Finnish pension providers see ‘outstanding’ equity results due to ECB

first_imgFinnish pension providers have seen their first-quarter returns boosted by the European Central Bank’s (ECB) monetary policy, with one claiming “outstanding” results as a consequence of the quantitative easing programme.Pensions insurer Varma reported a 5.3% return on investments in the first three months of this year, which increased the provider’s solvency level.The return was up from the 2% posted in the same period last year.Risto Murto, president and chief executive at Varma, said: “For pension investors, this year started out exceptionally strong.” Solvency capital increased to a level of 38.1% of technical provisions, from 32.9% at the end of March 2014, Varma said in its interim report.The company said its return on investments was lifted in particular by the strong increase in share prices as well as the strengthening dollar, since a proportion of its currency position had been unhedged.All asset classes posted positive returns, with equities making the highest at 9.6%, compared with 2.6% in the same period last year.Fixed income investments returned 2%, up from 1.5%, due to the decline in interest rates.‘Other’ investments, including hedge funds, produced 4.7% in the quarter, up from 1.9%, while real estate returned 2%, after 2.1% the year before.Murto said increasing the long-term growth potential of the Finnish economy was a big challenge.“The zero-rate environment, low level of investments and poor development of productivity all paint a bleak picture,” he said, adding that there was a shortage of growth and innovation.Elo said it also returned 5.3% in the first three months of the year, aided by a 13.2% return from stocks and rising as high as 20.1% for individual listed companies in Finland.The €20.9bn provider also credited the weakening euro with some of the “outstanding” gains, but CIO Hanna Hiidenpalo struck a cautious note.“Equity market values are to some extent already very high,” she said. “It seems the trends in the real economy and the investment market are diverging.”Elo said fixed income returns, at 1.1%, were higher than expected in the current low and negative yield environment across Europe.Across its entire portfolio, only listed equities managed double-digit returns of 14.8%.The second-best result was achieved by its private equity portfolio, with 6.4%.Etera, which saw assets under management increase to €6bn on back of 4% returns, praised the success of its diversified portfolio.Stefan Björkman, its managing director, argued that, in light of its asset allocation, the return over the first quarter was good.“A considerable proportion of our investments are in real estate and private equity and debt, which do not react to quick market moves,” he noted.In line with other providers, Etera saw the best returns stem from its 11.5% allocation to listed equities.The 8.6% overall return in equities, stemming from 2.8% in private equity and 4.6% in unlisted equity, was also well above the results achieved by its bond, real estate and ‘other’ investments.Ilmarinen achieved the best overall return of the four providers, at 7.1%, as listed equities returned 17.7% and both fixed income and direct real estate 1.2%.Chief executive Timo Ritakallio said he accepted that the ECB’s intervention had given equity markets a “boost”, but the €37bn mutual’s new CIO Mikko Mursula warned of “strong fluctuations” to the price of listed equity.“With interest rates at zero, investors are still heading towards the equity markets, although quite a long and severe rise in share prices lies behind us,” Mursula said.last_img read more

We Don’t Know How We Know that Genes Make Minds

first_img“If the mind can be explained from the workings of the brain, and the brain develops by direction from our genes,” Anthony Monaco (Oxford) writes, “then presumably the mind can be explained from our genetic make-up.  But how can only 30,000 genes make a brain with billions of neurons and encode the particular aspects of cognition that make us human?”    This question opens his book review of The Birth of the Mind: How a Tiny Number of Genes Creates the Complexities of Human Thought by Gary Marcus (Basic Books, 2004) in the Feb. 19 issue of Nature.1  Monaco describes the book’s proposed answers to two paradoxes: (1) how a small number of genes codes for millions of neurons, and (2) how the brain can code for flexibility: “How does the brain of a newborn, with its complex structures and connections, have the plasticity to enable it to respond to environmental influences as it develops further?”    He seems to agree with the view of author Gary Marcus, a cognitive psychologist, that “the brain is built by genes in a self-organized way before being reorganized and shaped by experience and the environment.  It is not a battle where one side wins, but a vital interaction.”  But how do we get from genes to mind, to cognition, thought and reason?Having clarified these two paradoxes using our current knowledge of genetics and neuroscience, can we explain how genes make minds?  The story is only beginning.  This book shows that genes build brains and that brains are designed to be flexible and to learn, but the jump from genes to the mind is an indirect one.  The question cannot yet be answered, and it is not entirely clear where the answer will come from.Cognitive psychologists and neurologists have some clues, aided by real-time imaging techniques, but Monaco warns that “The path ahead to integrate these disciplines to gain a fuller understanding is optimistically vague….”  He warns readers about the “sheer complexity of the science”.1Anthony P. Monaco, “A recipe for the mind,” Nature 427, 681 (19 February 2004); doi:10.1038/427681b.A naturalistic explanation for the mind, soul and spirit does not seem to be forthcoming, does it?  (By “explanation” we do not mean a just-so story; those are always in plentiful supply.)(Visited 10 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

