Michael Alonso does not have a conflict of interest

first_imgEVELYN SABOL To the Editor:I am responding to your April 14 cover article “Board of Education Adopts Budget.”In Bayonne, about 47 percent of the school budget is funded by local taxpayers. At the March 27 meeting, all of the trustees voted in favor of a nearly three percent tax hike except for Michael Alonso. Therefore, taxpayers will be paying 50 percent of their taxes to the school district.Since Mr. Alonso voted in favor of the taxpayers, it appears that Mr. Alonso is the only trustee who does not have a conflict of interest.last_img

Controversial Mute Swans ‘Management Plan’ Public Input Period Ending

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York By Sylvia DurresThe clock is ticking on Long Islanders’ chances to help decide the fate of those large, fluffy white swans gracefully drifting atop the water of countless ponds and lakes throughout Nassau and Suffolk.Friday marks the final day for public comment on the latest New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) management strategy for these large, silent birds—known as mute swans, or their scientific name, Cyngus olor—a plan that has already been revised due to fierce outcry among residents and wildlife advocates for the beloved creatures. Those who wish to comment are advised to email the DEC at [email protected] with “Swan Plan” as the subject line.Recognized by their long, arched necks and orange-and-black-striped-and-knobbed bills and renowned for their beauty as they glide across the water bodies of Nassau and Suffolk and throughout the state, these gentle giants are not native to Long Island, the region, or the United States, and are classified as an “invasive species” by the agency.The swans were brought to North America from Eurasia as ornamentals to beautify estates in the late 1800s, says the DEC, and those that were intentionally released or escaped established populations that flourished, becoming established in the early 1900s. There are presently approximately 2,200 of the feathery waterfowl statewide, it adds.This, the agency deems a serious problem, and outlined its gripes with the snow-colored sailors in its 2013 draft “Management Plan for Mute Swans in New York State,” listing among those: “aggressive behavior towards people, destruction of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV), displacement of native wildlife species, degradation of water quality, and potential hazards to aviation.”“Mute swans are conspicuous birds that occur in some of the most densely populated areas of the State,” reads the analysis, noting some people’s affinity for the birds. “Mute swans have little or no fear of humans so they are easily observed and provide opportunities for people to come in close contact with them. Some people become protective of individual birds that they encounter regularly. “However, mute swans can cause problems for people too,” it contends. “Some swans will directly attack humans, especially small children, who get too close to nests or young… The potential for injury is low, but the aggressive behavior of swans can be a serious nuisance and render some land or water areas inaccessible for outdoor recreation during the nesting season. Where large flocks occur on water bodies used for drinking water or swimming, the deposition of fecal matter may contribute to high fecal coliform counts which in turn may be a concern to local public health and municipal water supply officials. Mute swans have also been associated with high fecal coliform counts in coastal waters, which could affect some shellfishing areas on Long Island.”The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) classifies the graceful mute swan an invasive species and wants them managed. The agency has considered shooting, sterilizing, capturing and euthanizing the large birds. (Long Island Press/Sylvia Durres)The DEC has been operating under a mute swan management policy adopted in 1993 by the Division of Fish and Wildlife and Marine Resources (now combined as the Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources, or DFWMR), according to the report, which states that policy “permits removal of mute swans from lands administered by DFWMR, prohibits release of captive mute swans into the wild and authorizes issuance of permits for swan control by others on a site-specific basis.”“This new plan supports further action by DEC to eliminate free-ranging mute swans from New York by 2025, while allowing responsible ownership of these birds in captivity,” it continues.In order to meet this elimination goal, the agency considered a series of methods to eliminate the “free-ranging” swans, including shooting, euthanizing, sterilizing and capturing them and destroying their nests and eggs. “Lethal control methods will include shooting of free-ranging swans and live capture and euthanasia in accordance with established guidelines for wildlife,” states the DEC’s original report, no longer available on the DEC’s website. “Consideration will be given to donating the meat (or any other parts of birds killed) to charitable organizations (e.g., food pantries) or scientific, educational or zoological institutions. Non-lethal population control methods may include nest destruction, treating eggs with corn oil or puncturing to prevent hatching, and surgical or chemical sterilization.”The December 2013 draft plan also considered authorizing “property owners and others to conduct mute swan control activities.”“Various control methods may be authorized,” it states, “including but not limited to: oiling, puncturing, shaking, freezing, replacing or removing eggs; destruction of nests; sterilization of birds; shooting; and capture and removal of swans to be euthanized or turned over to persons licensed to keep the birds in captivity.”Thousands weighed in with e-mails, letters, form letter e-mails and signatures on various petitions during a public comment period ending Feb. 21 on the agency’s draft management plan released in January 2014.“They are beautiful birds that people enjoy seeing in their daily lives, especially in urban environments,” blasted one response from the public, with many comments, along with the DEC’s respective responses to them. [Available for viewing HERE]“Canada geese are a much bigger problem than swans, do something about them instead,” demanded another.