An e-mail from a reader “Jim” came in this morning advising me to, well, eat crow:

Saw the article about the County pension in the North County Times today. Despite the hedge fund issues last Fall it looks the like the plan is continuing to perform well. After years of negative press about the city’s pension, it’s nice to see some good news.  The County should be commended for running a program that has performed better than other funds around the country for so long. I know I for one am glad to have my retirement in the County’s plan. It just irks me that the press, you included, jump all of over the negatives and when good news like this comes out the public hardly hears a peep.

Here’s a smidgen of the NC Times article Jim’s talking about:

SAN DIEGO — The County of San Diego’s pension fund earned nearly $1 billion last year despite a much-publicized “hedge fund” loss, officials from the independent agency that manages the pension fund said Monday.

If you don’t remember, months ago I harped, for a few weeks, on the fact that the county of San Diego’s employee pension fund was one of the largest investors in a risky hedge fund that collapsed. I don’t know if my reader above wanted me to repent for making such a big deal out of it. If so, he should remember that I wasn’t the only one. When the hedge fund imploded, the county’s pension board immediately fired its consultant who had insisted on the investment. It still retains the services of one of the most high-powered law firms in the country trying to get back perhaps half of the $175 million it invested in the hedge fund.

Though I’ve never heard of it measuring its investments over the calendar year (as opposed to the fiscal year), I congratulate the county’s pension fund on its performance over 2006. These kind of big years are important to balance out the less impressive years. But I might remind the pension fund’s officials of what they always tell me to remember when they say I’m focusing too much on investment losses: “These are just short term investment results and they don’t mean anything at all about the health of the fund.”

Even so, I trust that if 2007 isn’t as good of a year, the pension board will still issue a press release about it.

SCOTT LEWIS

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