You are where you live

first_imgWe know that smoking causes cancer, yet we still light up. We know that overeating causes obesity and diabetes, yet we still overeat. We know that exercise makes us healthier, yet we can’t resist the couch’s siren song.We all want to be healthier, and we know how to become so. Yet we just don’t do it.S.V. Subramanian, associate professor of society, human development, and health at the Harvard School of Public Health and a researcher at the Center for Population and Development Studies, has heard all of the theories explaining why living a healthy lifestyle is so difficult. We’re predisposed to pack on pounds to survive the famine that, in olden days, was certainly coming. We’re addicted to the nicotine in cigarettes and the fat in burgers, which get their hooks into us. Convenience is key: Who can drag themselves to the gym every day and cook healthy meals of nuts, fruits, and vegetables when the golden arches beckon?Subramanian understands that those theories may help explain our resistance to things that are health promoting. Indeed, explanations based on the idea that we are programmed to be who we are and do what we do appear to be returning with some force in recent years with an explosion of genetics research.But he feels that this has often come at the exclusion of other factors. In particular, the idea that our environments — the places where we live and work and play — may also be important.“If it’s environment, then there are levers we can pull,” Subramanian said.Subramanian has embarked on a study that will examine the link between health and location. The study will utilize several longitudinal nationwide data sets to get to the roots of the linkages between neighborhoods and health.In doing so, he’ll compare health statistics such as those gathered by the Framingham Heart Study, which recorded health outcomes of three generations and followed people as they moved around the country. He’ll probe the age when healthy behavior is formed in the National Longitudinal Study for Adolescent Health, which examines 9- to 16-year-olds. The third data set is a national health and retirement survey of those 50 and older who were recruited in 1992 and revisited several times since then.Subramanian also plans to use data from national geographic information systems (GIS) and plot the locations of businesses that might be detrimental to health, such as liquor stores and fast-food restaurants, as well as those that might be helpful to maintaining a more beneficial lifestyle, such as health clubs and parks. He can overlay that information with data from the studies and census data on income, race, and ethnicity, creating a rich picture of health and location.“There’s a thought that poor neighborhoods are underserviced, but we don’t know if that’s true,” Subramanian said.Subramanian, who received an investigator award in health policy research from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to pursue this work, said the effort is like finding hot spots, places that are both socially and resource disadvantaged. In addition, he said, instances when these two aspects do not appear together may also offer interesting insights.Though medical science often looks to intervene at the personal level — helping a patient to make healthy choices — the research may show that there are also effective interventions that can be made at the neighborhood level, such as tax cuts for health-related industries to move into a neighborhood, or incentives for nonprofits to conduct activities that encourage better health.“What are the things that we can change about a place without having to move the people?” Subramanian said. “It’s an interesting public policy question: Should interventions be at the person level or a higher level, a school or neighborhood?”One unusual wrinkle that Subramanian is planning to investigate is the extent that free will plays in people living in unhealthy neighborhoods. People generally choose the places where they live, and while some seek parks and good schools, others may select for other factors. Though there is a myth of social mobility in this country, Subramanian said it is actually quite difficult to change social class, and most people end up in neighborhoods like the one they left out of constraints or choice.“We can learn about health-seeking behavior,” Subramanian said. “I want to quantify how much health and health-related conditions drive the choice of neighborhoods.”Subramanian said examination of that last factor is important because it has been raised in critiques of other studies, and Subramanian wants to bring data to bear on it.It’s important, Subramanian said, to understand that exposure to neighborhood landscapes doesn’t equate to taking a fast-acting pill or poison. Instead, effects of neighborhood conditions may lag exposure or accumulate over time. In addition, the life stage at which one is exposed may also matter. When the three-and-a-half-year study is completed, Subramanian plans to write a book on health and disadvantage in American neighborhoods.“If you have an environmental exposure in a neighborhood, it’s not going to show up for a long time,” Subramanian said. “If you’re exposed in utero, it may not show up for 25 years.”last_img read more

