US stocks rise in shaky trading, led by utilities

The Chinese governments report confirmed that the worlds second-largest economy is slowing, as annual growth hit a 25-year low in 2015. That can affect demand for everything from energy to metals to consumer goods and heavy machinery. Fears about a slowdown in China, and how abrupt and painful it might be, has helped knock oil prices to 12-year lows.

Safe-play stocks like utilities and telecommunications companies rose the most. ATT added 52 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $34.51 and NextEra Energy gained $2.55, or 2.4 percent, to $107.81. Consumer goods maker Procter Gamble, the maker of Tide detergent and Charmin toilet paper, gained $1.75, or 2.3 percent, to $76.73.

US crude fell 96 cents, or 3.3 percent, to close at $28.46 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, rose 21 cents to close at $28.76 a barrel in London.

Energy stocks continued to fall on concerns about reduced worldwide demand. Chesapeake Energy lost 48 cents, or 13.5 percent, to $3.08. Marathon Oil fell 46 cents, or 5.7 percent, to $7.68.

The price of gold fell $1.60 to $1,089.10 an ounce. Silver rose 22.5 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $14.121 an ounce. Copper gained 3.4 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $1.978 a pound. Gold miner Newmont Mining lost $1.39, or 7.9 percent, to $16.31 and copper producer Freeport-McMoRan gave up 39 cents, or 9 percent, to $3.96. Freeport-McMoRan shares have skidded 41.5 percent in 2016.

Delta Air Lines reported a bigger fourth-quarter profit because of falling fuel prices. Delta said it expects fuel to be even less expensive in the first quarter. Its shares rose $1.46, or 3.3 percent, to $45.96. Health insurer UnitedHealth Group posted stronger-than-expected results in the fourth quarter. Its stock rose $3.31, or 3 percent, to $112.58.

Netflix surged aftermarket as the companys net income surpassed analyst forecasts and its international subscriber growth was stronger than Netflix had expected. Netflixs stock surged 8 percent in extended trading to $116.75.

Jewelry retailer Tiffany fell after reporting that sales dropped in the fourth quarter and said it will eliminate some jobs. The company also forecast minimal earnings and sales growth in 2016. The stock lost $3.43, or 5.1 percent, to $64.22.

So far not a single US company has gone public this year, according to Kathy Smith of Renaissance Capital, a manager of IPO-focused exchange-traded funds. That should change this week, as Elevate Capital, which offers credit and related services to people with below-average credit, is expected to start trading Friday. But Smith said only two companies will go public this month. There were also just two IPOs in December, the fewest in any month since October 2011.

The IPO market is pretty close to being closed, Smith said.

Companies are reluctant to go public when the market is weak, and the companies that did go public last year werent rewarded for it: Smith says the companies that completed their IPOs in 2015 are down an average of 17 percent from their offering prices.

Frances CAC 40 rose 2 percent and Germanys DAX added 1.5 percent. Britains FTSE 100 gained 1.7 percent. Chinas Shanghai Composite surged 3.2 percent and Hong Kongs Hang Seng gained 2.1 percent. Japans Nikkei 225 inched up 0.5 percent.

The US dollar slipped to 117.44 yen from 117.50 yen on Monday. The euro rose to $1.0923 from $1.0885. Bond prices slipped. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which has slumped this year, rose to 2.05 percent from at 2.04 percent.

In other trading of energy futures, the price of wholesale gasoline inched up 0.5 cents to $1.026 a gallon. Heating oil fell 2.6 cents to 90.9 cents a gallon. Natural gas slipped 0.9 cents to $2.091 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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Marley Jay can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/journalist/marley-jay

November 2015 – McGrady upsets Bennett in Aberdeen, state titles abound, exit …

Boy Scout Pack 865 from Jarrettsville honored Veterans on Veterans Day by placing flags on the graves at Bel Air Memorial Gardens.

In Havre de Grace, for Veterans Day, a formal unveiling of the new Veterans Park next to the Citizens Care amp; Rehabilitation Center took place. Mayor Bill Martin said he hoped to add a boulder to the park each year featuring the names of local veterans and where they lived.

In honor of Veterans Day, a rededication of the Bel Air Armory on Main Street in Bel Air marking its 100th anniversary took place. The Armory was named in honor of Harford resident Gen. Milton Reckord, who commanded the Armys 155th regiment in World War I.

Bel Air High School Field Hockey won the State Class 3A Championship. This was the schools first state field hockey title since 1977.

Bel Air Highs girls soccer team won the State Class 3A Championship, its first, in a fog shrouded, overtime shoot-out thriller over Linganore, to finish their season a perfect 19-0.

Fallston Highs girls soccer team captured the State Class 2A Championship with a 1-0 win over Wilde Lake on a penalty kick.

John Carrolls football team capped off a perfect 12-0 season with a 35-14 victory over defending champion Archbishop Curley in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference championship.

Walmart confirmed it was no longer pursuing a new store at Route 924 and Plumtree Road. We were unable to reach agreement on an additional extension of the contract to purchase the site located at the intersection of Route 924 and Plumtree and are no longer pursuing a relocation to that property, Walmart spokesperson said in a statement.

Two high schools won state championships in girls soccer: Bel Air won the Class 3A State Soccer Championship and Fallston won the Class 2A state championship.

Fallston Country Pre-K, housed at Grandview Christian Church in Fallston, was approved by a Harford County zoning hearing examiner for expansion. The Pre-K would like to increase the enrollment ceiling from 140 students to 180.

