E-encyclopedia of banking, stock exchange and finance

Selected letter: U

  • U-shaped Recovery

    A type of economic recession and recovery that resembles a "U" shape in charting. Specifically, a U-shaped recovery represents the shape of the chart of certain economic measures, such as employment, GDP and industrial output. A U-shaped recovery involves a gradual decline in these metrics followed by a gradual rise back to its previous peak. Compared to a V-shaped recovery, the U-shaped recovery takes longer to reach levels seen prior to the start of the recession.



  • UBER

    Uber is a smartphone-enabled 'ride-hailing' service alternative to taxi cabs.

    Since its launch in 2012, Uber has become the most recognized alternative to traditional taxi cabs. Uber drivers do not possess special licenses; they use their personal vehicles to offer discounted fare rides. Ride-hailing and payment are all handled through a smartphone app, and you needn't handle cash or even offer tips to your Uber driver.

    Uber drivers cannot pick up street hails, which is the biggest reason Uber is not exactly a taxi provider. Instead, Uber is a kind of car-for-hire service that relies on smartphone tech as its dispatch and fee manager.

    Uber is in 377 major cities around the world. Whether you're traveling to Seattle, Dubai, Tokyo, London, Paris, Montreal, or Chicago, you can expect Uber rides to be available in those cities and other major metro centers.

    Uber is for adults and requires all account holders to be 18 years or older.

    Uber has been banned in the city of London in 2017, and in Europe it is a highly controversial service since it is supposed to violate the inernal rules on local transport services.

  • UBI BANCA

    UBI Banca is the third largest Italian commercial banking group in terms of market cap with a market share above 7%, 1,881 branches in Italy mainly concentrated in the wealthiest areas of the country, and over 21,800 staff. UBI Banca is a banking Group listed on the Milan Stock Exchange and included in the FTSE/MIB index.
    The UBI Banca Group operates through the SDIR-NIS service managed by Blt Market Services, company of the London Stock Exchange Group, for the transmission of the Regulated Information. For the storage of the Regulated Information, the UBI Banca Group operates through the "1Info" authorised storage device, managed by Computershare S.p.A.
    It was created on the 1st of April 2007 from the merger between BPU - Banche Popolari Unite and Banca Lombarda e Piemontese. It is organised on the basis of a poly-functional, federal and integrated model. It is composed of a listed co-operative Parent Bank (UBI Banca) performing centralised functions of governance, control, coordination and support; nine Network Banks (Banca Popolare di Bergamo, Banco di Brescia, Banca Popolare Commercio e Industria, Banca Regionale Europea, Banca Popolare di Ancona, Banco di San Giorgio, Banca Carime, Banca di Valle Camonica, UBI Banca Private Investment), in charge of the relationship with the historical reference territories; an online Bank (IW Bank); and specialist companies operating in different sectors (corporate banking, consumer credit, asset management, factoring (UBI Factor), leasing (UBI Leasing), life and non-life bancassurance (UBI Assicurazioni and UBI Assicurazioni Vita S.p.A.)).


    Fig. 1 - History of the Group UBI Banca (source: UBI Banca official website)

    The Group has an international network made up of foreign banks and branches, representative offices and product companies. For instance, UBI Banca International offers services to corporate customers and High Net Worth individuals in Luxembourg, China and Singapore (such as fiduciary operations and corporate financing, financial and estate planning through engineering solutions, corporate and syndicated loans, international bonds and guarantees issues). As it clearly emerges from fig.2 (data as at 31st December 2011), the Group has a large retail component. However, it also has a traditional presence in the sector of small and medium enterprises and a private banking activity that places the Group among the top players in the Italian market.