Vermont Technical College inaugurates 18th president September 30

first_img7:00 PM                      Vermont Symphony Orchestra                                     Chandler Center for the Arts, Randolph, VT Noon to 1:30 PM     Luncheon for invited guests, under the tent,                                                     Randolph Center Sept. 30th, Friday 10:30 AM to Noon Diversified Agriculture Symposium                                  “Carbon Literacy”                                  Red School House, Randolph Campus 2:00 to 3:30 PM         Induction Ceremony                                    Judd Hall, Randolph Center             11:00 AM – 2:00 PM Inaugural Celebration Luncheon                                                                        Morey Dining Hall Sept. 27th, Tuesday 1:30 – 3:30 PM     Nursing Education Symposium                             “Educating Nurses in the 21st Century”                              Room 401, Williston Campus Sept 26th, Monday 9:00 AM             Sustainability Commitment Event                           The Allen House, Randolph Center 3:30 to 4:30                Reception for attendees and participants                                    Campus  Center, Randolph Center Philip A Conroy, Jr, EdD, will be inducted as the 18th president of Vermont Technical College on Friday, September 30, 2011 at 2 pm in Judd Hall on the Randolph Center campus. Delegates representing colleges and universities from all of New England will join VTC faculty, staff and students in the academic procession and investiture ceremony.Dr. Conroy comes to Vermont Tech from Mount Ida College in Newton, Massachusetts, where he served as vice president of enrollment management and marketing, responsible for admissions, financial aid, marketing, publications, the web site, public relations, and retention related activities.President Conroy, who has served in a variety of roles at Mount Ida since 1997, is an internationally recognized expert on higher education management, particularly in the areas of strategic enrollment management and institutional advancement. “I am excited for Vermont Technical College and the Vermont State Colleges,” said Gary Moore, Chair of the Vermont State Colleges (VSC) Board of Trustees. “I believe Phil Conroy is the right person to take the college to new levels. He is an inspiring educator and leader who will be an asset to the college and to the state.”VSC Chancellor Tim Donovan echoed Moore’s comments, adding “When you look for a next president of a college, you seek the right person for the time and circumstance of the institution. The college community, the Board of Trustees, and I all agree that Dr. Conroy has the skills and character to lead Vermont Tech to an expanded role in Vermont’s economic and educational future. I anticipate that we will see Vermont Tech’s value to Vermont reach even greater heights under Dr. Conroy’s leadership.”Prior to his service at Mount Ida, Dr. Conroy served as the director of development for the College of Food and Natural Resources at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the Director of Development and founding Executive Director of the Bridgewater State University Foundation, where he also served as a faculty member, financial aid counselor, and alumni relations director.Dr. Conroy has more than thirty years of teaching and management experience in higher education, including resource development, endowment management, volunteer and constituent management, strategic enrollment management, financial aid, integrated marketing, international and multi-cultural education, transition to college and the first year of college. In addition, he has earned a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) designation from the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Conroy is a frequent presenter at conferences and workshops in Europe and North America on enrollment management, academic affairs, and institutional advancement issues, and he’s served in a number of volunteer positions, both in higher education and in his local community.President Conroy is “intrigued by the potential for Vermont Tech evolving into an applied university serving the state of Vermont and greater New England region. There are some very exciting possibilities ahead for Vermont Tech, and I am looking forward to working with the faculty and staff and bringing those possibilities to reality.”Conroy earned his Doctorate of Education in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; his Master of Education in educational administration from Rhode Island College in Providence, Rhode Island; and his Bachelor of Science in education from Bridgewater State University in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. He has also completed graduate studies at the University of Tampere, Finland; University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, and Boston College.  