Clark Turner, builder and developer, filed for Chapter 7 personal bankruptcy protection. In Chapter 7 filings, companies or individuals liquidate assets to pay off creditors, after which companies usually go out of business.

The Harford County Sheriffs Office conducted a heroin enforcement saturation detail at multiple locations in Harford County on Nov. 24. Police seized marijuana, opiates, prescription pills and related drug paraphernalia, a switchblade knife and $7,000 in cash. Three people were arrested on outstanding warrants and two others were charged with drinking or drugged driving offenses.

Restructuring & Insolvency 2016: Analysis

Arthur Cox, Dublin

Weil Gotshal Manges has 10 lawyers selected for inclusion this year, including one of the most highly nominated individuals in the world in Marcia Goldstein. Co-chair of the firms business finance and restructuring department, she is the best in the business in the eyes of her peers. Her track record is second to none, and she led the restructurings of WorldCom and Parmalat.Stephen Karotkin was one of the lead attorneys representing General Motors in its chapter 11 case and is universally well respected, while Matthew Barr joined the firm from Milbank in late 2015 and is a real asset. The eminent Richard Krasnow is regarded as a dean of the NY bankruptcy bar.

Alfredo Prez is managing partner of the firms Houston office and played a lead role in the bankruptcies of American Airlines, City of Detroit, WorldCom and Lehman among others, while Martin Sosland in Dallas won commendation for his work as one of the principal partners involved in the firms representation of Enron Corp. The firm is also very strong in London, where Andrew Wilkinson is a former European head and co-head of restructuring at Goldman Sachs and a major player in this market and is known for his work on behalf of creditors, debtors, financial institutions and government bodies. Alongside him, the very fine Adam Plainer is leading the team advising KPMG as joint administrators in MF Global UKs special administration. Jean-Dominique Daudier de Cassini co-heads the highly rated Paris business finance and restructuring department and he is listed alongside his fellow co-head Philippe Druon, a first-class adviser to both domestic and international funds and companies.

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer Feld performs particularly well in this years research, driven in part by its acquisition of three nominees in London from the now defunct Bingham McCutchen once the leading firm in our research overall and a WWL Insolvency Firm of the Year Award winner. Daniel Golden heads the financial restructuring practice group in New York and his skills set him apart from the field. Recognised for his creditor and bondholder practice, his notable representations include NII Holdings, Residential Capital and Sabine Oil Gas Corporation. Fred Hodaras creditor practice is market leading and he is particularly in demand for cross-border insolvency matters, while Michael Stamer is recognised for the quality of his Chapter 11 work in particular. Lisa Beckerman is highly respected in the industry and serves on the board of the American Bankruptcy Institute alongside her well-regarded practice. Ira Dizengoff is first rate for his creditors and bondholders committee work, while Charles Gibbs in Dallas is said to be outstanding for his debtor work in particular. The firms international strength is demonstrated by further inclusions in Hong Kong, where Naomi Moore is known for her cross-border expertise and knowledge of the insurance and reinsurance market. In the aforementioned London office, James Roome is supremely impressive, one of the most highly rated lawyers in the UK research and praised for his contentious work as well as for the quality of his investment advice to financial institution clients. James Terrys distressed debt work is second to none, while Barry Russell is praised for his cross-border work and has acted as counsel to creditor groups in the restructurings of Royal Imtech, Connaught and Icelandic banks Kaupthing, Landsbanki and Glitnir.

The nine lawyers from Clifford Chance are selected from six countries, demonstrating the firms global profile in this area. Three are from England, where Philip Hertz is incisive and impressive and known for his insurance related expertise in particular. David Steinberg is joint leader of the firms practice in London and praised for both debtor and creditor work that includes advising creditors and customersof the Lehmans and MF Global estates on a range of issues. Adrian Cohen is advising Co-operative Bank on its current capital and financial restructuring and is first rate in the eyes of his clients and peers. Reinhard Dammann is one of the most highly respected experts in France and is particularly praised for his cross-border experience. Iigo Villoria leads the practice in the Madrid office and is similarly well respected both locally and across Europe, while Bartosz Kruewski in Poland is known for his excellent contentious and non-contentious restructuring work. Mark Hyde in Hong Kong is global head of the firms insolvency and restructuring practice and one of the big names in this sphere having been involved in major restructurings/insolvencies such as Peregine, Maxwell, Dubai World and Nakheel. Peter Avery and Deborah Walker combine to give the firm a highly rated presence in Dubai.

DLA Piper sees nine of its lawyers selected for inclusion this year, with its US offices particularly well represented. Gregg Galardi is a dominant figure in the New York market and global co-chair of the firms restructuring practice. Three partners are selected from Delaware, where Craig Martin is recommended for his work on complex distressed situations and Stuart Brown is a first-class bankruptcy lawyer. Selinda Melnik is internationally recognised for her work in this area. Mark Fairbairn in Hong Kong is the firms head of restructuring in Asia and one of the foremost experts in the region, while the firm is also represented in Europe through the inclusion of Jasper Berkenbosch in Amsterdam.

