Mission Impossible Star and Sometime Political Aspirant Alec Baldwin and Retweets Yves’s Post on CalPERS Capture by Private Equity

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Just stepping on stage to do the happy dance for a moment: David Sirota was kind enough to tweet this post by Yves (“How CalPERS’ Consultant, Pension Consulting Alliance, Promotes Intellectual Capture by Private Equity”), and then Alec Baldwin retweeted Sirota’s tweet. Balwin has a long-standing interest in politics. He’s written for Huffington Post and weighed running for New York governor (“I’m Tocqueville compared to Arnold Schwarzenegger,” as well as New York City mayor (but now he gets to play one on HBO instead). Here it is:


Baldwin has over a million followers, so I guess we could say the story’s getting out.

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NC readers will also recall that Yves discussed these subjects on KPFA on Friday of last week; KPFA summarizes:

California’s massive retirement funds are struggling to maintain their funding levels – and critics are starting to point the finger at the state’s heavy reliance on investments in private equity firms. Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism will join us to talk about why she thinks two of the world’s biggest institutional investors are getting fleeced.

Here’s the audio for your listening pleasure; alert reader Ed B. says that Yves starts at 35:55:

And if the player above doesn’t work, you can try the KPFA site.

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Oh, in case you’re in California and want to cause further PR headaches for CalPERS, do consider writing a letter to the editor of the Sacramento Bee. Here’s the form. Perhaps you might suggest politely that if the Bee doesn’t wish to cover the story, they could refer their readers to the KPFA show?

Alternatively, California Treasurer John Chiang — the top elected official on the CalPERS board — lives in Torrance, CA. Here’s how to submit a Letter to the Editor to the Torrance Daily Breeze; you could make the same suggestion as to the Bee.


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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. John Wright

    David Sirota’s tweet has “potentially hurting retirees” may indicate he fails to understand the ultimate guarantor of CalPERS pensions, the taxpayer.

    One can see that the city of Stockton considered using bankruptcy to void their CalPERS contract. Stockton eventually continued paying CalPERS, but if Stockton HAD voided their contract with CalPERS, the pensions would have fallen 60%, indicating that the Stockton CalPERS pensions are NOT fully funded and CalPERS requires Stockton to make up the difference on a pay as you go basis.


    Sirota should have tweeted “potentially hurting taxpayers and retirees” as that is accurate and may get far more people interested in the oversight of CalPERS actions.

    The retirees and the CA taxpayers both have skin in the CalPERS game.

    Poor CalPERS returns/high expenses make additional CA taxpayer payments necessary.

    The CA taxpayer should not be forgotten in these CalPERS stories.

    1. RUKidding

      Agree with your point re CA taxpayers. Actually this IS a story that affects ALL CA citizens, not just those who are invested in CalPERS. There’s plenty of reasons why all CA citizens should be very interested in and concerned about PE investments by CalPERs.

    2. JustAnObserver

      Strictly speaking its an either/or: Either the taxpayers get hit or the retirees’ benefits get reduced. In these neolib times which do we think is most likely to happen ?

  2. RUKidding

    Nice! Thanks for the update and good to see the tweets and re-tweets.

    Keep hoping to open the SacBee one of these days and see an editorial about this. Like most nooz papers, however, the SacBee is pretty light on real news anymore. FWIW, I have passed on this series to a number of friends, colleagues and others who are invested in the CalPers pension system.

    Keep up the good work. Recommend listening to Yves’ interview on KPFA. I heard it on Friday.

  3. griffen

    Nicely done. One could have included a litany of his star roles, but to be honest in this context his brief yet sterling performance in the following film is an all timer. A. B. C.

    Glengarry Glen Ross

  4. Winston Smith

    I get this at the ‘Bee’

    404: Page Not Found

    Unfortunately, we are unable to locate the page you have requested. This could be due to content on our site expiring, a broken link, an outdated bookmark, or a mistyped address.

    « Go Back
    Contact Us

  5. John Wright

    Note, some California local governments have higher pension bills as a result of final year spiking.

    Spiking is when a soon to retire employee has much higher earnings in their final year with their pension based on final year earnings.

    Here is a story of a retired fire Chief’s pension getting rolled back by 28% from $241K.


    Pension spiking is not CalPERS concern as any shortfall in pension liability falls to the taxpayers of the local government that granted the pension.

    Note, the trustees of the Contra Costa County Employees’ Retirement Association ruled the chief had improperly boosted his payout, so other county workers recognized the damage it could do to THEIR retirement funding.

    As a CA state taxpayer I want CalPERS to be well run to minimize pension shortfalls that I will be asked to cover with higher taxes.

    However, CalPERS is only part of the story as local government’s behavior can “spike” taxpayer pension liability.

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