Author Iliya Atanasov

Why public pension plans are left unfunded

Public pension plans remain massively underfunded, but the standard explanations of the problem-egregious benefits, loopholes and abuse – are the effects, not the root causes, of failures that run much deeper. Pliable accounting rules and weak or non-existent funding mandates are what truly jeopardize the …

New York State Comptroller’s office evades questions about recent Goldman Sachs deal

With much fanfare, the Office of New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli announced last month a “strategic partnership” between the Common Retirement Fund (CRF) and Goldman Sachs Asset Management (GSAM) to invest $2 billion in global equity strategies.
The CRF manages the assets of the New …

Unreformed public pensions keep eroding Pennsylvania’s credit

On September 25th, Standard & Poor’s became the last among the Big Three credit-rating agencies to downgrade Pennsylvania’s general obligation (GO) debt. The state was taken down a notch to AA- with a stable outlook – still in safe “investment-grade” territory.  In explaining the downgrade, …

ZIRP Myths

Public pension funds around the country are scrambling to reach the ambitious target returns set by state and local governments looking for an easy way out of retirement obligations. The looming pension crisis is aggravated by the Federal Reserve’s zero-interest-rate policy (ZIRP). While being ineffective …

Debt servants: how sustainable are states’ legacy costs?

A recent report by JP Morgan’s Michael Cembalest provides a fresh look at the problem of state indebtedness. Cembalest, global head of investment strategy, is best known for his writings on housing and for flagging Bernard Madoff’s fund and refusing to invest in it, even …

Will the MBTA’s retirement fund ever come clean?

When signing into law this year’s $36.5 billion state budget a few weeks ago, outgoing Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick vetoed a provision that would have repealed a transparency law aimed at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s pension fund. Though publicly funded, the MBTA Retirement Fund …

The public pension hedge fund dodge

A bill awaiting final passage by the New York state legislature would allow public pension funds to put more money into “alternative” asset classes such as hedge funds, private equity and international bonds.
Alternatives may or may not have some role to play as part of …