    Fig.2 - UBI Group retail component (source: UBI Banca official website)


    The Group’s main figures as at 31st December 2011 show that it is close to 4 million customers served through a divionalised and segmented commercial model, it has 19,405 employees at the end of the period, 102.8 billion euros of direct funding, 99.7 billion euros of loans to customers, 72.1 billion euros of indirect funding, 129.8 billion euros of total assets, 349.4 million euros of net profit for the year before impairments on goodwill and intangible assets, and 1,841.5 million euros of net loss for the year after impairments on goodwill and intangible assets.
    UBI Banca has adopted a new governance model, recently introduced into the Italian legislation and known as the “dualistic” system. The dualistic governance system consists of a Supervisory Board and a Management Board; shareholders appoint the Supervisory Board, which then appoints the Management Board.
    The Supervisory Board performs the duties of strategic policy-making and control of the management of the company. Currently, its chairman is Corrado Faissola.
    The Management Board has exclusive responsibility for the management of the company and for performing all those operations necessary for implementing the business purpose of the company in compliance with the general strategies and plans drawn up by the Supervisory Board. Currently, its chairman is Emilio Zanetti.

    1The acronym stands for ‘Società Consortile per Azioni’, Italian Consortium Joint-Stock Company.

    ASSONEBB 2018



  • UNCOVERED INTEREST PARITY

    The uncovered interest parity (UIP) is a non-arbitrage condition. It postulates that the nominal interest differential between two countries () should be equal to the expected depreciation of the exchange rate ()1. The UIP assumes perfect capital mobility. It states that the returns from borrowing in foreign currency, exchanged against national currency in the forex market and then invested in interest-bearing instruments, while simultaneously purchasing futures contracts to convert the currency back to the original one at the end of the holding period, must be equal to the returns from purchasing and holding the same interest-bearing instruments denominated in national currency. If those returns are different, the non-arbitrage condition is violated and a risk-free return exists.
    In formulas:
    (1)
    where the LHS is the return from purchasing and holding a domestic financial asset and the RHS is the return from purchasing and holding a similar foreign financial asset. Needless to say, if the equality does not hold, it will give rise to an arbitrage opportunity. The equation (1) can be rewritten as follows:
    (1’)
    where . The equation (1’) implies that:
    (2)
    ____________________________________
    1 Here S measures the number of units of national currency needed to buy one unit of the foreign currency.
    Editor: Lorenzo CARBONARI
    © 2009 ASSONEBB

  • UNCTAD

    United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (fr. Conference des Nations Unies sur le Commerce et le Devéloppement CNUCED).

    Permanent intergovernmental body of General Assembly for issues of trade, investment and development. It was established in 1964 with the headquarter in Geneva. Its main objectives are to maximize the opportunities for trade and investment development and to promote their integration into the world economy on a fair and equitable treatment. The Member are 191 countries, more than 108 intergovernmental organizations and 190 Non-Governmental Organizations with observer status. The Conference generally meets every four years at ministerial level, has a permanent Secretariat based in Geneva and a Trade and Development Board (TDB ), which operates as the executive committee and may establish Commissions with special work assignments (Commission on Trade in Goods and Services, and Commodities; Commission on Investment, Technology and Related Financial Issues; Commission on Enterprise, Business Facilitation and Development.).


    Editor: Giovanni AVERSA

  • UNDERLYING ASSET

    An underlying asset is the asset to which a DERIVATIVE contract refer to for its value/price; it can be a financial asset (e.g., SHARE, BOND, Credit), commodity (e.g., oil, soybeans) or a probability (e.g., heartquake, rain, war).

