We Sue CalPERS Over Denial of Our Private Equity Public Records Act Request

[Yves asked me to sticky this. CalPERS should clever up – lambert]

Although it’s probably sensible to expect a public agency to resist providing information in response to a Freedom of Information Act filing, the lengths to which CalPERS has gone to mislead and obfuscate in trying to thwart my efforts is quite remarkable, particularly since some of the moves CalPERS staff took are in violation of CalPERS’ own procedures.

For readers who may be new to this site, CalPERS is the California Public Employees Retirement Systems. This state agency is the largest public pension fund, with assets under management at the end of October 2013 of $277 billion on behalf of 1.6 million employees. It also oversees health insurance plans on behalf of 1.3 million.

CalPERS is also one of the largest investors in private equity in the world and is seen as a sophisticated player. Starting in the early 2000s, CalPERS took to providing information on a quarterly basis about its private equity fund results, showing, among other things, quarterly net asset values by fund.

We’ve taken an interest in private equity return information and came across a study published in SSRN in February 2013 by three Oxford academics, Professor Tim Jenkinson, Miguel Sousa, and Rudiger Stucke. The paper makes clear that the researchers obtained data that was not previously made public. For instance, from the abstract:

This paper is the first to use the quarterly valuations and cash flows for the entire history of 761 investments made by Calpers -the largest US investor in private equity.

From page 2:

…we analyze the cash flow, valuation and performance data for the entire current and historical portfolio of 761 private equity funds invested in by Calpers….our data is essentially every quarterly update of this data, but going back many years before they released data to the public.

Moreover if you read further details about the data, they obtained a much larger data set, one that included real estate, “ones acquired in a secondary transaction, general and customized funds of funds,” and excluded them in order to arrive at the 761 funds (pages 7-8 and Table 1). The funds were described sufficiently clearly (presumably with a fund type field) that the researchers were able to classify follow on funds (p. 8). The researchers also state they received all data on these funds from the inception of the strategy in 1990 through and including March 31, 2012.

California has version of the Freedom of Information Act, called the California Public Records Act. CalPERS is subject to the PRA. Moreover, once an agency has given out a record to one member of the public, it has forever waived the right to claim any exemption from disclosing the records to others.

So I filled out the PRA form on the CalPERS website on September 29, 2013. However, in early October, I saw that my request has not been listed along with the new PRA requests filed in September. I filled out the form again, asking what had happened. A CalPERS public records act coordinator Barbara Galli said they had no record of my asking for the data (which seems implausible given that I received an auto-generated receipt) and asked me to send the request via e-mail. Because her message was tagged as spam, I did not see it for nearly a month and replied on November 12, 2013.

My request was again missing from the November log. In early December, I called and e-mailed to ascertain what was going on. I got no direct reply, but i did get a letter dated December 18. The critical part:

Staff continues to gather and review responsive information for disclosure under the Public Records Act. We estimate having the information to you by December 27, 2013.

However, December 27 came and went, early January came and went, and still no information. Again, I made calls (as directed in the letter!) and sent e-mails and got no reply.

I contacted a California attorney, Timothy Y. Fong, who sent a letter on January 30, 2014 to CalPERS Deputy General Counsel Gina Ratto which stated that if the information was not forthcoming, I was prepared to petition for a writ of mandamus and seek an award of attorney fees and costs (which is provided for under PRA).

Galli promptly sent Fong a letter dated January 27, 2014, which had been sent certified mail. The key section:

The information provided to the authors of the article you referenced was not provided by CalPERS staff. After an extensive search, staff has determined we do not have anything to produce in response to your request.

This is patently false as well as brazen. Notice what CalPERS is doing: they are trying to throw the researchers under the bus by stating that CalPERS staff did not provide the information. That raises the specter that the academics got it via some other route, say a former employee who had kept all this data or (horrors!) a hacker. The insinuation that CalPERS has not provided the data raises questions as to whether the data the academics used was accurate and complete.

