NAFCU economist: February jobs report ‘should not set off alarm bells’

first_img continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr NAFCU Chief Economist and Vice President of Research Curt Long noted that Friday’s jobs report – with 20,000 jobs gained in February – is not low enough to cause immediate concern.“February job growth was surprisingly slow as employers added to payrolls at the slowest pace since September 2017,” said Long. “One poor report should not set off alarm bells, but given that the labor market is the lynchpin for the entire economy, it does add to existing concerns and raises the stakes for next month’s report.”The unemployment rate dropped to 3.8 percent in February as the labor force participation rate remained at 63.2 percent, matching the highest figure since September 2013.In other report data, private-sector payroll employment increased 25,000 jobs during February. The goods-producing sector decreased 32,000 jobs, while the service sector increased 57,000 jobs. Public sector employment fell 5,000 from the prior month.last_img read more

Danish roundup: LD, PFA, PenSam, Industriens Pension

first_imgDenmark’s DKK50bn (€6.7bn) pension fund Lønmodtagernes Dyrtidsfond (LD) has said it expects to see tough competition between asset managers for the DKK23bn of fixed income mandates it is putting out to tender.Lars Wallberg, LD’s director of finance, said: “We have worked on our investment strategy over the last few years and varied our expectations slightly for the bond portfolio.”LD will target a high level of safety in the portfolio, he said, to avoid exposure to credit risk and price volatility.At the end of April, the fund issued invitations to tender for two DKK9bn Danish high-grade bond mandates and one to tender for a Danish short-term bond mandate. This followed two invitations to prequalify for the investment management of a European corporate investment-grade bond mandate and a global inflation-linked bond mandate. LD said both Danish and foreign managers had the opportunity to make offers to provide investment advice on the mandates that the scheme has now put out as an EU tender.Wallberg said the two mandates for gilt-edged bonds and the mandate for Danish short-term bonds would require a high level of knowledge of Danish bonds, adding that this meant the number of managers applying for the business was likely to be relatively limited.But he said he expected tough competition among managers because these were large, attractive mandates.LD, which receives no current contributions, manages cost-of-living allowances that were granted to public sector employees in the past.Meanwhile, the Danish financial regulator has given PFA’s asset management arm an official order and criticised the firm for paying too much for services from another part of the PFA group.The Danish FSA (Finanstilsynet) ordered PFA Kapitalforvalting (PFA Asset Management) to ensure the agreement with PFA Pension to receive various administrative services includes fees that are set at market rates.The order was given following a routine inspection of the firm.The regulator said: “It is the FSA’s judgement that the company has not focused sufficiently on the fee for services that are included in the administration agreement, and that the fee is high.”It said this meant there was an increased risk the agreement had not been made according to market rates.PFA said it would follow the order but insisted the fee had been in line with the market.In a statement, PFA Kapitalforvaltning directors Jesper Langmack and Poul Kobberup said: “We will obviously listen to the FSA order and in future ensure we can account for the fee in detail, which we believe to be market-based.”They also said they had tried to ask the FSA what it believed would be a correct level of fee, but the authority had not given it an indication of this.Separately, PenSam said it and Topdanmark were jointly investing DKK600m in a residential development of 400 flats in Aarhus.Construction of the planned development in the city’s new harbour-side quarter known as Aarhus Ø is about to start, PenSam said.The first 120 apartments are expected to be ready for occupation in October 2015.Benny Buchardt Andersen, PenSam’s investment director, said: “It is positive that we as a pensions company can support the development of Aarhus by creating attractive homes, which will provide value now and in the future.”He said the investment would mean more employment, high-quality homes for the city and a good return for PenSam’s customers.NCC Construction is to be the lead contractor for the project.Lastly, Industriens Pension said it was making its first property investment in the Aarhus area, putting DKK140m into a new office building currently under construction in Skejby to the north of the city.The property is already pre-let on a 10-year lease to the Danish IT company EG.The pension fund said it would take over the property in the spring of 2015 when it was completed and the tenant had moved in. The property was just under 12,000m2 in size and included underground parking, Industriens said.Peter Frische, head of real estate investment at the labour-market pension fund, said: “This is a modern, flexible and well-located high-quality property with a good tenant and a long lease. The investment will contribute to securing a good and stable long-term return for our customers.”Industriens said it planned to invest DKK5bn over the next few years in Danish property. It currently has DKK2.8bn invested in property funds, primarily abroad. This compares with its total investments across asset classes of DKK118bn.last_img read more

