Today in the pressFriday 22 August 2014 08.38
JANET YELLEN TO SEE JACKSON HOLE RETURN TO WONKY ROOTS - There will be no Wall Street economists in the audience when Janet Yellen addresses the Kansas City Fed’s annual Jackson Hole conference for the first time as chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, reports the Financial Times.
Economists from investment banks have for years rubbed shoulders with policy makers at the conference and their expulsion, taking the event back to its roots as a wonky occasion for central bankers, reflects Fed sensitivity about any perception of privileged access for financiers. Even though investors have come to expect market moving news from Jackson Hole - the theme of this year’s event is labour markets - the shift in the guest list towards policy makers highlights that the conference was never designed to communicate monetary policy. The 2013 forum included Wall Street economists such as Martin Barnes of BCA Research and Jim O’Sullivan of High Frequency Economics and financial guests such as Phillipa Malmgren of Principalis Asset Management. But they are all absent this year. “Some of this is an issue around the potential appearance problems of having people from major primary dealers at a conference sponsored by the Fed,” said one economist of a Wall Street bank, who was not invited this year even though he has previously attended. The financier said he did not want to be named because he did not “want to sound like a crybaby”.
EASON PROFITS DOWN BY €300,000 TO €2.3m - Irish-owned book and stationery retailer Eason & Son has recorded a net profit after tax of €2.3 million in its financial year to January 2014, compared with €2.6 million the previous year. Eason Group revenues, however, were down 7.1% to €227.4 million, in what the company called a “challenging year”, writes the Irish Times. Retail revenue in Eason’s core Republic of Ireland market was down 5.6% on a like-for-like basis, with its franchise business down by 8%, and its wholesale arm down 18%. The company said airport revenues fell by €2.3 million due to its exit from Terminal 1 in Dublin Airport. The net profit of €2.3 million included the positive impact of the write-back of provisions relating to its exit from South Africa of €1.6 million and the closure of the company’s superannuation pension scheme of €5 million. Eason made an operating loss of €200,000 before exceptional items. Including exceptional items and joint ventures it recorded an operating loss of €3 million, which included one-off costs such as €2.8 million relating to redundancies and property impairments.
NEW RETIREMENT AGE IS STUMBLING BLOCK TO DAA PENSIONS DEAL - SIPTU - The introduction of new retirement ages at the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) is one of the stumbling blocks to achieving a resolution to a long-running pension dispute, according to Siptu. The Irish Independent says that Siptu's pension advisor Dermot O'Loughlin wrote yesterday to the DAA's group head of employee relations, John McCormack, outlining concerns the union's members have to recommendations put forward earlier in the summer by an expert panel. That government-backed expert panel was established to break an impasse in negotiations aimed at tackling a near €800m deficit at the Irish Airlines Superannuation Scheme (IASS). The scheme serves thousands of former and current workers at the DAA, Aer Lingus and Shannon Airport. In the letter to Mr McCormack, Mr O'Loughlin and Siptu aviation sector organiser Greg Ennis, said that additional funding the expert panel said the DAA should contribute to resolve the IASS issue isn't enough.
REVENUE AND LOSSES RISE AT LIMERICK TOLL TUNNEL - Pre-tax losses at the firm that operates the tolled €810m Limerick tunnel last year continued to mount. New figures show that consortium Directroute (Limerick) Ltd recorded losses of €6.7m last year following losses of €8.33m in 2012. The firm last year also saw revenues increased by 4% from €20.65m to €21.4m. According to the directors report, traffic increased in 2013 as motorists recognise the benefits of the tunnel in terms of safety and improved journey times, writes the Irish Examiner. The consortium received €5.2m from a ‘revenue guarantee’ deal with the National Roads Authority in order for the route to get built. The figures show that the firm’s operating profits increased by 41% from €4.7m to €6.6m. However, net interest payments totalling €13.36m resulted in a pre-tax loss of €6.7m. The loss last year takes account of non-cash depreciation costs of €13.4m. The largest expense remains the project funding mainly in the form of loans and bonds. At the end of December 2013, the firm owed €408.5m to its creditors, down from the €413.1m owed a year earlier.