It is time the word “prosecution” be injected into the stimulus package, if you know what I mean. This maybe the tip of the iceberg.

Source: The Raw Story, The Boston Globe

Just months before the start of last year’s stock market collapse, the federal agency that insures the retirement funds of 44 million Americans departed from its conservative investment strategy and decided to put much of its $64 billion insurance fund into stocks.

Switching from a heavy reliance on bonds, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation decided to pour billions of dollars into speculative investments such as stocks in emerging foreign markets, real estate, and private equity funds. …

Analysts expressed concern that large portions of the trust fund might have been lost at a time when many private pension plans are suffering major losses. The guarantee fund would be the only way to cover the plans if their companies go into bankruptcy.

Asked whether the strategy was a mistake, given the subsequent declines in stocks and real estate, Millard said, “Ask me in 20 years. The question is whether policymakers will have the fortitude to stick with it.”

And who was responsible, exactly?

Charles E.F. Millard, the former agency director who implemented the strategy until the Bush administration departed on Jan. 20, dismissed such concerns. Millard, a former managing director of Lehman Brothers, said flatly that “the new investment policy is not riskier than the old one.” …

Notes Talking Points Memo’s David Kurtz: “A finance professor who had previously advised the agency not to make the switch away from bonds compared the move to an insurance company writing policies to cover hurricane damage and then investing the premiums in beachfront property.”

TPM’s Josh Marshall, meanwhile, sees the move not as incompetence but possibly as part of a more general move by the Bush Administration to push more money into the stock market (a la their failed Social Security ‘private accounts’ bid).

“The [Fund] decided to put most of its $64 billion of reserves into stocks,” Marshall notes. “And already by September 2008, i.e., before the bottom really fell out on Wall Street, the stock portfolio had already lost 23%. That percentage must be much higher today.

“One of the big drives behind Social Security privatization was the desire to find more money — in the case of Social Security, a lot more money — to keep the fires burning on Wall Street,” he adds. “Not just more fees for the people handling the money, but more money to keep pushing asset values higher. This looks like the same thing just using slightly different means.”

Official used to be NYC City councilman, NY Post columnist

Exactly who was Millard? He used to be a Republican City Councilman from the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and was tapped by then-NYC Mayor Rudolph Giuliani to head the Economic Development Corporation in 1995.

He also wrote syndicated columns for the New York Post, such as this piece maligning the lawyerfor a terrorist, Omar Abdel Rahman, who he called a “terror-aiding lawyer.”

Advertisements