Dutch rivals quiet on relationship

first_img “It was difficult at the start of the season for them but I think they are on the way back and that showed the performances of the team and they won the last four games. “It’s a nice challenge for us on Monday.” United can go third if they beat Southampton, who are a point ahead of them in the table, and then face Liverpool but Van Gaal disputed suggestions the match against their Merseyside rivals was more important. He also believes the Saints can still be in the Champions League places at the end of the season. Van Gaal said: “Southampton play better at this time and have more points at this moment than Liverpool so I think it’s good that we have to play Southampton now. “I think they have a good squad, a lot of players that I know and who were offered to us. I think they are able to come in the top four but that’s also because I believe in the management in Ronald Koeman and his brother [Erwin].” Van Gaal also responded angrily to reports that he will be handed £100million or more to bring in new players. He added: “I think it’s disgusting always writing about numbers. I don’t think that [United executive vice-chairman] Ed Woodward said anything about that, I don’t think I have said anything about that. “It is disrespectful to my players and I don’t like to talk about it. I have to work with the selection I have and I have respect for my selection and I believe in my players.” Wayne Rooney will be fit to face Southampton, Van Gaal confirmed. The United skipper had a scan on Thursday to examine a possible knee problem but has been given the all-clear. However record signing Angel di Maria will not be ready to return from his injury in time for the trip to the south coast. Van Gaal described Koeman as “a very good coach” but refused to talk about their relationship since the falling-out. The United manager told a news conference at the club’s Carrington training centre: “I don’t have to describe my relationship with the trainer of the opponent… that’s more private. “We play against Southampton and we have to speak about Southampton not speak about the coach.” Koeman took a similar line, saying: “The game is Southampton v Manchester Untied and the game needs that attention and not the attention about both managers because that’s private. “That was a working problem and I have to explain like that. “It’s not an issue because it is eight or nine years ago and now I prefer to talk about the game.” Asked about the relationship now, Koeman added: “Good. If we see each other we shake hands and that’s enough. “He’s a great coach. He needs time, he will get the time of the club. Koeman, now Southampton manager, worked under Van Gaal at Barcelona but the pair fell out when they were at Ajax in 2004, when Koeman was coach and Van Gaal the technical director. They shake hands on meeting now, according to Koeman, but Van Gaal referred to his former protege as “weak” in his autobiography and the closeness they once had never returned. Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal will cross swords with fellow Dutchman and his former assistant Ronald Koeman on Monday – but both managers have declared their personal relationship to be “private”. Press Associationlast_img read more

