UK should fight temptation to ‘fiddle numbers’ as Brexit swells deficits

first_imgWebb, now director of policy at Royal London Asset Management, dismissed a renewed consideration of smoothing out of hand.“If it turns out that low interest rates really are the new normal, then pretending they are not low to ease short-term funding pressures is pretty risky,” he said.He also defended the flexibility granted TPR during his tenure and emphasised that valuations were not rigid but tailored to an individual DB fund’s needs.“The argument is still ‘you don’t kill the goose that lays the golden egg’,” he said.“And you don’t expect such high pension contributions that it would actually reduce the chance of the company’s being there in 10 years’ time to pay the pension liabilities.”Consultancy PwC noted that many sponsors and trustees had constructed the most recent valuations around a scenario anticipating improved Gilt yields.Instead, the UK Debt Management Office this week issued £1.25bn of 10-year Gilts at a yield of -1.58%.Jeremy May, pensions partner at PwC, said the challenge now facing trustees was weathering continued investment volatility.“An alternative strategy would be to recognise that repairing the deficit needs to be done over a longer time frame,” he said.“This would allow trustees to reduce the investment risk within the scheme by moving to more cash-generative assets while increasing liability hedging with the sponsor, thereby benefiting from the reduced volatility in future contribution calculations.”While TPR no longer limits recovery plans to 10-year timeframes, it has recently come in for criticism for the 23-year recovery period set out by trustees at the pension fund for insolvent retailer BHS, now set to enter the Pension Protection Fund. The UK government should ignore calls to change the way defined benefit (DB) pension deficits are calculated, the country’s former pensions minister has said, after the impact of the UK’s vote to leave the European Union damaged funding.Steve Webb, responsible for pensions policy for five years until 2015, said the temptation to “fiddle the numbers” should be resisted after the most authoritative deficit figures for UK DB funds saw a £89bn (€105bn) increase in underfunding in the immediate aftermath of the vote.Since the referendum, his successor, Ros Altmann, has repeatedly warned of the economic impact of increasing deficits and said it must not be allowed damage the economy. Webb noted that, during his tenure, the Pensions Regulator (TPR) was granted a further objective to consider the growth prospects of sponsoring companies when agreeing deficit-reduction payments – a decision reached at the same time the government rejected a call to allow for smoothing of pension liabilities.last_img read more

George Weah: from football icon to Liberia president

first_imgWenger signed Weah in 1988 when he was manager of Monaco, guiding his career for the next four years, and views the 1995 FIFA world player of the year as a shining example to the rest of the game.“I remember when I saw him for the first time in Monaco, coming in a bit lost, not knowing anybody, not being rated by anybody as a player and after, in 1995, becoming the best player in the world,” Wenger said in January.“Now he’s president of his country — it’s an unbelievable story. But it’s down to the fact that one thing that was common in George’s attitude is being strong mentally, absolutely unbelievably convinced that he has a mission.”– ‘All up to him’ –Younger voters have overwhelmingly favoured Weah, helping to propel him to power, but they are expecting quick results.“The expectation of the people and the country is all up to him (Weah). Everybody believes that if he fails us, the majority will be disappointed with politics,” said Samuel Harmon, 30, a street trader.Critics however accuse Weah’s Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) of having too vague a political platform, and have challenged his long absences from the senate since being elected in a 2014 race he won over Sirleaf’s son.Weah has also fended off barbs over his vice presidential pick, Jewel Howard-Taylor, the ex-wife of jailed former president and warlord Charles Taylor.Howard-Taylor is also a respected senator in her own right, and brought him important votes in the key county of Bong. Along with Sirleaf, she is one of few powerful women in Liberian public life.Weah is married to Clar Weah, and their son Timothy signed a professional football contract with Paris Saint-Germain in July 2017.Share on: WhatsApp (FILES) This file photograph taken on September 18, 2005, shows Liberian footballer George Weah as he takes part in a friendly football match in Monrovia.Former star footballer George Weah was named winner of Liberia’s presidential election on December 28, 2017, easily beating his challenger in the country’s first democratic transfer of power in seven decades scarred by civil wars, political assassinations and an Ebola crisis. / AFP PHOTO / Olivier Laban-MatteiMonrovia, Liberia | AFP | George Weah emerged from Liberia’s slums to become a superstar footballer in the 1990s, and has spent the last 13 years building political credibility to match his status as a sporting icon.Weah, 51, put education, job creation and infrastructure at the centre of his policy platform to beat outgoing Vice President Joseph Boakai to the presidency, and expectations are sky-high he will deliver for the country’s youthful population.“I am a human being, I strive to be excellent, and I can be successful,” Weah told journalists ahead of his inauguration, countering critics who say he is ill-prepared for office after serving in the Senate for just over three years.The first African player to win both FIFA’s World Player of the Year trophy and the Ballon d’Or, Weah was largely absent from Liberia during the 1989-2003 civil war period, playing for a string of top-flight European teams including Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan, and later Chelsea.Weah becomes the 25th president of the west African nation, taking power from President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf after 12 years and completing its first democratic transition since 1944.“We love him, we just love him,” said mature student Moses Adams, as he watched Weah and his veterans’ team play a friendly game against the army ahead of his inauguration.“I expect big change. I expect our lives to be better. I expect prices of things to go down, and I expect schools to be given priority,” Adams said.Weah faces the challenges of a depressed export economy highly reliant on rubber and iron ore, and has pledged to make the country more self-sufficient by transforming the agriculture sector and providing vocational training.Sirleaf maintained a peace desperately needed after a war that killed a quarter of a million people, but extreme poverty remains the norm for most Liberians.– ‘He has a mission’ –A member of the Kru ethnic group, Weah was raised by his grandmother on a reclaimed swamp in one of the worst slums of the capital Monrovia.Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has likened Weah’s life to a film script, while the former striker has described Wenger as a “father figure” who stood by him as he faced racist attacks in Europe.last_img read more

