Thursday, May 29, 2014

Listen to the Regents Committee on Investments, May 22, 2014

The previously-nonworking Regents recording of its May 22 meeting of the Committee on Investments seems now to be functioning again.  As we (often) have noted in the past, the Regents "archive" their meetings for one year only.  So we record them in real time to preserve them indefinitely.

In this meeting, the Committee on Investments mainly reviewed investment returns of the various funds handled at the systemwide level plus the campus-level foundation endowments.  However, apparently the Committee also set up its task force on fossil fuel divestment.  The word "apparently" is used because whatever the Committee did on that issue must have occurred during the closed part of the meeting.

There was one public comment speaker on fossil fuel divestment.  She indicated in her remarks that a coal-only approach - which the governor seemed to look kindly on - wasn't enough.  Oil and gas would have to be included.  The notion of omitting the pension plan was not mentioned.  As we have noted in prior posts, both the governor and the legislature seem reluctant to touch the oil industry which is significant in California and might provide tax revenue.  Coal doesn't exist in the state so it doesn't raise political and revenue issues.  In short, by creating its task force, the Regents may have delayed, but not avoided, an eventual clash.

Apart from UC funds, the Committee gets routine reports on campus-level foundations and their investments and returns.  Riverside stands out because, unlike the others, its foundation is 87% invested in equities (much of it foreign) - odd for a fund that is supposed to be more like a savings bank than a speculation. Regents debated what to do.  Riverside in recent times has done well because the market has done well.  But it doesn't seem like a model of prudence.

You can hear the meeting at the link below.  The coal-won't-be-enough comment comes around minute 3.

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