Milking the CalPERS Cash Cow?

Leo Kolivakis's picture

Submitted by Leo Kolivakis, publisher of Pension Pulse.

go-betweens got $125-million-plus from investment firms for arranging CalPERS deals:

from Los Angeles and Sacramento - Private investment funds paid more
than $125 million to scores of intermediaries who helped them win
business with the California Public Employees' Retirement System, new
documents show, prompting calls for stronger oversight of those who
solicit public pension money.

intermediaries, or placement agents, include three former CalPERS board
members -- one of them William D. Crist, a longtime board president --
who lobbied the pension fund on behalf of an investment firm seeking a
share of CalPERS' $205 billion in assets.

Pension experts
say the disclosures are troubling, as lobbying by former board members
could put pressure on CalPERS to put money with investment firms that
charge excessive fees or that don't offer the best returns.

fact that people are being lobbied by people who have relations with
current board members, even though they are former board members, is
totally inappropriate," said Dave Elder, a former assemblyman from Long
Beach who monitors CalPERS for public employee unions.

made the disclosures Thursday in response to a state Public Records Act
request from The Times and other news organizations. The fund, which
manages retirement benefits for 1.6 million state and local government
employees, retirees and their families, has also hired Washington law
firm Steptoe & Johnson to investigate the use of placement agents.

are serious issues, and CalPERS is committed to reviewing them fully
and fairly," said Philip Khinda, an attorney with Steptoe &
Johnson. "Among other things, we're investigating whether the system
was made to overpay or was misled."

CalPERS has invested in
private funds represented by placement agents for more than 15 years,
but the documents provided new details about the practice. Among the

* Former CalPERS board members Matt Fong and Crist
were identified for the first time as pitchmen for investment funds.
Fong served on the CalPERS board in his role as state Treasurer. Crist
-- a retired economics professor at Cal State Stanislaus in Turlock --
was elected to the CalPERS board by state employees.

* Another
placement agent named in the documents was Nicholas Smith, who served
as an alternate to former State Controller Steve Westly on the CalPERS
board. Smith, identified as an executive with Gold Bridge Capital,
attended board meetings when Westly was unavailable to, according to
state pension fund officials. He did not return calls for comment.

The list of placement agents ranged from small independent firms to
some of the biggest names on Wall Street, including Credit Suisse, UBS
and Lazard.

* The No. 1 placement agent was Stateline,
Nev.-based Arvco, led by Alfred J.R. Villalobos, another former CalPERS
board member who was identified as a placement agent by CalPERS last
year. Villalobos was paid $58.9 million for his work on behalf of
private equity funds Apollo Group, Ares Capital and other firms, the
records show.

CalPERS started reviewing payments to placement
agents last year after a New York state pension fund scandal that
included bribery allegations against some agents. With the release of
the new documents, CalPERS Chief Executive Anne Stausboll called for

"Gathering information is not enough," Stausboll said.
"We remain firmly committed to pursuing a full and fair examination
that the special review will provide, and to backing legislation that
would remove contingent fee arrangements and require placement agents
to comply with the same rules as lobbyists."

Assemblyman Edward
Hernandez (D-West Covina), who last year wrote legislation that put new
restrictions on pension board members who work with private investment
firms, said he would push for "tough legislation to end the shadowy
involvement of placement agents and remove the greed factor from public
pension fund investments."

The disclosures of payments over the
last decade also heightened concerns about whether there is a revolving
door at CalPERS, allowing former board members to trade their
connections for big paydays.

Under California law, former
CalPERS board members and staff are allowed to lobby their former
employer two years after leaving the pension agency (the limit was
previously one year), but some critics say the practice raises ethical
concerns and has the potential for abuse.

"It really
demonstrates the politicization of the investment decision-making
process. It really is a way of greasing the palm of a well-connected
insider," said Ted Siedle, a former Securities and Exchange Commission
attorney who now works as a private pension consultant. "They're
providing access, pure and simple, and there's no reason for it."

was on the CalPERS board from 1987 to 2003, serving as president for 11
of those years. Since leaving the board, he has earned more than
$800,000 in fees from London investment firm Governance for Owners, in
which CalPERS has about $200 million invested, records show.

declined to comment on Crist's relationship with the London firm, where
he is a partner and current board chairman. But both the firm's CEO and
the former CalPERS board president asserted that he was more than a
mere go-between.

