February 13, 2017

Attention America: Your Government is Being Run by Billionaires

As Americans across the country struggle with stagnating wages, increasing costs of education, and dire prospects for a secure retirement, they should ask themselves if the billionaires taking over our government in Washington and behind the scenes in the states are really serving their best interests. When it comes to Betsy DeVos and John Arnold, the answer is no.

January 5, 2017

Pulling U.S. Public Pensions Back from the Brink

“We’re seeing more and more communities take steps to protect public pensions, and it’s a trend that has largely fallen under the radar,” says Bailey Childers, executive director of the National Public Pension Coalition. Most public pension funds have increased employee and employer contributions to help counteract the hit of U.S. equity markets’ 40 percent drawdown during the crisis.

October 28, 2016

Just Good Costumes: Stop Dressing Up 401(k)s as Good Alternatives to Pensions!

This Halloween, forget about monsters, witches, and Donald Trumps. Something more dangerous lurks in the night – and it’s not your usual ghoul. Since the 1980s, defined contribution 401(k) plans have been dressed up as good alternatives for retirement savings.

For more than three decades, the private sector has been pushing these risky accounts, depriving millions of Americans of a secure and dignified retirement. What’s most frightening is not only how innocuous these costumes appear, but how easily they change their disguises. And like all good disguises, they’re never telling the whole truth…

September 23, 2016

Public Pensions Are Good For Workers, Taxpayers, And The Economy

Contrary to popular belief, defined benefit pensions are not only good for workers and taxpayers, they’re also good for the economy, generating significant amounts of economic activity nationally each year. According to a report released by the National Institute on Retirement Security, state and local public pension plans paid $253 billion to 9.6 million retirees and their beneficiaries in 2014, which then helped to support over 3.4 million jobs.

The report titled Pensionomics 2016 states that public pensions help create economic activity through the direct spending of pension benefits by retirees. This means that retired teachers, librarians, firefighters, and other public employees are not just saving their money; they’re putting it back into the local economy through their purchases…

September 14, 2016

Strong Public Pension Systems: North Carolina’s Unlikely Claim To Fame

North Carolina is known for a lot of things. Controversial voter ID laws. Duke basketball and Tar Heel basketball. Kitty Hawk. I have an unlikely suspect to add to the list: North Carolina has one of the strongest public pension systems in the country that serves teachers, firefighters, police officers and tens of thousands of other public workers.

My organization recently analyzed three of the most successful public pension systems in the country including North Carolina, which is well-funded and well-managed, with one in eight working North Carolinians having access to a public pension…

September 2, 2016

Don’t make policy based on shorter-term volatility

In investing as in most of life, it is human nature to worry about the future. Public pensions have long been an antidote to worry, providing teachers, firefighters, police officers and other public servants with assurance that they will have a modest but secure stream of income during retirement. After all, they are called defined benefit plans precisely because the amount they pay future retirees is predictable.

Investment returns, of course, have ups and downs. But public pensions are the quintessential long-term investment. Quarterly, half-yearly, and even annual results fluctuate, but what matters is the long-term trend over 20, 25, or even 30 years. And that trend is positive for public pension funds, the vast majority of which have patiently weathered every conceivable economic event and continued to meet their obligations.

Indeed, there is ample data to demonstrate that public pension fund investment returns over longer periods meet or exceed the assumed rates used by most plans. For example, the 30-year rolling average return, adjusted by plan size, has been consistently about 9% for each year since 2000, a period that included the deep recession of 2007 to 2009…