I e-mailed the authors of the paper and the lead author, Tim Jenkinson, wrote back. He said that he had indeed obtained the non-public information directly from CalPERS in 2009. In a second e-mail, he reconfirmed that not only he, but one of his fellow authors, and one of the other authors, Ruediger Stucke, had dealt directly with CalPERS staff.

But aside from the flat-out dishonesty (the search was either not extensive or CalPERS misrepresented its results), consider the weasel-wording in the letter: “the information….was not provided by CalPERS staff.” But that was not what I had asked for. I had requested information provided by CalPERS. It is possible that the data was conveyed directly from a third-party data repository such as LP Capital to Jenkinson et al. But that is irrelevant as far as my request is concerned. It is well-settled California law that actions taken by agents within the scope of their agency are imputed to the principal. Thus, even if as a matter of form, the data was provided directly by LP Capital or another CalPERS data repository to Jenkinson and Stucke, it would still be disclosable under the PRA.

My lawyer Timothy Y. Fong wrote a stern letter to CalPERS on February 1, 2014. Suddenly CalPERS started making cooperative noises, claiming that perhaps an assistant of the professors had filed a public records request and they’d missed that. In fact, as I learned in Jenkinson’s second e-mail, that was not how they’d gotten the data. They simply asked for it directly of CalPERS staff members, which is a routine approach for him and his colleagues. His message made clear it took some time for CalPERS had to develop trust in them before they released the data.

CalPERS had asked me to specify what I wanted. I provided descriptions of the data from the article and added that we’d like if possible for it also to be brought current (the paper used data up through March 31, 2012; the notion, although not made explicit, was we could seek the additional data via a new PRA request).

On February 13, 2014, we were told that the information was too much to send by e-mail and a CD was going out that day. That was also false. What they sent was a mere 3 MB, clearly small enough to have sent by e-mail rather than creating an additional nine days of delay. And their cover letter attempted to act as if all we had asked for was the post March 31, 2012 data, when both the history and the description they’d requested made clear we wanted the data the academics had received. Peculiarly, though, they did include some not-public information in their files.

So here we are. You can read the filing below. It’s spare compared to Federal court filings; I’m told California state court judges are a busy lot and don’t like long recitations. A writ of mandamus is a fairly speedy process, so you should have an update within a month.

Writ of Mandate Aurora Advisors v. CalPERS

I also sent a letter to CalPERS board members. Note that this is not intended to have any impact on the court case, nor will it. Boards are instructed by in-house counsel to ignore routine litigation and let the attorneys handle it. However, I wrote for a separate reason: that the way my PRA was handled was completely irregular and looked intended to deceive the public. As a by-product, that meant the staff had abused procedures put in place to keep the board informed.

Public Records Act Abuses Letter

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  1. Chauncey Gardiner

    Wow. What a Red Flag. Makes me wonder about similar aspects in other states.

    Thank you, Yves.

    1. Jeff Bodé

      I agree, but I’d prefer to discover than wonder. Yves, many thanks, and please publish your own methodology if different than the three academics at Oxford.

    2. Jeff Bodé

      I agree but prefer to discover than to wonder. Yves, thank you and please publish your own methodology if it differs from that of the three academics at Oxford.

  2. Woody in Florida

    Seriously, thank you for your persistence in this matter, and the letter to the Board was a very nice touch as well. I guess idiots will always find ways to amaze me. Unless they had no way of knowing that Susan was Yves, they should have realized how this is probably going to play out. The stall tactics might work for 99% of the population but the second lawyer letter should have been all the warning they needed that you are nothing like the 99% they deal with, and then given you whatever you wanted just to make you go away. These people don’t seem to believe that they are a public company.

