Major Victory After New Jersey’s Public Pension Fund Voted to Divest from Hedge Funds

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Major Victory After New Jersey’s Public Pension Fund Voted to Divest from Hedge Funds

 

New eye opening analysis from Hedge Clippers found that bad investments from hedge funds cost the NJ pension fund a staggering $1.1 billion in lost revenue and $1.6 billion in fees

Read it Here --> http://hedgeclippers.org/hedgepapers/hedgepapers-no-31-christies-cronies

Trenton, NJ – The Hedge Clippers campaign scored another major win after the New Jersey State Investment Council voted to cut its hedge fund investments in half, an equivalent to approximately $4.5 billion divestment.The Council also voted to cut allowable hedge fund fees in half, an unprecedented step that will save the pension fund hundreds of millions in fees over the coming years.

The vote took place on the same day Hedge Clippers released an eye opening report showing hedge funds underperforming investments cost the New Jersey pension fund an estimated $2.7 billion over nine years—including an estimated $1.6 billion in fees, and an additional $1.1 billion in lost investment revenue.

The move makes New Jersey the largest pension fund to divest from hedge funds since CalPERS in 2014. The effort to cut these costly and risky investments was led by a coalition of labor groups representing public employees in the state, including New Jersey Communities United, the AFL-CIO, Communications Workers of America (CWA) and American Federation of Teachers (AFT).

It is also another major victory for Hedge Clippers which has been instrumental in the hedge fund divestment movement focusing on 11 pension systems in the country, New Jersey’s being one of them. Last April, New York City Employees’ Retirement System, or NYCERS, also voted to pull about $1.5 billion in investments out of all hedge funds thanks to the work of the hedge clippers campaign.

New Jersey’s Hedge Clippers first put out a report last summer exposing how Governor Chris Christie is wasting billions on bad hedge fund investments. Today, a follow up report titled Christie’s Cronies: How Hedge Funds are Bankrupting New Jersey’s Pension Fund, exposes how two Governor Christie’s hand picked appointees to the State Investment Council, Tom Byrne, Jr. and Guy Haselmann, were instrumental in increasing the costly hedge funds allocation that is bankrupting New Jersey’s Pension Fund. The Hedge Clippers analysis estimates that hedge fund investments cost the New Jersey Pension Fund a staggering $2.7 billion over nine years.

The New Jersey Pension Fund is one of the largest public pension funds in the U.S.—and, with over $8 billion invested in hedge funds; it is also among the most prominent hedge fund investors.

 "This is a huge victory and an unprecedented step in the right direction for New Jersey's public workers and taxpayers," said Paul Karr a leader from New Jersey Communities United and member of New Jersey Hedge Clippers. "At a time when Governor Christie is refusing to make pension payments, it's critical that we maximize pension investments and ensure our money makes it back into our communities - and not the pockets of Wall Street hedge fund managers."

“Workers and the public they serve deserve to know that the trustees responsible for investing their pensions have their best interests front and center. That is why today’s unanimous vote by the New Jersey PERS trustees to cut their hedge fund investment in half is so important. New Jersey’s reallocation of $4.5 billion out of hedge funds is even larger than the California Public Employees’ Retirement System’s divestment in 2014, and it was done because hedge funds have failed to deliver. Trustees also voted to cut allowable hedge fund fees to half of the typical amount, a move that will save working people hundreds of millions over the coming years,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten.

“Our report ‘All That Glitters Is Not Gold’ found that N.J. retirees would have earned $1.1 billion more if trustees had never invested in hedge funds, and further would have saved $1.6 billion paid in fees to hedge fund managers. We’re glad to see that public pension trustees nationwide are now taking a long, hard look at the gap between hedge funds’ promises and their actual results. Union members worked hard and deferred wages to build a secure retirement for their families. Their pensions shouldn’t be gambled on risky bets or wasted on high fees that only enrich the wolves of Wall Street and Gov. Christie’s cronies,” she said.

“The State Investment Council has a responsibility to manage pension funds wisely, and this is a step in the right direction. Reducing the allocation of hedge funds and alternative investments means more money stays in the underfunded system and goes toward its intended purpose—to allow teachers, nurses, firefighters and public workers to retire with dignity after decades of tireless, dedicated service to our state’s citizens. This is the right thing to do and will help stabilize the state’s economy as a whole,” said AFT New Jersey State Federation President Donna M. Chiera. 

Under Byrne and Haselmann’s leadership, the New Jersey pension fund more than doubled its hedge fund investment, from about 5.3% of the total portfolio at the end of fiscal year 2011 to over 12% by the end of fiscal year 2015.

The full report is available here

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