Dr. Jo Ann Rooney Keynote Speaker Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to keynote inaugural ceremony. Sept. 29th, Thursday  3:00 to 4:30 PM        Sustainable Technologies Symposium                          “Becoming a Sustainable Energy Community”                                                 Randolph Center               1:00 – 3:30 PM    Computer Information Systems Symposium                            “The CIS Dynamic Curriculum”                             Red School House, Randolph Campus Sept. 28th, Wednesday 8:30 AM – 2:30 PM Summit on the Future of Vermont Tech                                  Sugarbush Resort, Warren, Vermont Inauguration Week – September 26 through October 1 Schedule of Events     October 1, Saturday  10:00 to 4:00 PM       Open House and Alumni Homecoming Day                                                   Randolph Center Dr. Jo Ann Rooney, Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to keynote inaugural ceremonyDr. Jo Ann Rooney, Principal Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, will be the keynote speaker at Dr. Conroy’s induction ceremony on Friday, September 30th.She was sworn in on June 2, 2011. Dr. Rooney is deputy senior policy advisor to the Secretary of Defense on recruitment, career development, pay and benefits for 1.4 million active duty military personnel, 1.3 million Guard and Reserve personnel, 680,000 DoD civilians, and is responsible for overseeing the overall state of military readiness. Before assuming her current position, Dr. Rooney was President of Mount Ida College in Newton, Massachusetts, from July 2010 until December 2010 following a successful tenure as the President of Spalding University for eight years from 2002-2010. At Spalding she was credited with leading a successful financial turnaround and implemented a unique block scheduling system, achieved significant academic improvements and expansion of programs, put in place major IT infrastructure initiatives, significantly expanded enrollment and completed both a new academic building and laboratory and health science classroom facility.  From 1996 to 2002, she served as chief counsel, chief operating officer, chief financial officer, and partner of The Lyons Companies in Waltham, Massachusetts. That firm maintained a national practice specializing in estate planning, capital advising, charitable planning, executive compensation, business succession planning, and benefits planning and administration for corporations, individuals and nonprofit organizations. Prior to the Lyons Companies, she practiced tax law in the Boston area and was a founding partner of the consulting firm of Stearns, Rooney & Associates in Hingham, Massachusetts. In addition to practicing law in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Florida, U.S. District Court and U.S. Tax Court, Rooney is a member of the Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Florida and American Bar Associations. Throughout her career, Dr. Rooney has been a leader in education and had a passion for service. Until appointment, she served as Vice Chair of the Jewish St Mary’s Health Care System and was a member of the Board ofTrustees at Regis University, Denver, Colorado, in addition to numerous other civil and community involvement. In 2010, she was honored with the Mayor’s citation for community service and the Lucy Award from Louisville Scholar House – its highest community leadership award. She alsoreceived the Today’s Woman Magazine, 2006 Most Admired Woman in Education Award, the Business and Professional Women/River City, Woman of Achievement Award and the Business First, Partners in Health Care Award for 5 consecutive years. She has been a national speaker and presenter at the American Council on Education (ACE), the Association of Governing Boards (AGB), the CIC President’s Institute,Southern Association of College and Schools (SACS) annual conference and CAP/CAEL Conferences.  A native of West Hazelton, Pennsylvania, Dr. Rooney has earned an Ed.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, a Master of Laws (LL.M.) in taxation, from Boston University’s School of Law, the Juris Doctor (J.D.) from Suffolk University Law School and the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (summa cum laude) from Boston University. last_img read more