"I never did think of myself" as a placement
agent, Crist said. "I hate the appearance of that. I don't think I was
particularly central to the CalPERS investing."

Fong, who served
on the board from 1994 to 1998, worked for placement-agent firm
Wetherly Capital when it represented Shamrock Holdings. Wetherly
received nearly $6 million for pitching Shamrock and other investment
funds to CalPERS, the records showed.

Wetherly was one of
several firms that came under scrutiny last year from New York Atty.
Gen. Andrew Cuomo, who has secured several guilty pleas in a kickback
scandal in that state's retirement system.

Fong could not be
reached for comment Thursday. In an interview earlier this week, he
confirmed that he'd pitched investments at CalPERS.

"I have set
up meetings for people to go see CalPERS," he said. "I've actually
guided people, not just at CalPERS but at other funds in other states."

Being a placement agent, he said, "is like anything else; you can abuse it or handle it appropriately."

Weinstein, a Wetherly principal, said he hired Fong because of his
experience with public pension funds. "From his years as a state
treasurer and being a trustee, he understands the whole notion of
corporate governance -- the idea that large institutional investors
wanted to be activist investors," he said.

Another placement
agent identified in the new disclosures was Julio Ramirez, who
represented firms including Blackstone Capital Partners and GSO Capital
Partners. Ramirez, a resident of San Marino, pleaded guilty in May to
criminal securities charges in connection with the New York kickback

The use of placement agents is also being probed
independently by the SEC as well as by the attorneys general of
California and New York state.

I can tell you from
first-hand experience that the overwhelming majority of placement
agents are financial parasites who serve no purpose whatsoever. I often
asked myself why hedge funds and private equity funds use these
placement agents, but in the U.S. it's all about politics and who you

It's high time regulators ban these placement agents. If not, set a
five year rule for board of directors and senior pension fund managers,
not allowing them to join any fund they invested with, or any placement
agent they used to help them invest with, for a minimum period of five
years. Lobbying rules should be equally if not more stringent.

If authorities in charge of oversight want to properly align interests
of pension fund managers and board of directors with their
stakeholders' interests, they need to stamp out all abuses, including the
potential conflicts of interests that can arise between placement agents,
pension fund consultants, private funds and the people in power at these large public pension plans.

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Anonymous's picture

Coughlin Stoia filed the suit for Calpers in July 2006. A month later, Coughlin Stoia and its attorneys contributed $107,000 to the gubernatorial campaign of Phil Angelides, who as California's then-treasurer was a member of Calpers's board.

Asked whether the donations were related to the hiring of the law firm, a spokeswoman for Mr. Angelides declined to say, but said that Mr. Angelides "was one of a number of members of the Calpers board and he had tens of thousands of donations during the eight years he was treasurer." He now leads a national board investigating the causes of the financial crisis.

Coughlin Stoia's spokesman—who previously worked for Mr. Angelides—said some of the firm's lawyers "actively support causes they believe in," including candidates.

Calpers said that its general counsel, not the board on which Mr. Angelides sat, picks outside litigators, adding that Coughlin Stoia was chosen based on its experience and resources.

The UnitedHealth suit was settled in August for $925 million. Calpers's share of that came to $3.2 million. The legal fee was $65 million. Most of it went to Coughlin Stoia.

Democatic's picture

Leo,  After reading your 2010 outlook, I must say that I do not see the employment upturn you speak of.  I am in the manufacturing sector.  We have seen some restoration of inventory levels but have not seen enough corresponding demand to consume it.  My company has started the new year with another round of layoffs to respond to current cash pressures.  I am seeing the same cash issues in all my supply base.  I also don't think that the states have come close to the cuts they will eventually need to make. 

I think we will continue to have negative employment numbers into the 2nd quarter.

82L8's picture

"...but in the U.S. it's all about politics and who you know." Yes, sadly this statement probably applies across the globe.  In other places, if you do not know the right people you may end up 6 ft under.

