A new survey has revealed that the funding status of moderate risk pension portfolios fell by more than six percent in February.
This represented the 14th consecutive month of decline as the value of assets has dropped due to the weakness of the stock market, based on research conducted by the Bank of New York Mellon Asset Management.
"Rapidly falling equity values continue to inflict pain on U.S. pension plans," says Peter Austin, executive director of BNY Mellon Pension Services. "U.S. stocks fell for a second straight month and have dropped 18 percent so far this year."
He added that the international markets have fared even worse.
According to the BNY Mellon Pension Liability Index, over the past year, the funding ratio of the typical pension plan has declined by one percentage point. Since January 2008, the funded ratios for these plans have fallen by 32.3 percentage points.
The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation is a financial services company operating in 34 countries. It has $20.2 trillion in assets under custody and administration, $928 billion in assets under management, services more than $11 trillion in outstanding debt and processes global payments averaging $1.8 trillion per day.
Pharmaceutical company Merck has just announced that it will merge with a major competitor Schering-Plough creating a multinational pharmaceutical giant.
The boards of directors of both companies have unanimously approved the agreement under which they will combine in a stock and cash transaction under the name Merck.
The value of the merger is estimated at $41.1 billion.
"The combined company will benefit from a formidable research and development pipeline, a significantly broader portfolio of medicines and an expanded presence in key international markets, particularly in high-growth emerging markets," says Richard T. Clark, Merck chairman, president and CEO.
He adds, "The efficiencies we gain will allow us to invest in strategic opportunities, while creating meaningful value for shareholders."
According to the Fortune 500 2008 ranking, Merck is the world’s fourth largest pharmaceutical company with total revenue of $ 24.2 billion, while Schering-Plough is ranked ninth at $ 12.6 billion.
The announcement comes on the heels of recent complaints by natural products industry groups about the FDA practice of classifying dietary supplements as drugs if they are an ingredient of newly approved medications.
As such, they can no longer be sold without a prescription, boosting profit opportunities of pharmaceutical companies.
The critics believe that the FDA’s approach favors big pharma interest at the expense of natural supplements producers.
In recent days, critical voices have spoken out against the FDA’s approach to the regulation of dietary supplements which they say overburdens their producers and benefits big pharma.
Commentators have drawn attention to an FDA practice of classifying dietary supplements as drugs if they are an ingredient of newly approved medications, according to Examiner.com.
In January, the agency approved a petition by pharmaceutical company Biostratum to classify Pyridorin as a ‘new drug.’ Since the product contains pyridoxine, a form of vitamin B6, this will effectively prevent natural supplements companies from selling any product that contains it.
In response, food and supplements industry organizations have vowed to challenge the approval as setting a dangerous precedent.
This will mean that "we’re all violating that law each time we eat something with brewer’s yeast, or fish or chicken," because pyridoxine is a naturally occurring compound, says the Examiner.
It also suggests that the price of such supplements is likely to rise once they are only available by prescription, limiting access to them and preventing many consumers from enjoying their beneficial effects.
The FDA has recently met with much criticism from government oversight agencies. A report prepared by the Government Accountability Office and released on March 5 suggested that the FDA does not have the information and resources necessary to adequately regulate dietary supplements.
“It’s important for this administration to send a message that there aren’t two sets of rules—you know, one for prominent people and one for ordinary folks who have to pay their taxes.”
That was President Barack Obama’s spin after the third of his cabinet nominees was found to have failed to pay federal taxes until just before he was nominated. Don’t be fooled by the smooth tongue of the man many have begun to mockingly call “The One.”
What this shows is that those in power know something most Americans don’t: that there is no law requiring Americans to pay income taxes. And there is indeed a set of rules for the elites and one for “ordinary folks.”
So Timothy Geithner, Tom Daschle and Nancy Killefer didn’t pay until their nominations became inevitable. And then they only did so to head off a public relations nightmare. Still, the issue torpedoed the nominations of Daschle and Killefer. But Geithner was confirmed by the Senate as Treasury Secretary, which means he’s the head of the IRS.
Geithner, when caught up to his elbows in the cookie jar, blamed tax software for his problem. But that argument is specious coming from someone supposedly as smart as he is.
This is what they know: In truth, there is no provision in the IRS code imposing an income tax on monies received by citizens, and residents are not required to file form 1040.
The so-called income tax is a cover operation for the regulation of the regime of paper money.
Paper money must be regulated (reduced) or it will sooner than later become worthless. Should the American people discover that the income tax is only a system of regulation, not taxation, they would understand the fraud. The paper money scam must be concealed.
The people must never find out that the government gets everything that it gets for nothing and without payment, including wars.
Rarely has any lawyer ever spoken out against this system of harassment and wealth extraction. This theft through deception of trillions of “dollars” of wealth from the American people is greater than that stolen from any nation at any time in the history of the world.
Any time a lawyer speaks out against the system he is speaking out against the thing that gives him his professional existence. All lawyers are “officers of the court” and are entrapped in their own deception. Anyone who is licensed by the system, the system owns.
Now there are tens of thousands of very intelligent and highly educated Americans who silently consent to this criminal payola without even a thought of rebellion. This has been going on for 100 years.
Scientists have found that both green and black tea may be useful in preventing serious cardiovascular events.
The research conducted at UCLA suggests that drinking at least three cups of tea each day can reduce the risk of stroke by 21 percent. And three more cups reduce it by a further 21 percent.
"That’s why these findings are so exciting," says lead author Lenore Arab, a professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "If we can find a way to prevent the stroke, or prevent the damage, that is simple and not toxic, that would be a great advance."
She adds that although scientists are not sure which compounds in tea are responsible for this effect, they suspect that either the antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) or the amino acid theanine may do that.
This effect was found in tea made from the plant Camellia sinensis, not from herbal teas.
The study results were published in the online edition of Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association. They were also presented at the American Heart Association’s annual International Stroke Conference in San Diego on February 19.
The American Heart Month may have ended last week, but a sports association’s healthy heart tips continue to inform and educate about beneficial lifestyle choices.
The International Sports Sciences Association, the only nationally accredited fitness organization that educates and certifies personal trainers, has set out to contribute to raising awareness about heart disease and listed some simple steps that can prevent it.
They include getting 30-60 minutes of exercise each day, healthy diet rich in fruit, vegetables and oily fish, limited consumption of saturated fats, salt and alcohol, as well as quitting smoking.
Furthermore, people should have regular medical check-ups to get necessary feedback from their physicians that can help them stay on the right track, according to Dr. Sal Arria, CEO of ISSA.
He adds that a supervised cardiovascular fitness program can also be of great benefit.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death in both women and men in the United States.
In 2009, it is estimated that 785,000 Americans will have a new heart-related coronary attack, and about half a million will have a recurrent attack.
A Christian organization promoting traditional family values has criticized President Obama for plans to relax the enforcement of the amendments that protect healthcare providers’ right of conscience.
The Family Research Council (FRC) has said that a move against the enforcement of the Church, Coats and Weldon Amendments would be a huge blow to religious freedom and First Amendment rights.
"[For the president to do so would] open the door to discrimination against the choice of healthcare workers who do not want to be complicit in abortion or other controversial practices," Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council wrote in a statement.
He added that relaxing the conscience protection regulation would "result in the government becoming the conscience and not the individual."
This is not the first interest group that has expressed criticism of the new administration’s moves on civil liberties.
In recent days, the National Shooting Sports Foundation responded to a statement by Attorney General Eric Holder that the administration would consider banning semi-automatic rifles by saying that it would have no effect on reducing crime, but would violate gun owners’ constitutional right to own the firearm of their choice.