Fourteen Films Compete In Latin American Cinema’s Showcase In Europe

first_imgBy Dialogo October 15, 2009 Fourteen films, thirteen from Latin America and one from Spain, are competing for the top prize at the XXIVth Latin American Film Festival in the Italian city of Trieste, where a prize will also be given for the first time to the work that best promotes coexistence among peoples. The fourteen productions that make up the list of films in competition at the Festival are among more than 160 films that will be shown from 24 October to 1 November at the event, which annually provides Latin America’s largest cinematic showcase in Europe, as its artistic director, Rodrigo Díaz, explained to EFE. “The Trieste Festival is back for another year to show Latin American works that will have their Italian, and in some cases European, premieres. The big new thing this year is the Falklands Prize for the film that best promotes coexistence among peoples and international law,” Díaz explained. This prize, instituted in collaboration with the Argentine Ministries of Justice and Culture and the Argentine Film Institute (INCAA), is the great novelty of a festival with a significant tradition already behind it and in which this time a Spanish film is participating in the official competition, “Hoy no se fía, mañana sí” [Forever Waiting], by Francisco Avizanda. The other competitors include the Argentine films “Homo viator,” by Miguel Mato, “Andrés no quiere dormir la siesta” [Andrés Doesn’t Want to Take a Nap], by Daniel Bustamante, “Días de mayo” [Days of May], by Gustavo Postiglione, and “Desplazamientos” [Displacements], by Pedro Stocki. The Bolivian film “Cementerio de los elefantes” [Elephant Cemetery], by Tonchy Antezana, the Brazilian film “E probido fumar” [No Smoking], by Anna Muylaert, the Chilean films “El regalo” [The Gift], by Cristián Galaz and Andrea Ugalde, and “Grado 3” [Grade 3], by Roberto Artiagotía, and the Colombian films “Nochebuena” [Christmas Eve], by Camila Loboguerrero, and “Yo soy otro” [Others], by Óscar Campo Hurtado, are also participating in the official section. The list is rounded out by the Mexican films “A través del silencio” [Through the Silence], by Marcel Sisniega, and “Morenita,” by Alan Jonsson Gavica, along with the Dominican film “Hermafrodita” [Hermaphrodite], by Albert Xavier, one of the films that will receive its European premiere in Trieste. Once the competition is over, all these titles, which will be judged by a jury including Spanish producer Jaime Boix and Brazilian Antonio Urano, among others, will be shown in theaters in Rome, Milan, Padua, and Verona. In addition to the official section, this year’s Trieste Latin American Film Festival will pay tribute to the Brazilian filmmaker of Italian origin Rogério Sganzerla (1946-2004) with a retrospective in which twelve of his works will be shown and with the posthumous award of the Oriundi Prize, which promotes the memory of Italian immigration in Latin America. More than seventy works, including full-length films and shorts, showing various aspects of Latin American culture, art, and society will be shown in the “Contemporary” section. The XXIVth Festival will also include a retrospective dedicated to the bicentennial of the beginning of the independence of the peoples of Latin America from Spain, which will be commemorated next year.last_img read more

Costa Rican Judicial Police Capture Alleged International Cyber-Criminal

first_imgBy Dialogo August 14, 2015 Previously, the OIJ investigated cases of computer networks used for sexual exploitation and child pornography, among other criminal activities, according to Ávila. OIJ agents from the Electronic Crime Unit confiscated computers and other electronic equipment during the operation in which Rivera Sánchez was captured. No trial date has been set for Rivera Sánchez, a student at the National University (UNA) who allegedly used an Internet server to spread malware to infect computers. He’s also suspected of managing a botnet – a network of computers that are connected and communicate with each other to complete repetitive tasks, such as sending spam. Rivera Sánchez and other hackers allegedly used these methods to steal and sell personal information from victims’ electronic devices. The operation resulted in “charges, arrests, and searches involving 70 Darkode members and associates around the world; U.S. indictments against 12 individuals associated with the forum, including its administrator; the serving of several search warrants in the U.S.; and the (FBI’s) seizure of Darkode’s domain and servers,” the U.S. Justice Department and the FBI said. Rivera Sánchez was allegedly part of a worldwide hackers’ network and participated in a hacker’s online forum known as Darkode, an “underground, password-protected, online forum” that served as “a meeting place for those interested in buying, selling, and trading malware, botnets, stolen personally identifiable information, credit card information, hacked server credentials, and other pieces of data and software that facilitated complex cyber crimes all over the globe,” according to the FBI. A worldwide network Costa Rica’s Judicial Investigation Body (OIJ) and U.S. law enforcement agents recently worked together to capture a college student suspected of participating in an international cyber-crime operation. “We were actually informed by an alert from the FBI … regarding a person who was using an [Internet Protocol] address where he was uploading malicious programs – called malware – for virus dissemination,” OIJ Assistant Director Luis Angel Ávila told Diálogo. “In electronic matters it’s very important to have knowledge, in the sense that electronic proof is recovered and must be submitted to the due process in force in this country in order to open and analyze them,” Ávila added. The OIJ is continuing to investigate Rivera Sánchez, who allegedly was the organization’s lone member residing in Costa Rica, according to Ávila. “During the raid, computing equipment was found, as well as varied information linked to this illegal activity he was involved in, which was affecting not only national users but also foreigners, with virus dissemination,” Ávila said. “When the search was carried out, computers, electronic equipment for (data) storage, and other evidence were found, which now have to be analyzed. center_img An IP address is a unique string of numbers separated by periods that identifies each computer or device using the Internet Protocol to communicate over a network. OIJ agents seize computers “And in addition to the FBI obtaining enough evidence for search warrants and indictments in the U.S., we shared information with our foreign partners to help them make their own cases against the Darkode perpetrators residing in their jurisdictions,” the FBI stated. Costa Rican investigators also have broken up a handful of cyber-crimes for profit in recent years. “We’re pretty much making progress there, and cases have been increasing… with regard to sexual exploitation and child pornography,” Ávila said. “We’ve had both locals as well as foreigners involved in this type of activity who have come here to establish their operations and build a crime network.” The FBI infiltrated Darkode, which it described as “a one-stop, high-volume shopping venue for some of the world’s most prolific cyber criminals,” by breaching the forum’s communication platform, enabling agents to collect evidence, and gather the assistance of law enforcement counterparts in other countries as part of Operation Shrouded Horizon. Investigators will seek the proper authorization from judicial authorities to analyze the electronic equipment. Cyber-crime in Costa Rica The suspect, who has only been identified as Rivera Sánchez, was arrested by OIJ agents in July in his home in the popular Barreal district of the central city of Heredia. He was one of 12 suspects captured throughout the world as part of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Operation Shrouded Horizon. For example, in 2013, a Costa Rican court convicted two former employees of a telemarketing center of wire fraud and money laundering in connection with a scheme in which they stole $4 million from victims, many of whom were elderly U.S. residents who believed they were entering a sweepstakes contest. In 2014, a Costa Rican judge sentenced them to 25 and 12 years in prison, respectively.last_img read more