I am just a financial spectator here but shouldn't CalPERS be able to run all of its own funds, manage all of its own assets? Why do they need any consultants or external fund managers for any portion of their business? CalPERS has thousands of employees on staff that could perform these functions.

Check this out: CalPERS runs all of the funds of its California Employers' Retiree Benefit Trust (CERBT) Fund ($1.16 billion fund) internally.

(CalPERS main fund pool=$207 billion as of 1-13-2010)



Anonymous's picture

"...but in the U.S. it's all about politics and who you know." Isn't this true worldwide?

dumpster's picture

 Leo Kolivakis


if a person had a clue .. even 1/2 a clue .. they should change their name to clueless lol


so where were the pension funds off that 300 percent run.. following the empty clues ...


of course pension run by the sharks will not buy gold .. until the last of the 4000 gold is gone .. thus showing the insidious insider take off the kick backs from the corrupt statuis quo. 


pensions will feel the heat of the governments bankruptcys , the underfunded promises.. and guys like leo have not a clue about austrian economics . and run for the cover of a knock the tail off a blind donkey.

Frumundacheeze's picture

As an employee of a city government in cali and a contributer to the calpers retirement fund for some time, I'm deeply concerned about these revelations. Is anyone here aware of any pending legal actions (e.g. class actions) that is active or in preparation?

Should city governments be preparing themselves for legal actions against CalPers?

Anonymous's picture

I am a public employee working for a city government. I've been a participant with CalPers for some time now and am deeply concerned over what may happen to mine, and others retirement funds should this issue cause major problems.

Is anyone here aware of any legal proceedings coming together (e.g., class actions) that we should get involved in?

Anonymous's picture

I am a public employee working for a city government. I've been a participant with CalPers for some time now and am deeply concerned over what may happen to mine, and others retirement funds should this issue cause major problems.

Is anyone here aware of any legal proceedings coming together (e.g., class actions) that we should get involved in?

Anonymous's picture

I am a public employee working for a city government. I've been a participant with CalPers for some time now and am deeply concerned over what may happen to mine, and others retirement funds should this issue cause major problems.

Is anyone here aware of any legal proceedings coming together (e.g., class actions) that we should get involved in? Write back at deccles02(at)hotmail(dot)com.

MarketTruth's picture


Many members of the House and Senate benefit GREATLY from the ongoing wars via their investments in various companies that 'win' no bid/competition government contracts. It is hard for me to believe Americans are so stupid to actually believe they have a government that is not filled with corruption and dishonesty. Stupid sheeple.

PS: Just wait until Americans learn how many members of their financial sector and government have Israel passports and who these 'Americans' really work for.


Leo Kolivakis's picture

Americans aren't stupid and they will vote their discontent. Politicians all over the world are going to learn the hard way that you can't keep lying to the masses without severe repercussions.

Problem Is's picture

"Americans aren't stupid and they will vote their discontent."

Leo, allow me to retort on that one:

Americans are currently the most propagandized nation on planet earth. Corporate media whores and the ruling elite drum beat of the Myth Narrative have completely warped the American public's ability to analyze and reach RATIONAL conclusions.

Look at American politics. Seriously, look at these idiots, from tea baggers to Obama messiah worshipers, Democrat and Republican alike. One party of corporate owned bitches putting on a left/right show for the public. There is no choice or alternative when massive corporate money is required for any federal office. You get the same patsy with one of two letters after their name.

Yes, Americans know they are being sodomized... but they have not a clue as to where the penis currently inserted in their rectum is coming from... and watch the 2010 elections for proof.

"Party A screwed me, so I will vote for party B."
"Party B screwed me, so I will vote for party A."
"Party A screwed me, so I will vote for party B."

And so on to debt peonage and poverty of the vaunted US middle class... They will make fine 3rd world wage slaves...

moneymutt's picture

I find it strange that just when supplying and making most everyday things gets more efficient with less wasted steps and less middle men, the financial industry seems to get MORE parasites, worthless middle-men by the minute.

