establish the key outcomes they want to avoid and focus on creating the right measure for their risk appetite accordingly.However, more broadly, almost all investors share a balance-sheet problem, which is not confined to assets alone.Generally, investors such as pension funds and insurance companies, have a key balance-sheet metric, which is the discount rate applied to liabilities, or, in the case of endowments and sovereign wealth funds, an ‘inflation-plus’ return target. Both establish the rate of growth the assets need to achieve to keep the balance sheet whole or reach the required target.The true risk for all investors is the extent to which they are prepared to accept sub-optimal outcomes in their efforts to achieve their objective. A sub-optimal outcome is simply one that does not achieve the investment objective. Anything less than the target return is value destructive – anything greater is value creation.Measuring risk in terms of volatility does not help investors understand or effectively manage this problem. Instead, forecasting returns and economic scenarios are key.Investors should be focusing on their individual pension, insurance, endowment or sovereign wealth fund objectives, risk appetites and tolerances. The medium to long-term investment horizon available to most of these investors gives them an edge and should not be ignored because of investment managers and consultants’ short-term appeals to solve long-term problems.Most important, long-term investors should be focusing on forecasting returns, not volatility. They need to better understand the true economic exposure of portfolios and analyse the economic scenarios that are most likely and most worrying in the future.Stefan Dunatov is CIO at Coal Pension Trustees Investment and a member of the 300 Club The emergence of volatilityThe increasing focus on forecasting risk, and the emergence of volatility as a popular measure of that risk, is a disappointing response by the investment industry to the recent difficulties it has faced.Any investment manager would be excused for thinking the last 15 years have been difficult. Since the late 1990s, investors have faced an increase in apparent economic and investment uncertainty, especially in comparison to the preceding two decades.The rising uncertainty stems from several sources, including significant changes in investment and accounting regulations, not least the transition to marked-to-market pension liabilities under IFRS 13, which crystallises moves in asset prices more frequently on balance sheets. Other sources of uncertainty include the impact on liabilities of a prolonged period of falling interest rates and therefore discount rates, and, perhaps most critically, the single largest market panic since the 1930s.In investment terms, uncertainty translates into risk. Deep uncertainty, when we are faced with an unlimited set of possible outcomes, creates fear – the sort of fear seen during the Great Depression of the 1930s and again in 2008 when the banking system in the West teetered at the edge of an abyss. In dealing with that fear, investors analyse uncertainty by identifying potential outcomes, using historical events as guides, trying to judge the likelihood of different outcomes occurring and to envisage the circumstances leading to each outcome and their economic consequences. This process effectively reduces uncertainty to mere risk.In the current period of increased uncertainty, investors are naturally more focused on how to define, measure and manage that risk.In the search for answers, however, the industry as a whole has failed to develop an appropriate definition and measure of risk. Asset owners have allowed the providers of investment services, including investment managers and consultants, to dictate the approach asset owners should adopt. External advisers naturally prefer to work with an easily definable measure common to many clients. Their solution has been to replace the traditional focus on forecasting returns and all its difficulties with a short-term metric of volatility to forecast risk, which appears to be a more tractable measure. This touches on a separate key issue the industry also has to grapple with – a lack of alignment of interests between the asset owners, consultants and asset managers.   Using volatility to measure risk is a big mistake for long-term investors, warns 300 Club member Stefan DunatovThe investment industry has two great failings: the inability to identify the right risks when considering investment objectives, and then measuring those risks the wrong way.A long-term investor’s appetite or tolerance for risk should be a direct function of its individual objectives and should not be measured by a short-term metric like volatility. Forecasting returns, not risk, should sit at the heart of long-term investors’ asset allocation strategy.center_img Volatility doesn’t measure real riskVolatility is a crude, poor measure of risk for a long-term investor. Like the assumption that markets are efficient, the assumption that volatility is a good measure of risk is clearly wrong.Volatility forecasting is only helpful in the very short term. Volatility measures typically inform us about the state of the world at the current time, and models that forecast volatility tend to only be able to do so with any degree of accuracy over a very short time frame. Correlation assumptions form a key part of volatility forecasting, and these are even more difficult to predict – so much so that most market participants tend to not forecast them at all (correlations are most often static assumptions).  The most confident analysts believe six months is a long-time horizon for forecasting volatility, which is of limited use to a professional investor with a medium to long-term investment horizon.By succumbing to the pressure of providers to focus on short-term measures of risk instead of long-term objectives, investors are giving up their ability to exploit the illiquidity premium. This undermines the premise of being a patient, long-term investor. Long-term investors should be able to absorb short-term fluctuations in risk premiums, yet risk models focus on these short-term fluctuations.last_img read more

Tacoma LNG project receives regulator emissions clearance

first_imgImage courtesy of Port of TacomaThe Puget Sound Clean Air Agency has completed a review of Puget Sound Energy’s Tacoma LNG storage and fueling terminal.The Agency said on Tuesday that it completed the review of the facility’s notice of construction application, including public comments.The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency stated that it made a final determination that the proposal meets all the requirements of Agency Regulations I, II, and III and should be approved.In the Final Decision on Tacoma LNG Air Permit, executive director Craig Kenworthy said that while approval of a permit application was not an endorsement of a project, the agency determined that the application meets standards set by applicable laws and regulations as of when the application was submitted to the agency.The final permit also includes conditions that require demonstration of compliance with emission limits set through this review.It is worth reminding that The Puyallup Tribal Council rejected the Agency’s preliminary determination to issue permits to Tacoma LNG back in July.The Council claimed at the time that the governmental reviews of this project “have been badly flawed and have failed to engage the Tribe in consultation.”As for the project, the Puget Sound Energy’s plant, valued at about $275 million, is located at the Port of Tacoma. It is planned to provide peak shaving, marine LNG bunkering, and truck loading services.The facility includes a 30,000 cubic meter full containment storage tank, liquefier, and a vaporizer.last_img read more

Sports minister offers words of encouragement to young cricketers

first_img Tweet Sharing is caring! Share Share LocalNewsSports Sports minister offers words of encouragement to young cricketers by: – June 14, 2012center_img 23 Views   no discussions Share Minister for Culture, Youth and Sports, Justina Charles. (file photo)Minister for Culture, Youth and Sports Justina Charles has encouraged young sports men and woman to develop an attitude of respect, discipline and tolerance for each other and to safeguard their opportunities for development.Charles made these comments at the opening of the 2012 Quenchie soft drinks primary school cricket championship earlier this week.“One of the things that is very common is the use of our young boys and girls to traffic drugs and I am therefore appealing to you that you should not allow any body to use you and to take away any of the opportunities that are out there for you”.She also encouraged the students to be disciplined as this will assist them throughout life.“Another thing that is very important is discipline and what I mean is time management. If the game is to start at 10:00 are you there at 9:30 or 9:45? You should not be walking in at 10:00. When you begin to develop that sense of maintaining time it is going to be a lifelong experience because it will be important when you begin your career”.Charles also advised the students to maintain a level of tolerance which is of great importance.“As you play, and move around you may knock somebody and you need to learn to tolerate people because we have seen an increase of violence among young people. If tomorrow you become one of the West Indies players you are not going to stand on the field and fight because number one you will not get there, so your attitude now is what determines what will happen to you as a future sports man”.She said sports should be seen as a means of “promoting” peace and she hoped that after the students training and involvement in sports they would develop a sense of “respect” for themselves and for others.Dominica Vibes Newslast_img read more