Category: Articles & Op-Eds

CalPERS Must Stop Spinning

Last week California’s largest public pension fund, CalPERS, issued a misleading press release about its private equity investments. To understand what CalPERS did, compare it to a report from your mutual fund or see the screenshot below from a typical…

CalPERS’s Anemic Private Equity Returns

At first glance, the most surprising aspect of CalPERS’s report about the private equity performance fees it pays is not the large size of the fees but rather the small size of the returns. According to the report, CalPERS’s private…

Jerry Brown v. Rob Feckner on Pension Funding: Why It Matters

Last week California Governor Jerry Brown criticized as “irresponsible” the decision of his state’s largest public pension fund, CalPERS, to continue using unreasonably high investment return assumptions when setting pension contributions. CalPERS’s president Rob Feckner, a retired public employee, disagreed.…

Know Your Candidate, Part II

Public education is big business. This year California will spend $83 billion on K-12 education, or nearly $13,500 for each of the state’s six million students. Most will go to compensation and benefits for members of special interest organizations that…

Know Your Candidate!

Last month I attended the Philanthropy Innovation Summit hosted by the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (PACS). The event kicked off with a discussion between entrepreneurs Reid Hoffman and Peter Thiel moderated by PACS chairman Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, who…

Contra Costa Times: Why Public Services in California Decline Even As Revenues Rise

“The worst, the most corrupting lies are problems poorly stated.” Daniel Patrick Moynihan, citing French theologian Georges Bernanos The state of California’s revenues have surged in the five years since the 2010-11 budget. Through its general and special funds, the…

San Francisco Chronicle: A perfect time for the governor to fix California’s accounting

Many state and local officials know their agencies should convert to modern, “true accrual” financial reporting but fear the political consequences because conversion would force the recognition of higher expenses in the short term. However, much higher expenses would be…

San Diego Union-Tribune: Big money talks in California politics

Everyone knows about the pharmaceutical companies, defense contractors and other financial interests that dominate political spending in Washington, D.C. Because federal spending provides a big share of those businesses’ revenues, it’s not surprising they spend heavily for a Congress sympathetic…

SacBee: Brown must beware the bull market

In 1999, then-Gov. Gray Davis was considered a potential vice presidential pick and future presidential prospect. In 2007, supporters of Arnold Schwarzenegger suggested a change to the Constitution so the Austrian-born governor could run for president. Within two years, both…