“Oppose use of any taxpayer funds for control of mute swans by DEC or others,” blasted yet another.These concerns and many more were taken into consideration in writing their current plan, a “Revised Draft” released last month and open to public comment until 11:59 p.m. Thursday, April 24. [Read Revised Draft Plan HERE] Those who wish to comment are advised to email the DEC at [email protected] with “Swan Plan” as the subject line.“Wildlife management can present challenges in trying to balance conflicting interests, such as when a beautiful bird has undesirable impacts,” DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said in a statement regarding the latest plan [Read HERE]. “This revised plan remains committed to minimizing the impacts of mute swans on wildlife dependent on wetlands for their habitats, while being sensitive to public concerns about how and where that is accomplished.”Among those revisions: rather than eliminating all free-flying swans, the new goal focuses on minimizing the bird’s impacts; permitting municipalities to keep swans at local parks and other settings pursuant to local swan management plans, as long as certain conditions are met; commitment to the full consideration of non-lethal techniques, including egg-oiling and placement of swans in possession of persons licensed by DEC, except where immediate removal of swans is necessary to protect public safety and health; and, among others, a more concise summary of the impacts mute swans can have, citing additional scientific studies.“Because many people object to the use of lethal control methods, especially killing adult birds, DEC will use ‘non-lethal’ methods (i.e., egg-addling and placement at licensed facilities), where practical and timely, to achieve the management objectives,” it reads. “However, this will require some commitment of funding and assistance from organizations and individuals who wish to see non-lethal options used to the extent possible. Placement and proper care of swans in public parks or other controlled settings can be costly to local governments or communities, but if people who enjoy seeing mute swans are willing to support such programs, DEC will cooperate with those efforts.“Complete elimination of mute swans from New York is not a viable option given the expressed public opinions associated with these birds,” it continues. “However, the demand for viewing swans can be largely met through closely regulated possession of mute swans for enjoyment in urban parks and other public settings. Measures are needed to ensure that those swans do not reproduce or leave those areas, to prevent their entry into wild populations or impacts on natural resources. Prohibitions on importation and commercial trade or propagation of mute swans are also needed to help prevent escapes or intentional releases of additional mute swans to the wild in New York.” Controversial lethal and non-lethal methods are not entirely off the table, however, according to the agency’s revised plan. “DEC staff will continue to conduct, assist or support mute swan control activities on any accessible public or private lands (with landowner consent) or waters in New York State to accomplish the objectives of this plan,” it reads. “Control options will include nest destruction, egg-addling (coating with corn oil), capture and placement of swans at licensed sanctuaries or other captive settings, shooting of free-ranging swans (where it can be done safely), and live capture and euthanasia. Where immediate removal of birds is not necessary to alleviate a site-specific conflict, full consideration will be given to use of “non-lethal” methods (i.e., egg-addling and placement at licensed facilities) to achieve desired population reductions.”Mute swans are not afraid of humans, and thus swim right up to visitors at Argyle Lake in Babylon. The DEC has considered shooting, euthanizing, sterilizing and capturing the silent birds. (Long Island Press/Sylvia Durres)While the gorgeous closed-billed swans are deemed outlaws and enemies of the state here, the feathery mutes are exalted and even revered in other cultures and countries, glorified for their grace and beauty and actually protected by some world leaders. The Danish, for example, honor the mute swan as their national bird.The bird embodies the collective heart and imagination of all of Great Britain annually each third week in July, when the British Monarchy honors the centuries-old ceremony and celebration of “Swan Upping,” according to its official website.The annual census of the swan’s population within several counties’ stretches of the Thames River, the Swan Upping ceremony entails several swan-specific officials—“The Queen’s Swan Marker, the Royal Swan Uppers and the Swan Uppers of the Vinters’ and Dyers’ livery companies,” it states—embarking on a celebrated five-day journey in rowing skiffs up-river, all wearing traditional scarlet uniforms and flying pennants and flags.“When a brood of cygnets [young mute swans] is sighted, a cry of ‘All up!’ is given to signal that the boats should get into position,” explains the site. “On passing Windsor Castle, the rowers stand to attention in their boat with oars raised and salute ‘Her Majesty The Queen, Seigneur of the Swans.’”Schoolchildren are invited to witness the grand event, and the birds are given a health check and tagged with rings by The Queen’s Swan Warden—a professor of ornithology at Cambridge University’s zoology department. The birds are also weighed and measured. The data gleaned from the Swan Upping is used to help guide conservation methods to protect the swans. The celebration dates to the 12th Century, and today, the Royal Crown “retains the right to ownership of all unmarked mute swans in open water,” according to the website.The renowned mute swans who reside within the moat at the more than 800-year-old medieval Bishop’s Palace in Wells, England, ring specialized bells when they are hungry and have become a popular tourist attraction. The Palace maintains an online diary of the swans’ activities, even referring to them by name.As per the DEC:Comments on the revised draft mute swan plan may be submitted in writing through April 24 to: NYSDEC Bureau of Wildlife, Swan Management Plan, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4754 or by e-mail to [email protected] (please type “Swan Plan” in the subject line).last_img read more