Ashurst also sees nine of its lawyers selected for inclusion. The firm is particularly strong in Australia with five nominees listed. James Marshall is one of the best in the business and is the global co-head of the firms restructuring and special situations practice. He was praised for the breadth of his practice and depth of his expertise, and he has acted for lenders and creditors as well as parties in the secondary debt market and in relation to distressed MA. Michael Sloan is highly rated for his restructuring work on behalf of corporations in both Australia and New Zealand, while Ross McClymont leads the firms restructuring and special situations practice in Melbourne and is a very fine lawyer with a total grasp of the issues. In London, Dan Hamilton is much in demand for his leveraged and structured finance restructuring expertise, while global co-head of the practice Giles Boothman is outstanding for all types of distressed work. The firm is also recognised in Asia for this work; everybody knows Bertie Mehigan and Carl Dunton is one of the pre-eminent experts in Singapore.

Kirkland Ellis expertise stretches across the US, Asia and Europe and it sees eight of its lawyers selected for inclusion. At their head is the legendary James Sprayregen, described as one of the foremost lawyers of his generation and known for his work on Chapter 11 cases such as Energy Future Holdings Corp and Caesars Entertainment Operating Co. Paul Basta in New York also represented the latter client, as well as Kerzner International and Charter Communications,and is extremely well regarded across the US and beyond. Clients and peers also spoke highly of Marc Kieselstein in Chicago for his Chapter 11 expertise in particular, while David Seligman is recognised for his work across a range of industries including transportation, energy, financial institution and real estate. Neil McDonald in Hong Kong leads Kirklands restructuring practice in Asia and is formidably good in advising financial institutions, hedge funds and private equity firms. Damien Coles was commended to our researchers as the go-to guy for Indonesian restructurings. In London, Kon Asimacopoulos is praised for his contentious work in this sector as well as for his representation of debtors and debt and equity investors. In Munich, Leo Plank is one of the leading lawyers in Germany for the representation of institutional high-yield and distressed debt investors.

Jones Day sees seven nominees selected, with six in the US and a further listing in England. In the former, the brilliant Corinne Ball is co-head of the business restructuring and reorganisation practice in New York and universally known for leading the firms team on the successful Chapter 11 reorganisation of Chrysler. Bruce Bennett in Los Angeles acted as co-lead counsel for the City of Detroit in its Chapter 9 debt adjustment case, and his fellow co-lead counsel David Heiman is also absolutely first class in the eyes of his peers. Paul Leake is head of the business restructuring and reorganisation practice and highly regarded for his representation of all types of party in out-of-court and chapter 11 debtor matters including those relating to Georgia Gulf, Globalstar and Independence Air. Ben Larkin is tremendously impressive and gives the firm a presence in London.

Latham Watkins improves its position in this years rankings to seven nominees, led by global co-chair of the restructuring, insolvency and workoutspractice Jan Baker. One of the finest legal minds I have come across, he is immediate past chair of the American College of Bankruptcy and universally respected across the market. Fellow co-chair of the practice Mitchell Seider is known for the unimpeachable quality of his counsel to secured lenders, bond holders, creditors committees and debtors. John Houghton in London is also a global co-chair of the practice as well as head of the European practice and he is praised as a formidable practitioner and real thought leader in this field. David Heller in Chicago is much sought after for his advice to secured and unsecured lenders as well as for his counsel to companies in relation to their restructurings.

The seven nominees from Skadden Arps Slate Meagher Flom are similarly split between the US and London offices. In the former, Jay Goffman in the New York office is the global leader of corporate restructuring group and an absolute market leader for restructuring work having successfully led those of America West Airlines, Centro Properties Group, DS Waters and Everest Capital among others, and his expertise related to pre-packaged restructurings knows no bounds. Ken Ziman is currently representing Millennium Health in its voluntary pre-packaged Chapter 11 cases and is quite brilliant according to those who have seen him in action. In London, Chris Mallon leads the firms corporate restructuring practice in Europe and is one of the most highly regarded individuals in our research worldwide. His client list is second to none having represented Enron, Global Crossing, WorldCom, Parmalat and Eurotunnel among others, and interviewees commented on his ability to translate complicated situations into comprehensible and above all commercially aware language. Alongside him, Dominic McCahill is recognised for his representation of clients including the winding-up committees of Kaupthing Bank, the Lehman Brothers estate and the Enron estate in their respective Chapter 11 bankruptcies.

The London office of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is phenomenal for this type of work, and Nick Segal in particular was picked out as a superstar. He was commended to researchers for his work in a wide range of countries, as well as for his expertise relating to contested matters. Ken Baird is global head of the restructuring and insolvency team and is highly respected for his work on complex restructurings and insolvencies, both at home and abroad, for creditor and debtor clients. Richard Tett has a major reputation and worked with the Bank of England on various financial institution workouts including those of Bradford Bingley, Landsbanki and Kaupthing. Neil Golding counts thegovernment of Trinidad, Zurich Insurance Company and the Bank of England among his clients, and his qualifications as an insolvency practitioner make him uniquely able to give often invaluable advice. Adam Gallagher recently advised the senior co-ordinating committee in connection with the approximately 1 billion financial restructuring of the Biffa Group, and is a huge hit with clients I am reluctant to recommend him in case anyone else tries to hire him. Lars Westpfahl in Hamburg is rated as one of the foremost experts in Germany, and Raffaele Lener in Rome is similarly well regarded by his peers in Italy.

Larry Nyhan is co-leader of Sidley Austins corporate reorganisation and bankruptcy groupand a first-rate lawyer. One of seven nominees from the firm, he is highly regarded for his Chapter 11 work. Alongside him in Chicago, Bryan Krakauer is known for his creditor work in relation to the Lehman, Sentinel and Petters bankruptcy proceedings. Jennifer Hagle in California is fantastic for work relating to banks, hedge funds and other financial institutions. Patrick Corr is head of thecorporate reorganisation and bankruptcy group in London and a very skilled operator, and he is praised for his work in both contentious and non-contentious settings.