      1. steelhead23

        Good question. I suspect that CalPers is a private non-profit, statutorily authorized to manage the funds of California’s public employee retirement program. There webpage does not display a state seal and the venture has a board of directors, strongly suggesting it is a private venture. While I join Yves in wondering how fat a check they cut to PE firms for “management”, what I most wish to know is – how much are the execs paid and how do we know that they are acting in the public interest – not feathering their own beds (e.g. revolving door)? BTW – for Yves benefit, the husband of CalPers ED is John Adkisson, who does quite a bit of no-bid work for the CA legislature and is considered by state Senator Steinberg “He’s the finest investigative lawyer I have ever known.” Leads me to wonder – the ED is married to an apparently very aggressive investigative attorney, and yet, she is stonewalling. Boy, there must be something they don’t want us to see.

        I also think they may manage money for other, smaller state employee retirement programs.

        There is a kind of ethical question regarding improving public employee retirement program wealth through PE investments – what the heck are they doing with the money? Are they buying defaulted mortgage debt so they could foreclose, improve, and rent/flip – adding to public misery? Its PE, as in private, nonoyurbizness. Seems an unseemly way for the state’s retirement system to generate wealth.

  3. financial matters

    This was a strange trio of the Fed’s largesse

    One example of the Feds emergency programs…

    TALF: The top three cumulative borrowers, Morgan Stanley, PIMCO, and California Public Employees’ Retirement System would borrow roughly $22 billion or 65 percent of the total borrowing. Together, they borrowed at a weighted average rate of 1.76 percent




    But the PE funds, who’ve been at this game longer, are even bigger
    pigs more practiced:

    In California, the Apollo private-equity firm paid a former CalPERS
    board member named Alfred Villalobos a staggering $48 million for help
    in securing investments from state pensions, and Villalobos delivered,
    helping Apollo receive $3 billion of CalPERS money. Villalobos got
    indicted in that affair, but only because he’d lied to Apollo about
    disclosing his fees to CalPERS. Otherwise, despite the fact that this
    is in every way basically a crude kickback scheme, there’s no law at
    all against a placement agent taking money from a finance firm.


    So please read and circulate this piece. It’s an important corrective
    to the many-faceted “blame the little guy for the failings and
    corruption of our elites” narrative. And only via relentless
    re-education do ordinary citizens have a chance of defining problems
    properly, which is a necessary condition for coming up with effective

    1. stephen gowan

      I am not sure you are correct regarding there being nothing inappropriate with a placement agent taking money from a finance firm. Sounds like he would need to be a registered rep at a minimum. There might be a reg. A or reg. D exemption but the private equity deals would bust those caps.

      Also, I am very interested in learning more about the transaction or deal fees charged by the PE firms particularly where the PE firm has not registered as a broker dealer. My firm is actively investigating this issue and any information or sources of information on deals such as the Clair’s stores deal would be great.

  4. OMF

    Who is the man in charge at CalPERS. He’s responsible for this. This “Yes Minister” stuff is grounds for dismissal in my opinion, for everyone involved; CEO to file clerk.

  5. j gibbs

    We have met the enemy and he is us. Nice to know that the California Public Employees Retirement Fund is backing usurers, downsizers and asset strippers. I bet they can’t wait to disclose all the fees being gouged out of these deals, too.

    Go get ’em!

  6. Jim Haygood

    David Swensen wrote about Yale University’s use of private equity partnerships in his book Pioneering Portfolio Management. He found substantial stratification in returns, with only the top quartile offering market-beating performance. Net returns on the remainder were sub-market, partly owing to heavy fees.

    Private equity is now 14% of Calpers’ assets. Presumably, Calpers has the institutional pull to get into that top quarter of PE partnerships along with Harvard, Yale and the white-shoe boys. But there’s a huge issue with transparency, not only in terms of disclosure, but also in valuation.

    What is the true value of a firm that’s privately held, during a severe recession and bear market for publicly-traded stocks? For both the PE firm principals and for Calpers, there’s an obvious incentive to assign optimistic valuations. Whereas arguably, an illiquidity haircut should be applied instead.

