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Alternative Market Briefing

The Dallas Pension fiasco is just the beginning

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Matthias Knab, Opalesque:

Jonathan Rochford, CFA, Portfolio Manager at Narrow Road Capital writes on Harvest Exchange:

The recent blow-up of the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System was entirely predictable. Whilst it is tempting to blame unusual circumstances for the recent lock-up of redemptions and likely substantial reductions to pensions for those still in the fund, many other American pension funds are heading down the same road. The combination of overpriced financial markets, inadequate contributions and overly generous pension promises mean dozens of US local and state government pension plans will end up in the same situation. The simple maths and political factors at play mean what happened at GM, Chrysler, Detroit and now Dallas will happen nationwide in the coming decade. So, what's happened in Dallas and why will it happen elsewhere?

Background to the Dallas Pension Fiasco

The Dallas pension scheme has been underfunded for many years with the situation accelerating recently. As the table below shows, as at 1 January 2016 the pension plan had $2.68 billion of assets (AVA) against $5.95 billion of liabilities (AAL), making the funding ratio (AVA/AAL) a mere 45.1%. Despite equity markets recovering strongly over the last seven years, the value of the assets has fallen at the same time as the value of the l......................

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