Humane Society holds ‘Save a Life’ Phone-a-Thon

first_imgThe money raised will be put towards the Humane Society’s operating costs. The Phone-a-Thon runs until 6:30 p.m. on Thursday evening, but the Humane Society says they will always accept donations. This year, they’ve partnered with Staffworks for the campaign. Staffworks vowed to match the money raised during the phone-a-thon, up to $30,000. On Thursday, they held their “Save a Life” Phone-a-Thon to raise money to help support the hundreds of animals they have in their care.center_img BINGHAMTON (WBNG) — The Broome County Humane Society is looking to make a difference in the lives of hundreds of animals this holiday season. To contact the Humane Society, call 607-724-3709.last_img

Boston Marathon postponed from April 20 to Sept. 14

first_imgTopics : “On matters of public health and safety we take our guidance from the officials entrusted with protecting the public in this area,” said association chief executive Tom Grilk.”We understand our role, along with our partners, in ensuring a safe environment for all participants, volunteers, spectators, and supporters that meets the standards set by those officials.”BAA officials have worked with municipal leaders across eight cities and towns where the course for the 26.2-mile event takes place to coordinate plans for September 14 as a new date.”The BAA’s mission of promoting health through sports, especially running, has guided our organization for more than a century,” Grilk said. “In collaboration with our many partners, we look forward to welcoming the world to Boston in September.” The delay means it will be an extra five months before Kenya’s Lawrence Cherono will have a chance to defend his 2019 men’s crown and Worknesh Degefa of Ethiopia could bid for a repeat in the women’s race.Cherono probably will have to choose between marathon titles to defend because he also won last year’s Chicago Marathon and that race is scheduled for October 11.center_img The 124th Boston Marathon, scheduled for April 20, has been postponed to September 14 due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) announced on Friday.The historic race, first contested in 1897, is the world’s oldest annual marathon and typically takes place on the Patriots Day holiday celebrated in Boston and the entire state of Massachusetts.After Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh decided the race could not proceed as scheduled in April and the BAA said in a statement it “understands the city’s decision.”last_img read more