    Calpers are going to be very, very sorry when they find out that the honey badger who’s chomped their ankle isn’t going to let go. On with the show!

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      The problem with the “top quartile” analysis is over 80% of the funds can find ways to claim they are top quartile.

      And there’s much more wrong with the conventional ways the returns are analyzed, but more on that later.

    2. direction

      Yves “HoneyBadger” Smith! Way to go; CalPers is a great target for investigation. This little bump in the road will make for a spicy blurb on the future book jacket.

  7. Doug Terpstra

    It sure looks like they’re stonewalling, determined to hide something. What do you suspect, accounting “irregularities”?

  8. Tony Butka

    I am a member of CALPERS as a retired State Employee, and, as a devoted reader & subscriber to Naked Capitalism, would be more than happy to write my elected CALPERS officials to make a substantially similar request as to what they’re doing with my money :-).

    It was not all that long ago that members of the CALPERS Board & executive management staff were embroiled in a quite smarmy scheme with it’s consultants to fleece the sheep. While the mess led to resignations and a scandal, I’m not sure if anyone involved has actually done time for their misdeeds.

      1. Lambert Strether

        Just thinking out loud here, but we’ve got a platform here that would enable the easy distribution of an open letter (subject to Yves’s approval, of course…)

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Oh that would be nice. The big issue for the board is that they violated CalPERS’ own procedures regarding publishing the PRA, and it looks as if they also might have a pattern of finding any lame excuse to deny PRAs (hardly uncommon), then if someone pushes back, hand the info over, but point follow-up requesters to the denial, and not ‘fess up they knuckled under later. But the records trail they need to leave to do that also misleads the board.

  9. Chris

    Here’s one of the guys who lost billions from California State employees’ pensions. See what he’s up to now?


    “Mr. MacFarlane lost more than $1 billion of CalPERS’s money on exurban housing developments in Southern California and Arizona. Unable to sell his St. Regis aerie for $70 million, he recently turned the penthouses over to his lender…A recent Bloomberg headline reminded everyone that, thanks to him, “Arizona Land Sells for 8% of Price CalPERS Group Paid at Peak.” Mr. MacFarlane said he resigned his CalPERS account, and The Wall Street Journal heralded the news with “CalPERS Cleans House, Finally.”

    He’s a good buddy of Willy Brown, ex Speaker of the State Legislature in Sacramento, ex Mayor of San Francisco and the Go To guy for land deals, to and including causing billion dollar delays in the construction of the rebuilt San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge, part of which has been renamed in his honor.


    Now MacFarlane is part of a process of harvesting low income housing tax credits and forcing a giant tumor of a building onto a community that doesn’t want it in Marin County. Recently enacted state law is forcing communities to accept these kinds of projects and the developers are salivating.


    TAKE A CAREFUL LOOK at the Corte Madera WinCup massive development that is 40 units per acre. It towers next to Highway 101 in Corte Madera; you cannot miss it. This is what the Marin supervisors and the Association of Bay Area Governments have done to sell out the soul of Marin in the future.

    This is only the beginning, the opening salvo.

    On Nov. 14, a conference was sponsored by Institutional Property Advisors Marcus & Millichap entitled, “How Will Plan Bay Area Affect Your Development Plans?”

    ABAG president Mark Luce, the keynote speaker, told an audience of more than 400 investors, brokers, developers and property managers, “Plan Bay Area — the Priority Development Areas and Transit-Oriented Development — are what local jurisdictions have asked for.”

    Really? Plan Bay Area, created by ABAG, was massively flawed with over inflated population and job projections for Marin.