There is a middle man making money off my employers 401k account, like its so hard to set up a series of index funds as choices for that and provide a website for managing it. Sure there is some value and cost to these things, but people are getting rich off simple, salesy type jobs that should, at the most be providing an average professional salary. Manufacturing and IT workers get squeezed global wage competition, but why not these guys. Small retail establishments get squeezed out by WalMart, but not financial retailers. Even while the paper work and accounting to process a mortgage has been greatly streamlined, mortgages had tons of middle men parasites being over-compensated for selling them, slicing and dicing them, etc Wall Street made huge change being middle-man in all types of securitizations.

If worthless, over-compensated middle-men are making huge money off consumers and investors, there can be only way: lack of competition/perverse incentives. Usually, this means insider corruption and inside deals, ala CalPers, that make an inside circle of friends rich but screw investors.

Where there is free and fair competition, such parasitical middle men get squeezed out. Wherever they thrive, you know is due to lack of competition, and its brother, corruption.


dumpster's picture

the pension fund light weights


 The chart below demonstrates the painfully pathetic returns by Pension Funds investments since 2001 (Total Performance shown as of Jan 15, 2010) - the chart also shows the exhilarating performance of gold during the period:

US T-Bonds...............+12%
DOW (equities).......... (0%)
Housing Index..........(-24%)
US Dollar..............(-29%)



Leo Kolivakis's picture

If you see pension funds buying gold bullion, get out of gold!

dumpster's picture

leo whats the big gains in unemployment ,


the gov will hire 1.2 to strip search the census

you mean from -22% to -18%

Leo Kolivakis's picture

Read my Outlook 2010 very carefully. I explain my thoughts on why I am optimistic on jobs going forward. It doesn't mean we're headed right back up to pre-crisis levels; it simply means the worst is behind us and we are going to create jobs in the first half of the year.

dumpster's picture

more on gold


pension need to add some those that think like leo will be sucking wind in my humble opinion


 Side musing: Mr. McEwen with US GoldCorp joins Martin Armstrong in calling for $5,000 gold between 2012-2015Side musing:


dumpster's picture

Leo Kolivakis


put your dough where your mouth is ,, sinclair calls for 1600 gold by jan 2011.. he has a 1 million bucks says your dead wrong .

Lets see how committed you are to gold will wither ,


Bill Child






Leo Kolivakis's picture


Gold has become somewhat of a religious cause among the investment community. Elite hedge fund managers are on opposite sides of the trade here. I am simply stating that given my Outlook 2010, I do not see gold rallying this year. That's my call. It doesn't mean I am going to be right, it just means that in my macro forecast, where I see fundamentals improving with low inflation, gold will whither this year.

dumpster's picture


a religious cause ,,,sort of like the banks, the 8 trillion tarp.. the 6 trillion new fund for freddie fanny.


the religious guys are in the main stream .. shouting mantras , and exposing themselves to the gods of greed. 


why would you say that gold is the new religion it has its foundatrion in the constitution,, and a republic,,


the trouble with the 40s crowd is that they have no sense of history.. no understanding of what real savings is.. credit cards beer and boozo's at the lap dance of the alter of ignorance . .


you sill have jumped over the withering gold .. make the stand .. tske the million dollar bet.. show the world your commintment to your words .. surly a person iof your standing.. would for the game .. take sinclair on.. he has only been right on since gold 250.. and where were you..


gold 1600 jan 2011...


cheers  ..

Hustler Elite's picture

Thank you for the post Mr. Kolivakis, i would agree with your view of implementing a law such as your five year ban proposal to stop insiders with conflicts of interest from abusing their positions.


On the other hand, some financial intermediaries provide a tremendously useful service by helping large public funds and other investors reach their financial objectives in a simple and efficient manner. Notice the word some, as i, like you know that some are parasites and some are financial professionals who provide more of a consulting service than outright pitching potential private fund investors.


* Disclosure: I am a principal in a finance group who among other services provides financial intermediary services for a wide range of clients.

Leo Kolivakis's picture

I have met very few placement agents that did offer sound advice. My thinking is that instead of getting a cut of the funds invested in the hedge funds of private equity funds, they should transform into fully independent (employee owned) pension consultants. This way you scrap any potential conflicts of interest. If their primary clients are private funds, not the pension plans, then they are not aligning their interests properly. The entire business model of thes eintermediaries is fraught with conflicts of interest, which is why I think regulators should just ban them.

