Calpers Generates 1% Return, Misses Discount Rate Target By 87%

Tyler Durden's picture

"Thank you ZIRP, may we have another." This is what the 1.6 million workers who have invested their retirement money with America's largest pension fund, California's CALPERS, may want to ask Chairman Ben following the firm's just announced results for Fiscal 2012 (ended June 30). The end result: +1% nominal return, which means a negative real return. And this is even including the now traditional end of June ramp which this year came courtesy of the now largely irrelevant European summit, which nonetheless ramped stocks and likely meant the difference for Calpers between positive and negative on the year! Sadly just one "another" year would not be enough, but a whopping 7 more would be needed, because as is well known, for all actuarial purposes Calpers, as well as the bulk of US pension funds, use a 7.5% discount rate. In other words, Calpers missed the minimum return it needs to not require overfunding by, oh... 87%. Here is Calper's Mea Culpa: "CalPERS 1 percent return is below the fund’s discount rate of 7.5 percent, a long-term hurdle lowered recently in response to a steady decline in inflation and as part of CalPERS routine evaluation of economic assumptions." At this rate, courtesy of ZIRP and the destruction of equities as an asset class, until the 2s30s is flat, and we have terminal wheelbarrow lift off, Calpers will no choice but to keep revising lower and lower until its discount rate is negative in line with the imminent advent of NIRP. Good luck with those actuarial tables with a negative discount rate.

From Calpers:

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) today reported a 1 percent return on investments for the 12 months that ended June 30, 2012, falling short of its benchmark that returned 1.7 percent. CalPERS assets at the end of the fiscal year stood at more than $233 billion.


The small gain – despite continued volatility in world markets and economies – was helped by improved performance of CalPERS real estate investments. Investments in income-generating properties like office, industrial and retail assets returned approximately 15.9 percent, outperforming the pension fund’s real estate benchmark by more than 3 percent.


CalPERS performance was negatively impacted by significant allocations to U.S. and international public equities.


"The last twelve 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 Joe Dear, CalPERS Chief Investment Officer. “It’s a clear reminder that we must remain focused on performance, risk and internal controls in today’s financial environment.”


CalPERS 1 percent return is below the fund’s discount rate of 7.5 percent, a long-term hurdle lowered recently in response to a steady decline in inflation and as part of CalPERS routine evaluation of economic assumptions. CalPERS 20-year investment return is 7.7 percent.


“It’s important to remember that CalPERS is a long-term investor and one year of performance should not be interpreted as a signal about our ability to achieve our investment goals over the long-term,” said Henry Jones, Chair of CalPERS Investment Committee.

And here is why equities are pretty much finished as an asset class for pension funds:

Today’s announcement includes asset class performance gains as follows:

Finally, here is where Calpers affiliates will not be happy:

Employer contribution rates that use CalPERS 2011-12 fiscal year investment performance will be calculated based on audited figures and will be reflected in contribution levels for the State of California in FY 2013-14 and for contracting cities, counties and special districts in FY 2014-15.

Advance warning: contribution rates are going up, up, up.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
transaccountin's picture

decline in inflation


Uber Vandal's picture

I found an old ticket of a train ride on the Algoma Central Agawa Canyon that my girlfriend and I took in 2002. The cost per person on the ticket was $58 CDN.

10 years later, I looked up the cost of going on that ride again, and the price is now $153.75

No inflation here at all.

Popo's picture

Props to Tyler for today's coffee-spitter from the post summary:   "Wheelbarrow liftoff".

Someone pass me a napkin.  Hilarious.

Popo's picture

I found a visual description for Calpers' performance here:

FEDbuster's picture

Maybe they should take a couple percent of their book and buy MegaMillions and Powerball tickets each week?

smlbizman's picture

the answer is simple......we need more months in a year, 12 is just not enough time for these guys to get it done.....lets start by making a year 18 mos. their returns would improve ,people wouldnt live as long and payouts probably would be made to very few....

GeezerGeek's picture

Try measuring the prices of that ticket in silver or gold.

Bam_Man's picture

The end of the Great Bond Bull Market will come when the insurance companies & pension funds HAVE TO SELL (whether they want to or not) to raise CASH to pay out contractually promised benefits. And the demographics suggest that they will probably all have to start selling at roughly the same time. Once this process begins, Game Theory dictates that it will quickly gain momentum and be quite a sight to see.

Bringin It's picture

No worries - [JPI] Just Print It.  Solves everything.

buzzsaw99's picture

they will never get their money back out.

El Oregonian's picture

Welcome to ALPO World CaliWorkers, If you heat it up to 127 degrees and you close your eyes while eating it, it can faintly remind you of sloppy joe's.

pods's picture

Bullish for Texas Pete's!

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

It's barbecue season, so throw a few Gaines-Burgers on the grill.

Jay Gould Esq.'s picture

Pods -- Habanero Tabasco.Texas Pete's is bootstrap molasses in comparison.

It's all about the Scovilles.

HD's picture

If they had any balls they would blame Ben and Zirp and tell their clients to get used to it...

LMAOLORI's picture


Well actually as much as I think the public unions are fleecing the taxpayers they would probably have a case with Libor being manipulated

The $800 Trillion Scandal: How Banks' LIBOR Lies Affected You

Pension funds, furthermore, routinely hold income-generating securities in which payments are based upon LIBOR. 

in full

ghostfaceinvestah's picture

More evidence that ZIRP is a zero sum game - from creditors to debtors.

ptoemmes's picture

“It’s important to remember that CalPERS is a long-term investor and one year of performance should not be interpreted as a signal about our ability to achieve our investment goals over the long-term,” said Henry Jones, Chair of CalPERS Investment Committee.


