A decade ago, when this blog began, the big public pension fund that covers half of all California non-federal government employees, CalPERS, lost about $100 billion during a stock market crash and international financial crisis.
The value of the nation’s largest public pension fund plunged from $260 billion to $160 billion. The funding level of the projected assets needed to pay future pension costs fell from 101 percent to 61 percent.
The California Public Employees Retirement System regained full funding after past drops, but none were of this size. And now the maturing system had nearly as many retirees collecting pensions as active workers paying into the system.
Generous retroactive pension increases granted during a previous stock market boom were raising costs. Pension debt was beginning to soar as payments from government employers and recovering investment fund earnings failed to keep pace.
The unprecedented investment loss raised a question. Would…
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