Walkers is regarded as the go to firm for offshore advice, and sees its contingent grow to six in this edition. Fraser Hern in Hong Kong is much admired for his contentious work in this sector, while Neil Upton is one of three representatives of the firms office in the Cayman Islands and an excellent lawyer in all he does. Sandie Corbettis managing partner of the British Virgin Islands office and widely recognised for her persuasive and effective work in contentious insolvency proceedings. Robert Foote is selected in Singapore and is also very highly regarded in the market.

Linklaters maintains a strong practice in this area, particularly in Europe. Tony Bugg in London is global head of the restructuring and insolvency practice and one of the big names in the market. He is very well known for his very high profile and tremendously impressive work co-leading the team advising PwC as administrators of Lehman Brothers International (Europe). Rebecca Jarvis recently advised the senior lenders in the 2.2 billion restructuring of the European Directories Group.Kolja von Bismarck is one of the premier experts in Germany for both creditor and debtor work, and he is recognised for his cross-border expertise in particular, while Aymar de Maulon is similarly well regarded in France. David Kidd in the Hong Kong office is said to be one of the finest restructuring lawyers in Asia by his peers.

Pachulski Stang Ziehl Jones is one of the leading firms in the US for this type of work and earns five places in this years edition. Isaac Pachulski in Los Angeles is a class apart in his representation of debtors and creditors and Richard Pachulski is similarly highly regarded as one of the foremost experts in California. Laura Davis Jones in Delaware is renowned for her work as debtors counsel in theContinental Airlinesbankruptcy case and is a very impressive operator, both legally skilled and highly commercial.

The UK Bar is home to many market-leading experts, with 11 based at South Square alone. Gabriel Moss QC has acted as leading counsel in 11 major Supreme Court, Privy Council, CJEU and EFTA Court casesin recent years, and is second to none in his understanding of all facets of insolvency law. William Trower QC is incredibly experienced and is acting for the administrators ofLehman BrothersandNortel, having previously acted in relation to the insolvencies of Kaupthing and Landsbanki. Robin Dicker QC is simply outstanding, and has appeared before the UK Supreme Court in relation to Nortel/Lehman Brothers and the Court of Appeal in relation to Lehman Brothers International (Europe), among many others. Antony Zacaroli QC recently advised the administrators of the Phones 4U Group and was commended to researchers as quite brilliant, while Felicity Toube QC was highlighted by private practitioners as great to work with and the first name on my list when I need a barrister.

Four nominees appear from Klee Tuchin Bogdanoff Stern, led by founding partner Kenneth Klee one of the most highly regarded individuals in our research worldwide. Described as one of the forefathers of modern bankruptcy law, he is Professor Emeritus at the UCLA School of Law and a real thought leader in this field. Alongside him, Michael Tuchin is absolutely first class, whether for debtor work for clients such as Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios in its Chapter 11 proceedings, creditors or in out-of-court proceedings such as the restructuring of MGM-Mirage. Lee Bogdanoff is the real deal, feted for his work across all disciplines and especially respected for his litigation practice he has represented Washington Mutual and Enron.

Evan Flaschen is the chair of the financial restructuring group at Bracewell Giulianiand one of the all-time greats. Praised in particular for his knowledge of maritime restructuring matters, he also stands out for the quality of his bankruptcy litigation practice.

Alan Kornberg is chair of the bankruptcy and corporate reorganisation department of Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton Garrison in New York and a legend in this field. His recent assignments include representing the ad hoc committee of first lien debtholders of Texas Competitive Electric Holdings Companyin the Chapter 11 case that resulted from the largest leveraged buyout in history. Alongside him Andrew Rosenberg was recommended to researchers for his work on General Motors Chapter 11 case.

Donald Bernstein heads the insolvency and restructuring practice at Davis Polk Wardwell and one of the foremost figures in this field. He has represented companies such as Ford Motor Company in restructurings, as well as a range of creditors and liquidators. He is also much sought after by financial institutions including JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley for his insightful and incisive advice on global credit risk management. Marshall Huebner is co-head of the group and another big name in the market having acted as lead counsel to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and to the US Department of the Treasury in relation to their multiple financings and equity stake in the American International Group. He also acted as lead US counsel to the joint administrators and liquidators of Lehman Brothers International (Europe) and its UK Lehman affiliates, and as lead bankruptcy and restructuring counsel to Delta Air Lines. They have acted on some of the biggest cases in history said one interviewee, and you can see why their skills are second to none.

Hamish Anderson is one of four nominees from Norton Rose Fulbright, and he is recognised for his work on behalf of insolvency practitioners and creditors both at home and abroad, as well as for his commercial and practical advice to regulators.

Dominic Emmett heads the restructuring and insolvency group at Gilbert + Tobin, and he is a veteran of some of Australias largest workouts and insolvencies. Described as a very fine lawyer and a joy to deal with, he received votes from across the region and beyond.

In Bermuda, Robin Mayor heads the insolvency and restructuring practice of Conyers Dill Pearman and is the counsel of choice for a wide range of companies, regulators, investors, creditors and liquidators. She was commended to researchers for the hugely impressive breadth of her expertise.