    Assonebb 2018

  • UNDERWRITING

    Investment banking firms may play different roles in the context of new securities issuance. They may perform advisory functions, may be in charge of the distribution of securities, or may act as underwriters. The term underwriting refers to the function of buying new securities directly from the issuer and bearing the risk of selling the securities purchased at a lower price. There are two basic types of underwriting arrangements. An underwriter guarantees the purchase of all the excess stocks at a set offer price. In the U.S.A., such an agreement is called firm commitment agreement. Alternatively, the investment banker may agree to use all its best efforts and its expertise to sell an issue, but make no guarantee to sell the entire issue at the sell price. In U.S.A., this kind of arrangement is referred to as best efforts. The gross spread, also called underwriter discount, represents the fee earned by the underwriters and it is calculated as the difference between the price paid by the underwriter to the issuer and the price offered to the public. The fee should compensate the firm from the risk it faces of selling the securities at a lower price. However, underwritten transactions often entail relevant risks of capital loss. For this reason, investment banking firms generally share these risks by underwriting through syndication; that is to say, the issuer gives a mandate to set up the issue not to a single underwriter, but to a group of counterparties. In order to reach the highest number of investors, the lead underwriter can also form a selling group involving a number of firms that are not included in the syndicate. Alternative techniques to the underwriting via syndicated counterparties are the bought deal for the underwriting of bonds, the auction process and the pre-emptive rights offering.
    Bibliography
    Fabozzi F., Modigliani F., Jones F. (2010), Foundation of Financial Markets and Institutions, Pearson International Edition.
    Editor : Bianca GIANNINI
    © 2010 ASSONEBB

  • UNICREDIT GROUP

    UniCredit is a major international financial institution that operates in 22 European countries approximately with 9,466 branches and more than 159,000 employees. With its strategic position in Western and Eastern Europe the group has one of the region?s highest market shares. ??

    Fig. 1 - UniCredit Group International Presence (source: unicreditgroup.eu)

    As shown in Fig.1, the group has its presence in the following countries: Austria Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey and Ukraine. In Fig.2 the data are shown by country. ??

    Fig. 2 - Data by country (source: unicreditgroup.eu)

    The group?s origins date back to the establishment of Rolo Banca in 1473, when Monte di Pietà, a public institute providing secured loans, was created in Bologna. In 1998, UniCredito italiano was created through the merger of Credito Italiano, Rolo Banca, Cariverona, Cassa di Risparmio di Torino, Cassamarca, Cassa di risparmio di Trento e Rovereto, Cassa di Risparmio di Trieste. The expansion process in Central and Eastern Europe dates back to 1999 with the acquisition of the Polish bank Bank Pekao and continued with the acquisition in 2000 of Bulbank (Bulgaria) and Pol?nobanca - then Unibanka - (Slovakia). In 2000, the group also acquired the US fund manager Pioneer Investment of Boston which was followed by the creation of Pioneer Global Asset Management. Thus, the Global Investment Management Division was established. In 2001, the Group reorganised according to market segments through the “S3 Project”. In 2002, the interest in growing markets was renewed through the acquisition of Zagrebacka Banka (Croatia), Demirbank Romania - then UniCredit Romania - and ivnostensk Banka (Czech Republic). An agreement with Koç (Turkey) was signed as well. During the same year, Pioneer Investments acquired Momentum, one of the world leaders in hedge funds. In 2003, the “S3 Project” was completed and three new national banks specialised by customer segment opened for business (UniCredit Banca, UniCredit Banca d'Impresa, UniCredit Private Banking). After the creation of the New Europe Division and the Global Banking Services Division, the Group acquired Yapi Kredi through Koç (Turkey) and merged with the German HVB Group, which was created in 1998 from the combination of two Bavarian banks (Bayerische Vereinsbank and Bayerische Hypotheken-und Wechsel-Bank), thereby giving rise to a single large European bank. In 2006, the investment banking activities of Bayerische Hypo-und Vereinsbank AG (HVB Corporates & Markets), Bank Austria Creditanstalt (International Markets and CA IB) and UniCredit Banca Mobiliare S.p.A. united into a single global division. Then, in 2007, UniCredit focused on the expansion into Ukraine, and it pushed into Central Asia with acquisitions in Kazakistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. In the same year, UniCredit strengthened its position in the Italian market thanks to the integration with Capitalia Group - formed in 2002 out of a combination of Bancaroma Group and Bibop-Carine Group. Banco di Sicilia, MCC and Fineco became part of the group as well. In 2008, due to the crisis that hit the banking system reputation, the Group decided to redefine its mission, by establishing sustainability and customer-centricity as its core business. In 2010, the “One4C” program provided for the merger of seven Italian subsidiaries within the parent company UniCredit S.p.A., in order to simplify the Group’s corporate structure, to combine the specialisation of businesses with their strong geographical roots, and to strengthen the proximity to territories and local markets.

