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Alternative Market Briefing

Low yield environment increases sovereign wealth fund pressures

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Terrence Keeley
Bailey McCann, Opalesque New York:

Low nominal rates and the end to so-called "risk free" investing is adding to the growing pressure on sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) to perform. Relative to pre-2008 levels, official institutions which hold some $10tn in foreign exchange reserves lose approximately $250bn a year. This reality is forcing sovereign wealth funds to critically examine their investments and look for ways to recapture some of those losses.

"Managers of public wealth have been impacted by the crisis like every other investor, institutional and individual. They have realized that there are no longer assets that are entirely risk free. They are under huge pressure to find more income; since 2008, because of the decline in nominal rates, they are earning hundreds of billions of dollars less," explains Terrence Keeley, Global Head of BlackRock’s Official Institutions Group,in an interview with Opalesque.

As a result, many of these funds are adding to their allocations in alternative investments in order to more quickly recuperate losses and generate returns. However, given the source of those allocations, unique considerations come into play. Prior to 2008, the bulk of these funds relied on foreign exchange reserves to generate income, now, the home states of these funds find themselves on significantly shakier financial ground that they have previously. In some cases, sovereign funds are now included in the growing ranks of risk......................

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