USC’s SCholars program facing a hazy future

first_imgSenior Stephanie Garcia is the first in her family to attend college. She began at Los Angeles Community College, and transferred to USC in her sophomore year with the help of the SCholars program — a program that helps first-generation and low-income students transfer to four-year universities.Since coming to USC, Garcia has been actively involved with the SCholars program, even bringing her younger sister to events with her. She hopes the events will eventually inspire her sister to attend a four-year school.SCholarly · Juana Escobar, a junior majoring in communication, transferred from Los Angeles City College through the SCholars program. – Dieuwertje Kast | Daily TrojanBut unless the program manages to quickly raise hundreds of thousands of dollars, Garcia’s sister might not have the same opportunity.“If I wouldn’t have known and been a part of the SCholars, I would’ve still been struggling,” Garcia said. “They helped with a lot of the challenges we face as transfer students, but also as a lot of first-generation college students. A lot of us did have a hard time transferring, academically and socially, and they’ve definitely been there to help bridge that gap.”The SCholars program was established at USC in 2006, spurred by a grant of almost $1 million. But the money, given by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, was a one-time grant. Now that the funds from the grant have run out, the program’s future is in jeopardy.The program takes about $200,000-$250,000 per year to run, according to Judi Garbuio, associate dean of the Academic Recognition and Scholars Program. The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, in the midst of financial difficulty, has said it will not renew the grant, so the SCholars program is looking for an alternative source of funding.“We’re working on it, trying to seek funds from other foundations, and we’ve also been engaged in fundraising from private parties willing to support the cause,” said K.C. Mmeje, the SCholars program director. “We’re trying to get the university to see that what we’re doing is important enough for them to provide support to sustain the program, but we’re not seeing that right now.”Because the program has been funded entirely by sources outside of USC so far, it is looking to other external sources first. Garbuio said asking USC for funding would be a last resort, because they are aware of the many other programs aiming to get money from the university. She was not optimistic about other sources of funding, either.“It’s a very tough time to be fundraising,” Garbuio said. “Different individuals have suffered with the economy, so they’re not as likely to donate to foundations, which are in turn not as likely to give out grants.”Like Garcia, Roland Zapata, a junior majoring in psychology and a member of the SCholars program, said the program has been a defining part of his educational experience and hopes that it finds a way to stay afloat.“It’s a transition program, essentially, it’s a baby-step thing, perfect for someone like me,” Zapata said. “I was asking all these weird questions and I was getting answers.”The SCholars program offers students counseling resources and group events to help them succeed socially and academically.“Without it, who knows if I would’ve even ended up here,” Zapata said. “People say that as a joke, ‘Who knows where I’d be,’ but really. Even once I got here, it’s been a big jump from community college … Even if I had gotten here without it, without that support to fall back on, I would’ve been like, ‘OK, I’m dropping this, I’m out.’”Cheryl Armstrong, director of the University Transfer Center at Los Angeles City College, said the program is important to students and believes that it should be a priority for it to continue to function.“If I had a pot of money set aside, this would be a priority in terms of making sure this program continues,” she said. “Students who go through this specific program tend to apply to select universities, tend to enroll and complete the work and go on to graduate school. It provides the transition information that students need who might not have succeeded otherwise.”The grant from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation extends through August 2010, so students currently in community colleges entering USC next year will still go through the SCholar program’s summer immersion session.The immersion program, however, will put more emphasis on pointing out resources on campus they can turn to in case the SCholars office is available next fall.Still, Garbuio said she believes in the program.“I’m still hopeful,” she said. “I really believe it’s a fantastic program, and that we’ll figure out a way to keep it going.”last_img read more