    Fig. 3 - UniCredit's history (source: unicreditgroup.eu)


    Today, Unicredit Group is divided into several specialised business divisions:
    - The Families & SME, Private Banking and Corporate & Investment Banking Divisions: each one concentrates all marketing activities, services and product development for their respective customer segments. They are also responsible for the managerial coordination of specific and relevant businesses;
    - The CEE Division: it is dedicated to operations in 19 countries in Central and Eastern Europe, a significant growth area for the Group.
    UniCredit combines an international presence with a multi-local approach. To gain a better understanding of the needs of the markets in which it operates, the position of Country Chairman was created. This position has the dual task of maintaining a strategic perspective on business activities at the country level while directly engaging in the management of the main business entities in each country.
    Currently, the Chairman of the Group is Giuseppe Vita, whereas the CEO is Federico Ghizzoni.

    ??Link: www.unicreditgroup.eu


    Editor: Bianca GIANNINI?

  • UNITED NATIONS (UN) (Encyclopedia)

    Abstract

    The UN is an intergovernmental organisation made up of 192 member states, which has international cooperation as its objective in the diverse spheres of economic development, socio-cultural progress, human rights and international security. The organisation is headquartered in New York City, USA. On October 13th, 2006, the South Korean Ban Ki-Moon was elected the 8th secretary general, succeeding the Ghanaian Kofi Annan.

    1. From the League of Nations to the United Nations

    The UN was officially born in 1945, but its origins reach back to the League of Nations which operated on the world scene from 1919 until 1945. The League of Nations was strongly desired by US president Woodrow Wilson and was created through an institutional agreement called a covenant, which was inserted in the Treaty of Versailles and the other peace treaties that were signed at the end of World War I. The objectives of the covenant for the signatory countries were to "promote international cooperation and to guarantee peace and international security" with the obligation not to resort to force, but to "openly maintain relationships based on justice and honour [...]". Initially, the defeated countries (Germany, Austro-Hungary, Turkey and Bulgaria) were excluded, as well as Soviet Russia. Paradoxically, even the United States remained outside the covenant, becasue a majority of its Senate was against ratifying the Treaty of Versailles.
    The League was made up of the same three main organisms of today’s UN: the General Assembly, the Executive Council and the Secretariat. The first two were simple diplomatic conferences, the first a broad general one and the second a more restricted one. They were without any legislative or executive power and had the same jurisdictions. Decisions were taken by unanimous vote. The new aspects introduced by the League of Nations did not have so much to do with the character and the structure of the created organisms, but rather with the universal character of the covenant, the stability of the diplomatic conferences and the periodic nature of the meetings, as well as the preventive acceptance by the member states of certain obligations related both to the constitution and functioning of these organisms, as well as the behaviour of the members with regard to the decisions taken. The make-up of the Assembly and of the Council continued to vary over the years following the evolution of the situation in Europe. The defeated nations were gradually admitted - some of which, however, left again soon afterwards due to various political changes (Germany and Russia). Some states were expelled - among them Italy in 1937, as a condemnation for invading Abyssinia.
    The League of Nations’ effort to organise institutions with the aim of cooperating internationally was nullified by the political events of the years following its formation, which led in 1939 to the outbreak of World War II. The war, however, demonstrated even more profoundly the need for a new, more stable and efficient international structure to guarantee cooperation between the countries. This need was met at the end of the war, on 26 June 1945, during the San Francisco conference in which the victorious countries established with a statute (the so-called "San Francisco Charter") a new international organisation with a universal structure and objectives: the United Nations. Therefore, also the UN, like the League of Nations, was born through the peace accords following a world war, in this case the Yalta agreements, and had as its main promoter the American president Frank Delano Roosevelt. The UN was initially formed around the coalition of victors, and the Security Council, as it was conceived in 1945, mirrored for 40 years the USA-USSR bipolarism which characterised the world political climate until the fall of the Soviet regime and of the Iron Curtain in Europe at the end of the 1980s. In particular, this reality was reflected in the veto rights of the western powers on one side (USA, Great Britain, France, as well as Taiwan representing non-communist China until 1971), and the communist powers on the other (USSR and communist China from 1971 onwards). This right allowed for a platform of exchange between the two blocs, as well as between these two and the group of non-aligned countries, yet no decision could be reached without the consensus of all the permanent members. As opposed to the League of Nations, the UN revealed itself to be a system able to resist despite political and cultural changes over time. From the Cuban crisis of 1962 to the cultural revolution of 1968, the UN was able to avoid the major problem of countries withdrawing, which had heavily hit the League of Nations. The true challenge that the UN has had to face over the course of its existence seems to be a fruit of our times. With the fall of the Soviet regime, the consequent end of global bipolarism and the advent of a new logic based on worldwide competition, the UN finds itself dealing with a new political and economic order which does not correspond much with its structure and institutional organs. For this reason, the debate at the beginning of the 21st century focuses on a necessary and profound change in the UN, which would allow a more real and balanced representation of the new world order, in which every state is a possible protagonist able to put in play its own specific elements of power.