Anonymous's picture

Gee, since when is this news. If you live in California, you know Calpers is a RICO. But pensioners are scum, so who cares if they have nothing to live on?

By the way, isn't Leo the same idiot who made that slaphappy prediction about jobs last month. This idiot has no credibility.

Leo Kolivakis's picture

Yup, that's me, the "idiot" who has called this stock market rally since last year and is now calling for it to continue in 2010 along with a rally in oil and the greenback (gold will wither). You will see big gains in employment in Q1 2010. That's my call and unlike other cowards on this site, who take anonymous swipes me, I lay it all out there. So the next time you or anyone else wants to  slam me, have the guts to post your real name. (Pensioners are scum? You should look in the mirror!)

Problem Is's picture

Check and mate. Game Leo.

"That's my call and unlike other cowards on this site, who take anonymous swipes me, I lay it all out there."

I call that the "Attack of the Anonymous Zombies." They are just looking for fresh brains to feed on Leo. Shoot them in the head with a verbal, logically valid bullet. They go down easy.

Nice post. The only government more dysfunctional than Calif. is the Feds.

Anonymous's picture

What a goofy slob this guy is.

J.B. Books's picture

Hey Leo - why beat up on Placement agents?  You offer no solution to the service Placement agents provide.  That service is to be a filter between crappy small investments and great small investment.  (small being define as small compared to most investments CalPHERS does)  If you believe that great small investments never should be presented to CalPHERS that's okay, but I can assure you that CalPHERS does not have the ability to review all of these small type, crap or great, investments.

I believe before we decide Placement Agents are the root of all evil in the modern world - we look at ALL the investments they have recommended and then decide whether or not they provided "value" to CalPHERS.

So Leo, who do you want to provide the "service" and how do you want them to be paid? 


Am I a Placement Agent - no.  Do I live in "Stateline" (Lake Tahoe) NV - yes,  Have I crossed paths with Villalobos - Yes. Do I know him Yeah kind of, but I doubt he'd remember me with out a little reminder.



Leo Kolivakis's picture

J.B. Books,

As I stated, the majority of placements agents are financial parasites providing no value added to pension fund managers. They simply want a big cut if the pension fund manager invests in the fund they introduced them to.

When I invested in hedge funds and private equity funds, we had a team of people going over quantitative, investment, operational and risk management due diligence. We'd screen out the crappy funds very fast. Some funds made it to the interview stage and only after I grilled them, would I make a recommendation of whether or not to proceed with a full due diligence which included an on-site visit by our specialists.

Most hedge fund managers would thank me even if I decided not to proceed with a full due diligence. They would tell me that I made them think of how to be better prepared for due diligence with other institutions they were targeting.

And I didn't care who was in front me. They could be the biggest swinging hedge fund dicks around, I'd grill them and made sure they answered all my questions. Nobody intimidated me and the more arrogant they were, the harder I grilled them.

If you are a small pension fund, you are better off going through independent pension consultants than placement agents to invest in private funds. There are a few excellent consultants out there and many are on my blog under investment advisors.

Anonymous's picture

It's frightening seeing an entire industry tarred with a single brush, especially when the criticism makes it clear that there is a lack of full understanding of how it works. In the interests of full disclosure, I am a placement agent and have been for about a decade - working with various investors including public pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, endowments and financial institutions. My firm is a fully regulated broker dealer here in the US with every single one of our professional members licensed as registered representatives. Internationally we are licensed in every single major financial jurisdiction under the appropriate regulatory regime.

Let me begin by unequivocally stating that - regardless of the ethics involved, or lack thereof - we do not consider the lobbying of political figures as an activity appropriate to our profession. As investment bankers, we work exclusively with the investment staff at these institution. To date, not a single member of any such staff has been anything but appreciative of the function we perform.

First of all, most pension funds are by their own admission woefully understaffed in the area of alternative investments. Many of the senior people reviewing those investments have done most of their learning on the job (not a bad thing given that this is an apprenticeship business) and unfortunately cannot for the most part afford to attract the brightest and most experienced young minds in finance to undertake the task of filtering through thousands of very complex offerings. Yes - there are some extremely capable individuals there, but one is selecting from a limited universe of applicants.