Jay Carfagnini at Goodmans in Toronto is the most highly nominated lawyer in the country and the go-to guy for major restructurings in Canada, having participated in those of Nortel Networks, MF Global Canada and LightSquared. As well as being highly rated domestically he also garnered votes from the UK and US in recognition of his knowledge of the intersection of Canadian law with their local jurisdictions.

Patrick Ang of Rajah Tann in Singapore is viewed as one of the foremost insolvency lawyers in Asia by the clients and peers we canvassed, and he was praised for his contentious and non-contentious work on behalf of financial institutions and companies. His experience includes acting for the shareholders of Asia Pulp and Paper, Lehman Brothers Singapore and Nortel Networks Singapore.

William Day of Arthur Cox has participated in some of Irelands most high profile insolvencies in recent years, including advising Eircom on its restructuring. He is very able and a real pleasure to work with, according to our sources.

San Bernardino eyes cuts of police retirees’ pensions

“PARS plan retirees will be the only retired employees in the state of California to have their retirement compensation reduced through bankruptcy proceeding,” a member of the PARS retiree subcommittee, Robert Curtis, said in a court filing this month.

Curtis said unfairly reducing pensions up to 12 percent could result in personal bankruptcy, the loss of homes and health coverage, and other hardships. He asked for a city-provided attorney to represent the PARS retirees.

San Bernardino’s plan to exit bankruptcy would reject the PARS contracts, distribute a $1.8 million trust fund to the 23 retirees, and make no more payments to the supplement, which is said to be underfunded by about $3 million.

The city thought it had an agreement with the PARS retirees last month. But in a court filing last week, the city suggested the emergence of opposition since then could result in even less generous treatment of the PARS retirees.

New public pension supplements, like the one given the 23 San Bernardino police officers, are now banned under a pension reform pushed through Legislature by Gov. Brown three years ago.

Without cutting pensions, the San Bernardino plan is expected to produce a healthy general fund reserve of 15 percent or more through 2034.

San Bernardino can argue that phasing out the PARS supplement leaves the 23 retirees with the pension offered when they were hired, like other officers who retired before the supplement began in 2004.

But the same cannot be said of pensions from the California Public Employees Retirement System and other public retirement systems covered by the “California rule,” a series of state court decisions.

Public pensions can go up but not down — even if, as with SB 400, a pension increase is retroactive, immediately creating debt because the increase was not paid for by previous employer-employee contributions.

A San Bernardino disclosure statement filed Nov. 25 said the city had roughly $323 million in CalPERS pension unfunded liabilities when filing for bankruptcy in 2012.

“These unfunded actuarial liabilties were created primarily by the common council’s decisions to approve enhanced pension benefits to city employees in 2001 and 2007,” said the city filing.

Contributing factors, said the filing, were unfunded retroactive pension increases, heavy CalPERS investment losses during the financial crisis, and an increasing number of retirees with larger pensions and fewer active workers to help pay for them.

Without cutting pensions, the San Bernardino plan is expected to produce a healthy general fund reserve of 15 percent or more through 2034, according to an update issued by city consultants early this month.

City Manager Alan Parker, who clashed with Mayor Carey Davis, resigned effective Dec. 31. Last week Police Chief Jarrod Berguan was appointed interim manager until Mark Scott, Burbank city manager, takes the post Feb. 8.

US Bankruptcy Judge Meredith Jury said in October she wanted more discussion of rising pension costs, given the “media perception” that Stockton and Vallejo are in trouble (strongly denied by the city managers) because they failed to cut pensions in bankruptcy.

San Bernardino has deeper problems than the other two cities: a lower average income and weak local economy, years of factional political infighting, and mismanagement that led to a new finance director discovering the city was on the brink of not making payroll.

After an emergency bankruptcy filing in 2012, San Bernardino took the unprecedented step of skipping its payment to CalPERS for most of a fiscal year, running up a debt of $13.5 million and risking termination of its CalPERS contract.

Hoping at first to get aid from CalPERS by stretching out payments, what San Bernardino got was a legal battle and a mediated agreement to repay CalPERS with interest by June 2016, followed by a penalty bringing the total to $18 million.

Regular San Bernardino general fund payments to CalPERS increased from $6 million in fiscal 2000-1 to a projected $22.6 million this fiscal year, said the November city filing.

CalPERS employer rates for San Bernardino police and firefighters were 14 percent of pay in fiscal 2000-1, 39 percent of pay in fiscal 2012-13, and are projected to be 60 percent in fiscal 2019-20.

A request from the San Bernardino bondholders to be treated the same as pensions was rejected by Jury last May, and the ruling is being appealed.

In other developments, City Manager Alan Parker, who clashed with Mayor Carey Davis, resigned effective Dec. 31. Last week Police Chief Jarrod Berguan was appointed interim manager until Mark Scott, Burbank city manager, takes the post Feb. 8.

Burrtec was selected in November to take over city waste management and retain full-time city employees, part of a strategy to cut costs by contracting for services. The city expects a one-time $5 million payment and annual savings of $2.8 million.

A federal appeals court last week upheld Judge Jury’s ruling that the city charter does not prevent contracting for fire services. Annexation of San Bernardino by the county fire district is expected to yield a $143 parcel tax and lower pension costs, netting $11 million a year.

At a hearing last week, Jury moved on from pensions and asked for an explanation of why the San Bernardino plan only gives some creditors 1 percent of what they are owed and does not raise taxes to pay more debt, the San Bernardino Sun reported.

