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Bernanke’s Final News Conference – Taper Down

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The key thing to remember is that quantitative easing is not ending, it’s barely being reduced. Starting in January, the Federal Reserve will taper QE to a US$ 75 billion pace. Essentially, instead of US$ 40 billion of asset purchases in mortgage-backed securities, the Fed will purchase US$ 35 billion per month. Instead of purchasing US$ 45 billion longer-term Treasury securities, the Fed will purchase US$ 40 billion per month.

Capital markets are happy with Bernanke’s taper announcement; the Dow Jones Industrial Average shot up nearly 1% within 20 minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee’s statement being released. Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke made it clear that Yellen’s ascension had no bearing on timing of the call to taper.

When questioned on whether the Fed would use other types of means for economic stimulation, Bernanke tiptoed around the idea of favorable discount window rates to banks that could prove they were loaning money to small businesses and households. But he mostly dismissed the idea stating that he feels that tight credit is not the U.S. economy’s main problem.

The FOMC did not modify its forward guidance. The threshold of the unemployment rate for a first rate hike is well below 6.5%. However, Bernanke noted that he will not hike rates merely because unemployment hits this threshold. He wanted to stress that the federal funds rate will remain near zero “well past” this threshold. Once the target is reached, Bernanke suggested that the Fed will look more closely at other types of employment figures, notably the labor force participation rate.

China’s Central Bank Creates Macro-Prudential Management Bureau

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The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) created a new department to oversee and attempt to eliminate financial risks to the system. [ Content protected for Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute Standard subscribers only. Please subscribe to view content. ]

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Like its U.S. Peers, Legg Mason Seeks to Trim Costs

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Legg Mason Inc., a Baltimore-based asset manager, has announced a reduction in workforce as is prepares to streamline operations and save money. Legg Mason’s leadership commented that assets under management fell 5 % year-on-year. Legg Mason currently manages US$ 727.2 billion (as of December 31, 2018), which is down from the previous US$ 767.2 billion. CEO Joseph A. Sullivan noted that a global operating platform will centralize fund administration, IT, and other departments that work with affiliates. Sullivan did not discuss the number of layoffs expected, or specify which areas would be impacted. Legg Mason disclosed they planned to close a quarter of its exchange-traded funds in March 2019. These three ETFs include a U.S. strategy, emerging markets, and a developed markets strategy outside the U.S. However, these funds run around US$ 28 million in assets under management.

[ Content protected for Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute Standard subscribers only. Please subscribe to view content. ]

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Monetary Authority of Singapore Establishes Corporate Governance Advisory Committee

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On February 12, 2019, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) revealed the creation of a Corporate Governance Advisory Committee (CGAC). CGAC was formed to advocate for good corporate governance practices among listed companies in Singapore. Bobby Chin, Director of Singapore Telecommunications Limited, will be the Chair of CGAC. According to a MAS press release, “CGAC will identify current and potential risks to the quality of corporate governance in Singapore.”

MAS formed the Corporate Governance Council (Council) in February 2017. The Council was dissolved after it pushed out a publication of its final recommendations on August 6, 2018.

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