Cuban posting system, two-way players top baseball’s storylines to watch in 2019

first_img Angels offense breaks out to split doubleheader with Astros Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error This is, of course, a dramatic departure from the norm of the last 20 years. The 400-home run club included 29 members in 1999. Today it’s up to 55 – but only two of those players are active.It’s been argued that performance-enhancing drug use cheapened the value of traditional hitting milestones. Now that most of the PED era’s peak performers have retired, it’s a good time to survey the leaderboard landscape again. It hasn’t looked like this in a while. Dodgers lose a wild game to the Giants in 11 innings Dodgers’ Will Smith: ‘I feel like it’s been five years’ since his 2019 debut Harvard-Westlake alum Lucas Giolito throws no-hitter for White Sox center_img The joint agreement announced Dec. 19 by MLB, the MLB Players’ Association, and the Cuban Baseball Federation teemed with optimism. Its proclamation was simple: a new posting system, similar to that between MLB and Japan, which would allow players to leave Cuba for the United States within a set of agreed-upon rules. Such a system could potentially end the dangerous practice of smuggling players, their friends, and family members off the island.But was the optimism premature?If the agreed-to parameters did not involve the Cuban and American governments, the answer would be no. Reuters cited an MLB official who claimed that the Office of Foreign Assets Control determined teams could transfer money to the Cuban Baseball Federation because it isn’t an agency of the communist government.Sign up for Home Turf and get exclusive stories every SoCal sports fan must read, sent daily. Subscribe here.However, that determination was made during the Barack Obama administration. Now, OFAC could simply change its mind, according to subsequent reports. MLB is already operating without competition under an antitrust agreement. Its relationship with the federal government is further entwined in a grand jury investigation, first reported by Sports Illustrated, into allegations of corruption tied to the recruitment of Cuban players by MLB teams. The Dodgers “figure most prominently” in the allegations, according to SI.It’s a complicated situation that could turn on a whim – if the federal government ever goes back to work, of course. Jose Suarez’s rocky start sinks Angels in loss to Astros 2. Two-way playersShohei Ohtani won’t pitch in 2019, but Matt Davidson, Kaleb Cowart and others might.The Mariners recently acquired Cowart, a career infielder with the Angels, and invited him to spring training as a pitcher-slash-infielder. Matt Davidson was non-tendered after hitting 20 home runs for the Chicago White Sox in 2018. The Yucaipa native also retired nine of the 11 batters he faced as a pitcher, and he reportedly wants to keep pitching in 2019. Throw in Rays prospect Brendan McKay and the wave of two-way talents begins to resemble a trend.If Ohtani’s rookie season is a harbinger, the onus is not simply on these players to prove full-time pitching and hitting can coexist in one player’s repertoire. The Angels handled Ohtani with great care from the outset of spring training. His schedule was heavily regimented, his press conferences limited. That his right UCL ultimately caved to pressure likely said more about his usage in Japan – though another Tommy John surgery could make teams wary of turning two-way players into a trend.3. GamblingGaming magnate MGM Resorts promised “a new one-of-a-kind fan experience for baseball fans” when it announced its landmark partnership with MLB in November. We’re still waiting for the important details about what that experience entails.Count us surprised if MLB and MGM roll out more than a handful of bells and whistles in the first year after the Supreme Court relaxed restrictions on gambling in sports. Baseball is the most traditional of the American pastimes, if not the most popular. As is usually the case, the league must strike a delicate balance between its past and its future that invites new fans without alienating its base.4. “Openers”If starters routinely pitch one or two innings in 2019, we can all point to May 19 and 20 of last year as a turning point in baseball history. That’s when the Tampa Bay Rays started veteran reliever Sergio Romo on back-to-back days against the Angels.The idea of removing a starting pitcher in the second or third inning by design is not new. However, no major league regularly practiced it until Rays manager Kevin Cash used the strategy when his five-man rotation was depleted by injuries. The Rays won 90 games, the A’s used an opener (Liam Hendriks) in the American League wild-card game, and the Brewers used one – actually three – in the NLCS.Newly appointed Giants general manager Farhan Zaidi said he would embrace the “opener” strategy in 2019. Perhaps other teams will follow suit.5. The changing shape of free agencyOne agent to several unsigned free agents recently hatched an idea: institute a second trade deadline, in December, as a means to speeding up another slow offseason. Once again, everything old is new again.A trade deadline was observed at the Winter Meetings until 1984. Immediately, the meetings lost their urgency. They only carried the convenience of bringing executives and agents into the same hotel for four days in December. That felt like incentive enough to make major deals until last year, when several veteran free agents (J.D. Martinez, Yu Darvish, Eric Hosmer, Jake Arrieta) did not sign contracts until February. Others (Greg Holland, Jose Bautista, Matt Holliday) did not sign until after the regular season began.The pattern is repeating itself. Bryce Harper and Manny Machado remain unsigned, to say nothing of the large “middle class” of free agents. Considering the rancor among players and agents, a second trade deadline seems like a modest proposal. Upheaving a system that grants free agency to players after six years of service time isn’t out of the question for baseball’s next decade.6. Minor league team namesThis is a silly one, but even Super Baseball 2020 might blush at the idea of the “New Orleans Baby Cakes.”Minor league team names have never looked more ridiculous on a baseball jersey. The Rocket City Trash Pandas will begin play in Madison, Ala., in 2020. Pity the unlucky player who also wears the uniform of the Rocky Mountain Vibes or the Amarillo Sod Poodles.We’re left to wonder: when (and how) does this end? Hopefully not with Trouble in River City.7. Home run milestonesThe list of active home run leaders hasn’t looked like this in a while. Albert Pujols sits comfortably in first place with 633. A steep dropoff follows: Miguel Cabrera is next with 465, followed by Edwin Encarnacion with 380. The top 10 players on the list are all 35 or older. Unless Mike Trout hits 60 home runs this year – never say never – only Giancarlo Stanton will enter the 2020s with 300 home runs by the age of 30.Related Articles A minor baseball video game title, “Super Baseball 2020,” was released in North America in 1993. Its vision for the future of the sport was more ambitious than its low-res graphics. You could play as a man, a woman or a robot. Every game took place at the same indoor facility, Cyber Egg Stadium. A clock ticked away in the upper-left corner of the screen. Home runs only counted if they were hit to center field. Robot umpires governed with infallible judgment.The next 363 days will point the way toward baseball as it will actually be played in 2020. That might not be enough lead time for robots and women to compete alongside men in Major League Baseball, but perhaps the league will get around to enforcing its existing pitch clock rules.That one didn’t make the cut for the top storylines to watch in baseball this year. Here they are, in order of intrigue.1. Cubalast_img read more

