БЕСПЛАТНЫЕ ОБЗОРЫ РЫНКА: Nevada PERS The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Невада PERS: Хороший, плохой, злой

Пенсионные планы требуют, чтобы работодатели и работники вносили взносы на инвестиционные счета, которые выплачивают работникам доход при выходе на пенсию. Планы с установленными выплатами, используемые Пенсионной системой государственных служащих штата Невада (PERS), обещают пенсионные доходы, определяемые взносами сотрудников и предположениями о том, какой будет прибыль от инвестиций. В той мере, в какой фактические доходы отличаются от предполагаемых доходов, будущие взносы работодателей и работников могут измениться, и они либо компенсируют дефицит, либо пожинают излишки. Пенсионеры защищены от последствий допущений, используемых при управлении инвестициями.

PERS’s pension management encompasses the good, the bad and the ugly. The good is PERS’s investment management policies and practices. The bad includes PERS managers’ refusal to be reasonably transparent and accountable to taxpayers, voters and their representatives, the broad public interest and PERS members. The ugly includes certain risks and prospects for the future that are covered up by that lack of transparency and accountability.

Modern investment theory counsels that, in investments, one cannot expect to beat a market by consistently reaping above-market-average returns – and one can lose a lot of money by trying. Hence, one should seek to buy a slice of the whole market (i.e., a portfolio representative of it) and thus come as close as possible to reaping market-average returns by keeping investment-management costs as low as possible. This is known as index-oriented (or passive) management. The alternative is active management, in which investors incur high costs trying to pick winners and avoid losers, even though they can’t know the future.

Nevada PERS has done the best job among U.S. pension funds of using index-oriented management on reasonable allocations to asset classes. So, it has realized greater returns than most funds, including some notable actively managed funds. Its allocations to U.S. stocks and bonds and international stocks, 88.2 percent of its total portfolio, are fully invested according to appropriate indexes and have earned the same returns as those indexes. The other 11.8 percent, invested in private equity and private real estate, which lack appropriate indexes, have earned well above PERS’s stated market objectives for them. Over standard periods and since inception 37 years ago, PERS has beaten its stated market objectives. In the latest year for which data is available, July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021 – a year in which nearly all investment returns soared – PERS’s total return was 27.3 percent.

The bad, PERS’s lack of transparency and accountability, is ironic considering its fine investment management processes and results. Taxpayers and future employees are the residual holders of PERS’s fiduciary risks. Because PERS’s investment returns, prospects and risks are matters of voter and public interest, PERS’s first transparency and accountability duties are owed primarily to those parties and PERS members. So, PERS should maximize the data detail it discloses, subject to redacting minimal information that would identify its individual members. Instead, and despite suits by newspapers and the Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI), and requests by state officers, PERS sends its individual data, including unnecessary personal identification data to its actuary for full processing and gets back aggregate results. By this ruse, it denies everyone the opportunity to fully understand and independently assess its processes, prospects and risks.

All that leads to the ugly: PERS’s financial results through the end of June 30, 2022 are not yet available on its website, but investment returns through that period were lousy for all pensions and most investors. PERS’s funded ratio in 2021 fell for the first time since 2013 – despite outstanding investment returns – so taxpayers and future employees face likely increases in PERS’s already high contribution rates. Moreover, most informed parties have forecast slow economic growth and low investment returns for the future, which would exacerbate all these problems.

PERS seems to have improved the reasonableness of its assumptions about the future, used in estimating future returns. But to be sure and to do its duty, it needs to come clean with all data except personal identification details.

Ron Knecht is Senior Policy Fellow, Nevada Policy Research Institute.

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