Voters approved a 1-cent sales tax increase in Vallejo and a ¾-cent sales tax increase in Stockton. The San Bernardino plan would pay only about 1 percent of the amount owed on a $50 million pension obligation bond.

Among the major remaining opponents of the plan are the holder of the unsecured pension bond, EEPK, which is a subsidiary of Commerzbank of Germany, and the insurer of the bond, Ambac.

A request from the San Bernardino bondholders to be treated the same as pensions was rejected by Jury last May, and the ruling is being appealed. Mediation on Nov. 18 and 19 failed to produce a settlement.

Early this month in the Stockton bankruptcy, a federal appeals court rejected an appeal of a 1 percent payment on $30 million in unsecured bonds held by Franklin Templeton, which argued creditors were treated unfairly because pensions are untouched.

Jury predicted last week that the confirmation trial on the San Bernardino plan to exit bankruptcy will begin this spring or summer, the Sun reported. The fourth anniversary of the bankruptcy is Aug. 1.

Ed’s Note: Reporter Ed Mendel covered the Capitol in Sacramento for nearly three decades, most recently for the San Diego Union-Tribune. More stories are at Calpensions.com.

Stocks Rise after Weak China GDP Growth Report

Fears about a slowdown in China, and how abrupt and painful it might be, has helped knock oil prices to 12-year lows.

Fall in oil prices pulled mostly energy stocks to the red territory across Asian markets. Chesapeake Energy lost 27 cents, or 7.6 per cent, to $3.29. Santos Ltd stock fell 7.46% on Australian screen, while Japan Petroleum Exploration Co., Ltd closed down 4.68% at Japan stock market.

US gold for February delivery GCcv1 fell $1.60 to settle at $1,089.10 an ounce.

The Chinese yuan rose 0.6 percent in the offshore trade to 6.5808 to the dollar, however, as Chinese authorities continued to stamp down speculative yuan selling. The SP 500 added 10.05 points, or 0.53%, to 1,890.38 and the Nasdaq Composite gained 23.35 points, or 0.52%, to 4,511.77.

Financial stocks in the SP 500 were up 1.6 per cent, leading the index higher.

Tommy Xie, economist at OCBC Bank in Singapore, said he expected more stimulus from the Chinese central bank, but that the stability of the yuan, also known as the renminbi, was critical to maintaining growth.

Bank of America also reported a rise in fourth-quarter profit, though revenue came in below analysts expectations. Delta expects fuel to be even less expensive in the first quarter. Europes Stoxx 600 index tumbled more than 3 percent, while shares in Hong Kong dove sharply to three-year lows.

The volatile Shanghai Composite Index was up 3.2 per cent Tuesday, bringing losses for the year down to 15 per cent. The Standard Poors 500 index added four points, or 0.3 per cent, to 1,885.

Corporate earnings are garnering more attention as investors weigh the health of the USA economy. That should change this week, as Elevate Capital, which offers credit and related services to people with below-average credit, is expected to start trading Friday.

Equity markets have managed to recover some momentum and are once again looking for gains following the rumours of further possible stimulus being on its way from China, said analyst Jameel Ahmad at trading firm FXTM.

Companies are reluctant to go public when the market is weak, and the companies that did go public previous year werent rewarded for it: Smith says the companies that completed their IPOs in 2015 are down an average of 17 percent from their offering prices.

Jan 19 (Reuters) – Wall Street ended flat after a choppy session on Tuesday as falling oil prices led to more carnage in energy stocks and an in line economic report showed slower growth in China. While growth in China continues to slow down, the results calmed investors who thought conditions might get worse.

With household incomes up by seven per cent, and online retails sales growing by 33 per cent past year, China represents a lucrative market for British business.

In the eurozone, Frances global steel titan Arcelor Mittal leapt 5.8 percent in Paris, while Germanys industrial giant Thyssenkrupp gained 0.5 percent in value. Japans Nikkei 225 stayed the same, inching down 0.02 percent to 16,952.85. The euro barely rose against the dollar, to $1.0909.

The International Energy Agency said Tuesday that production outside the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries would fall in 2016 due to spending cuts, but much of the decline would be offset by an increase in Iranian production.

The FTSEurofirst 300 fell 2.8 per cent, set for its biggest single session loss of an already turbulent 2016. However, today, the index had slipped into the red and was trading at 2,966.66, down 1.37%.

Klopp says Benteke has a long-term future at Liverpool
They must be – after all, the FA Cup is a real mans competition. So I think he had a few good moments and thats how it is.

Application for medical school is resubmitted

A more detailed application for preliminary accreditation to establish a medical school in Martinsville (the College of Henricopolis School of Medicine, or CHSM) was resubmitted to the national accrediting agency on Tuesday.

“We are submitting the final application, which is approaching 300 pages,” said Dr. Noel Boaz, president of the medical school. He also is president of the medical school’s nonprofit arm, Integrative Centers for Science and Medicine (ICSM).

“”We’re very happy with the application,” Boaz said. He added he feels that good answers were provided to everything that was asked. “I’m confident we have a good shot at getting approved.”

Among the new or more detailed information included in the application to the Liaison Committee on Medical Education(or LCME, the accrediting agency) are detailed financial information, information about how the “physical plant” (campus)is coming together, available housing, information about an agreement with a publisher for CHSM faculty to write a 13-volume textbook series.