Steelers’ Hayward, Jets’ Smith fined for abusive language

first_imgPittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward (97) fends off Cleveland Browns wide receiver Greg Little after a fumble recovery in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013. (AP Photo/David Richard)NEW YORK (AP) – Geno Smith shouted a couple of mighty expensive expletives.The New York Jets quarterback was fined $12,000 by the NFL on Friday for cursing at a fan after the team’s game against Detroit last Sunday.Pittsburgh defensive lineman Cameron Heyward also got in trouble with his mouth, docked $22,050 for using abusive language toward an official during the Steelers’ loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Sunday.Smith was walking off the field following the 24-17 defeat when he glared at a heckler in the stands and yelled at him, twice using an expletive. The fine issued by the league was for unsportsmanlike conduct.The second-year quarterback immediately apologized after the game, but acknowledged during the week that he would likely be fined for his actions. Cleveland rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel received a similar fine from the league during the preseason for flipping his middle finger at Washington’s sideline.In this photo taken on Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014, New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith walks off the field after losing 24-17 to the Detroit Lions during an NFL football game in East Rutherford, N.J. Frustrated after a third straight loss and calls for his backup increasing, Smith was caught by a TV camera yelling an expletive at a heckler in the stands as he walked off the MetLife Stadium field following a 24-17 loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)“Always be above the situation,” Smith said Wednesday. “Never let people get to you. Never let anyone’s words affect you in that manner. So I’ve just learned, and it’s something I’ve already known, but (I’ve) just got to handle those situations better.”Smith has declined to say what the fan said to him that set him off. Owner Woody Johnson said Thursday he was disappointed by Smith’s actions, saying they were “absolutely unacceptable.” But, he also was confident Smith would never again put himself in a similar situation.Coach Rex Ryan wouldn’t say whether Smith would face additional discipline from the team.“We’ll handle it the way we see appropriate,” Ryan said. “And again, when we’re ready to let you know what our decision is, we’ll let you know.”Houston’s J.J. Watt was fined $16,537 for roughing the passer against Buffalo. The star defensive end was called for penalties twice after hitting Bills quarterback EJ Manuel in the knee area.San Diego left tackle King Dunlap and Jacksonville defensive end Alan Branch were each fined $8,268 for their fight during the Chargers’ 33-14 win last Sunday.Chicago guard Kyle Long was also docked $8,268 for unnecessary roughness in the Bears’ loss to the Green Bay Packers.___AP NFL websites: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFLlast_img read more