The New York City Teacher’s Retirement System is going to invest $1 billion in Hurricane Sandy reconstruction:
Both are critically needed missions. It is understandable, the retirement system’s impulse to want to put some of its resources to work to help Sandy’s victims, who are neighbors in distress and some of whom might be system participants. The teachers’ system itself is operating with limited services because its building has been closed due to severe flooding from the storm.
But local reconstruction is not a primary mission of the system, or any pension fund. A retirement system has only one key mission: to fund retirement benefits. It is no easy feat to accomplish.
This strikes me as a terrible idea. Along with CALPers and other funds thinking about divesting from gun manufacturers, these decisions to throw political weight around in their investment decisions make a strong case for ending public pensions altogether. Of course, for some, politicization of taxpayer funded pensions is a feature, not a bug.