I suppose it woud be fair to ask what the last 3 and 5 year return has been?  OK - do a 10 year too if available.  I would if I knew where to look - figure someone here has it at their fingertips.

francis_the_wonder_hamster's picture

They do a great job of hiding the investment returns in their annual reports.  Just Google "calpers investments and download the PDF.  I'd post the numbers, but don't want to rob you of the enjoyment of scrolling through the freakin thing to find the one bit of information that everyone should want at the top.  They do a great job of showing how their balances have grown, they just hid the IRR.

Calsters does a better job.

sdmjake's picture

Here ya go:

TOTAL Return for 5 yrs ended 3/31/12 = 1.2%

TOTAL Return for 10 yrs ended 3/31/12 = 5.7%

That ain't working out nearly as well as they are actuarially anticipating...good luck with that...

ptoemmes's picture

Thanks - I did try ;-)

Francis was right!


Bet it ALL on black.


Ineverslice's picture

Missed it by that much....

narnia's picture

the last step for financials this year:  solve for 1% positive return by plugging arbitrary real estate return (15.9% my ass)

Kaiser Sousa's picture

It's all good...we rich here n California...
Just watch out for all the pot holes that r more like fox holes...
fuck calpers and all those "pay me" guvment workers...
Sick of all this bullshit.....

HD's picture

Indeed. It's my understanding that California has more "bounce" than all us all combined. So they have that going for them...

SemperFord's picture

I agree, don't drive down the Gateway to LAX/ Century BLVD, I have been in third world countries with dirt roads smoother than Century! I feel bad for my bilstein shocks :(

FubarNation's picture

You have to be wondering of these big pension funds are starting to shit their pants.  If I were a member I'd be cashing out quick like.

Do they really think they will be solvent in the next 5-10 years?

SmittyinLA's picture

A. Big pension funds have neither shit nor pants.

B. the people that run the fund have separate fully funded private pensions. 

C. the fund pensioners would if they could cash out, they can't. 

D. the people that appoint the fund managers have their own separate fully funded privately controlled pension-which isn't invested in MBS or even invested in America for that matter. 

youngman's picture

Revenues are down..but expenses are going up......not a good combo..but of course California is on the hook for the cost overruns...its in their down down down it goes....but I am SURE the Federal Politicians will come in to save them...a state that is to big to fail....

cossack55's picture

Psssstttttt! Hey, buddy. Heres a tip. If you ever see or hear the word "california",,,,RUN.  Pass it on.

sdmjake's picture

LMAO - thanks Cossack...ain't that the truth!

GeezerGeek's picture

I'd vote in favor of giving California back to Mexico. It'd serve Pelosi, Boxer and Feinstein right, not to mention all those Hollywood elites.

SmittyinLA's picture

Actually the Mexicans prefer it remain CA, where they can rape and pillage their neighbors, what goes on in CA doesn't occur in Mexico and wouldn't be tolerated-in spite of their lack of gun rights. 


lizzy36's picture

Their CIO get a $475K base and up to another 75% of that in bonus depending on performance.

Wonder how much Calpers paid out in fees from Jan to June for that 1% return.

Would have been better buying the 10 year and gold.

Fucking muppets.

SmittyinLA's picture

probably about a half a percentage of the assets, I dunno about Jan to- June 2012, but from a  2010 article

"Calpers has more than $200bn in assets and paid $929m in active investment-management and performance fees in the fiscal year ended June 30".

So fees back in 2010 were around 1/2% of the assets.

The state claims to have made a fee structure reform, so fees NOW are probably 1 or 2%-(but better hidden)

bidaskspread's picture

Does the 1% assume the settlement amount that they are going to claim for LIEBOR?

zero19451945's picture

Pension administrators need to start talking up against Bernanke.

It is negligence on their part for not doing so.

Joe Davola's picture

That cesium GW is talking about can't reach the west coast soon enough.

centerline's picture

Funny.  Just a few years ago it was taboo to talk about pensions and munis.

Everybodys All American's picture

CNBC talking heads are starting to lose it ... I think it's funny. They know how f'd up the charade is and are starting to find it harder every day to mask their disgust.

It's still subtle. But, it's definately different in the fact that they are not all 100% running in the same direction like we've seen for the last three yrs.

insanelysane's picture

Their viewership is down, partly because no one wants to invest in the rigged game with the banksters and hft-ers and partly because unless you are one of the sheeple you aren't buying any of the crap they had been trying to sell for the last 3 1/2 years.

stocktivity's picture

They're all worried cause ratings on CNBC are way down. I've been watching Fox Business more and more...they aren't paid cheerleaders and the women are hotter. I can see why Melissa Francis left CNBC and moved over there. They can speak their minds and call a spade a spade.

Larry Dallas's picture

Fox Business has the 2nd best set of tits in the business, Liz Claman. She knows it too. Everything else is blonde hair and gratuitious leg views.

But sadly to say, Calpers bene's will be eating dog food one day because of this. Mixed with refried beans, maybe its not so bad.

Ropingdown's picture

I'm from the East Coast and I could be wrong, but I believe the taxpayers of California have to make good Calpers shortfalls eventually.  It will be competing for TP funds with railroads to nowhere and medicaid for every fourth CA household.  Good luck.  No moving back east, dudes, until we do our own Prop 13.  After that, you're welcome to come back.

Dr. Engali's picture

All your pension plans belong to us.

knowshitsurelock's picture

Calper's has nothing to worry about. It's all invested in Credit Default Swaps and Mortgage Backed Securities in the Derivatives Market, which is only leveraged 400 to 1.

What could possibly go wrong?

sdmjake's picture

I could only find about $11,000,000,000.00 worth of MBS in their financial report. What's the problem????