United States President Donald Trump was to deliver a triumphant State of the Union speech Tuesday on the eve of near certain acquittal in his impeachment trial, setting the stage for his re-election bid with a boast of “I keep my promises.”Facing a Democratic party smarting from divisions and a chaotic start to the primaries, Trump headed in buoyant mood to the House of Representatives, where just last December he was impeached for abuse of office.”Three years ago, we launched the great American comeback. Tonight, I stand before you to share the incredible results,” he said, according to excerpts released by the White House. “Unlike so many who came before me, I keep my promises,” he said in the prepared remarks.This could have been the darkest week of Trump’s administration, with only the third presidential impeachment trial in US history poised to culminate Wednesday with the Senate delivering a verdict.Trump has for months fulminated against what he calls a “witch hunt” and stonewalling investigators.Facing him during the speech will be a sea of hostile Democratic legislators. And just over his left shoulder will be House speaker Nancy Pelosi, whom Trump repeatedly insults in public, calling her “Nervous Nancy” and other nicknames.But Trump’s Republicans hold a majority in the Senate and they are all but sure to declare him not guilty of both impeachment charges, leaving the real estate tycoon and former TV personality in a triumphant mood.The White House flagged well in advance that the speech would be “very optimistic.”The “I” word will not even be pronounced, the White House said.”I read the speech and the word ‘impeachment’s’ not in it,” spokesman Hogan Gidley told Fox News shortly before the event.Trump himself told TV network anchors at an annual lunch hosted by the White House before the speech that he’d be “extraordinarily low-key” and wasn’t feeling “bitter” at all, Politico reported.Of course with a president who loves to ad-lib and hates to play by the rules, he may yet launch a few verbal bombs at lawmakers.He already spent part of Tuesday mocking the Democrats’ shambolic kick-off to their primary season, saying that delays in the vote count in Iowa proved their incompetence.”Nothing works, just like they ran the country,” Trump said on Twitter.Reflecting the bitter atmosphere in the country ahead of the November presidential elections, prominent young left-wing lawmakers Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley were among several Democrats declaring they’d boycott the State of the Union.”I will not use my presence at a state ceremony to normalize Trump’s lawless conduct & subversion of the Constitution,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.The choices of guests to the big event tell their own stories as the election campaign picks up.Trump invited a senior border patrol officer, a woman whose brother was murdered by an illegal immigrant in 2018, and former Caracas police chief Ivan Simonovis who spent years in jail under Venezuela’s far-left government.And Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, recognized as the country’s interim president by the United States, will reportedly be a guest in a public show of support for his efforts to dislodge President Nicolas Maduro.Democratic party leaders’ guests will include some 80 doctors, patients and others symbolizing what they say is the Trump administration’s failure to tackle health care problems.Trump got yet more good news on Tuesday with a Gallup poll showing his approval rating at its highest ever: 49 percent.Support was up both among Republicans and independents, though opposition among Democrats had deepened more than ever, the poll found.Topics : “We have shattered the mentality of American decline and we have rejected the downsizing of America’s destiny.”Trump was to say that his policies of deregulation and tax cuts – criticized by opponents as harming the environment and favoring the wealthy over the poor – were responsible for “unparalleled success” in the economy.In a note of togetherness to a deeply polarized nation, he was to insist that he is “building the world’s most prosperous and inclusive society – one where every citizen can join in.”He listed the North American USMCA trade pact, a trade deal with China, massive military spending, “unprecedented” measures to stop illegal immigration, and his bid to “end America’s wars in the Middle East” as examples of fulfilling his commitments to voters.