5 Trends in 2009’s Startups

first_imgTop Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Tags:#NYT#start#startups dana oshiro Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai…center_img If you ever thought startup life would be about champagne toasts and million dollar term sheets then you need to get back in your time machine and set the dial for the nineties. If there’s one thing we learned in the latter half of this decade, it’s discipline. To say that it was a tough year, would be an understatement. But those of us who stayed lean will be back for 2010. While the below concepts weren’t invented this year, they certainly hit their stride in 2009. 1. Outsourced Labor: Rather than hiring onsite staff, more companies flocked to services like Mechanical Turk and Crowdflower to fulfill simple tasks. Companies listed their jobs and thankfully, a temporary workforce was there to get it done. 2. Cloud Scalability: Rather than paying for a slew of dedicated servers, startups took advantage of elastic workload tools like Amazon Web Services and Heroku. These services kept our site running during huge traffic spikes, but they ensured we weren’t burning cash in the downtime. 3. Web-Based Project Services: Google Apps made huge headway in 2009 as companies migrated from Microsoft to the cloud. Many startups began using real-time cloud collaboration tools to organize their projects, while others looked to customer service sites like Get Satisfaction and Zendesk to manage complaints. 4. Monetization: While consumers will settle for free products, premium services demand a certain level of competence. According to 37signals CEO Jason Fried, “the most intimate transaction between people is money”. In other words, if you put a price on your product and users paid it, you got your feedback. From paid iPhone apps to subscription music services, businesses in 2009 got the feedback they needed to find out if their products made the cut with consumers. 5. The New PR: From soft-spoken Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh and his Twitter empire to fast talking Gary Vaynerchuk and his wine podcasts, startup leaders opened the kimono and engaged with stakeholders. Communities don’t get built on autopilot or by a ghostwriting marketing intern. To grow social capital, we learned that we need to put ourselves out there (flaws and all) and treat our audience members like the intelligent beings they are. Thanks for reading ReadWriteStart in 2009. We look forward to a great 2010 with you and would like to wish you a Happy New Year.Photo Credit: Windell H. Oskay, Optical Illusion Related Posts 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketlast_img read more

a month agoJagielka explains leaving Everton for Sheffield United

first_imgTagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Jagielka explains leaving Everton for Sheffield Unitedby Paul Vegasa month agoSend to a friendShare the lovePhil Jagielka has explained his decision to leave Everton for Sheffield United.He made 385 appearances over the course of 12 years at Goodison Park and won 40 England caps.”I was at home when I got the phone call from Marcel (Brands, Everton’s director of football),” he told the Daily Mail.”So I just texted Tony Sage, the kitman, to chuck all my stuff in a bin bag and I went to meet him at the front of the entrance at Finch Farm. I didn’t want to go in. It just didn’t feel right to go in.”What do you expect me to get? A Louis Vuitton bag? It was fine. I just had a few pairs of boots, some socks and stuff. I knew I may never go back there. It was all ready to go from A to B.”I was just happy there was no abuse from (veteran kitman) Jimmy Martin – though I’ll probably get that on Saturday!” last_img read more

Poison from former Yellowknife gold mine has spread to surrounding lakes report

first_imgIman Kassam APTN National NewsChemicals from a former gold mine long closed has spread to a number of surrounding lakes according to a new report by researchers at the University of Ottawa.Contaminants, including arsenic trioxide, left behind from the Giant mine that closed in 2004 has spread and is a threat to animals and [email protected]last_img

Montréal rallies around shelter to try and keep its doors open

first_imgTom Fennario APTN National NewsPeople in Montréal are rallying behind a day shelter that serves many of the city’s Indigenous homeless.The shelter Open Door must find a new home, or [email protected]last_img