Knowing the signs and how to best treat Seasonal Affective Disorder

first_imgTry these options if you’re feeling a bit down this time of year, and if symptoms continue be sure to see your doctor. “The temperature doesn’t have anything to do with it. But the decrease in sunshine does. The days are shorter and just the way that the Earth and the Sun are situated we are not getting the intense sunlight,” said Dr. Shah. Typically the sun is a little harder to come by this time of year, and it can lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder. So how can this be treated? Getting sunlight, whether naturally or through light therapy, is the best place to start. (WBNG) — While sunshine has been a little easier to come by thus far this winter, the season is far from over. “People feel depressed in the months of winter, from November through February let’s say. Their mood could be lowered, mainly lowered from the symptoms of depression,” said Director of Sleep Lab at Lourdes Hospital Dr. Zia Shah. “The key is to get as much exposure to sunshine as we can. So they could take a walk during their lunch break if the sun is out. They could plan some vacation in the south, or where there would be more sunshine,” said Dr. Shah. Two other treatment options work as well if additional sunlight is hard to find. Some of the symptoms include anxiety, fatigue, loss of interest and mood swings. “The second most important thing would be to get exercise. These people would also have decreased Vitamin D levels, and that is one of the causes of decreased exposure of the skin to ultra-violet rays and so forth. But Vitamin D deficiency would make them tired and they could take Vitamin D supplements,” said Dr. Shah. Though this disorder occurs mainly at higher latitudes during the colder months, temperature actually doesn’t play a role.last_img read more