    The ABAG population projection for Marin from 2010 to 2040 is 482 percent higher than the projection by the state Department of Finance Demographic Unit, the single source for planning and budgeting in California government planning…
    Mr. Luce went on to enthusiastically describe the rush of benefits that flow to developers with the passage of SB 743. That’s the bill Gov. Jerry Brown signed in late September which eliminates the right of communities to stop development on the basis of impacts on parking, traffic, schools, adequate water supply or aesthetics…”

    The new proposed plan for Larkspur Landing is massive. There could be as many as 920 housing units. Yes, that number is correct. This is approximately 17 percent of the current population of Larkspur. “

    1. just me

      Nexus of bubbling real estate and crashing retirement funds — here isn’t there, and I’m not sure how exactly this correlates, but it sure rings in my mind with what Michael Hudson said on Australian radio recently:


      Karl Fitzgerald, Renegade Economists: Yeah, we’re talking pension funds, I suppose that’s the American term for it, but there’s some talk now, because Australians have to deposit some 10 to 12 percent of their income each pay into their pension plan, that they should be able to access that money to pay the huge deposits where you’re having to put down, you know, some 70 or 80,000 dollars just as a deposit to be able to enter the real estate market.

      Michael Hudson: This is possibly the worst economic policy that any country could come up with. It means that people are supposed to end up being poo– they’re going to use their retirement funds to pay banks now to push up real estate prices and then when it comes time to retire the big crash will come, property will fall 40%, they will lose all their equity and they will be living out in the street just like people in Detroit, people in Chicago, people in Spain, people in Greece. This is a total wipeout.

  10. susan the other

    I’m confused so will read all of the stuff above. But thinking about PIMCO, which for all its cooperation with the Fed in 2008 when Bill Gross stated publicly: Get over it because this is the new normal, has not been doin’ so great lately. I assume the crux of the matter here is that public retirement money was essentially laundered as it declined thru a series of scrubbers, and came out clean and sparkling as just another bunch of PE investors’ money, which is an illegal place for public money to end up. Yes? And CalPERS is such an enormous trust that it seriously destabilized equities and the markets.

  11. Tony Butka

    Chris – My god, it wasn’t all that long ago that the Marin County Board of Supervisors were the shining example of eco-friendly Sierra Club political correctness.

    The current Marin Board sounds more like the spineless sellouts we have in LA City. Maybe someone could reinstitute the suits against the CalPERS PE go-betweens from the last scandal. And all this after Anne Stausboll of CalPERS proudly announced a new era of transparency & ethics, citing a Steptoe & Johnson authored Report. You couldn’t make this stuff up.

    In the meantime, people wonder why CalPERS is ‘underfunded’, and the media proudly announce a ‘privatize public pensions’ solution so that these PE scumbags can loot what’s left.

    Susan the Other – Here’s a decent link to the CalPERS corruption PE scandal the last time:

    1. Chris

      Tony, While Marin is an ecological paradise with farms, ranches, seacoasts and national parks in most of its territory, the development is concentrated in the eastern bayside half. There’s lots of jobs, grant money and prestige for “environmentalists” IF they are on the right side of the “growth” equation.
      Real environmentalists, and I count myself among those, are for steady state or sustainable growth, i.e. quality over quantity.

      The so called environmental group, “Sustainable Marin” is all for planned development which just happens to enrich the right kind of people. Many of its officers are married to money managers. The get grants from big banks. They show up at public meetings and demand that regional planning goals be met to “stop global warming” or “create equity housing” or whatever the buzzwords of the day are.

      What’s “sustainable” about pouring concrete, building chipboard and cement apartment buildings–each with its own garage parking place for each and every unit–and importing out of staters who are lucky enough to win the housing lottery? Nothing that I can see.

  12. psychohistorian

    Thanks for the efforts on behalf of the “public”, including NC readers. It certainly does sound like they are covering up something or lots of somethings.

    I look forward to reading more about your process, analysis and findings.

  13. Ralph Bunche

    Some of the smaller municipalities, school districts, and special service districts carry or carried what is known as “side debt” with Calpers, representing the present value of their assumed pension obligations, at 7.5% per annum. This ridiculously high rate is based on Calpers’ perceived long term return rates. Who believes that is possible longterm?