Trading halted third time in week as stocks touch 5-year low, rupiah breaks Rp 15,000 to dollar

first_imgThe currency depreciated 1.5 percent to Rp 15,172 against the greenback at 4 p.m. in Jakarta, touching a level unseen since October 2018, according to Bloomberg data. This represents a 10 percent depreciation from the Jan. 24 rate of Rp 13,583 to the US dollar. The Bank Indonesia (BI) Jakarta Interspot Dollar Rate (JISDOR) stood at Rp 15,083 to the dollar on Tuesday.“Market conditions are highly volatile, and there is still great potential for the index to continue weakening,” Artha Sekuritas analyst Dennies Christopher said. He said he was not advising investors to buy stocks during the continuing market rout.Bahana TCW Investment Management, meanwhile, considers this “the moment of truth” for investors who are in the market for the long term.“With all of the matrices, stocks can be assured to be cheap. This can be the moment of truth for investors who have the guts to take a position and profit in the long run,” Bahana TCW head of macroeconomics and director for investment strategy Budi Hikmat said in a note.Read also: To buy it or not: Retail investors are torn amid volatile stock marketThe decline in the local stock market followed a historic market rout in the United States and mixed readings from Asian markets.Wall Street suffered its biggest drop since the crash of 1987 on Monday following unprecedented steps taken by the Federal Reserve, United States lawmakers and the White House to slow the spread and soften the economic blow of the coronavirus. The Fed cut rates to a target range of zero to 0.25 percent and said it would expand its balance sheet by at least $700 billion in the coming weeks. The steps failed to restore order to markets.The investor panic triggered another circuit breaker in Wall Street’s three main stock indexes for 15 minutes shortly after the open as the S&P 500 index fell 8 percent, Reuters reported.By Tuesday’s close, Tokyo was up 0.06 percent, Hong Kong had gained 0.87 percent, Singapore had slipped 1.64 percent and Shanghai had lost 0.34 percent.Topics : Indonesian stocks hit circuit breakers for the third time in the past week on Tuesday, touching levels unseen since 2015 as the rupiah surpassed the psychological threshold of Rp 15,000 to the United States dollar in the ongoing coronavirus-driven global market rout.The Jakarta Composite Index (JCI), the main gauge of the Indonesian Stock Exchange (IDX), tumbled 5 percent to touch 4,456.10 at 3:02 p.m., the lowest level since December 2015, as foreign investors dumped a net Rp 1.01 trillion (US$66.9 million). The fall triggered a 30-minute trading halt as stipulated by a new IDX regulation issued on March 11 to mitigate the ongoing market rout.“Trading will reopen at 3:32 p.m. without a change in the trading schedule,” the IDX announced following the temporary trading suspension. Upon reopening, the stock index closed at 4,456.75, a 4.99 percent slump for the day and the lowest the index has been since January 2016. Foreign investors dumped blue chip stocks such as PT Bank Central Asia (BBCA), PT Bank Mandiri (BMRI), PT Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BBRI), PT Bank Negara Indonesia (BBNI) and PT Unilever Indonesia (UNVR) which respectively lost 6.99 percent, 6.75 percent, 6.86 percent, 6.82 percent and 6.81 percent.Three hundred and sixty four stocks ended the session in the red, with several companies triggering the exchange’s auto-rejection limit of a 7 percent decline in price, as stipulated by a new IDX regulation announced on Thursday.Read also: Disappearing act: Market braces for volatile March after $2.4b vanishes in a weekThe rupiah surpassed the psychological threshold of Rp 15,000 to the US dollar on Tuesday as investors dumped Indonesian assets – both stocks and bonds – amid investors’ fears of the COVID-19 pandemic, which now has more fatalities outside China, where the virus is believed to have originated, than inside it.last_img read more

Hong Kong leader announces mass COVID-19 testing to begin Sept 1

first_imgTopics : “There will be a substantial boosting of the testing capacity in the public and private sector, a more than 10-fold increase.”Hong Kong had seen a resurgence of locally transmitted cases since the start of July but the daily number has fallen from triple digits in recent weeks to low double digits.The former British colony still has a relatively low number of overall cases globally. Since late January, over 4,600 people have been infected in Hong Kong, 75 of whom have died.Restrictions including a ban on dining at restaurants after 6 p.m. and the mandatory wearing of masks in all outdoor public areas are set to remain in force until at least August 25.Businesses across the city have been reeling from the restrictions with many industries calling on the government for urgent financial support. Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Friday that mass testing of residents for coronavirus in the Asian financial hub will begin on Sept. 1, as she warned people not to be complacent despite a steady fall in the number of new infections.The testing, which will be done with the assistance of a 60-person team from the mainland, is the first time Chinese health officials have assisted the special administrative region in its battle to control the pandemic.The testing will be voluntary and take around two weeks to complete, Lam said.last_img read more

