Calpers Changes Their Hurdle Rate – Risk Premium Matters

Download 2010-3-1 Calpers May Cut Rate-of-Return Forecasts –

Since 2003, the California Public Employees' Retirement System has assumed that the value of its stocks, bonds and other holdings would increase by 7.75% a year. But the likelihood of an extended period of modest economic growth world-wide is fueling doubts inside Calpers that the pension fund can continue aiming so high.

Pressure to lower the target has been building for months. "You'll be lucky to get 6% on your portfolios, maybe 5%," BlackRock Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Laurence Fink told Calpers board members last July.

The percentage is an important factor in calculations by Calpers officials of future contributions needed from employees and local governments to cover payouts promised to retirees and other beneficiaries. If the return assumption declines, contributors likely would have to make up the difference.

Paying more into Calpers could deepen the financial misery facing many California governments. Some likely would increase taxes or cut services.

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