    Some of the side debt holders have issued pension obligation bonds to bring down that interest rate. Disaster waiting to happen.

  14. peace

    The researchers (Jenkinson, Sousa, & Stucke) must provide their dataset to you if you request it. This is one of the checks within academia to validate published articles. Researchers sometimes request the datasets to check for accuracy (e.g., Herndon’s discovery of Excel flaws in Reinhart & Rogoff’s analyses) or to run additional analysis (e.g., a meta-analysis of numerous studies). You may want more or different CALPERS data than what the authors analyzed, but this is another way to get the dataset that the authors used. I hope this helps.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Not in economics. Only a pretty small percent (on the order of 20%) of the datasets behind empirical papers has been made public. Recall the row over Reinhart and Rogoff’s “government debt to GDP of over 90% is a bad thing” work? They had refused to release their dataset for years, and it was only when a lowly grad student from a not big-name school (as in no apparent threat) asked that Reinhart turned it over.

      Oh, and even better, for the studies of PE returns, NO ONE provides the data. Guess why? In almost all cases, the researchers have been required to sign non-disclosure agreements. Oh, and who provided the data? Interested parties like the PE firms or investors. That’s why this data set is particularly useful; it’s large, comprehensive (no cherry picking) from an investor considered to be savvy

      1. Zane

        80% of datasets not revealed? And people actually pay attention to what these people say? With no peer reveiw you may as well read the National Enquirer to gain your economic insights.

        1. Calgacus

          The late Alexander Cockburn often praised the National Enquirer’s underrated reporting prowess. I only trusted the (late) Weekly World News for credible facts though. :-)

      2. Tom in Denver

        Well, if researchers – academic, economic, or otherwise – can’t be nice and share, how can we expect transparency from our government? Otherwise, this is just another futile exercise is trying to get accountability and responsibility when everybody is smoke-stacked and protective of their own interests. Don’t ask for something that your own kind won’t deliver. On a positive note, go Yves!

      3. Calgacus

        only when a lowly grad student from a not big-name school (as in no apparent threat)

        I wonder if R & R even know the history of their own department, which would make a threat quite apparent. UM Amherst is one of the leading “heterodox” economics departments – effectively founded by a hegira of purged Harvard economists decades ago. The purge was opposed by luminaries like Arrow, Galbraith and Leontieff to no avail.

  15. Paul Tioxon

    Montgomery count PA just turned over all of their county investments for pensions and the like, to Vanguard, which of course is headquartered in this state. It is a large private employer. It is important to the Route 202 corridor office parks along the primo stretch of employment there, I would say they have the most real estate in land undeveloped and already built out and a usually expanding portfolio of buildings do to its dominance of the mutual funds biz. I don’t really follow that industry, but just the local reporting pegs them at $3trillion under management.

    The county transferred management to Vanguard and apparently saved a fortune in management fees that used to be paid out for the right to lose fist fulls of dollars. The state of PA has a lot of money for pensions and the like, with various local hedge fund managers, some who like real estate investments. The PA pension funds have also had some serious losses and pay princely sums for the privilege of losing. So, I can only imagine how disastrous the performance of the managers who are selected by Calpers would appear if they also drained off fees in pursuit of losing money. I am not promoting Vanguard, but I have frequently heard Mr Bogle expound on the rational course of index funds run on less than a fraction of 1% in fees. Mutual funds seems to be a financial cooperative to benefit their members and the index fund, encompassing the entire economy of listed stocks, can’t be out performed over a 5 or 10 or 20 year period if what I’ve heard and read is correct. It makes sense to me. Why don’t all public pensions funds have no fee, non for profit mutual fund structure invested in an index like manner? Other than the political power compelling them to do otherwise, why not?
    Pa. stays with BNY-Mellon after partial pension-loss payback

    The Pennsylvania state workers’ (SERS) and teachers’ (PSERS) pension funds will collect a total of $19 million from BNY Mellon Corp. to cover a part of the $133.4 million they and the state Treasury lost investing in British hedge fund Sigma Finance Inc.