Dow futures rise 200 points after last week’s big market rotation

first_imgTraders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.Source: NYSE – Advertisement – Those moves came as traders piled into beaten-down value names at the expense of high-flying growth stocks amid positive vaccine news. The iShares Russell 1000 Value exchange-traded fund (IWD) rallied 5.7% last week while its growth counterpart, the iShares Russell 1000 Growth ETF (IWF) slid 1.2%.Pfizer and BioNTech said last week that their coronavirus vaccine candidate was more than 90% effective preventing Covid-19 participants in a late-stage trial. The news sparked hope for an economic recovery, thus making value stocks such as United Airlines and Carnival Corp more attractive. United and Carnival rallied 12.4% and 15.9%, respectively, last week.“The announcement of an effective Covid-19 vaccine by Pfizer/BioNTech last week was so important that we almost forget that there has just been a US presidential election,” TS Lombard analysts Steven Blitz and Andrea Andrea Cicione wrote in a note.- Advertisement – U.S. stock futures rose on Sunday night as traders assessed a sharp market rotation that led to a mixed weekly performance last week.Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were up by 202 points, or 0.7%. S&P 500 futures traded 0.7% higher and Nasdaq 100 futures advanced 0.9%.The S&P 500 posted a record closing high on Friday and notched a one-week gain of 2.2%. The Dow rallied more than 4% last week and briefly hit an intraday record last week. The Nasdaq Composite lagged, however, sliding 0.6%.- Advertisement –center_img “The vaccine turns what could have been a prolonged crisis into something closer to a natural disaster (large shock, swift recovery),” they said. “Without an effective vaccine, current EPS consensus expectations (pointing to a return to trend by the end of next year) would be on the optimistic side. But with one, they may actually come to pass.”To be sure, the number of coronavirus cases are still rising, thus threatening the prospects of a swift economic recovery.More than 11 million Covid-19 infections have been confirmed in the U.S., according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Data from the COVID Tracking Project also showed that a record of more than 68,500 people in the U.S. are hospitalized with the coronavirus.Dan Russo, chief market strategist at Chaikin Analytics, thinks the market can weather this latest spike in coronavirus cases, however.“it seems that investors are more focused on vaccine news and are willing to look past the near-term spike in cases,” he said in a post. “If this becomes a cause for concern for investors, it will become apparent on the charts and risk management will take over.”Subscribe to CNBC PRO for exclusive insights and analysis, and live business day programming from around the world. – Advertisement –last_img read more

The project of the Bečar Museum as an interpretation center was presented in Pleternica

first_img“The Bečar Museum is designed so that when you enter you have a space where you will buy a ticket, where you will get basic information, take headphones or you will hire a companion to lead the group through the museum. You will be able to go through the museum in a group or individually. It is designed to introduce you to the heritage of a Bečar, to get to know who is a Bečar and who is Bečar, to present Bečar through the life of a man from the cradle and throughout life, Bečar is also connected in the context of world heritage because it is not a tune that is only associated with Pleternica, it is a tune that is sung throughout Slavonia, in Baranja, even parts of Vojvodina and Hungary. The Bečar Museum will not be what can be heard talking to citizens, various exhibits behind glass, but it will be a presentation of heritage with all modern techniques: music, video and visual recordings, and at some point you will even have the feeling of running through the cereal fields. I believe that we will open the doors of the museum in a year or a year and a half at the latest”, Said Antonija Jozic, the mayor of Pleternica. RELATED NEWS: Dragana Lucija Ratković Aydemir, founder and director of the company Muza, explains that the future Museum of Bečar will be a real contemporary museum that will use all the latest museological techniques, which will tell a traditional heritage culture in a modern way. “It will be in the museum and folk costumes and other objects, because it is very important, but we will use other methods to contextualize these objects. First of all, this is not a museum of folk costumes, but a museum of Bečar. And the fugitive is running. So, we have to figure out how the becarac will be in focus all the time, but then we will, of course, talk about other anthropological, ethnographic, historical phenomena that are associated with the becarac.”, Explained Ratković Aydemir and added that a large team is working on the project. Bećarac is on the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage, and the Bećarac Museum is part of a large project led by the City of Pakrac with the City of Pleternica as one of the partners. Thus, Pleternica, in addition to Trg bećarca, will also have the Museum of Bećarca. Source / photo: Požega guide; Gradonačelnik.hr The presentation was conceived in such a way that the visitors were presented part by part of the project, and after each presentation a form was filled in in which remarks and suggestions were entered. The event was organized by the City of Pleternica and the company Muza from Zagreb, which deals with consulting and management in culture and tourism, reports Požega guide.center_img “The total value of the project is around 65 million kuna and the Pleternica part is 30 million kuna with which we will cover the costs of finishing the interior, now it is in the unfinished phase, the cost of equipping the museum and the salary of workers who will work in the museum until mid-2023. Until then, the museum should be ‘strengthened’, we will promote it well at the national level, so that it can be mostly financed by the programs that will work, and very little from the city budget.”, Jozić explained to you, for the portal Gradonačelnik.hr, and concluded that the museum will bring tourists and visitors to Pleternica, and we all know how tourism affects the environment, the number of accommodation facilities, service trades and companies is growing. Photo: City of Pleternica Last week, the future Bečar Museum was presented in the hall of the Croatian Library and Reading Room in Pleternica. The Bečar Museum, as well as the interpretation center, will be located in the heart of Pleternica – on the Bečar Square. The museum will also include a souvenir shop and a café, and the museum itself will be designed on two floors. The first can be seen by citizens already passing through the passage under the stands located on Trg bećarca, and the second, the main part of the museum, will be located in the basement below the stands. The total area of ​​the museum will be 1.400 square meters. Some of the contents of the museum that could be seen at the presentation are the Small House of Graševina and the exhibition unit Bećarski kalendar. THE IMPORTANCE OF INTERPRETATION OF HERITAGE – THE STORY OF THE CULTURAL ROUTE OF BEĆARAC AND THE GANGAlast_img read more

