Former CalPERS CIO Defends Illiquid Investment Strategy


Russell Read, the fund’s CIO from 2006 until 2008, defends moves he and the fund made into commodities, emerging markets, and private equity.


(October 29, 2009) – A former chief investment officer at the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) is defending past actions that took the $200 billion fund into alternatives.


Russell Read, in an interview with Reuters, is publicly defending what some claim was an overreliance on risky and illiquid asset classes when compared to fixed income.


That saw the pension giant move into commodities, infrastructure, and emerging markets. Read, who led the fund’s investment team from 2006 to 2008, also is hitting back at those who disagree with his increased reliance upon private equity vehicles.


In defending his choice to move into international markets on a greater scale, he also made comments regarding the American investment consultant community. “The consultant community definitely—particularly Wilshire, you heard it with Michael—instinctively looks at a U.S.-centric stocks and bonds portfolio as a low-risk portfolio,” he told Reuters. “Most investors, in contrast, look at that as a concentrated risk portfolio.”
Read now leads green investment firm C Change Investments.

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