Secondly, the best private equity and hedge fund managers do not market for a living - they have businesses to run. They do not understand investors' programs or objectives and cannot afford to shotgun the market in the hope of raising funds. Hence they hire agents to run the process - something that can be extremely debilitating to the firm if not properly undertaken. This involves, the preparation of vast amounts of materials - most it of ultimately facilitating the detailed due diligence analysis which can take months - as well as identifying those investors who might actually be suited for such an investment.

Instead of attempting to neuter an industry, or worse, try to turn into yet another political lobbying machine (just what the world needs, right?), state governments should require that only properly regulated firms and their registered representatives be allowed to engage in these activities. Our regulatory standards are much stricter than those imposed on lobbyists, but I would encourage a ban on any lobbying of publicly elected officials in any guise by placement agents.

The parasitic middlemen that have been implicated in recent scandals should be banned - and jailed where appropriate. Recent inclusion of them as placement agents by the press and politicians was at first amusing, but clearly has affected our industry and most of us - who have dozens of tax-paying employees that depend on the efficient and smooth running of our financial business - are fully supportive of wiping out all such unethical activities. Unfortunately, the proposals tabled do nothing to do that.

Anonymous's picture

CalPERS, Fannie, Freddie: retirement home for (mostly) Dem politicoes. Nothing will happen till regime change

Anonymous's picture

Wonder if a true "regime change" would set the legal dominoes in motion?

Just start with upper management at Fannie. Susan Molinari, Jamie Gorelick, Frank Raines. And just the money we KNOW about is freakin' uber-staggering. Imagine if we could trace the Fannie money offshore into the layers and layers of entities that had links to these folks.

Which POTUS had Gorelick on his legal team? Nothing to see here. Move along.

Chopshop's picture

fantastic advice through and through.

good look, Leo.

Rainman's picture

If a $200 billion pension fund needs a bloodhound to find the meatiest investments , something is seriously amiss. CalPers has a huge staff of investment researchers and every investment firm in the world wants to stick their nose up a $ 200B ass. They'll stand on their friggin' heads for two days to get access.....with or without a PA.

I can only suspect.....suspect mind you.....that the PAs are marketeer bagmen with connections throughout the pension fund system. And the disclosures so far validate that.

Now the question becomes more complex. Were the PAs a conduit for payoffs to the pension insider deciders ?? It will be difficult to trace it, but it would not surprise me with the hefty amounts paid to the PAs. Spreading around some grease to the inside guys is not uncommon when chasing big dollar deals.....and it is easy to do.

Regulated and licensed investment houses would never chance making insider payoffs directly. But an unregistered middleman brings pausible deniability of wrongdoing if something blows up.

I hope there is maximum attention and prosecution ( where warranted ) given to this as there is now a lot of AAA junk sold into the CalPers portfolio......and other public pension funds as well. See New York.

J.B. Books's picture

Well RainMan that's a lot of "what ifs" and "or" in that posting of yours.  But, in RainMan(Dustin Hoffman) style you did bounce off the railings and spin, out of control, into the problem with Placement Agents.  The appearance of a quid pro quo.   

CalPHERS is not able to review each and every small high value investment out there.  A government job is still a government job - take as little personal risk as possible (Don't recommend small high value/risk investments) and wait for retirement.  The PA solves that problem too.

I have driven by Villalobos's offices and can inform you that he does in fact hire a lot people to do a lot of research that CalPHERS is not or can not do for themselves.





robnume's picture

FRY THESE FUCKERS!! When are sheeple going to wake up and get pissed of enough to goddamn do something? At the least, these robber barons should be publicly tarred and feathered and/or places in stocks-and I ain't talking about the kind of stocks you can sell-in extremely inclement weather. Maybe on top of Mt. Shasta. As for Matt Fong, he deserves the death penalty. If this doesn't prove that Phil Angelides is a fucking crook, I don't know what will.

Anonymous's picture

Calpers is not alone...this must go on everywhere

Larry Summers, Robert Rubin: Will The Harvard Shadow Elite Bankrupt The University And The Country?

