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The Times finds that the city’s pension fund has “consistently lagged behind many of its public pension peers” under Comptroller (and mayoral candidate) Bill Thompson. For the past seven years, four of five city pension funds earned less than the 4.5 percent median annual return for large public pension funds — though the difference in each case is less than one percent, says the Times, that “amounts to tens of millions of dollars over a long period of time.” They also question the growing role of private equity investments in Thompson’s mix — and the contributions of private equity firms to Thompson’s campaign.
Thompson counters that the fund has kept pace with the Russell 3000 stock market index despite tough times, and that it would be mechanically difficult for a contributor to gain meaningful influence over the city’s investments.
It should be noted that New York State, under Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, has also increased its private equity investments — also not very successfully of late, as they lost 26.3 percent of their value in one year. Nonetheless DiNapoli says he’ll keep using them.