Wednesday, September 20, 2006

San Diego County Fund suffers big loss

San Diego County's pension fund (not to be confused with the scandal-ridden city pension fund) was named Public Plan of the Year last April. Its investment returns were consistently ranked at the top of pension funds for its size. It had a winning strategy--at least until this week. Much of the fund's strategy was based on a basket of hedge funds. Overall, the fund had $1.3 billion, or a fifth of its total portfolio, in hedge funds. One of the hedge funds in the county's portfolio was Amaranth Advisors, the Connecticut fund that announced it had suffered big losses in natural gas trading. The county does not know how big its losses will be or will this be just the tip of the iceberg or just an isolated incident. (New York Times)

Let me see if I have this straight. A fund takes the highly risky decision to invest 20% of their assets in hedge funds, some of which invest in things like gas trading futures ... and this earns them the Public Plan of the Year award? What the ...? No wonder the pension industry is such a mess.

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