Dewar says Scotland is a bonny place for business

first_imgWould you like to read more?Register for free to finish this article.Sign up now for the following benefits:Four FREE articles of your choice per monthBreaking news, comment and analysis from industry experts as it happensChoose from our portfolio of email newsletters To access this article REGISTER NOWWould you like print copies, app and digital replica access too? SUBSCRIBE for as little as £5 per week.last_img

BLOG: Improving Health and Safety with Government That Works

first_imgSee all of our Year in Review blog posts.Like Governor Tom Wolf on Facebook: Facebook.com/GovernorWolf January 19, 2016 Government That Works,  Healthcare,  Human Services,  Medicaid Expansion,  Public Safety,  Seniors,  The Blog,  Videos,  Year in Review Governor Wolf has no greater responsibility as governor than ensuring the health and safety of Pennsylvania’s residents. For Governor Wolf, advancements of health security, public safety and ensuring access to quality care were cornerstones of his first year in office.Watch Governor Wolf talk about improving health and safety with Government That Works in 2015. By: J.J. Abbott, Deputy Press Secretary Medicaid ExpansionPerhaps the most impactful decision on so many individual lives was Governor Wolf’s announcement in February of full traditional Medicaid Expansion. Since then, more than 500,000 Pennsylvanians have enrolled and gained access to health care – keeping them from either not seeking care or going to the emergency room, which raises costs for insured residents. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation report, states that expanded Medicaid experienced substantially slower Medicaid spending growth (3.4 percent) than non-expansion states (6.9 percent). The governor’s action has dropped the commonwealth’s uninsured population from 14 percent in 2013 to eight percent today.Heroin EpidemicIn 2014, 2,400 Pennsylvanians died from drug overdoses. Governor Wolf has made addressing the crisis of heroin and opioid addiction a top priority in 2015. Governor Wolf had Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine sign a statewide standing order for naloxone, a medication that can reverse an overdose that is caused by an opioid drug, to increase access for families and friends of those suffering from the disease of addiction.Other actions taken by the Wolf Administration include the development of the ABC-MAP prescription drug monitoring program, the creation of the interagency Heroin Task Force, the support for the use of naloxone at schools across the Commonwealth, partnering with the Center for Disease Control to combat prescription drug overdoses and equipping all Pennsylvania State Police cars and Capitol Police officers with the naloxone drug.Health CareGovernor Wolf led his administration to ensuring more Pennsylvanians had access to affordable, quality care. In June, Governor Wolf announced all CHIP plans will provide enhanced benefits to meet Affordable Care Act requirements, guaranteeing families in this program would not face tax penalties for 2015.  Pennsylvania also ensured all CHIP health insurance plans would provide enhanced benefits to meet the minimum essential coverage requirements of the federal Affordable Care Act.Further, Governor Wolf fought to ensure Pennsylvanian consumers would not face steep increases for 2016 rates for insurance plans offered under the Affordable Care Act. The approved rates were projected to save Pennsylvania consumers nearly $81 million compared to the rates proposed originally by insurers. Governor and First Lady Wolf also announced in October that in Pennsylvania 3D mammograms must be available to women at no extra cost.UPMC and HighmarkFor health care consumers in Western Pennsylvania, Governor Wolf led multiple efforts to ensure access to quality care – no matter what insurance card you carried. These actions include protecting maternity care and ensuring coverage of unpaid claims for Highmark customers, and leading a successful court challenge against UPMC, which guaranteed 180,000 seniors would be able to keep their health coverage. BLOG: Improving Health and Safety with Government That Works SHARE Email Facebook Twitterlast_img read more

