The world’s biggest pension fund posted its worst quarterly loss since at least 2008 after a global stock rout in August and September wiped $64 billion off the Japanese asset manager’s investments.
The 135.1 trillion yen ($1.1 trillion) Government Pension Investment Fund lost 5.6 percent last quarter as the value of its holdings declined by 7.9 trillion yen, according to documents released Monday in Tokyo. That’s the biggest percentage drop in comparable data starting from April 2008. The fund lost 8 trillion yen on its domestic and foreign equities and 241 billion yen on overseas debt, while Japanese bonds handed GPIF a 302 billion yen gain.
The loss was GPIF’s first since doubling its allocation to stocks and reducing debt last October, and highlights the risk of sharp short-term losses that come with the fund’s more aggressive investment style. Fund executives have argued that holding more shares and foreign assets is a better approach as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seeks to spur inflation that would erode the purchasing power of bonds.
“Short term market moves lead to gains and losses, but over the 14 years since we started investing, the overall trend is upwards,” Hiroyuki Mitsuishi, a councilor at GPIF, said at a press conference in Tokyo. “Don’t evaluate the results over the short term, as looking over the long term is important.”
GPIF had 39 percent of its assets in Japanese debt at Sept. 30, and 21 percent in the nation’s equities, according to the statement. That compares with 38 percent and 23 percent three months earlier, respectively. The fund had 22 percent of its investments in foreign stocks at the end of September, and 14 percent in overseas bonds.
The retirement fund’s stock investments are largely passive, meaning returns typically track benchmark gauges. GPIF’s Japan equities slid 13 percent, the same decline posted by the Topix index, as China’s yuan devaluation and concern about the potential impact if the Federal Reserve raises interest rates roiled global markets. The fund lost 11 percent on its foreign equity holdings. Shares have rebounded since Sept. 30, with the Topix climbing 12 percent.
The fund can hedge its foreign-exchange risk if needed, Mitsuishi said, while declining to comment on whether GPIF had, or plans to start doing so.
GPIF’s 0.6 percent return on Japanese debt compares with an 0.9 percent advance on a Bloomberg gauge of the nation’s sovereign bonds during the period. The fund’s foreign debt investments lost 1.3 percent during the quarter, as the yen strengthened 2.2 percent.
GPIF hadn’t posted a quarterly loss since the three months through March 2014. The most recent results included returns from a portfolio of government bonds issued to finance a fiscal investment and loan program, with GPIF providing such figures since 2008. If those are stripped out, the drop was the fund’s third-worst on record, exceeded only by declines in the depths of the 2008 global financial crisis and the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.
Norway’s sovereign wealth fund lost 4.9 percent in the third quarter, with equity investments sliding 8.6 percent, its manager said on Oct. 28.
The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board delivered a 1.6 percent gain in the same period, with the fund’s President Mark Wiseman crediting diversification across assets and geographies for the result. It held about 51 percent of its portfolio in public and private equities, 29 percent in fixed income and about 20 percent in real estate and infrastructure investments.
“Compared to our past portfolio, swings in returns have become wider,” Mitsuishi said. “But in the long-term view, we see there’s less risk of failing to meet pension payouts with the new portfolio.”
CBN Maintains 11.5 Percent Monetary Policy Rate, Leaves Other Ratios Unchanged
The Central Bank of Nigeria led Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has left the interest rate unchanged at 11.5 percent to further stimulate activities in the real sector of the economy.
Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria disclosed this at the end of the MPC meeting on Tuesday in Abuja.
He said other parameters, the Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR), Liquidity ratio, and asymmetric corridor, were left unchanged.
According to the Governor, the committee voted unanimously to maintain the current monetary policy and attributed the surge in inflation to structural policies, the increase in pump price and the recent #EndSARS protest.
Highlights of CBN-MPC’s Decision
- MPR was kept at 11.50%
- The asymmetric corridor of +100/-700 basis points around the MPR
- CRR was retained at 27.5%
- Liquid Ratio was also kept at 30%
Unity Bank Grew Gross Earnings by 8 Percent to N34 Billion in Nine Months
Unity Bank Plc grew gross earnings by 8 percent despite COVID-19 and other headwinds that hurt the profitability of most businesses in the first nine months of the year.
A break down of the bank’s unaudited financial results for the period showed gross earnings rose by 8 percent to N33.91 billion for the nine months ended September 30, 2020, up from N31.26 billion posted in the same period of last year.
The lender’s total assets rose by 44 percent from N293.05 billion in the corresponding period of 2019 to N420.87 billion in the period under review.
Unity Bank grew profit before tax from N1.61 billion in 2019 to N1.71 billion in the period under review, while profit after tax expanded from N1.48 billion in the corresponding period to N1.57 billion in 2020.
Customers’ deposits stood at N332.36 billion during the period under review, up from N257.69 billion posted in 2019.
Commenting on the performance, Mrs. Tomi Somefun, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Unity Bank Plc, expressed delight at the strong growth recorded across the bank’s balance sheet, especially from both the liability and assets side of the business and across key indices.
She said, “even as the bank continues to innovate in its e-business product bouquet to target and support value chain business with robust technology and thus diversify its earnings base.”
Somefun said, “One of the areas that will define our strategic direction going forward is investment in alternative channels, leveraging further deployment of resources in technology.
“COVID-19 gave us a chance to test the integrity and scalability of our technology, the IT infrastructure, and the electronic banking channels, and provided us an opportunity to see where we needed to improve and strengthen, knowing that the future of sustainable banking business is in alternative channels.”
Financial Sector Grew by 6.8 Percent in the Third Quarter
The finance and insurance sector that comprises of both the financial institutions and insurance subsectors grew by 5.91 percent year-on-year in nominal terms in the third quarter (Q3).
According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) latest report, the financial institutions’ subsector accounted for 88.89 percent of the sector in real terms in the quarter under review while the insurance subsector contributed the remaining 11.11 percent.
During the third quarter of 2020, the financial institutions’ subsector grew by 6.8 percent in Q3 2020 from 28.41 percent in Q2 2020 and 0.61 percent in Q3 2019 despite COVID-19 and a tough operating environment. The insurance subsector, however, contracted by -18.67 percent in Q3 2020 from -29.53 percent in Q2 2020 and 3.96 percent in Q3 2019.
On a quarterly basis, the sector declined by 24.76 percent.
In terms of contribution to GDP, the finance and insurance sector contributed 2.46 percent in Q3 2020, higher than the 2.40 percent it represented a year ago and lower than the contribution of 3.76 percent achieved in the previous quarter.
The economy contracted by 3.62 percent in the third quarter following a 6.10 percent decline posted in the second quarter. Nigeria is officially in the second economic recession in four years.
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