Assets of major public pension funds slid 8.5% in third quarter

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The stock market’s summer slide took a toll on public pension funds, with the assets of the 100 largest ones down 8.5% in the third quarter of 2011, the Census Bureau reported Wednesday.

The quarterly decline was the first since early 2010, and the steepest since the fourth quarter of 2008, when the asset total plummeted 13.5% at the height of the global financial crisis.

The latest drop brought the value of investments and cash held by the biggest pension funds -- including the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System and the Los Angeles City Employees’ Retirement System -- to $2.5 trillion on Sept. 30, down $236.6 billion from June 30.

Driving the third-quarter decline was a 14.9% slide in the funds’ corporate stock holdings, which at last count represented 30.4% of the funds’ total assets.


The pension-fund numbers reflect the performance of financial markets in the third quarter, when stock prices worldwide tumbled as the European debt crisis intensified. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 12% in the three-month period. But stocks have rebounded since the end of September, and it’s very likely that pension fund holdings have bounced back as well.


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-- Jim Puzzanghera in Washington