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The Twelve Days of CalPERS

Private equity has attracted quite the following here! A talented reader sent us a reworking of the Christmas classic, The Twelve Days of Christmas, which he titled “CalPERS’ Christmas Lament”. But since “The Twelve Days of CalPERS” scans, we thought we’d go with that.

Feel free to sing along!

To the tune of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”

On the first day of Christmas
My GPs gave to me
A tricky, undisclosed fee.

On the second day of Christmas
My GPs gave to me
Two piles of debt
AND
A tricky, undisclosed fee.

On the third day of Christmas,
My GPs gave to me
Three false friends,
Two piles of debt
AND
A tricky, undisclosed fee.

On the fourth day of Christmas
My GPs gave to me
Four appalling boards
Three false friends,
Two piles of debt
AND
A tricky, undisclosed fee.

On the fifth day of Christmas
My GPs gave to me
Five stolen things
Four appalling boards
Three false friends,
Two piles of debt
AND
A tricky, undisclosed fee.

On the sixth day of Christmas
My GPs gave to me
Six thousand lay-offs
Five stolen things
Four appalling boards
Three false friends,
Two piles of debt
AND
A tricky, undisclosed fee.

On the seventh day of Christmas
My GPs gave to me
Seven deals a’breaking
Six thousand lay-offs
Five stolen things
Four appalling boards
Three false friends,
Two piles of debt
AND
A tricky, undisclosed fee.

On the eighth day of Christmas
My GPs gave to me
Eight Michael Milkens
Seven deals a’breaking
Six thousand lay-offs
Five stolen things
Four appalling boards
Three false friends,
Two piles of debt
AND
A tricky, undisclosed fee.

On the ninth day of Christmas
My GPs gave to me
Nine lawyers dancing
Eight Michael Milkens
Seven deals a’breaking
Six thousand lay-offs
Five stolen things
Four appalling boards
Three false friends,
Two piles of debt
AND
A tricky, undisclosed fee.

On the tenth day of Christmas
My GPs gave to me
Ten LPs sleeping
Nine lawyers dancing
Eight Michael Milkens
Seven deals a’breaking
Six thousand lay-offs
Five stolen things
Four appalling boards
Three false friends,
Two piles of debt
AND
A tricky, undisclosed fee..

On the eleventh day of Christmas
My GPs gave to me
Eleven plaintiffs pleading
Ten LPs sleeping
Nine lawyers dancing
Eight Michael Milkens
Seven deals a’breaking
Six thousand lay-offs
Five stolen things
Four appalling boards
Three false friends,
Two piles of debt
AND
A tricky, undisclosed fee.

On the twelfth day of Christmas
My GPs gave to me
Twelve dirty dealings
Eleven plaintiffs pleading
Ten LPs sleeping
Nine lawyers dancing
Eight Michael Milkens
Seven deals a’breaking
Six thousand lay-offs
Five stolen things
Four appalling boards
Three false friends,
Two piles of debt
AND
A tricky, undisclosed fee.

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21 comments

  1. Sluggeaux

    With a little practice practice, I think that I might be able to sing fast enough to fit this into a 3-minute Public Comment at their next meeting…

    Brilliant. Thank you, Reader!

    1. Wearewatchingyou

      Oh im sure they have plenty of friends this time of year, theres probably some Blackstone gala in Vail or Yucaipa event in the Bahama right now with a few select, ostrich-like, LPs in attendance.

  2. James McRitchie

    Despite its many flaws, the board and management of CalPERS are far superior to Congress and the executive branch of our federal government. Democracy is messy.

    Members need to pay more attention. Attend candidate forums, join unions and advocacy groups monitoring CalPERS. Speak out on the issues.

    We are extremely fortunate to have a board that is as open and transparent as it is, with almost half elected by members of the system. This governance structure is no accident. Democracy isn’t something that is accomplished with its founding documents. Democracy is constantly evolving and has to be renewed. Neither rules nor responsible behavior come automatically, even in the best of legal frameworks.

    Naked capitalism offers valuable commentary but you might want to broaden your critique. Look, for example at how proxies are voted for funds invested in the California’s Savings Plus plan. CalPERS announces their proxy votes and posts them on their website before annual shareholder meetings. See CalPERS Discloses Proxy Votes in Advance of Meetings.