He pointed out that APG had already established a lobbying office in Brussels.However, he warned against cooperating with banks on the issue, “as Brussels doesn’t listen to banks any longer”.According to Warringa, who is also a board member at APG, pension funds must now comply with 40 different kinds or legislation, mostly originating from Brussels, and triggered by the financial crisis.“As most of the legislation has been drafted in a hurry and without impact analysis, it often contains unintentional, bad and even contradictory effects,” he said.APG’s legal affairs chief further chided European legislators for applying a one-size-fits-all approach for all 28 EU member states, ignoring the “unique character” of the Dutch pensions system. As an example of a particularly damaging policy, Warringa cited EMIR derivatives rules, which require large deposits in a central clearing system, where assets cannot generate returns.“EMIR ignores the fact Dutch pension funds deploy derivatives to decrease interest and currency risks,” he said.“As a consequence, it forces the sector into dramatic adjustments in investment policy.”He also argued that the new MiFID II Directive, aimed at increasing pre-trade transparency, would increase costs, as it would “inform the markets at an earlier stage about a pension fund’s intentions”.He also singled out concept legislation for Systematically Important Financial Institutions (SIFI), which would also require pension funds to keep financial buffers.He said this would pose additional liquidity risks for pension funds. The Dutch pensions sector must be much more assertive to counter new and damaging legislation coming out of Europe, according to Guus Warringa, legal affairs chief at the €346bn asset manager APG. Speaking at a legal conference in Amsterdam organised by IPE sister publication IPNederland, Warringa called on pension funds to take a tougher position in negotiations.“The Dutch culture of concluding compromises doesn’t work in France,” he added, referring to Michel Barnier, the French EU commissioner for the regulation of financial institutions.In Warringa’s opinion, pension funds should use their commercial clout to move things in the direction they want, and he suggested asset managers should unite forces against new European legislation.
French institutional investors, including the country’s mandatory pension fund for civil servants and the national pension reserve fund, have stumped up an additional €405m for the Novo funds.The new money was allocated as part of a second capital raising, which surpassed the initial target of €305m and takes the total size of the Novo funds to more than €1.4bn.“Practically all” of the 24 initial investors in the Novo funds participated in the increase, according to a statement from Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (CDC), the state-backed financial institution, and the French insurance association.IPE understands that four of the initial investors did not participate in the fresh capital increase, although this was for reasons independent of the Novo funds themselves. The four are ACM, AG2R La Mondiale, Crédit Agricole Assurances and Humanis Prévoyance.A spokesperson for ERAFP, the €23.5bn mandatory additional pension scheme for civil servants, confirmed that it participated in the capital raising, noting that this was done under the pension fund’s multi-asset mandate managed by Amundi.Among the other investors in the Novo funds is Fonds de Réserve pour les Retraites (FRR), France’s €36.3bn pension reserve fund, and several insurers.The Novo funds were set up in 2013 at the initiative of CDC as part of the French government’s launch of “fonds de prêts à l’économie” (FPE) to kick-start a market for lending to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).They were initially open to, and backed by, insurance companies but have since been made accessible to a wider range of institutional investors, including pension providers.There are two Novo funds, Novo 1 and Novo 2, which invest in SMEs and what in France are known as ETI, for “intermediate-sized enterprises”.Although the Novo funds can also invest in public bonds in practice, the type of companies they target prefer to borrow by way of issuing what are known as private placements – bonds that have some similarity with loans given that their terms are typically heavily tailored to the needs of the company and the usually small group of investors.Thierry Giami, adviser to CDC’s executive committee and a key figure behind the Novo funds, said Caisse des Dépôts was pleased with the funds’ performance and the impact they have had on the wider market for SME lending in France. “The Novo funds launched a market for private bonds that small companies didn’t have access to in France before 2013,” he told IPE. Several other private placement bond funds (FPEs) were created in the wake of the Novo funds’ launch, and Caisse des Dépôts and the investors are “happy to have been copied”, he added.FRR is looking to invest further in SMEs, having recently tendered a mandate to manage some €600m of investments in French private debt. Novo 1 is the larger of the two funds, now with €928m in assets, and is managed by BNP Paribas Investment Partners. Novo 2, with €492m, is managed by Tikehau Investment Management.The new capital raised is being split across the two funds in the same proportions as for the first closing, IPE understands, with two-thirds (€268m) being allocated to Novo 1 and the balance to Novo 2.
APTN National NewsA protest in front of the White House has resulted in hundreds of arrests.The demonstrators want U.S. President Barack Obama to halt the development of an oil pipeline that would run from Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast.APTN National News reporter Noemi LoPinto has this story.