Newsdash Insight on Plan Design & Investment Strategy from PLANSPONSOR
March 23rd, 2015
Benefits & Administration
R.I. Proposes New Settlement of Pension Reform Suit
The state of Rhode Island has made a new proposal for a settlement of litigation brought by unions and retirees over changes to state employee pension benefits. According to the Providence Journal, the suggested terms of the settlement include two, one-time $500 stipends to current retirees; a once-every-four years increase in the pensions paid to current retirees on their first $30,000 in retirement benefits; and a tweak in the retirement age.Read more >
Economic Events
The average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is 3.78%, down from 3.86% one week ago, according to Freddie Mac. The average interest rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage is 3.06%, down from 3.10%. THE ECONOMIC WEEK AHEAD: Today, the National Association of Realtors will report about existing home sales for February. Tomorrow, the Bureau of Labor Statistics will reveal the consumer price index (CPI) for February and the Census Bureau will report about new home sales for February. Wednesday, we’ll see a report about durable goods orders from the Census Bureau, and Thursday, the Labor Department will release its initial claims report.
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Market Mirror

Friday, the Dow climbed 168.82 points (0.94%) to 18,127.65, the NASDAQ was up 34.04 points (0.68%) at 5,026.42, and the S&P 500 closed 18.79 points (0.90%) higher at 2,108.06. The Russell 2000 gained 11.51 points (0.92%) to finish at 1,266.37, and the Wilshire 5000 increased 195.09 points (0.88%) to 22,330.89.

On the NYSE, 3.2 billion shares traded, with a near 4 to 1 lead for advancers. On the NASDAQ, 2.8 billion shares changed hands, with 1.5 advancing issues for every declining issue.

The price of the 10-year Treasury note was up 12/32, decreasing its yield to 1.930%. The price of the 30-year Treasury bond increased 15/32, bringing its yield down to 2.508%.

Compliance
Hearing Witness Says ACA Hasn’t Helped Small Employers
The cost of health insurance is the most critical issue facing small business owners, and is the main reason owners do not offer employer-sponsored health insurance or discontinue providing the benefit, Holly Wade, director of Research and Policy Analysis at the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), said during a hearing before the Senate Finance Committee about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). She added that small businesses offering health insurance annually confront the arduous task of adjusting profit expectations, insurance plans, cost-sharing and other mechanisms to help absorb often erratic changes in total premium costs. Wade noted that NFIB research found the ACA exacerbates market turmoil. Small business owners have also encountered repeated delays and confusion over major components of the law.Read more >
EEOC Sends OMB Notice About Wellness Program Rules
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sent a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) with respect to wellness programs to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for clearance. The proposed rule, which was approved by a bipartisan vote, would amend the regulations implementing the equal employment provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to address the interaction between Title I of the ADA and financial incentives as part of wellness programs offered through group health plans.Read more >
Small Talk
ON THIS DATE: In 1775 American revolutionary Patrick Henry declared, “Give me liberty, or give me death!” In 1839, the first recorded printed use of “OK” [oll korrect] occurred in Boston’s Morning Post. In 1857, Elisha Otis installed the first modern passenger elevator in a public building. It was at the corner of Broome Street and Broadway in New York City. In 1858, Eleazer A. Gardner patented the cable streetcar. In 1903, the Wright brothers obtained an airplane patent. In 1912, the Dixie Cup was invented. In 1919, Benito Mussolini founded his Fascist political movement in Milan, Italy. In 1983, Barney Clark died 112 days after becoming the world’s first recipient of a permanent artificial heart. In 1994, Wayne Gretzky scored his 802nd goal, breaking his childhood idol Gordie Howe’s National Hockey League record for most goals scored in a career. In 1998, James Cameron’s “Titanic” tied the record for most Oscar nominations with 14—joining 1950’s “All About Eve”—and by night’s end tied with “Ben Hur” (1959) for most wins by sweeping 11 categories, including Best Picture. In 2011, actress Elizabeth Taylor, who appeared in more than 50 films and won two Academy Awards, died of complications from congestive heart failure at a Los Angeles hospital at age 79.
SURVEY SAYS: Staying Educated
Last week, I asked NewsDash readeers, how do you keep yourself educated about plan design and administrative trends and best practices, as well as new rules and legislation? “Industry magazines and/or websites” was selected by the largest percentage of readers (84.2%). And, though our intent for asking this question was not to garner kudos for us, I promise, among the respondents who selected “other,” most listed PLANSPONSOR or NewsDash as their resource for staying up-to-date. Thank you! Nearly 80% of responding readers said industry webcasts were a source of education for them, and 60.5% said meetings or calls with advisers/consultants kept them educated. Among comments about staying educated about retirement plan trends, administration and compliance were more kudos for PLANSPONSOR and NewsDash. Commenters noted how staying up-to-date is so necessary due to the constantly changing landscape of our business. One reader suggested learning from peers at other companies. Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who said: “Sometimes the school of hard knocks is a good place to learn – this industry ain’t one of those places.” A big thank you to all who participated in our survey!Read more >
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Editorial: Alison Cooke Mintzer alison.mintzer@strategic-i.com

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