At the heart of the new system of power, says Janine Wedel, is "a decline in loyalty to institutions" and "the proliferation of players who swoop in and out of organizations with which they are affiliated." There is no more vivid example of this phenomenon than Harvard University, which for centuries was held together by institutional loyalty. Today, that loyalty has eroded, and those at the top act much more flexibly. Yet they still enjoy almost unlimited power. Like all forms of mismanagement, Harvard's woes call for transparency and accountability. The story resonates to Washington, where Harvard's power elite is deeply entangled.

Harvard lost $11 billion from its endowment last year, plus another $2 billion by gambling with operating cash and $1 billion in bad bets on interest rate fluctuations. Harvard had been borrowing vast sums to leverage its assets and to expand its physical plant; its president, Lawrence Summers, had described as "extraordinary investments" what ordinary people would call crushing debt. The only way to balance the looming deficits was through huge investment returns. The speculating worked for a while, but when the bubble burst, Harvard was left almost insolvent.

The Corporation is stunningly secretive. The members are listed on a Harvard web page--but with no contact information. Their meetings and agendas are unannounced, their decisions unreported. The Fellows, scattered across the country, are isolated from the institution they govern. Even the university's statutes--the closest thing to a constitution limiting the Corporation's discretionary power--are almost impossible to locate. The colonial-era board structure is failing the modern university.

In September, 2000, the government sued Harvard, Shleifer, and others, claiming that Shleifer was lining his own pockets and those of his wife, hedge fund manager Nancy Zimmerman--formerly a vice president at Goldman Sachs under Rubin.

Zippyin Annapolis's picture

The stench from Calpers should excite the Hill to (Better yet the DOJ white collar strike force) look into this further. Ironic that Angelides is up to his eyeballs in some of these "unusual transactions" and he is charged with what caused the meltdown.

Problem Is's picture

Being from Cali, the Citibank of states (read: TBTF that cries for a breakup), I can tell you Angelides is a political hack extraordinaire... the village idiot as it were.

He owes his entire career to being a "Friend of Angelo"... Angelo Tsakopoulos that is, corrupt mega developer in the Sac area. Phil is a political hack that keeps failing upwards as is the case with much of the US elite and political class.

Angelides is where he is just like Dodd is where he is. Neither one can figure out which way to turn a door knob. What better stooge to put in charge of a committee...

Anonymous's picture

Another argument in favor of personally managed retirement accounts. Skip the whole middle-man corruption / conflict of interest thing.

(I know - it can't work -- people are too dumb to manage their own affairs).

Winisk's picture

I don't go along with the people are too dumb to manage their own money BS.  The dumb thing to have done over the past couple of decades was to listen to the so called experts.  I suspect that if people had hard cash in their hands, and some slick salesman knocked on their door making the pitch to give him their money for a promise of modest gains over the long term, most people would be wisely very hesitant to hand it over.  The risk is not worth the gains.  What the slick salesmen have been successful at is convincing the masses that their is little to no risk if it is managed by the pros.  Risk lost all meaning.  It became synonymous with gains, not losses.  Yet the very real possibility of losses is the very definition of risk.  Most 'dumb' people probably would have done the simple thing like paying off their debts first.  Pay off the mortgage.  That's a common sense thing to do.  Of course the experts will never recommend something that doesn't provide them with cash. 

Anonymous's picture

Too much money, too much politics plenty of sound investment choices it is just that they are all so politically boring.

Anonymous's picture

That's why the Fed and central bankers are working feverishly to create another mega asset bubble. The risks are that they screw up, raising rates too fast & too aggressively. If that happens, it's game over.
It's gonna take game over before the above mentioned cockroaches and parasites go to jail. There is nothing the Fed can do to to stop it. It's been game over for a while.

gringo28's picture

These issues with the public pensions are not going away. The real travesty is the fact - and it is a fact - that they will continue to be chronicly underfunded to the point of insolvency because no public officer has the political will to cut benefits. Lastly, it is very clear that no public pension ought to be in the alternatives business, regardless of the need for alpha. They simply can not manage the risk.

Anonymous's picture

how many high level people have gone to jail ex-Madoff?

This is the USA...people in high places, delay judicial cases, as in forever....if this was China and this was a violation...the outcome would be different....