News Ireland daily BLOG Tuesday

Tuesday 7th January 2014

Ireland draws massive demand for first post-bailout bond sale

 

Ireland made a storming return to the international bond market on Tuesday, with bumper demand for the country’s first debt sale since exiting its bailout helping to drive down yields across the euro zone’s periphery.

Investors bid more than €14-billion ($20-billion) for the new 10-year bond sold via syndication, nearly four times the size of the final €3.75-billion issue, Ireland’s National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) said.

A test of market confidence in Ireland’s recovering economy, which grew 1.7 per cent year on year in the three months to September, the sale also sets a benchmark for Greece, Portugal and Cyprus, the euro zone states still under sovereign bailout programs.

The bond – the first Dublin has sold since last March – was priced at mid-swaps plus 1.40 percentage points, giving a yield of just over 3.5 per cent.

“This sale shows that Ireland has fully exited the EU/IMF [bailout],” Finance Minister Michael Noonan said in a statement. “The yield of 3.54 per cent illustrates the strength of Ireland’s international reputation and brings us far closer to the borrowing rates of the strongest European economies.”

Ireland’s cost for 10-year bond issues has tumbled from a peak of about 15 per cent, hit in 2011 as the euro zone’s debt crisis intensified.

Dublin is already funded into 2015, but the debt agency has said it wants to resume regular bond auctions to demonstrate a return to “business as usual” and to insure itself against possible future market turbulence.

Tuesday’s sale put Ireland nearly half way to its target of raising €8-billion this year and the debt agency would aim for regular modest auctions through the rest of 2014, its head John Corrigan said.

“Auctions have to be an important part of the re-entry into the market mechanism, but I think today’s success means we can move forward with confidence on that front,” Corrigan said.

Yields on Spain’s 10-year benchmark bond fell nearly 0.10 percentage points to 3.81 per cent, while their Greek equivalent fell by 0.38 points as investors took the Irish success as a hopeful sign for other countries in the euro zone periphery.

“The deal has attracted a lot of international interest, and with many of those orders unable to be filled, these investors have had to look elsewhere,” said Dan Shane of Morgan Stanley, one of the banks leading the deal.

Smaller euro zone states sometimes place bonds via a syndicate of banks as doing so helps them to reach a broader range of investors than through a traditional auction.

Ireland formally exited its €85-billion bailout on Dec. 15, having sought the rescue in 2010 after a burst property bubble crippled the country’s banks and blew a hole in the public finances.

Irish debt rallied in the secondary market, with the yield on its benchmark 10-year bond plunging 0.10 points to an eight-year low of 3.27 per cent. Five-year yields fell to within 0.4 points of equivalent U.K. bonds, a premium that has shrunk from 2.25 points a year ago.

The high demand comes as Ireland’s economy shows signs it is picking up steam, with the jobless rate falling to 12.5 per cent from a 2012 peak of 15.1 per cent and the government expecting gross domestic product growth of 2 per cent this year.

Nevertheless, some investors have expressed concerned about its national debt, which at 124 per cent of GDP remains among the highest in the European Union.

The NTMA said Tuesday’s issue drew interest from more than 400 fund managers, pension funds and other investors, including some from the Middle East and Asia.

Barclays, Citi Bank, Danske Bank, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley and Davy Stockbrokers were joint lead managers on the sale.

Long-term bonds sale a sign of ‘enormous progress in Ireland now made’

    

The Government has heralded big demand from hundreds of international investors who lined up to lend to the country in its first auction of sovereign debt since the end of the bailout.

Some €3.75bn in IOUs known as bonds was offered on the global money markets with orders worth €14bn coming in, the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) said.

Michael Noonan, Finance Minister, said the bidding war showed the strength of Ireland’s international reputation.

“The level of demand for today’s sale with some €14bn of orders shows that the Government’s decision to exit the EU-IMF programme without a precautionary credit line has built strong confidence amongst investors,” he said.

“It is particularly noteworthy that the orders of €14bn for today’s sale exceed the €10bn that could have been available under a precautionary programme.”

The 10-year bonds – effectively IOUs from the state which accrue interest over their lifetime – mature in March 2024. They were sold with a yield or interest rate of 3.54% – closer to the borrowing rates of stronger European economies like the UK and Norway and also the US.

The figures show the lack of risk investors see in the Irish economy since the Troika left while the money will also make a big dent in funding requirements for the year.

Mr Noonan said strong investor sentiment had been built up through a series of tentative steps in November and December.

Despite that the Government was under some pressure last month to arrange an overdraft style facility to act as a funding backstop as the €67bn bailout loan programme finished on December 15. Mr Noonan was against the option.

A number of other initiatives have cemented Ireland’s improved reputation among international investors including recouping a premium on the disposal of the State’s investment in Bank of Ireland preference shares, the selection of a preferred bidder for Bord Gais Energy and the successful sale of the majority of a portfolio of former Anglo Irish Bank loans sold by liquidators to the private sector.

The National Treasury Management Agency, which manages Ireland’s sovereign debt and borrowings, said there was interest in the new bonds from more than 400 fund managers, pension funds, insurance companies, banks and other investors, including some from the Middle East and Asia.

