States Double Down on Hedge Funds as Returns Slide

Bloomberg – Public pension funds in the U.S. are increasing bets on high-risk hedge funds and real estate in an attempt to fill deficits in retirement plans and make up for their worst performance in six years.

New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is asking lawmakers to increase a cap limiting the amount of so- called alternative investments in the state’s Common Retirement Fund, the third-biggest U.S. public pension at $153.9 billion. South Carolina’s retirement system adopted a plan in February to invest as much as 45 percent of its $29 billion in hedge funds, private equity, real estate and other alternatives, from nothing 18 months ago.

“We need some more flexibility,” DiNapoli said at an Aug. 4 press conference in Albany. The Common Retirement Fund, whose 2.6 percent gain in the year ended March 31 was its worst since 2003, is authorized to invest as much as a quarter of its assets in alternative investments. DiNapoli declined to say how much he wants the limit increased. The fund doesn’t have a deficit.

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