Ten photos capture the UK in 2014

Category: In The News
Published: Monday, 29 December 2014
Written by Admin

As we reach the end of 2014, Milica Lamb, picture editor at the Press Association (PA), selects some of the best shots captured by the news agencys photographers across the UK.

PA produced close to a quarter of a million images in 2014, so, as always, being tasked with selecting an editors choice for the year has proved incredibly hard - there are just too many amazing images I have had to leave out, says Lamb.

This year proved to be an eventful year, and with the general election, Rugby World Cup and the appearance of a new royal baby to look forward to, I expect next year to be even more exciting.

Here is Milica Lambs selection with comments from the photographers.

Party in muni bonds may not last: Lebenthal

Category: In The News
Published: Saturday, 27 December 2014
Written by Admin

The 9.14 percent performance of municipals compares well to other parts of the investment-grade market. For the past 52 weeks, the indexes of Treasurys, Agency debentures, Agency MBS and high grade corporate posted returns of 5.5 percent, 3.6 percent, 6.9 percent and 7.0 percent, respectively.

Read MoreRun away from Puerto Rico muni bonds: Lebenthal

Even with the strong performance, munis remain relatively cheap when compared to Treasurys. 10-year munis are trading at 93.77 percent of Treasurys (2.11 percent yield on munis vs. 2.25 percent on Treasurys), and 30-year munis are trading at 97.67 percent of Treasurys (2.93 percent vs. 3 percent). Recall that on an after-tax basis, this suggests that munis are outyielding Treasurys by almost 150 basis points (for 30-year maturities) if you are in a 35-percent tax bracket. These levels are the cheapest of the year, because as the Treasury market has rallied in recent weeks, munis have lagged due to relatively high levels of supply in the market.

Looking ahead to 2015, dont expect the recent supply-driven cheapness in munis to hold steady. There is some seasonality to municipal bond issuance, and the first part of the first quarter is typically a light period for new supply. In general, overall supply was low in 2014, coming in at $325 billion, and market observers expect next year to come in at around the same level. (By comparison, municipal issuance in 2012 and 2013 totaled $420 billion and $458 billion, respectively.)

On the credit front, expect some of the same stories to stay in the news. In Puerto Rico, market participants are watching to see if the Electric Power Authority will be able to make its January debt payment; in general, the market expects the Authority will not make it, although low oil prices may prove to be a wild card. The Detroit bankruptcy debacle should continue to reverberate through the market, too. Otherwise, as long as the overall economic performance in the US continues to trend positively, expect credit performance to be within historical norms while those identified problem spots continue to bear watching.

Read More Detroits $3.7 trillion wake-up call to the muni market

Depending on how they play out, there are three other exogenous forces that have the potential to turn 2015 better or worse than 2014: Federal Reserve policy, the housing market and tax policy. This fall, the Fed ended its quantitative easing buying and, after its last monetary-policy meeting, the Fed edged closer to a possible increase in the Fed funds rate. The yield curve may exhibit some rate volatility as this plays out. In housing, which is an important driver of the municipal tax base, we have seen some strong performance as the market has pulled out from the worst of the Great Recession, but potentially higher mortgage rates and a cooling off phase could make itself felt in muniland. As for a change in tax policy, some in Congress have floated trial balloons that could affect the relative attractiveness of municipals -- a surcharge on muni rates, or a cap on tax-free income, for example. While Congress has proven that it lacks the bipartisan cohesiveness to get any significant legislation passed, the strengthening of the Republicans hand after the mid-terms may be enough to change the narrative.

In muniland, investors are happy for now, but the impulse to project current results into the future should be tempered.

BBC TV's director fears for the future of Jews in the UK

Category: In The News
Published: Saturday, 27 December 2014
Written by Admin

Danny Cohen, the director of television at the BBC, is usually in the news to talk about the next big thing in British television. He is known for helping commission popular British shows such as the coming-of-age sitcom "The Inbetweeners" and the BAFTA award-winning "Skins." Now he oversees the BBC's four main channels.

However, on Sunday, Cohen gave the discussion about anti-Semitism in Europe a potent jolt.

"I've never felt so uncomfortable being a Jew in the UK as I've felt in the last 12 months," Cohen told Israeli television anchor Yonit Levi at a conference in Jerusalem. "And it's made me think about, you know, is it our long-term home, actually. Because you feel it. I've felt it in a way I've never felt before."

Cohen is a native Londoner who has lived in the UK his entire life. A month and a half earlier, Parliaments opposition leader, Ed Milliband, posted about the rise of British anti-Semitism on Facebook.

Amid spikes in anti-Semitism across Europe, anti-Semitic incidents in England skyrocketed during the war in Gaza this summer.

Cohen's position near the top of the BBC, which took a lot of heat for its coverage of the Gaza war, has helped draw great attention to his comments, including from some who suggested he use his position of influence to defend Jews.

The UK Jewish News laid the blame in part at the feet of the BBC, saying its coverage of this summers war was biased. Times of Israel blogger Aron White suggested the BBC display more photos of Israelis killed in terrorist attacks and commission a documentary on Hamas.

"Jews have lived in Britain for hundreds of years, and you, as one of those many British Jews who has an influential position in society, can help defend Jews from the libels and accusations that threaten our continuity, White wrote.

Diabetes may slow brain growth in kids

Category: In The News
Published: Saturday, 27 December 2014
Written by Admin

Despite the best efforts of parents and diabetes care teams, about 50 percent of all blood glucose concentrations during the study were measured in the high range. Remarkably, the cognitive tests remained normal, but whether these observed changes will ultimately impact brain function will need further study, Mauras said.

As better technology develops, we hope to determine if the differences observed with brain imaging can improve with better glucose control, she added.

Results were published in the December issue of the journal Diabetes.

This is the thing that parents always worry about when it comes to a child with a chronic illness, study co-author Dr. Karen Winer, a pediatric endocrinologist at the US National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, said in the news release.

Does it affect their brain? The good news here is that there may be some viable solutions on the horizon that parents should be aware of, she said.

The association seen in the study does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.