Don't Mince Words, Frederick Rowe, How Do You Really Feel About Public Pensions?

This morning, Bloomberg News takes a peek at public pension funds across the country and, after adding up the dwindling numbers, finds a crisis-in-the-making: "With stock market losses this year, public pensions in the U.S. are now underfunded by more than $1 trillion." Among those Bloomberg examined is the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, one of the largest pension funds in the country. Indeed, according to the TRS, "One out of every 20 Texans is a member of TRS," and last year it doled out $1.28 billion in retirement benefits to North Texans alone.

But Bloomberg cracks the books and says the TRS and other pension funds' payouts will eventually tax the taxpayers: The fund "reports each year that its expected rate of return is 8 percent," but "public records show the fund has had an average return of 2.6 percent during the past 10 years." Which, according to Frederick Rowe -- chairman of Dallas-based Greenbrier Partners and a member of the Texas Pension Review Board -- is "pitiful," "madness" and "debilitating." (Rowe warned of the same thing happening to local pension funds two years ago.) He does have a solution near the bottom of the lengthy story; the TRS, however, has no comment.

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