Angels’ Andrew Heaney unloads on Astros in wake of sign-stealing reports

first_img Angels offense breaks out to split doubleheader with Astros Heaney, in fact, needed only to look to the other side of the room to find one of them.Max Stassi, who was acquired by the Angels last July, had been up and down with the Astros since 2013. The catcher was back in the majors from mid-August  2017 to the end of the season, during which the Astros were reportedly at the peak of their sign-stealing.Stassi said he was too inexperienced in his big league career to do anything to stop the practice.“I saw what was going on,” he said. “When you’re a lower man on the totem pole, you just show up and you go out there and play. I apologize to all those around the game, the people who were affected by it, the fans, coaches. Especially the kids who look up to us. We’re supposed to set an example and do the right thing. We didn’t do that.”Stassi added: “It was wrong. I feel terrible. I think that looking back, that every single person that was part of that team, or in that clubhouse, regrets what was going on. If we could all go back, I’m sure they’d never even thought of the idea.” Angels’ Shohei Ohtani spending downtime working in outfield Jose Suarez’s rocky start sinks Angels in loss to Astros Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error TEMPE, Ariz. — Andrew Heaney, who will always be among the league leaders in honesty, unleashed a torrent of emotions on the Houston Astros on Wednesday morning.The revelations from the past winter about electronic sign-stealing used by the Astros didn’t sit well with the Angels’ left-hander.“I am not going to make excuses for those guys,” Heaney said before the Angels’ first official workout of the spring. “I know how it is. You get caught up in something. I’m sure they look back now and say ‘Oh (expletive), we really took that overboard.’“But I think that somebody in that locker room had to have enough insight to say ‘This is not OK.’ … Somebody in that locker room had to say, ‘This is (messed) up. We shouldn’t be doing this.’ For nobody to stand up and nobody to say, ‘We’re cheating other players,’ that sucks. That’s a (expletive) feeling for everybody. I hope they feel like (expletive).”center_img Angels’ poor pitching spoils an Albert Pujols milestone The Angels are now set to open the 2020 season in Houston, giving them the first opportunity to take on the team that seems to be universally reviled in baseball.Asked if he thinks baseball, and specifically the Astros, will be free of such sign-stealing now, Heaney shrugged.“I think they still have a lot of work to do,” he said. “Personally, I think they’re trying to, but we’ll see what’s going on with the video and in-game stuff and see how that gets sorted out. Because I think that’s something that needs to be addressed.” Stassi was up for the entire 2018 season and the first four months of 2019 before he was traded. He said he “didn’t see anything going on past 2017.”Heaney isn’t so sure.“I still don’t think we really know everything that happened,” Heaney said. “I don’t think necessarily everybody wants us to know everything that was going on. That’s the tough part.”Heaney didn’t even pitch in Houston in 2017, because he missed most of the season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. He has only pitched three times in Houston since then, with a 5.14 ERA. That’s too small of a sample to infer much. His overall ERA in the past two seasons is 4.41.Heaney said it was a “poorly kept secret” that the Astros had been stealing signs. There were times when he was suspicious, but it was more when there were runners on second base.“I would go back and look at video and say ‘Am I doing something in my glove? Am I showing anything?’” Heaney said. “I can’t say if they are banging on an (expletive) trash can or not. I don’t know. I am not paying attention to that. I am not going to sit here and say I feel victimized. I’m not going to make that excuse. I think it’s part of your job to cover that up and be on top of it. But it’s not your responsibility to make sure teams aren’t stealing your (expletive) illegally.”Related Articles Angels’ Mike Trout working on his defense, thanks to Twitter last_img read more