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Commentary The case for asset transfers in Chicago and beyond

It's a common practice in the private sector that entails depositing an income producing asset owned by the government into a pension fund. An asset transfer does not require going into debt — as Chicago is currently contemplating — and for a local government like Chicago it would use an existing publicly owned asset that was previously valued at carrying cost.

The transfer enables the asset to be accounted using its higher market value to boost funding ratios. Admittedly valuing public assets is not easy in that there isn't a ready market for public assets. That said there have been numerous privatizations of public assets and public private partnerships across the country to arrive at a reasonable value — notwithstanding parking meters.

An additional benefit is that the asset remains in the public domain, which is not always the case with privatizations. Another positive is that public assets are often essential purpose monopolies such as water and electric systems. This provides stable asset values and predictable income streams for pensions as opposed to the vagaries of the market.

Standard Chartered granted custody license in China

Standard Chartered Bank (China) has become the first foreign bank to be granted a domestic fund custody license by the China Securities Regulatory Commission.

With this license, Standard Chartered China will be able to directly participate in and provide custody-related services to investment products offered by domestic funds and asset managers in China.

With the continued expansion of China’s economy and its corresponding growth in personal wealth, there is a growing demand for more sophisticated investment products and professional services, according to Standard Chartered.

The news comes after Standard Chartered completed a pension plan reform and introduced unified asset management industry guidelines. It is also expected to introduce bond futures and other derivatives products in the future.

China is the third largest equity and bond market in the world, with the total market size close to $20 trillion.

Bill Winters, group chief executive of Standard Chartered, commented:

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