    In contrast, it is almost impossible to find out how proxies are voted by Savings Plus contractors. When you do find out, you’ll see they vote against almost everything public employees work for…. transparency in political contributions, efforts with regard to sustainability, human rights, health, etc. See Savings Plus: Transparent Proxy Voting Needed

    Let’s try to make all our institutions more transparent and democratic in 2016.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      You are engaging in link-whoring, which is using one of our posts to promote your site and discuss an at best tangentially-related issue. That is against our written site policies. Our policy is that people who link whore once go into moderation and a second time are blacklisted.

      In praising CalPERS, did you miss that the former CEO of CalPERS, Fred Buenrostro, has been convicted and is awaiting sentencing for taking bribes, including (you can’t make this up) bags of cash? Former board member Al Villalobos, who provided the bribes, was convicted too but committed suicide before his sentencing. Several then-current board members implicated in the scandal resigned, including Chuck Valdez, who insiders say ought to have been indicted.

      As we discussed at considerable length, the CalPERS internal investigation into this affair was a whitewash:

      http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/03/calpers-private-equity-scandals-steptoe-johnson-report-whitewash.html

      It managed to come to the mind-boggling conclusion that Apollo, the biggest source of the bribes by far, had been victimized by Villalobos. No one on Wall Street would take the idea that Leon Black, the head of Apollo, could be “victimized” by anyone seriously, particularly the likes of Villalobos, or needed to pay to get access to CalPERS. CalPERS is a long-standing investor in the Apollo management company, not just its funds, and Black could get a meeting with CalPERS staff any time he wanted to.

      CalPERS has become far less transparent, despite its talk to the contrary, since the scandal. CalPERS recently hired a tainted attorney who is ducking a subpoeana and has hired a top criminal attorney in Florida, meaning he thinks he is exposed.

      And your beef about proxy voting is a very narrow issue. As much as CalPERS is unusual in still (to a degree) taking activism seriously (vasty less so than in its glory days of the 1990s), an index fund makes squat for its fund management. The idea that a passive fund manager should take proxy voting seriously is an unreasonable demand. They aren’t paid for it and their end investors by investing in an index fund have effectively said they don’t want it. They want the best possible index replication (as in lowest tracking error) at the cheapest price.

      CalPERS is a fiduciary managing hundreds of billions of dollars of retiree money. It is not at all the same sort of body as Congress and the Administration. It is held to much higher standards under the law. And you want to give them a free pass in private equity because they do a good job on pet issue of yours.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          No, he looks to be what he says he is. He also may not have read our coverage on CalPERS. or not much of it. And the conundrum is that CalPERS really is better managed than other public pension funds. But it has fallen a long way from its glory days of the 1990s and is running on brand fumes.

      1. Hugh J

        If youre ever unhappy with the transprency provided you can always PRA/FOIA what youre looking for, Jelincic and Yves can attest to how helpful and friendly legal and the staff there is, its not like theyre trying to hide anything

      2. James McRitchie

        I’m familiar with your coverage of CalPERS issues (although obviously I did not read your policy against “link-whoring”). However, most of the issues you raise about are many many years old. Where were you then?

        I was there, testifying before Adam Schiff’s state senate committee in the 1990s about CalPERS board members taking gifts. I obtained determinations from the Office of Administrative Law in 1999 and again in 2007 that CalPERS had adopted regulations illegally.

        You appear set on your agenda… so I’ll leave you to it.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          The issues we’ve been covered in private equity are not old news. You came to use a humorous holiday piece to promote YOUR agenda and YOUR website, and then you engage in projection when called out.

          BTW your effort to have the last word stirred me to strip out the links to your site in your initial comment.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              Look I actually don’t like doing this, but the reason this site still has a decent comments section is that we have rules and we enforce them. Link whoring and thread jacking (another offense I did not call out) are violations of site policies.

              New commentors may not realize that we have rules. But when told we have rules, they just dig their hole deeper by trying to shift ground (yet ANOTHER rule violation, bad faith argumentation) out of a desire to win.

  3. craazyman

    But if it turns into a 10-bagger after the 12th day . . . all will be forgiven. You;ll even be shaking hands with the false friends and dancing lawyers at next year’s Christmas Party! LOL

    1. craazyman

      that’s the “universal you” doing the hand shaking — not any particular person, just to be clear. It’s just a metaphor..

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