Ohio State womens basketball team full of question marks ahead of NCAA

Ohio State coaches Mark Mitchell (left) and Kevin McGuff (right) watch OSU’s 82-63 loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten tournament. Credit: Kevin Stankiewicz | Asst. Sports EditorNot too long ago, the Ohio State women’s basketball team was a unit with all the answers.OSU had won 11 straight games, the outright Big Ten regular-season title was within its grip and at least a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament was nearly a lock, with a top seed a realistic proposal.Now, just a couple of weeks after those extremely positive outcomes of coach Kevin McGuff’s third season in Columbus seemed inevitable, all of those achievements have been entirely wiped out.With the Buckeyes losing three of their last four games, including an embarrassing 82-63 loss to Michigan State in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament, the one thing OSU needs before the NCAA tournament begins is what it had an abundance of when it last played in Columbus: an answer.OSU doesn’t have an answer as to what seed it will be when the NCAA tournament begins. It doesn’t have an answer as to how it came up empty-handed in the Big Ten regular-season title despite having a one-game lead with two games left to play. And it doesn’t have an answer as to what happened to one of the best offenses in the nation.The Buckeyes, who average 86.7 points per game, the third most in the country, had a season-low 20 points at the half against Michigan State in a game they trailed in by as many as 36 points.After the game, senior guard Cait Craft chalked much of that up to the ineffectiveness of fellow senior guard Ameryst Alston, who was held back by a sprained right wrist and didn’t score, but said there were still concerns about the way the team played as a whole.“Not having Ameryst hurt a little bit, but at the end of the day, we as a team didn’t come ready to play really until the last quarter,” Craft said. “Not having her does hurt, but it shouldn’t have been that detrimental to us. And I think we let that get in the way more than it should have, obviously.”McGuff said he doesn’t know what Alston’s status will be moving forward after the game, noting only the diagnosis of her injury and that he “hopes” she will be able to accelerate through her rehab and be good to go for the NCAA tournament.But missing Alston’s first-team All-Big Ten production was only a steep section of the mountain the Buckeyes were sliding down, not the point of departure from the top.The night before against Rutgers, in which Alston was perfectly healthy until the closing minutes, the Buckeyes only put up 26 points on the scoreboard at the half. They ended up winning the game 73-58 behind sophomore guard Kelsey Mitchell’s tournament-record 43 points, but, especially after losing their previous two games, the concerns were already in the air before the seismic semifinal debacle.A lot of the Buckeyes’ issues in the tournament were inexplicable, such as junior Shayla Cooper, a steady contributor off the bench throughout the year, suddenly being largely absent from the offense.Cooper averaged 13.5 points and 8.4 rebounds per game during the season, but against Rutgers she put up seven points on 2-of-10 shooting, and the next night she had just two points on 1-of-5 shooting through three quarters, including a second period absent from the floor.She ended up finishing off the night strong with 14 points in the garbage-time fourth quarter, hitting all six shot attempts. But Cooper has been one of the Buckeyes’ most valuable players all season long, and the need for her to step up inflated with Alston physically unable to shoot. Instead, she was nowhere to be found.After the Michigan State game, McGuff didn’t have an explanation or assessment for the sorry performance. He simply didn’t have an answer.“It didn’t have anything to do with effort or competitiveness,” McGuff said. “We have to learn from tonight that we’re going to hit some adversity again. I don’t know what it will be. Maybe it will be foul trouble, something. And how we react to it is going to determine everything.”Two weeks ago, OSU was a team that many were pegging as a Final Four contender. It had already beaten Maryland twice — the only two in-conference losses the Terrapins have had since joining the Big Ten — and had lost to powerhouses South Carolina and Notre Dame on the road by a combined 11 points.But now, the Buckeyes are trying to rebuild from the ground up with the NCAA tournament a week and a half away — trying to understand when it all turned around. “That’s the great thing about college basketball, you get a chance to tip it up again here before too long,” McGuff said. “And I think we have a great opportunity ahead of us. We just have to get back to the gym and kind of get back to being who we are.”The Buckeyes will learn their tournament seeding and opponent on Monday, and whether their first-round game will be set for March 18 or 19. read more

Wenger My heart beat much quicker than I expected

first_imgArsene Wenger admitted that Arsenal’s second leg against CSKA Moscow in their Europa League clash proved to be a very nervy encounter with two late goals saving them from a tricky endThe Gunners arrived for their second leg of the quarter-finals against CSKA with a comfortable 4-1 lead from the first leg last week. But after a sloppy start in Moscow, the hosts were deservedly in the lead with both Fedor Chalov and Kirill Nababkin taking advantage of Petr Cech’s mistakes to spark fears of a possible comeback.However it was not to be with Danny Welbeck giving Arsenal a crucial away goal in the 75th minute, in what was their first shot on target. Aaron Ramsey then added a second to seal a 2-2 draw and, critically, a 6-3 aggregate win for Wenger’s side.After the match, Wenger conceded that it proved to be a rather nervous experience for him with the Frenchman crediting the first leg result for the victory.Jadon SanchoMerson believes Arsenal should sign Sancho Manuel R. Medina – September 14, 2019 Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho might be the perfect player to play for the Gunners, according to former England international Paul Merson.“You could see when you have a big difference after the first game it is difficult to turn up with the same urgency than if the difference is very small and that played a part in the first half,” said the Frenchman, according to Sky Sports.“I felt in the two games they played well, especially tonight they made my heart beat much quicker than I expected it to be.“We played against a good team. I knew that after the first game and they showed that again tonight, they gave us many problems.”Joining Arsenal are Atletico Madrid, RB Salzburg and Marseille, for Friday’s draw for the semi-finals of the Europa League.last_img read more