Saturday, February 28, 2009

Recent Investment History and Current Collapse

On March 31, 2000 NYCERS had assets worth $44B.

Then the dot.com bubble burst.

By March 31, 2003 NYCERS had lost $16B and had assets only worth $28B.

Then the real estate bubble started to inflate.

On September 30, 2007 NYCERS had assets worth $43B. It was almost back to the level of 2000 not counting inflation for 7-1/2 years and the fact that annual benefits had grown from $2B to $3B.

Then the real estate bubble burst.

On December 31, 2008 NYCERS had assets worth only $30B, a $13B loss in 15 months.

The $30B is even worse than it appears. In 2000 NYCERS had invested only $7M in illiquid alternative investments. As of December 31, 2008 NYCERS had increased that investment to $3.1B. NYCERS, however, does not have a market estimate of what that $3.1B is worth.

The end result is that NYCERS is only sure about $27B of its assets.

Unfortunately the S&P 500 Index has dropped 168 points in the first two months of 2009. NYCERS has most likely lost another $2.5B in that period. The market shows no signs of recovery and in fact will most likely lose more value before a recovery starts.

The recent losses have seriously upset NYCERS aggressive asset allocation strategy which is heavily weighted towards equity (70%), both domestic and foreign. NYCERS will need to perform a very careful review of its liability requirements and its associated asset allocation policy.

Strangely, in September, 2008 NYCERS decided to start a 3% allocation to a hedge fund strategy. NYCERS has yet to report any returns from this strategy.

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