The application says or references the following progress for the medical school and ICSM since 2013: “In May of that year a local physician and philanthropist donated a 25,000-square-foot building to be used for a medical education building. ICSM undertook a fund-raising campaign that raised over $1.3 million in 2014 to remove asbestos from the building, to begin interior demolition in preparation for renovations, to develop detailed architectural plans, and to purchase two vacant lots north of the building for construction of a ‘Physic Garden’ to be used in the pharmacological curriculum.”

It adds: “The City of Martinsville donated in 2014 additional land surrounding the building and another small building to be used as an interpretive and learning center. A city-backed bond issue in 2016 for $3 million will allow purchase of four additional buildings and land to comprise a 6.5-acre campus for the medical school in central Martinsville.” (The bond issue is pending.)

The application says the affiliated nonprofit ICSM Medical Center, which began operating on March 31, 2014, occupies the Martinsville Medical Building, nine-tenths of a mile north of the medical school campus and near the 226-bed Memorial Hospital of Martinsville and Henry County. These are future sites for CHSM third- and fourth-year clinical clerkships.

The medical school received provisional certification from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia to offer the MD degree in Virginia, contingent on LCME accreditation.

The medical school campus is centered on the Shackelford Medical Education Building (a former grocery store at Fayette and North Moss streets), which will be used for basic science instruction for first- and second-year medical school students.

“The campus will expand in 2016 to the north and east to comprise a 6.5-acre site with six buildings, including a Student Activity Center, Student Health Center, Clinical Sciences Building, Biomedical Research Building and various administrative and faculty offices,” the application says. (Last month, officials announced a plan for ICSM to purchase from the Lester Group three buildings on Franklin Street and several acres of land bounded by Moss, Liberty and Franklin streets.)

The medical school has temporary administrative offices in the Jefferson Plaza Building.

“Anchored by Memorial Hospital of Martinsville and Henry County, one of the larger LifePoint hospitals,” he medical school has signed or pending clinical clerkship agreements with the 16 hospitals and medical centers in the LifePoint Hospital system in Virginia, North Carolina and West Virginia within an approximately 250-mile radius of Martinsville. “These hospitals will host ongoing clinical clerkships for an average of 20 third- and fourth-year CHSM medical students at a time, or 320 students,” the application states.

It also says there are 62 hospitals in the LifePoint system located in 20 states and seven hospitals in the Pioneer Community Hospital system (Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and Mississippi), and the medical school will use these networks to negotiate and sign agreements with individual hospitals as needed for its third- and fourth-year clinical clerkship program.

As for financial resources available to the medical school or anticipated for the medical school over the next six years, the application says:

For the purposes of the LCME application, the “medical school” includes the educational arm of operations (CHSM), clinical arm (the medical center of ICSM) and the research arm “incorporated and currently operating under a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporate model as several ICSM named research institutes and centers.”

The application says total start-up revenues for the medical school (CHSM) include the following:

“(1) A total of $43,229 was paid for 24,923 shares of Common Stock in the (CHSM) benefit corporation by 18 small investors in 2013-14 to initiate start-up of the medical school including payment of $25,000 for LCME pre-accreditation.

“(2) The medical school’s business plan requires an investment by one or more major investors of $25 million in the medical school holding corporation, Henricopolis Holding, Inc. (HHI). This investment is expected by March 31, 2016, and will be in the form of preferred stock not to exceed a 25% interest in the equity of the corporation, a minority ownership position.

“(3) $150,000 of Virginia state funding was allocated to CHSM from a Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission (VTICRC) Tobacco Revitalization Opportunity Fund (TROF) grant of $800,000 received in 2014-15 by the City of Martinsville for the benefit of the medical school.

“(4) $25 million (CHSM in part, return from endowment) is expected from Virginia state funding.”

ICSM revenues and assets as a partner with the medical school from 2013 onward include: A $25,000-square-foot building valued at $350,000 was donated to ICSM in 2013; $400,000 in tax-deductible contributions to ICSM were received from people and corporations in 2013-14 as part of the “Shackelford Campaign,” a local fund-raising effort; a small building and surrounding property valued at $16,000 were donated to ICSM for use by the medical school by the city of Martinsville; $600,000 of the VTICRC TROF grant (mentioned above) was applied by ICSM to building renovation, operations, personnel costs and equipment purchase.

Other ICSM revenues and assets as a partner with the medical school include: a $3 million bond issue through the city of Martinsville, pending for release in February 2016 (to be combined with matching funds of $600,000 from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development in the form of an Institutional Redevelopment Fund grant to complete renovation of the basic science building and to purchase land and buildings for the medical school; a $2.0 million fund-raising campaign (Renaissance Martinsville 2016); and $25 million (from the sale of preferred stock mentioned above).

The medical school is seeking $15 million through the federal investment EB-5 Regional Center program (representing 18 percent of the total funding for the college). According to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website, “Congress created the EB-5 Program in 1990 to stimulate the US economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. In 1992, Congress created the Immigrant Investor Program, also known as the Regional Center Program. This sets aside EB-5 visas for participants who invest in commercial enterprises associated with regional centers approved by USCIS based on proposals for promoting economic growth.”

ICSM also will pursue $12 million in federal Certified Development Company loans.

The application indicates about $12.8 million in tuition is estimated per class when the medical school opens.

Boaz said: “There is no formally required minimum amount of funding but the consensus is that $25 million should be in hand to start a medical school. We are seeking this amount entirely from investment and from the General Assembly, respectively. If we get both, it will increase our endowment. … Over the first two years the projected income to both CHSM and ICSM is $58.1 million.”