    2. Objectives, principles and structure of the United Nations

    The UN Charter falls under the category of constitutive treaties of international organisations and is made up of the highest level norms of the UN’s legal system. Article 1 of the Charter identifies the principle objectives of the organisation, which can be summarised as follows:
    1. To maintain international peace and security by promoting effective collective measures to prevent and remove threats to peace and to resolve peacefully situations which could lead to its breaking;
    2. To develop friendly relationships between the nations based on the respect of the principle of equality of rights and the self-determination of peoples;
    3. To attain international cooperation in the economic, social, cultural and humanitarian arenas and to promote the respect for human and fundamental rights for all individuals;
    4. To promote disarmament and discipline of arms;
    5. To guarantee the respect for international law and encourage its development and codification.
    With regard to the structure of the UN, there are both similarities and differences with that of the League of Nations. Like the latter, the UN is composed of the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Secretariat, next to which, however, are also present other fundamental organs. All member states are part of the Assembly, with equal voting rights. This organ deals with fundamental issues such as peace announcements, entry, suspension or expulsion of member states and budget problems. Every state has the right to five representatives in the Assembly, but is allowed only one vote. On the other hand, the Security Council is a much smaller organ with greater powers. It is composed of 5 permanent members (China, France, the United Kingdom, the United States and Russia) and ten non-permanent members, elected for a two-year term by the General Assembly. The permanent members have veto rights. In other words, they can block any decision they do not favour and prevent it from being discussed in the Assembly. The presidency of the Council is held on a monthly rotating basis by the non-permanent members in alphabetical order. The Secretariat is a permanent organ presided by the Secretary General, who is nominated by the Assembly upon recommendation of the Security Council and it remains in office for four years. A variety of offices and departments are part of the secretariat and are finalised towards the administrative management of the UN, which operates completely independently of the member states. Article 7 of the UN Charter lists, among other principle organs, also the Economic and Social Council, the International Court of Justice and the Trusteeship Council. In practice, the latter ceased to exist with the end of the trusteeship regimes, while its official closure was agreed on in a summit held in New York in September 2005. 54 members nominated for 3 years make up the Economic and Social Council, which carries out consultative functions and coordinates the economic and social activities of the Organisation and the various associated agencies. The International Court of Justice, headquartered in The Hague, the Netherlands, is the main judicial organ of the UN and has the task of solving the controversies between member states that have accepted its jurisdiction. The Court is made up of 15 judges that do not represent their own countries and cannot hold any other roles of a political or administrative nature.
    Next to the main organs, there are a series of secondary organs in the form of funds or programs instituted for specific ends, which are connected to the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council. Among the most important are: The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR), United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), World Food Programme (WFP), United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
    There also are a series of spcialised agencies established through treaties which are completely separate from the UN Charter and whose members, in principle only, coincide with those of the UN. These agencies operate independently of the UN at a legal level as well as at an organisational and financial level. They cover all sectors of economic and social development and give technical assistance and other forms of practical help to various countries. Among the main ones are: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), International Labour Organization (ILO), World Health Organization (WHO), World Meteorological Organization (WMO), International Maritime Organization (IMO), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Universal Postal Union (UPU), International Telecommunication Union (ITU), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), United Nations Volunteers (UNV).

