New York State’s Common Retirement Fund, which underwrites state and local pensions, returned a negative 0.92 percent on its assets during the quarter ending June 30, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli just announced.  That would translate into a loss of about $1.2 billion on an asset base of roughly $148 billion.

“Like many investors, the … Fund has been weathering uncertainty in the financial markets since the end of our fiscal year in March,” DiNapoli said.

“Uncertainty” is something of an understatement.  But never fear: the fund “continues to be among the strongest in the nation and our diversified investment strategy and long-term perspective to help manage these market conditions has resulted in positive returns the last three years,” the comptroller added.

Of course, if you go back a few more years — well, the fund’s losses in 2008 and 2009 were so enormous that taxpayers will spend several more years paying higher contributions to dig out of the resulting actuarial hole.

In the long run, the state and local pension fund assumes it will earn an annual return of 7.5 percent, and it discounts its liabilities on using that rate — even though its actuary calculated that there is only a 35 percent chance it will hit the target.  The fund’s rate of return was a little less than 6 percent in fiscal 2011-12 — which began with a first-quarter return of 1.8 percent.

About the Author

E.J. McMahon

Edmund J. McMahon is Empire Center's founder and a senior fellow.

Read more by E.J. McMahon

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