OECD: gov’ts must cut deficits, boost regulation

Rich countries must strengthen financial market regulation and bring down their oversized government deficits, two of the biggest new challenges to have arisen from the global economic crisis, the OECD said Wednesday.

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In a 30-nation report, the chief economist of the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said restoring public finances to health will be a “daunting task” for most OECD governments.

There was no specific mention of Greece’s fiscal crisis in the report entitled “Going for Growth”, an annual overview of economic reforms, but the OECD recommended cutting social spending as a general tool to reduce government debt.

Its policy prescriptions for Greece included reducing incentives for early retirement, privatization, and easing employment protection — measures that could be difficult to swallow for a public already balking at painful spending cuts. [Read the full article]

A former top investment officer for New York’s state pension fund admitted Wednesday that he helped channel hundreds of millions of dollars in public retirement money to investment firms that paid kickbacks to other officials to get the business.

David Loglisci pleaded guilty Wednesday to a securities fraud charge, becoming the highest-ranking member of former state Comptroller Alan Hevesi’s administration to admit a role in the “pay-to-play” scheme.

“Investment decisions were made in part according to political benefit for the comptroller, rather than exclusively in the best interests of the people,” Loglisci, 38, said in a statement read in court. “The political motivations for investment selection were chronic and institutionalized throughout the office, creating a culture of corruption at the highest levels.”

It’s unclear exactly how high those levels may go. [Read the full article]

Gov. Chet Culver on Wednesday signed into law a sweeping restructuring of state government designed to squeeze $127 million in spending from next year’s budget and help close an expected shortfall.

When coupled with an early retirement incentive program for state workers that has been approved and cuts the governor made that didn’t require legislative approval, $270 million has been trimmed from the $5.3 billion fiscal year budget that begins July 1, Culver said.

“As a candidate for governor in 2006, I promised the voters of Iowa that if elected I would save $250 million in taxpayer money through efficiencies and reform efforts,” he said. “Today we are delivering on that promise.”

The measure Culver signed was the result of more than a year of study and came as an economic slowdown has caused tax revenue to plummet.

The package merges some smaller state agencies, streamlines larger ones and eliminates 13 boards and commissions that rarely met. [Read the full article]

If you don’t want to open your 401(k) statement, you’re not alone. But not paying attention to your retirement plan now will come back to haunt you later. Take these three steps to build a solid plan to ensure security in retirement.Ch. 1: Get your plan togetherNew trends in retirement plans3 steps to building retirement savingsBuy and hold vs. active managementThe art of naming IRA beneficiariesWhat to know about target-date fundsChapter1234ALL1. Determine your contribution amountLinda Gadkowski, a fee-only Certified Financial Planner with Beacon Financial Planning in Cape Cod, Mass., says the amount you need to contribute to your 401(k) or 403(b) plan depends on your age.

“If you’re in your 20s, it’s 10 percent (of income); if you’re in your 30s, 15 percent. If you’re 40-plus, 20 percent,” she says. Workers in their 40s who haven’t saved before should save the maximum, which is now $16,500 per year. For workers 50 and older, the limit is $22,000. [Read the full article]

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