The LCME will consider the medical school application at its meeting in February, at which time LCME could, basically, approve or reject the application or say it is incomplete and do it again, Boaz said. If LCME approves the submission, the medical school’s status would improve from “applicant school ” to “candidate school.” That would clear the way for an LCME committee to do a site visit and report.

According to the LCME website, the next step would be for LCME to review the site survey team’s report and determine if the candidate school meets the standards. If so, the LCME would vote to grant preliminary accreditation to the program for an entering class in an upcoming academic year. “Once preliminary accreditation is granted, the program may begin to recruit applicants and accept applications for enrollment,” the website says.

Boaz said the target is for the medical school to open in fall 2017.

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Wall Street’s Energy Loans Suffer Frostbite From Warm Winter

In October, as oil prices hovered around $50 a barrel, Wall Street analysts asked JPMorgan Chase Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon how the banks energy-company loans were holding up. Crude prices had already fallen by half since mid-2014.

Dimons response: At a stressed price of $30 a barrel, JPMorgan would expect as much as $750 million of additional loss reserves on energy loans — almost double what the bank set aside during the first nine months of 2015.

Two months later, Dimons stressed scenario is basically here. Afterunseasonably warm weather in the northeastern US depressed heating-oil consumption during December and a sluggish global economy sapped energy demand, New York oil futuresfell below $37 a barrel last month, prompting analysts to ratchet up estimates of energy-patch loan defaults. Such losses would eat into the gains banks expect as interest rates rise; fourth-quarter results are due out mid-month.

Trump left his mark on Atlantic City — for better and for worse

The Taj was a monument to excess more than 500 feet high, 17 acres of minarets, mirrors, purple carpets, elephants and giant chandeliers. By the time it opened in 1990, Trump ruled as the undisputed king of Atlantic City, with 25% of the casino market.

At a cost of over $1 billion, financed at interest rates as high as 14%, the Taj Mahal was a huge gamble. It never paid off.

In 1990, when an industry analyst predicted the property would not generate enough money to pay off the bonds, Trump erupted in outrage and wrote a letter to the analysts employer, brokerage firm Janney Montgomery Scott, threatening a major lawsuit. The analyst, Marvin Roffman, was fired. But in October of that year, with the economy slowing down, Trump missed the first bond payment. The next year, the Taj Mahal was in bankruptcy court.

Roffman eventually won $750,000 from the brokerage firm in arbitration, sued Trump for defamation reaching a confidential settlement and started his own successful investment business.

The Taj Mahals debt load was just outrageous, Roffman said in an interview. The interest alone was $95 million a year.

With money running out, Trumps father, Fred, sent a lawyer to Trumps Castle to buy $3.5 million worth of casino chips, without playing them, in what amounted to an immediate cash infusion. State regulators later fined the casino $30,000 for the maneuver, but the business was allowed to keep the money.

The crash left Trumps business hundreds of millions of dollars in the hole, but he avoided a personal bankruptcy, as he stresses in Republican debates. He was put under strict controls by his bankers, including an allowance that a former Trump representative put at $450,000 a month. Trump sold his 281-foot yacht, the Trump Princess, and his Trump Shuttle airline.

Trump’s attacks raise eyebrows on Wall Street

Morgan Stanley and other financial groups declined to comment about Mr Trump.

A Trump campaign spokeswoman said the candidates criticism of Wall Street has been focused on the issues of large political donations and the carried interest loophole, which reduces taxes paid by hedge fund and private equity managers.

Mr Trump is self-funding his campaign and is not beholden to these big money donors of Wall Street or any other group, the spokeswoman said, arguing that such donations often influence and control all-talk, no-action politicians.

The spokeswoman added: The only special interest Mr Trump is beholden to is the American people.

To date, this outsider rhetoric has boosted the Trump campaign. He commands 36.5 per cent support in the race for the Republican nomination in a rolling average of polls by RealClear Politics, and enjoys a clear lead in the important New Hampshire primary.

A banker who has worked on Mr Trumps real estate deals said he built good relationships with Wall Street, capitalising on financial professionals desire for his business. He was also skilled at renegotiating debt deals, taking advantage of banks and hedge funds that wanted to get at least some money back from their investments.

Those skills helped Mr Trump at the time of his first corporate bankruptcy in 1991, which involved the debt-laden Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City. Although Mr Trump had personally guaranteed at least $900m in Taj Mahal debt, he avoided having to declare personal bankruptcy by convincing the banks, led by Chase Manhattan Bank, to restructure the liabilities.

A year later, Mr Trumps Plaza Hotel in New York filed for bankruptcy. Citigroup stepped in, leading a handful of lenders to buy a 49 per cent stake in the property.

The Plaza was later sold to a group of overseas investors that included Saudi Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, who recently became embroiled in a Twitter fight with Mr Trump over the Republican hopefuls plan to ban Muslims from entering the US.

Mr Trump has also sparred with Wall Street. In 2008, he sued Deutsche Bank and other lenders over a $640m construction loan for Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago.

Mr Trump argued the financial crisis prevented him from repaying the loan to Deutsche and Fortress Investment, a hedge fund, in the allotted time.

Deutsche countersued to obtain repayment. The two sides settled in 2010, with Deutsche extending the terms of the loan for five years.

Deutsches private bank is providing a $170m loan for one of Mr Trumps latest projects, his new hotel in Washington DC. Construction on the Trump International Hotel is due to be completed next year.