Monday, March 3, 2014

Today in self-refuting news reporting

I heard this on the radio today:
When Dear joined the company in 2009, CALPERS had suffered brutal losses during the great recession, nearly $100 billions in losses.  Dear turned the fund around, rebuilding it, ultimately recovering those losses.  Last year the fund earned 16.2% return.
When I spoke to Dear in 2011, he urged a focus on retirement security:
The debate in the United States really ought to center around 'what is retirement security?' so that all Americans can have a time of leisure after a life of work where they can enjoy the fruits of their labor.  And we are not accumulating enough in the US now to make that promise a reality for all Americans.  And that's a significant social issue.
Joseph Dear died in Sacramento last week of prostate cancer.  He was 62.
I have listened to this clip enough times to transcribe it and I'm not totally sure that the irony (of reporting that a person who lectured us about the importance of working really hard to 'accumulate' a lot of money so that we can retire to leisure just died before his own retirement) is unintentional.  I'm inclined to think it is, simply because of the vapidity of the previous part of the clip, the notion that Dear 'turned the fund around'.  CALPERS is a $250+ billion fund.  It seems pretty likely that any huge fund invested in stocks was going to lose a lot of money in 2008 and gain it back within two years.  Here's NASDAQ:

Note that NASDAQ's 2013 return was 38%, which is a bit better than 16.2%.  Is it capitalism that's screwed, or CALPERS, or is it that CALPERS is a mechanism through which capitalism does the screwing?

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