Submitted by Tyler Durden on 04/12/2012 16:06 -0400
While the epically underfunded status of the US, by all definitions a ponzi scheme, whose combined liabilities have a net present value of about $100 trillion, is known to everyone, most can simply shake it off for too reasons: 1) it is a number too big to comprehend, and 2) by the time the ponzi blows up it will be some other generation’s problem. However, it may not be so easy for California’s retiring teachers. Minutes ago, CalSTRS, or the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, with a portfolio valued at $152 billion as of February 29, 2012, and is the largest teacher pension fund in the United States, reported that its underfunding increased by a massive 15%, or from $56 billion to $64.5 billion, which happened despite the market being relatively flat over the past year. In fact this is supposed to be good news: as CalSTRS states, its underfunding was supposed to be even worse by $4.3 billion. So this is really good news. We wonder how good the news will be to tens of thousands of retiring and retired teachers once they understand that their obligations are only funded 69%. And dropping. But wait, there’s more: new normal, no new normal, here is what CalSTRS did: it reduced “the assumed rate of investment returns from 7.75 percent to 7.5 percent, which increased the funding shortfall by $3.5 billion.” In other words, if the market grows at a true New Normal of 1-2%, or worse, is flat over the long run, we wonder if the obligation coverage ratio would even be in the single digit percentage.