PennSERS evaluates the impact of equities' steep fall

Thu Mar 5, 2009



PennSERS evaluates the impact of the steep fall in equities. Susan Barreto looks at how the billions in losses challenge one of the first US public equity plans to fully implement portable alpha


Billions in losses challenge one of the first US public plans to fully implement portable alpha

By Susan Barreto

The pension fund community is an easy place to pinpoint Wall Street's impact on Main Street. Trustees at the Pennsylvania State Employees' Retirement System in Harrisburg are grappling with the reality that the fund's value has slipped by more than $11 billion in the space of 12 months, equivalent to a third of the total, thanks to losses in long-only equity and the portable alpha portfolio.

It is easy to have 20:20 hindsight vision, but critics who have reservations about the merits of portable alpha warn that it could be like leverage; a hit on the equity indices and a hit on the hedge fund portfolio.

Absolute returns, separate from the equity portfolio, offered little in the way of relief. Last year, Pennsylvania tallied losses of 28.6%, breaking a string...

ISSN: 2151-1845 / CDC10004H

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