Recent data has shown that public workers’ pension systems paid Wall Street fees to the tune of $440 million in California, $600 million in New Jersey, and $700 million in Pennsylvania. But a recent report from CEM Benchmarking says that those figures are just a drop in the bucket.
“Less than one-half of the very substantial costs incurred by US pension funds are currently being disclosed,” says CEM’s report.
As Salon pointed out, about $270 billion of America’s public pension funds are invested in private equity firms. That money “generates roughly $5.4 billion in annual management fees” for the industry.
Now that the sheer volume of these fees has come to light, several states are launching investigations/reviews of their pension plan systems.
In New Jersey, for instance, pension trustees announced a formal investigation of Gov. Chris Christie’s administration after evidence surfaced suggesting that the Republican administration has not been disclosing all state pension fees paid to financial firms.
In Rhode Island, the new state treasurer, Seth Magaziner, a Democrat, recently published a review of all the fees that state’s beleaguered pension fund has paid. The analysis revealed that the former financial firm of Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo is charging the state’s pension fund the highest fee rate of any firm in its asset class.
In Pennsylvania, the new Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf used his first budget address to call for the state “to stop excessive fees to Wall Street managers.”
These reviews are desperately needed. Wall Street should not be lining its already-padded pockets on the backs of American workers. It has done enough damage to the economy without stealing from pensioners.