Seattle University Should Consider Pension Board Decision Against Divestment

Last week, the Seattle University Board voted to divest from fossil fuel holdings from the university’s $230 million endowment. Presently, the endowment holds $13.6 million – or 6.7% – stock in fossil fuel companies. The University Board and students would be wise to consider the thoughtful judgement of the Seattle Pension Board last year before deciding to divest from these holdings.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray sent a letter to the Seattle Employee’s Retirement System board of administration calling for … Read More

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National Pension Crisis Totals the German Economy

Pensions were an exchange for lower base salaries for public employees.  Now, that once promise is now not a guarantee.  Sarah Krouse reported in a Wall Street Journal article that the pension shortfall is the size of Germany’s economy.  This unknown national financial crisis is crippling all hope pensioners once had in a comfortable retirement.

The true state of pension shortcomings are jarring.  Kentucky’s pension plan covering the state employees is underfunded by 86%.  The city of Chicago, amid … Read More

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Annual Reporting is a Gateway to Divestment

Activists remain focused on politicizing pension funds and jeopardizing the financial future of public servants. By many accounts, these efforts have failed to convince pension funds, university endowments, and other entities from divesting holdings from companies the activists do not agree with.

Across the nation, we have seen a trend towards substituting outright divestment for non-binding annual reports to pension managers, legislators, or other interested parties. A recent example of a bill repurposed from annual reporting is the California Senate Read More

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Engagement – The Better Path Forward for CalSTRS

Some rallied activists and environmentalists turned up the heat this year on divestment efforts across the nation targeting pension funds, endowments, and institutions that have fossil fuel holdings as part of a broader, diverse stock portfolio.

The California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) quickly became a top-target for divestment supporters. CalSTRS released a short video explaining its reasoning not divesting and its mission to engage with companies.

CalSTRS rightfully notes, “Divestment undermines our long-term strategy and increases risk.” If pension … Read More

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Misguided Social Investing Costs Retirees

Andy Kessler’s piece in The Wall Street Journal titled “Stocks Weren’t Made for Social Climbing” accurately described the misguided approach to social investing. He writes, “Profits are the best measure of a business’s value to consumers.” According to a study released earlier this month, pensioners and retirees feel the same. Surveyed pension holders overwhelmingly weighed strong, steady returns as the most important issue in contrast to those who find social causes to be the top priority.

Kessler is accurate … Read More

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Growing ‘Tensions with Pensions’

Last week, Spectrem Group released a study titled “Tensions with Pensions,” that surveyed 3,265 pensioners on a host of issues related to pension funding, holdings, and performance satisfaction. The findings of the survey should serve as a warning for elected officials hoping to politicize pensions, especially as many are up for reelection at the end of the year.

While many are aware, pension underfunding is a growing problem across the country. However, the retirees in the survey overwhelming believed their … Read More

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Illinois Must Get Serious About Its Pension Problem

A Fitch Ratings report released in December illuminated the growing pension burden facing Prairie state pensioners. Illinois’s net pension liabilities totaled $151.5 billion at the end of the 2016 year. This cost is increasing year-over-year and elected officials continue allowing the burden to grow rather than deal with the problem.

If it was not noticeable before, the Fitch Rating report shows Illinois cannot afford to ignore the problem any longer. The total liabilities equate to 22.8% of residents’ personal income. … Read More

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Former State Treasurer Burnham is correct – pensions should avoid politics

The former Connecticut state treasurer, Christopher Burnham, wrote an opinion piece in The Hill on Sunday titled “Pensions should avoid politics and invest for the benefit of our workers.” Burnham described his views on the growing activist calls to divestment pension funds from certain industries. During his tenure as Connecticut’s state treasurer, Burnham was the sole fiduciary of the then $16 billion pension system. Later, Burnham served as the general of the United Nations as the sole fiduciary … Read More

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Kentucky’s Growing Pension Pain

There is a growing gap between pension obligations and outstanding liabilities. This is a concern for retired public servants relying on a comfortable pension fund to sustain their future. Inaction on part of lawmakers to close the gap is unacceptable. Kentucky is an example of a state with a mismanaged pension crisis. The annual report revealed that the five pension plans that make up the Kentucky Retirement System increased from $21.17 to $26.75 billion in the last fiscal year. The … Read More

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California’s Expensive Pension Problem

It’s no secret that California has a serious pension problem that is weighing on the state’s budget with its massive unfunded liabilities growing by the day. The Association of California Cities – Orange County (ACC-OC) recently published a study on the current state of California pensions and the results are far from golden.

The group found that for the third year in a row, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) failed to produce the revenues to meet its current … Read More

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