articles

  • Wed, 07 Jan 2015 16:15:07 GMT

    An old chess anecdote tells of how the Russian master, Nimzowitsch, was unsettled when his opponent took out a cigarette case and placed it next to the chess board during a match. Nimzowitsch, who hated cigarette smoke, immediately called the organizers and lodged a complaint. The poor officials argued that as the man had not lit up and there was no smoke there could be no complaint. “I know” retorted the great Nimzo, ‘but he threatens to smoke and you know as well as I, that in chess, the threat is stronger than the execution’. As in chess, so may it be in ...

  • Mon, 05 Jan 2015 11:10:23 GMT

    Optimist: “The glass is half full.” Pessimist: “The glass is half empty.” Engineer: “This container is too big for the amount of water it is holding.”   We all know that for many things in life the Goldilocks approach works pretty well. Nevertheless when confronted with a complex problem, we often seem keen to find the easiest, quickest solution. In most cases, this simply does not work. A car engine or an airplane is a fiendishly complex thing to design and build. It took Airbus 11 years of work and estimated development costs of &eur ...

  • Tue, 23 Dec 2014 14:39:12 GMT

    A huge thank you to all our readers and authors, we hope you have enjoyed RedBlog this year—and it provided some food-for-thought. There is much more to come in 2015 so we look forward to seeing you all then. Before that, here is our eCard to get you into the festive spirit!   With season’s greetings and best wishes for the New Year, Gurjit  

  • Tue, 16 Dec 2014 13:10:42 GMT

    Summary: Friends Provident was one of the first pension schemes to undertake a large scale LDI hedge years ago. Over the last 11 years real yields have fallen by 276 basis points, an average of 25 basis points every year. 30 year nominal gilt rates have fallen while 30 year inflation break-evens have risen. Equities and index-linked gilts have provided similar excess returns. 30 year USD swaps and EUR swaps have also fallen substantially over the last 11 years. Friends Provident was one of the first UK pension schemes to undertake a large scale LDI he ...

  • Fri, 12 Dec 2014 11:32:34 GMT

    Are Rates Low? Above all else, the mark-to-market value of long-term liabilities is determined by long-term interest rates. The relentless fall in interest rates over the last few years has hit pension funds hard. However, many argue that such valuations are misleading because interest rates are artificially low, and will rise back up soon. To say interest rates are low, compared to history, seems eminently fair. Using data on US 10yr rates from Professor Robert Shiller, current rates are just above the 10th percentile; so for nearly 90% of the last 144 years US 10y rates were high ...

  • Thu, 11 Dec 2014 11:00:00 GMT

    Summary: GBP real swap rates are around minus one percent. Most of this fall has been due to falling nominal rates rather than falling inflation expectations with similar moves in USD and Euros. While the Federal Reserve has ended QE the Bank of Japan has increased QE and the ECB may be about to start. Concerns about inflation in the UK undershooting the Bank of England’s 2% target. GBP Swap Real Rates Fall to Record Lows Real GBP swap rates have fallen substantially year to date with even the long end part of the curve now close to minus one percen ...

  • Mon, 08 Dec 2014 11:46:07 GMT

    Charles Dickens’ novel “A Christmas Carol” is a widely celebrated festive tale that details the transformation of the famous Christmas humbug Ebenezer Scrooge. In the book Ebenezer is a “wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner!" whose business is loaning money and ruthlessly chasing repayments. What Dickens neglected to portray was that Mr. Scrooge’s money lending business also had the daunting commitment of a Defined Benefit Pension Fund. In this blog I uncover the previously untold supple ...

  • Thu, 04 Dec 2014 15:56:29 GMT

    The Government’s pension reform programme since 2010 gained a powerful boost in last year’s Budget with the announcement that people saving in DC schemes would, from next year, no longer have to purchase an annuity when they retire. At a stroke, the retirement landscape in DC changed dramatically and we are still digesting the implications. We have subsequently gained a little more clarity concerning the guidance that people will be able to access before they make any final decisions, but there is still a heated debate underway about the impact of these changes. The tr ...

  • Thu, 13 Nov 2014 20:13:12 GMT

    Alice: I’m not a serpent, I tell you! I’m a -- I’m a -- Pidgeon: Well! what are you? I can see you’re trying to invent something! Alice: I -- I’m a little girl Pidgeon: A likely story indeed! I’ve seen a good many little girls in my time, but never one with such a neck as that! No, no! You’re a serpent; and there’s no use denying it. I suppose you’ll be telling me next that you never tasted an egg! Alice: I have tasted eggs, certainly, but little girls eat eggs quite as much as serpents do, you know. Pidgeon: I don’t ...

  • Tue, 11 Nov 2014 18:52:46 GMT

    When I woke up this morning and read through the latest breaking news, I was delighted to see that the long awaited Shanghai-Hong Kong exchange connect program will formally debut on 17th November 2014. Although the intention of the regulator to take such a key step towards greater financial liberalisation in the world’s second largest economy was announced six months ago, the actual effective date has been delayed and was never certain partly due to the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. In this article I explain what has happened, why it matters and what the implications ar ...