It said the size of the final order book and the spread of investor interest across the globe demonstrated the appetite for Irish sovereign debt and the country’s ability to fund its needs in the private debt markets.

NTMA Chief Executive John Corrigan said: “It is clear from the very significant demand we saw today that international and domestic investors recognise the enormous progress Ireland has made.

“Today’s transaction is a real success that cements Ireland’s return to the international debt markets and provides a strong platform for bond auctions in 2014.”

Garda Síochána recruitment drive yields 20,000 applications for just 300 positions

Minister Shatter expects 20,000 people to apply for the 300 positions 

Application process reopened to new entrants last month for first time since 2009

Gardaí marching during their graduation ceremony at Templemore. There are now fewer than 13,100 gardai, almost 1,600 less than the peak levels of 14,600 just after the economy collapsed.

Around 20,000 people have applied for the 300 positions with An Garda Síochána since the force re-opened the application process for new recruits last month.It is the first time people have been able to apply since a recruitment moratorium was introduced in 2009.Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence Alan Shatter said he was “greatly encouraged by the positive response”.

“This is the first recruitment campaign to An Garda Síochána since 2009 and it is recognised by all as being a welcome and important development,” he said.

The closing date for applications, which can be submitted online through publicjobs.ie, is midnight on Thursday.

The first round of new recruits will enter the Garda College in Templemore, Co Tipperary later this year to begin the 32 weeks of training required before they are posted to stations.

There are now fewer than 13,100 gardaí, almost 1,600 less than the peak levels of 14,600 just after the economy collapsed.

Eat yourself to new clean health with more Nutrition

 

Whole, unprocessed foods can increase energy levels and rejuvenate your body,

My interest in healthy food and detoxing started really young — I did my first detox at age 12! I had just read ‘Fit for Life’ by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond and was convinced I had to do a fruit fast. I completely overdosed on fruit and upset my tummy so much that my dad had to collect me from school.

Since then, long before it became mainstream, I have done juice fasts, gall bladder cleanses, liver flushes and pretty much every other ridiculous detox going.

Twenty four years on, after much experimentation and research, I realise that the body is an amazing creation that is fully capable of healing and functioning well if you support it, rather than abuse it. Post Christmas, most of us are feeling rather bloated and sluggish and looking to kickstart the new year on a healthier note.

So if you’re looking for a quick fix on detox, this is not the column. What I can say is that if you follow these recommendations, you will have more energy, better digestion and you’ll probably even sleep better. The human body has highly sophisticated organs of elimination.

Take the liver, for example — it has over 600 functions that we know of, and even with extreme abuse still has the ability to regenerate itself. But that is no excuse to keep on hammering it with alcohol, sugar and fat as we do.

The myopic solution would be to do a ‘liver cleanse’. In reality, it’s mostly ineffective — if you did stimulate phase 2 liver function and started dumping waste into a sluggish digestive system you would make yourself feel really awful.

The real key to start feeling almost instantly better and to benefit your entire body is to support your digestive system. A large proportion of lymph nodes are located around the colon, so the health of your colon directly affects your immune system. Colon and digestive health are also closely linked with brain chemistry and conditions like irritable bowel syndrome and certain cases of depression and anxiety are related. This will come as no surprise as many of us suffer from heartburn, stomach cramps and upset stomachs when we are stressed.

Eating Clean

The latest buzz word among the health-conscious, “eating clean” is a concept that stresses healthy, whole, unprocessed foods. And, although the phrase is relatively new, the principles of this plan are not.

The principles are based on current nutrition science and are similar to recommendations made by public health organisations. This sound approach to eating and living well maximises your energy and optimises your health, making it more than just a “January Diet” — it’s a lifestyle, with built-in flexibility, meaning it can be adapted to fit most routines. This makes the plan more sustainable in the long term.

“Clean Eating” dates back to the natural health food movement of the 1960s, which shunned processed foods for the sake of moral and societal values (rather than health and nutrition issues). This type of diet is called a wholefood diet, in reference to the unprocessed nature of the foods.

This way of eating eventually landed in gyms, gaining momentum among body builders and fitness models. Recently, however, it made the jump into mainstream, rejuvenating and inspiring a new generation of healthy eaters.

The ethos of this way of eating is really common sense, but it does help to have a checklist of the core principles to base your meal choices on.

1 Choose whole, natural foods over processed foods

Processed foods are anything in a box, bag, can, or package, and although there are always a few exceptions to the rule (like a bag of fresh salad leaves) the majority of your foods should be fresh. Cosy up to fresh vibrant veggies, whole-grains, beans, chickpeas, lentils, fish and lean meat. For farm fresh, non-homogenised milk, look for the old-fashioned glass bottles ofAdare Manor milk in supermarkets.

2 Choose unrefined foods

While it may not be possible all the times, you can up your intake of wholegrains like brown rice, millet, amaranth, and quinoa. Beans and legumes are also important. Clean sugars include honey, maple syrup, and date sugar. If you’re avoid-ing wheat, try the gluten-free pasta from Dove’s Farm.