Property upgrades key to rental success

first_imgJohn Gribbin Real Estate. 24/03/2014. Photo: Michael Chambers.HOMES that are well presented and fully airconditioned, in suburbs close to amenities, are succeeding in attracting tenants in Townsville’s weak rentals market.Vacancy rates in Townsville have improved and are sitting about 5 per cent, but according to the Real Estate Institute of Queensland, the city is still classified as a weak market.It compares to September last year when vacancy rates spiked at 7.1 per cent before starting to gradually decline,John Gribbin Realty principal John Gribbin said homes with a modern feel, in locations close to employment, were usually easy to rent out. “Houses that are generally speaking in good condition, in a good position close to amenities and close to a lot of work positions go very well but units are moving quite well at the moment as well. However, having said that, rental prices have reduced significantly,” he said.More from news01:21Buyer demand explodes in Townsville’s 2019 flood-affected suburbs12 Sep 202001:21‘Giant surge’ in new home sales lifts Townsville property market10 Sep 2020“We find places like Annandale, Douglas and Idalia rent well and basically the suburbs that have houses that are presented well always move, but some of the peripheral areas are a little bit tougher.”Mr Gribbin said older properties often needed upgrading to make them attractive to prospective tenants. “People need to upgrade their properties in a lot of cases because they might have owned them for a long time and only done the bare essentials,” he said.“Sometimes the kitchens are quite old and it might be a matter of completely replacing the kitchen to bring everything up to standard. Floors, bathrooms and even little things like new taps can make a big difference. It just needs to look nice and fresh so that means if the curtains are all holey that’s not a good look.”Mr Gribbin said one issue in the rental market was Townsville’s economy had also affected landlords and many didn’t have the funds to upgrade their properties.“It can be a big expense and a lot of these owners aren’t exactly rolling in money,” he said. “A lot of landlords have had income drops as well.”Mr Gribbin said the rental market was starting to recover, but it would be a slow process.“There are definitely signs of improvement, but it’s not going to recover overnight,” he said. “We still need a lot of people to come back to Townsville because a lot of people actually left and that’s been part of the problem.”last_img read more