    3. The UN and Human Rights

    The birth of international human rights law is closely tied to that of the UN. The reasons for this relationship can be found not only in the historical period in which they were formed, but also in the progressive growth of awareness in the political world of the existence of a close relationship between protecting human rights and maintaining peace. To this end, the UN Charter of 1945 states among the objectives of the Organisation, both that of "maintaining peace and international security" and also that of "promoting and encouraging the respect of human rights and fundamental liberties for all without distinction of race, sex, language or religion". Although a close examination of the Charter’s dispositions tends to put more emphasis on the former rather than on the latter as a primary objective of the UN, there is no doubt that the protection of human rights takes on an instrumental role in maintaining peace (Marchesi, 2007). The UN Charter contains a series of norms dedicated to human rights, which assign functions to the organs of the Organisation and impose a series of obligations on the member states. The Human Rights Commission was created as an organ by invoking article 68 of the Charter, which recognises the authority of the Economic and Social Council to establish commissions for the protection of human rights. During the course of a gradual reform of the system for guaranteeing human rights, the Commission was first supported by the UN High Commission for Human Rights, an organ with mostly bureaucratic functions instituted in 1996, which was replaced by the Human Rights Council in 2006. This Council has many similarities with the Commission both from the point of view of its organisation and of its functions, but it is a subsidiary organ of the General Assembly and not of the Economic and Social Council. This upgrading was seen by many as a necessary step to strengthen the actions taken by the UN in protecting human rights. The reference to human rights contained in the Charter’s norms was spelled out in a separate document known as the International Bill of Rights. This contains the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, drawn up by the Commission and approved by the General Assembly on December 10th, 1948. The Declaration can be considered as the act that gave birth to international human rights law and is the "result of a dialectic between the most important political positions and ideological components of the historical period in which it was born" (Marchesi, 2007). Over the years, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has played a key role in bringing the issue of human rights to the attention of the international community, which thus ceased to be an exclusively domestic affair, and it has contributed in a fundamental way to the creation of international as well as national laws on the subject.

    4. The UN and the fight against poverty in the 21st century: the Millennium Development Goals

    Starting in the 1990s, international organisations gradually focused more on adopting appropriate strategies for fighting and eliminating poverty. The continuous exchange that growing globalisation has permitted between different, and often unacceptable, worldwide economic and social realities has contributed without a doubt to awaken the international opinion on multiple aspects of the declining quality of life. The need to find solutions to this problem and to mount a collective effort in this direction, led the UN member states to approve the Millennium Declaration at the Millennium Summit in September 2000; the objectives of which were translated into the Millennium Development Goals. Through these Goals, the international institutions engaged in the fight against poverty by explicitly incorporating human poverty targets into their strategies. The goals are interrelated and refer not only to the strictly economic aspect of poverty (income growth), but also to other components that are fundamental to guaranteeing an acceptable level of quality of life. Each of the eight Millennium Development Goals has an associated series of targets: concrete results that the member states have committed themselves to reaching by the year 2015. In Table 1, the Goals and targets are listed as spelled out in the Millennium Declaration.

