Is the largest public pension fund in the United States getting ready to dump about $50 billion worth of stocks? According to a new note from Bloomberg, CalPERS' board is meeting for a workshop today in Sacramento to discuss asset allocations for the upcoming year which could include a doubling of the fund's bond allocation from 19% to 44% which would be funded with a massive $50 billion sell down of equities.
Calpers is looking at a menu of options for its fixed-income target ranging from the current 19 percent to as much as 44 percent, according to a presentation for a board workshop in Sacramento coming up Monday. Equities could be cut to as little as 34 percent from 50 percent. Stocks were the best-performing asset class in fiscal 2017, returning almost 20 percent.
“The markets have had a pretty good run and it’s possible Calpers staff is thinking this might be a good time to lock in some of the gains,” Keith Brainard, research director for the National Association of State Retirement Administrators, said in a phone interview.
Unfortunately, as we've noted before (see: CalPERS Board Votes To Maintain Ponzi Scheme With Only 50bps Reduction Of Discount Rate), a shift toward higher fixed income allocations may require a simultaneous decrease in the fund's discount rate assumptions which could drastically increase contribution requirements from various public employers all around the Golden State.
“We’ve cut the return expectation to the point that employers are screaming, ‘We can’t afford it. We can’t afford it,’ ” Jelincic said. “I personally would be willing to take on a little more risk.”
The average allocation for public pensions is about 23 percent to fixed income and 49 percent to stocks, according to Nasra data.
The Calpers board is scheduled to vote on the allocation in December. Almost all of the fixed-income and stock holdings are managed in-house while more complex assets, such as private equity and real estate, are overseen by outside consultants. Allocations to private equity and real assets would stay at 8 percent and 13 percent, respectively, under all scenarios under consideration.
The allocation revisions occur every four years. Calpers is working to provide for a growing wave of longer-living retirees.
Of course, while a more conservative asset allocation may be warranted in the current bubbly equity environment, often logic is quickly dismissed by politicians when it's implementation could expose a massive ponzi scheme that has been hiding in plain sight for decades and risks the financial solvency of local and/or statewide government entities.
This battle between math/logic and politicians has played out numerous times in states all across the country and somehow we suspect that "math/logic" will continue to lose...better to bury your head in the sand for a couple of more years and pretend there is no problem.