West End the place to live

first_imgCara Jade with Samuel, 2, and Matthew, 3, ride near their West End home. Picture: Evan MorganWEST End resident Cara Jade says she wouldn’t live anywhere else in Townsville thanks to the suburb’s character homes and family-friendly feel.Ms Jade has lived in West End for the past two years with her two sons Samuel, 2, and Matthew, 3 (pictured).More from news01:21Buyer demand explodes in Townsville’s 2019 flood-affected suburbs12 Sep 202001:21‘Giant surge’ in new home sales lifts Townsville property market10 Sep 2020She said she had seen the suburb evolve with new shops opening and beautiful renovations being completed on historic homes. Ms Jade said West End was ideally located, being close to top-quality schools, the CBD, and shops.“The location is great, I like the heritage style of the homes and it’s just a really nice place to live,” she said.“I feel really safe and here I regularly ride my bike with the boys around the streets and because it’s so quiet here you hardly even see a car. “The neighbours are great as well and everyone looks out for each other.”Ms Jade said she had witnessed the suburb become more popular among young people while living there.“I have really seen it pick up with little shops opening up and it seems to be a place for young professionals and families,” she said.last_img read more

ATP unveils final shape of return-seeking portfolio

first_img“Over the past two and a half years, we’ve done a major overhaul of how we think about it, how we analyse it.”ATP splits its assets into an investment portfolio, consisting of its bonus reserves, which are worth around DKK100bn, and a much larger hedging portfolio worth about DKK670bn, which is designed to back its pension guarantees.The new investment portfolio shape is still a work in progress and will be announced officially with the pension fund’s year-end results in January, Stendevad said.The strategic changes ATP has been gradually making since 2013, encompassing many areas of its operation, have been prompted by problems facing the fund such as low interest rates, changing diversification patterns between asset types and the significant drop in market liquidity over the last 13 years, he said.ATP had been concerned that a portfolio construction approach centred around traditional asset classes overestimated the amount of diversification actually achieved.“We have gone a different way, thinking very intensively about risk factors,” Stendevad said.The team behind the move had questioned, for example, whether real estate and infrastructure were really very different, or whether they could somehow be broken down into some common risk factors.“From now on, every single investment we have we decompose it into four risk factors,” Stendevad said.Commodities are now included within the inflation factor group, while unlisted equities are largely included in the equity factor group but partially in the “other factors” group. Index-linked bonds are included in both interest rate factor and inflation factor groups, while corporate bonds fall within the interest rate factor group and the equity factor group.The “other factors” group is basically a combination of alternative risk premiums in the liquid space – long-short strategies, momentum and low volatility, for example – as well as the pure form of illiquidity premiums, Stendevad said.ATP has set a pre-tax absolute return target of 9% a year over time for its investment portfolio.This is based on what the fund needs to achieve in terms of generating returns for scheme members that beats inflation, Stendevad said.Another part of the investment overhaul is a sharper focus on direct investments.While the pension fund lacks the scale to invest 100% in-house, it is now thinking hard about which investments it wants to have in-house and how much value it is actually getting from external mandates.“One of the changes we have made is really in the illiquid space,” Stendevad said.“We have far fewer funds – we have reduced this by almost €1bn, and that trend will continue.”From mid-2013 to mid-2015, ATP’s fund investments fell to €7.5bn from €8.7bn, while direct investments – including equity, real estate and infrastructure and structured credit – more than doubled to €6.2bn from €2.8bn, according to data Stendevad showed.ATP could take direct equity investments by participating in IPOs, he said, or in situations where listed equity is being taken private, for example.“Today, we have some real estate funds, but, as soon as we can unwind them, we will go over to a pure-play, direct investment strategy,” Stendevad said, adding that the pension fund had already made good headway here. Denmark’s ATP has revealed the final shape of its return-seeking investment portfolio after a long overhaul of its wider strategy including portfolio construction, with the assets now being grouped under four “risk factors” rather than the five “risk classes” it has used since 2006.The statutory pension fund, which manages around DKK770bn (€103bn) in assets, announced at the 2015 IPE Conference in Barcelona that its DKK100bn investment portfolio would now be separated into “interest rate factor”, “inflation factor”, “equity factor” and “other factors” groupings.This is a change from the previous construction, which involved five risk “classes” – commodities, credit, inflation, equity and interest rates.Carsten Stendevad, chief executive at ATP, said: “Since 2006, we’ve thought about risk classes and risk budgets, and that’s been very ingrained in us.last_img read more