    Table 1: The Millennium Development Goals



    Source
    : UN (2003).
    Bibliography
    Casarotto, M. (2006) La riforma delle Nazioni Unite: Europa e Stati Uniti a confronto, Pubblicazioni Centro Studi per la Pace.
    Esposito, C. (2009), Istituzioni Economiche Internazionali e Governance Globale, Giappichelli Ed.
    Marchesi, A. (2007), Diritti Umani e Nazioni Unite. Diritti, Obblighi e Garanzie, Franco Angeli.
    Marchisio, S. (2000), Il Diritto delle Nazioni Unite, Il Mulino.
    Treves, T. (2005), Diritto Internazionale. Problemi fondamentali, Giuffrè Editore.
    Editor: Federica ALFANI
    © 2009 ASSONEBB

  • UNITED NATIONS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME (UNDP)

    The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is a international organisation of the United Nations focused on cooperation and development. Its activities are organised around five areas: democratic governance, poverty reduction, crisis prevention and recovery, environment and energy, HIV/AIDS.
    The UNDP was established in 1966, after the UN General Assembly resolution of 1965, and it is based on the merging of the United Nations Expanded Programme of Technical Assistance, created in 1949, and the United Nations Special Fund, established in 1958. The new Program is supposed to replace these two organisations by combining their purposes and methods; in addition, it is meant to facilitate the process of allocation of funds in developing countries. It operates under the control of the United Nations.
    The UNDP’s headquarter is located in New York. The UNDP has liaison offices in Geneva, Brussels, Copenhagen, Tokyo, and Washington D.C. In most country offices, the UNDP representative serves as the coordinator of development activities for the United Nations system as a whole. Currently, the UNDP has about 7,000 staff members on the ground in 166 countries.
    Editor: Valentina GENTILE
    © 2010 ASSONEBB

  • UNITED NATIONS FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE (UNFCCC)

    The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is an international treaty which entered into force in 1994 and it has been ratified by 195 countries. It meant to limit average global temperature increases and to manage inevitable impacts. The UNFCCC is a Rio convention, one of the three adopted at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. The ultimate aim of the UNFCC consists of stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system, by a sufficient time "to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner" (United Nations, 1992, UNFCCC). The parties of the convention are supposed to support research and systematic observation, promoting access to data and analysis also in developing countries and develop education and public awareness programmes on climate change and its effects. The Kyoto Protocol is a result of the negotiations of the Convention.

    Link:
    http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/convkp/conveng.pdf
    http://unfccc.int/2860.php

    Editor: Marianna RONCHINI

  • URUGUAY ROUND

    The Uruguay Round was the 8th round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations (MTN) conducted within the framework of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), spanning from 1986 to 1994 and embracing 123 countries as "contracting parties". The negotiations and process ended with the signing of the Final Act of the Marrakesh Agreement in April 1994 at Marrakesh, Morocco. The round led to the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO), with GATT remaining as an integral part of the WTO agreements. The Uruguay Round was, without a doubt, the largest trade negotiation ever, and may very well have been the largest negotiation ever. It set out rules and principles to cover all global trade, from banking to consumer products. The subjects for negotiations, the widest of any GATT round, were tariffs, non-tariff measures, tropical products as a priority area, natural resource-based products, textiles and clothing, agriculture, review of GATT articles, safeguards, Tokyo Round agreements ad arrangements, subsidies and countervailing measures, dispute settlement, trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights, trade-related investment measures and the Functioning of the GATT System (FOGS).

    The main achievements of the Uruguay Round included:

    1- A trade-weighted average tariff cut of 38%;

    2- Conclusion of the Agreement on Agriculture which brought agricultural trade for the first time under full GATT disciplines;

    3- Adoption of the General Agreement of trade in Services (GATS);

    4- The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS);

    5- The Agreement on Trade-Related Investment Measures (TRIMS);

    6- The creation of unified and predictable dispute settlement mechanism (Dispute Settlement Body-DSB);

    7- Confirmation f the trade Policy Review Mechanism (TPRM);

    8- The establishment of the WTO, which administers 15 multilateral, and four plurilateral trade agreements;

    The Uruguay Round had extended considerably the realm of world trade rules with agreements on intellectual property and trade in services in ex-change for finally tackling agricultural protectionism on a broader scale and getting rid of the textile and clothing quotas.

