There was one other point I wanted to make about Thursday’s county pension board meeting where the Amaranth collapse was discussed.
When I initially spoke with county pension CEO Brian White Tuesday about the effect of the Amaranth disaster on the county retirement fund, he made a point that stuck in my mind. He said that it appeared that one of the county’s other hedge fund investments came out on the good side of the crazy natural gas bet that killed Amaranth.
Thursday at the meeting, though, county officials backed away from that assertion saying they weren’t sure and that they only suspected that one of the hedge funds had the opposite position that Amaranth did.
- This lack of certainty illustrates that they don’t know what is happening with hundreds of millions of dollars invested in other hedge funds.
Actually, let’s go ahead and do the math: County officials said Thursday that, as of June, 51.9 percent of their hedge fund investments were in non-transparent hedge funds. This is the secretive “core” group of hedge funds the county employs. That means they had, before Amaranth’s collapse, $765 million of the public’s money in the hands of people who refuse to disclose what they’re doing with it.
Someone will have to remind me over and over again why that’s OK.
- Were they really thinking it was a good idea to advertise that they had yet more bets on the commodities market as potentially volatile as the Amaranth one?