Last Wednesday, the Bureau of Economic Analysis released their advance estimate of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the second quarter. As many predicted, the economy rebounded strongly in the second quarter, growing at a 4.0% rate and the real personal consumption expenditure – the key rate used by the Fed to measure inflation - advanced at a rate of 2.5% for the quarter, above the Federal Reserve’s inflation target of 2%. Although the better-than-forecasted growth stoked fears that the Federal Reserve may consider increasing short-term rates ahead of schedule, the Fed’s statement later in the afternoon remained dovish. Markets initially reacted well before ending the week down – although the economic recovery continues to show strength, there are areas of weakness and markets seem to be unsure of how to process the economy’s mixed signals.
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Preview this month’s installment of Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.’s Pitfalls & Perils of 2014 focused on the numerous challenges and problems for both employers and plan administrators created by COBRA administration.
Directions newsletter is a monthly publication of the Benefits & HR Consulting operations of Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. The August 2014 issue includes healthcare reform updates, a technical bulletin, webinar information and a variety of benefits and HR news.
Now more than five years after the worst of the financial crisis, many investors are again reminded of the turmoil that rattled markets with the introduction of new regulation that is intended to reduce risk in the $2.6 trillion money-market industry. Last week the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), in a 3-2 vote, approved tighter money fund rules that are designed to avoid a repeat of the investor stampede out of the funds that occurred during the financial crisis. The new rules, while less ambitious than previous proposals and targeted specifically to institutional investors, would require “prime” and tax-free municipal money funds to “float the net asset value” of the fund and block investors from withdrawing their money in times of stress or impose a fee to redeem shares.
Evaluating and Implementing a Defined Contribution Benefits Strategy Within a Total Rewards Framework
Authors Chris Ratajczyk & Rick Strater discuss how a defined contribution benefits strategy can strongly improve employers’ total rewards programs. The whitepaper outlines how to evaluate the potential of this approach.
Last Tuesday, Fed Chair Janet Yellen appeared before the Senate Banking committee to deliver the Federal Reserve’s semiannual economic report to Congress. Yellen reported a slight improvement in the economy since her last testimony, with the unemployment rate decreasing from 6.7% to 6.1% and inflation increasing from 1.2% to 1.8%. Despite this improvement, she stressed that the recovery still has a ways to go and there were not any immediate plans to raise interest rates at this time, which have been held at near-zero levels since late 2008. She hinted that the Fed would be open to re-evaluating this decision should the labor market show notable improvement.
While many natural weather hazards are actively monitored, we know those situations can also be highly unpredictable. Lightning events are occurring more frequently, in more areas of the U.S. and for longer periods of time even outside the typical summer season. What safety measures can be taken to help protect children and faculty at schools though?
Employers, especially small businesses, often struggle with issues that may arise concerning Equal Employment Opportunity (EEOC) and compliance within their businesses. One of the most challenging issues that surfaces is focused on an employee's clothing or grooming that may be based upon religious beliefs. What should employers know about this topic? What guidelines should they implement? And are there any circumstances that could allow for exceptions to the rules? Have you effectively addressed this topic in your organization?
Executive Compensation: How Top Companies Are Adapting Their Executive Long-Term Incentive (LTI) Awards to Say-on-Pay
For the first time, performance-based awards are 50% of the total LTI award. Schmidt, Glass & Reda write about how public companies continue to review their incentive programs to ensure a strong link between performance achievement for the company and executive and for shareholders.
Last week investors pored over the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s June meeting, but there was little in the way of new information to be gleaned. There seems to be general agreement amongst the members that the unemployment and inflation rates, the two key data points of the Fed’s dual mandate, are behaving as the central bankers have expected. Absent any changes in the coming months, this should allow the Fed to finish tapering its quantitative easing program on schedule, finishing off with the last $15 billion reduction in October. What remains less clear is when the Fed will raise short-term interest rates, although there is widespread expectation that it will take place in mid-2015.