Norwegian sovereign fund returns 10.7% despite oil price crash

first_imgAt the end of the year, the equity portfolio accounted for 58.1% of assets, with 47.9% in Norwegian equity and a further 10% in stocks listed in Finland, Sweden and Denmark.Its largest single holding was Statoil, closely followed by banking group DNB and Telenor.Combined, the three companies accounted for one-third of the fund’s equity holdings, spread across 144 companies.Due to the fund’s sizeable shareholding in Statoil, Folketrygdfondet has previously called for the oil firm to improve its disclosure around shale gas.Svarva credited the 9.8% return on fixed income to falling interest rates, and cautioned that the returns would not be easily repeated.“We are concerned about what low and negative interest rates could mean for how capital is invested, and for the economic development over time,” she added, accepting that the challenging times ahead could also offer “opportunities”.The GPFN, funded with the historic surplus of national insurance contributions, has achieved an average return of 7.8% over the last decade.Read more about the GPFN, the smaller sibling of the NOK6.7trn Government Pension Fund Global One of Norway’s sovereign wealth funds achieved above-benchmark returns of nearly 11% last year, boosted by strong equity growth despite declining oil prices.The NOK185.7bn (€20.5bn) Government Pension Fund Norway (GPFN) noted that the Oslo Stock Exchange was down 5.5% over the end of the fourth quarter – with energy sector stocks falling in value by 25% – but nevertheless finished the year up by 5% due to the consumer and materials sectors.Olaug Svarva, managing director at Folketrygdfondet, which runs the GPFN, said the fund’s 2.1 percentage point benchmark outperformance was its best since 2008 but cautioned that a return of 10.7% – resulting in asset growth of nearly NOK18bn – was unlikely to be repeated.She added that the 10.6% return on the fund’s equity portfolio – 3.3 percentage points above benchmark – was largely down to the listed firms benefiting from low interest rates and the weakening kroner.last_img read more

Ageing populations ‘a threat for fixed income investors’

first_img“We’re certainly seeing a shift into different asset classes, such as alternative credit and also investment grade corporate bonds,” said Nick Tolchard, head of Invesco fixed income for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “Within fixed income, there is also a movement into longer-dated debt – while most respondents thought there will only be a slow rise in interest rates, they are prepared to take on that uncertainty because of yield compression.”Tolchard added: “With most investors expecting yields to rise, many expect to respond by increasing allocations to core fixed income.”Most investors said they took a hybrid approach to implementation, splitting between external and internal management. Only 12% used just an in-house team.Tolchard told IPE: “It’s common for investors to manage part of their core fixed income allocations internally, but not alternative credit – this is more complicated, so they tend to use global managers specialising in the area.”He said that while 67% of the whole sample used investment consultants, only 42% of larger investors did so. Consultants were used predominantly for portfolio monitoring, although smaller investors were also likely to use them for manager selection.The survey also revealed a growing tendency to extend environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles from equities to fixed income investments, driven in part by pension fund stakeholders.Tolchard said: “Clients are saying they’d like to include ESG strategy in their manager’s agreements, but at the level of relationships, rather more than just products or asset classes.”The 79 interviewees were typically heads of fixed income, but also included CIOs and heads of investment strategy working across pension funds, sovereign investors, insurers and private banks in Europe, North America and Asia.Subscribers to IPE Reference Hub can access the paper here. Ageing populations, regulation and geopolitics have joined low and falling yields as challenges for fixed income investors, according to a new study.Invesco’s Global Fixed Income Study 2018 was based on interviews with fixed income specialists within asset owners holding a total $4.4trn (€3.6trn) as at 30 June 2017.The survey also found that underfunded defined benefit (DB) funds were turning to riskier assets within fixed income portfolios, while managers expecting more geopolitical and other “left-tail” events to occur were looking to increase core fixed income allocations.Three-quarters of respondents said ageing scheme member populations would affect their fixed income allocations within the next three years, with DB funds facing the greatest fallout. As a result, investors have become more adventurous in selecting cashflow-matching securities.last_img read more