    Under secruities-lending agreements with Pennsylvania and other states and retirement plans, Sigma “recklessly” borrowed and bet billions in U.S. retirement plan assets and other investor cash into Wall Street debt and other financial instruments that lost value in the financial crisis of 2007-08. The bank has already repaid the Pennsylvania Treasury an additional $22 million in fee reimbursements. Plus the funds collected $6.4 million directly from Sigma, state treasurer Rob McCord said in a statement.

    Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/inq-phillydeals/BNY-Mellon-pays-Pa-millions-to-cover-hedge-fund-losses.html#rWg6modZt9iq0IgF.99

  16. HotFlash

    Sic’em, Yves! Thanks, Lambert, for keeping this on top.
    And Mr. Haywood for the honey-badger ID. They know not with whom they meddle.
    Off to stock up on popcorn.

  17. allcoppedout

    I always expect the States to be different to the UK. On visits this has rarely proved the case. Your academics are generally more bolshie than ours, but after portion size that’s about it until someone starts shooting. Fascinating that your FOI act works just like ours, despite being drafted by different people in a supposedly different legal system and in the Land of the Free rather than perfidiously secret Albion. The material Yves puts forward here is almost identical to a struggle of mine here 6 years’ back. Cross out the California bit and replace it with Greater Manchester Police and you could play snap with our documents, including the brush-off responses by bureaucratic bangle-twanglers.

    There’s plenty written about the difference between espoused theories, theories-in-use (Chris Argyris is the classic reference) and the need to focus on the latter. When it comes to organising theory just how likely is it to find two parochial systems with different origin and design working almost exactly the same way? The French and even Swedish systems are as bad, probably all.

    If we really want a ‘scientific economics’, we’d first need a satisfactory theory of institutions and institutions transparent enough for us to be able to rely on data rather than the current hogwash. John Searle has written on this in terms of social construction, but this is way too deep for economists, who are just noticing the brain is plastic and not entirely rational in output (which puts them in about 1890). We have theories on such as the iron cage of bureaucracy, management secrecy, lying upon lie and so on. What Yves reports in this case is what we should really expect (even if it’s the opposite of what we’d want). The structuration of such chronic secrecy and ‘stuff you member of the public you don’t count’ responses is probably similar to the manner they get bank clerks to commit fraud selling you rotten products. That Yves’ story is reported here rather than on rolling news following the arrests of the bureaucrats for offences against the people also forms part of the structuration. The question of how the creeps who sell us PPI or treat us to the run around come to think this is any way to treat another human being should be a core issue in economics. How do the simpleton-savants who do the subject exclude what always happens?

  18. Moneta

    I know a lot of readers don’t want pensions to get cut but the reality is that the pension system is broken. These pension plans are at the heart of our financial system meltdown. The banks feed off of them. And those with a guaranteed pension are complicit to the gutting of the middle class.

    It’s disgusting that pensions are getting cut but that’s what happens when a system is mismanaged for decades.

    1. Moneta

      If we stopped “funding” pensions and just went pay-as-you-go, the banks would get right-sized pretty quickly. Our pension system is putting oil on the fire… and keeping the bankers well fed.

  19. susan the other

    I want pension funds to be dedicated to social improvement; firewalled against speculators and banksters; and strictly maintained in trusts which are open and transparent and which apply all money to social causes at low, almost risk-free, interest rates. Get the PE creeps out of our pension funds.

  20. impermanence

    Perhaps 10,000 years hence, people will finally catch-on to the reality that the organization of human beings into groups is 99.999…% for the purpose of the few stealing [the organizers] from everybody else.

    BEWARE of organizers!!

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