    Editor: Giovanni AVERSA

  • US TREASURY SECURITY

    Treasury securities, also called Treasuries, are debt instruments issued by the U.S. Department of Treasury and backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government.
    U.S. Government securities are attractive to investors because they are free of default risk, benefit from state and local tax exemption, and are among the most liquid of financial instruments. Before the development of the European bond market due to the creation of the EMU, the U.S. market was the largest in the word in terms of volume, followed by the Japanese, Italian, German and French markets. In the U.S.A., market participants can rapidly execute large-volume transactions for government debt, and the spread between ask and bid price is low if compared with other sectors of the bond market. These conditions ensure one of the highest degrees of liquidity in the Treasury securities markets worldwide. There are two categories of Treasury securities: coupon securities and discount securities. The first type pays interest every six months, plus principal at maturity. Discount securities pay a contractually fixed amount at maturity (face value or maturity value). The positive spread between the face value and the issue value represents the corresponding returns. The categories of Treasury Securities available are Treasury Bills, Treasury Notes, Treasury Bonds and Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS). Even if the Treasury does not issue zero-coupon bonds, these are purchased by investment and banking firms that are allowed to create their own receipt using the process of coupon stripping. These receipts are generally referred to as Stripped US Treasury Zero Bonds. The auctions for Treasury securities are run by the US Federal Reserve of New York and the Bureau of Public Debt (BPD) in Washington D.C. and they are based on the competitive bidding method. Typically, a high volume of Treasury securities is purchased at auction by "primary dealers" through the submission of competitive bids. However, competitive bidding is limited to 35% of the issue amount for each bidder, to ensure a sufficient level of competition in the secondary market. Non-competitive tenders are also admitted. Generally, non-competitive tenders are submitted by small investors and individuals, because in this way they are guaranteed to receive the full amount of the security bid and not to pay any commission fees to a dealer. However, non-competitive bidders must accept the discount rate determined at auction and cannot purchase more than a face amount of $5 million. The highest bids on a yield basis are allocated their requests in full followed by the remaining bids until the fixed amount of bonds is completely allocated. The highest bids are offered at the lowest price, known as the stop yield. If an investor submits a bid that is higher in yield than the stop yield, it is said to be "shut out" because he/she does not obtain any of the new issue, while the winners are awarded at the highest yield accepted (no winner’s curse). Since November 1998 this method, generally referred to as single price-auction or "Dutch auction", has substituted the multiple price-auction for all auctions run by the U.S. Treasury. The auction frequency and the maturity of issues are decided by the U.S Department of Treasury. Until the 1970s, Treasury auctions regarded exclusively the sale of the shortest-term government security, Treasury bills. Eventually, the auction process gradually encompassed notes and bonds. Currently, there are Treasury bills auctions in three-month and six-month maturities, and Treasury notes auction notes in two-year, five-year and ten-year maturities.
    The auction officially starts with the diffusion of the Treasury public announcement by most major newspapers, the financial press, and television stations. Once an auction is announced, the bidding begins. Bids are kept sealed until the auction date and may be submitted through a broker, dealer, or other financial institution, or electronically with an established account through the Treasury Automated Auction Processing System (TAAPS) and through Treasury Direct (http://www.treasurydirect.gov/tdhome.htm.) or Legacy Treasury Direct. Finally, the auction is closed and the results (stop yield, price, quantity of security awarded and allocated to non-competitive tenders, median yield bid and the bid-to-cover ratio) are communicated by the Treasury and the issuance of the new securities begins. The secondary market for treasuries is an over- the- counter (OTC) market where primary dealers conclude transactions with the general investing public and other institutions. In general, for Treasuries, settlements occur on the business day after the transaction day ("next day" settlement). Treasuries can be also traded in the secondary market prior to the Treasury issue date (wi-market). In general, dealer firms make use of repurchase agreements (repo) to finance their inventories or to cover their short positions. Repo market is usually preferred to bank financing because it allows cost savings.
    Link:
    http://www.frbsf.org/federalreserve/system/treasury.html
    Bibliography
    Fabozzi F., Modigliani F., Jones F. (2010), Foundation of Financial Markets and Institutions, Pearson International Edition.

    Editor: Bianca GIANNINI
    © 2010 ASSONEBB

Selected letter: U English version

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