3 Include protein, carbohydrate and fat at every meal

Most of us typically do well with carbohydrates and fat, but we often lack protein, especially in the early part of the day. Protein is an important muscle builder, and it can also help curb your appetite. When eaten throughout the day, it keeps us feeling full longer. Be aware of the kinds of meals you put together and space out your protein. I love using a dollop of nut butter in a breakfast smoothie or on rye bread. For a variety of different nut butters, see http://www.keennutbutter.com.

4 Watch out for fat, salt, and sugar

This is easier than you think, particularly if you’ve cut out processed foods, which are responsible for most of our excess. Clean foods are usually naturally low in fat, salt and sugar. The big offender are trans fats, so read labels and avoid anything that says ‘hydrogenated’ or ‘partially hydrogenated’ fats. I use a lot of cinnamon to add natural sweetness and to naturally balance blood sugar.

5 Eat five to six small meals throughout the day

Eating this way prevents you from skipping meals and overeating. It also keeps your blood sugar levels steady so energy doesn’t lag. If you are struggling with portion control, why not get a diet plate? These are plates with the appropriate foods marked out on the plate like a pie chart (no pun intended). Many pharmacies stock these plates; see

6 Don’t drink your calories

That morning mocha-latte-frappuccino could clock in at a hefty 600 calories! Fizzy drinks are also a complete no no. ‘Diet’ sodas are even worse, with the artificial sweeteners linked to tumours in lab rats and adverse reactions in diabetics.

Choose water first and unsweetened tea or herbal tea. Other clean drinks include low-fat or skim milk and 100pc vegetable juice or fruit juice diluted with sparkling water. For a selection of beautifully blended herbal teas, see http://www.kingfishertea.com.

Wild tigers disappearing slowly to extinction.

It’s Time to Act Now!  

       

Tigers are in trouble. The largest of the world’s cats, a species that’s existed for two million years, is slipping away before our eyes. Few realize that just 3,000 tigers remain in the wild. I just heard unofficial news that 100 tigers were poached in India in 2013.

A century ago, more than 100,000 roamed 30 nations; today, they hang on in 12. Scattered in small pockets across Asia, they’ve disappeared from 93 percent of their former range. Without serious intervention, tigers could be exterminated from the wild within our lifetimes, though others will languish behind bars in captivity.

Like all endangered wildlife, they face many threats. Asia’s exploding human population is leveling habitat and emptying forests of deer and other tiger prey, leaving the big cats little to eat.

As villagers push deep into tiger territory, there’s inevitable conflict. Tigers – especially elderly cats or mothers with cubs – sometimes kill a cow, buffalo or other livestock. When they do, villagers often retaliate.

The cat’s current precipitous decline began in the 1980s with a wave of poaching across their range. At that time, an appetite for animal parts used in traditional medicine skyrocketed in tandem with China’s expanding industrialization – and a growing middle class with money to spend.

For millennia, medicine men have ascribed magical powers and healing properties to tigers. The cats are seen as a universal apothecary. Nearly every part, from nose to tail, is used to treat something: joint, skin and kidney problems, baldness, laziness, fevers, possession by evil demons, flagging libido and headaches.

Today, the most crushing demand is for tiger bone wine, a tonic thought to impart the animal’s great strength, made by soaking a tiger skeleton in rice wine.

Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and other countries also trade in tigers, but their consumption pales in comparison with that of China, where there is also a growing luxury market for tiger skin furniture.

Despite an international treaty that bans tiger trade, there’s a thriving black market. In testimony before the U.S. Congress in 2008, INTERPOL agents detailed how organized crime syndicates mastermind the wildlife trade – the same cartels that run gun, drug, and human trafficking operations.

Wildlife trafficking is a $20 billion a year business, with criminal gangs killing precious wildlife to supply the Chinese medicine market.

Police and customs agents make some arrests and seizures, but few poachers or smugglers see jail time. In India, for example, there is a three percent conviction rate for wildlife crime.

The good news: there is still enough habitat to support healthy tiger populations. Tigers can thrive with just the basics: food, water and a place to live. Add boots-on-the-ground protection – wildlife reserves need patrols for the same reason that cities need police – plus strong laws that prosecute poachers, monitoring, and incentives for communities that live with tigers, and the animals bounce back.

We need to save tigers because of their sheer majesty. But there is also a much broader reason to stop their slide towards extinction. Saving tigers will help us save ourselves.

Preserving huge tracts of forest, wetlands, and jungle for tigers has positive impacts that radiate outward with global implications.

Those forests pull carbon from the atmosphere and slow climate change. They provide buffers against flooding, protecting towns and cities, and preventing erosion of the rich soil needed to grow crops. Forests purify the rivers that run through them, providing drinking water for millions of people.

By saving tigers, we save the entire spectrum of life that shares their realm, preserving ecosystems that have been fine-tuned over millennia.

In the words of renowned field biologist George Schaller, “I learned long ago that conservation has no victories. It’s a never-ending process that each of us must take part in.”

We still have time. Where there’s life, there’s hope. But the time to act is now. Once the last tigers disappear, no longer gliding on velvet paws through the jungle, we cannot bring them back.

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