For the last year, there have been calls for retirement and pension reform out of the Editorial Board from the Contra Costa Times, the Tea Party and other folks who are calling for reform on CalPERS. Unfortunately, these folks are not looking at the big picture and giving you just a slice of the information. When you look at the big picture, there has been a 21 percent rate of return in the last few years resulting in a annualized 7.7 return over 20 years.
I wanted to provide you with information provided right out of the CalPERS October newsletter.
While I’ve been accused of taking sides, I take sides based on information. Read it for yourself and decide. It’s easy to write an opinion when part of the story is left out. Below is taken directly out of the CalPERS newsletter which is pretty telling, those opposing it are very short sighted and are worrying about the last few years. You never want to make decision or adjustment to the rules while looking at just a snap shot (in this case, a few years) as opposed to the big picture which is over a long period of time. Look at the twenty year return!
It’s time people give credit to the experts who do this for a living 24/7 instead of drive by reporting or naysayers posting on blogs with fake names. Over a period of time, these folks have done a good job! Just give it some time and stop paying attention to the rhetoric, look at the long term figures!
Facts are funny things and should not be ignored as we should not ignore the facts in order to make up the rules as we go because of a bad year or so. Stay the course, as the economy improves, the investments will pay off.
Via the Newsletter:
CalPERS Investments Update
While last year’s investment results fell short of our expected long-term annual average return of 7.5 percent, our 20-year average annual return is a solid 7.7 percent. For pension funds, it is long-term investment performance that matters, not one or two years of results, which can be well above or below our projected long-term average.
For example, we earned a 21.7 percent return a year earlier.
“The last 12 months were a challenging period for all investors as the ongoing European debt crisis and slowing global economic growth increased market volatility and reduced equity returns,” said CalPERS Chief Investment Officer Joe Dear.
Following the financial crisis and Great Recession, CalPERS restructured pension fund investments to reduce asset value volatility and increase liquidity. CalPERS real estate investments were a particular bright spot last year, returning 15.9 percent, which exceeded our
benchmark by more than 3 percent.
The CalPERS pension fund is currently valued at approximately $240 billion. The fund value has risen by about $75 billion since the recession low point of $160 billion in March 2009.
Investing for the Long Term
We predicted a low return in a volatile market.
CalPERS is a long-term investor. As a long-term investor, we fully expect a range of possible returns every year. Occasionally returns will be negative, and occasionally returns will be wildly high, such as last year’s 21.7 percent gain. This year, based on poor market conditions, we expected returns of around 1 percent, and that’s what we earned; just shy of our 1.7 percent benchmark goal.
Historically, CalPERS has regularly outperformed our long-term 7.5 percent goal over a 20-year average. If you look at our 30-year average, we exceed 9 percent.
We posted gains not just in excess, but in significant excess, of 7.5 percent 13 times in the past 19 years.
One year of performance should not be interpreted as a signal about our ability to achieve our investment goals. We are long-term investors, and we use investment strategy to reach our long-term goals. The key to having a strategy is working with it. The worst mistake is to abandon the strategy as soon as it appears to have some trouble.
Our strategy is working. We’ve made up millions of dollars in losses that occurred when the market bottomed out in 2008-09. This year, our real estate portfolio managers have turned losses into gains.
We will look at managers who underperformed, and we will adjust our approach to cope with continued volatility in the markets.
How does our one-year return impact employer and employee contributions? This year’s 1 percent return will be reflected in employers’ contribution rates two years from now. Just as when we have large gains, losses are also spread over 30 years to ensure employer rates remain as stable and predictable as possible. Any increases due to this year’s returns will be very small. Changes in employee contribution rates are undertaken in collective bargaining and are not adjusted based on high or low investment returns in any given year.
Here is the PDF: Calpers Newsletter