Brando Beach

Number 25870
Subject Finance
Source Northwest News Network
State Washington
Year 2012
Publication Date July 12, 2012
Summary Some of the best investigative stories begin with a question. Public radio journalist Austin Jenkins wondered, why is the Washington State Investment Board contracting with a global security firm to protect its account managers? That led to weeks of digging and sifting through difficult-to-obtain documents. What Jenkins found is that this "under the radar" state agency maintains holdings worth millions of dollars in emerging (and sometimes dangerous) markets all over the world. They include housing projects and shopping centers in Brazil, beach properties in Vietnam, warehouses in Eastern Europe, cement plants in India and grocery stores in Romania. Jenkins found that the state of Washington spent $200 million to build a resort on Marlin Brando's private island in Tahiti. All these exotic investments came about because the Washington State Investment Board is responsible for funding the pensions of 400,000 public sector workers and retirees. The task is so big that a traditional mix of stocks and bonds won't do. So Washington, like a lot of states, seeks out higher risk strategies that can return higher rewards. Washington is now a leader in private equity investments. But Jenkins found that the state agency has few limits on these investments. Critics, including some pensioners, say Washington is chasing profits at the expense of social values. Even leaders at the Investment Board admit that, with $85 billion in assets, the agency doesn’t have the staff to police every investment.
Category Contest Entry
Pages
Keywords Pensions; Private equity investment; Investment
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