Public Pensions Update

Source: Natalie Cohen, Wells Fargo, Municipal Securities Research, Municipal Commentary, May 17, 2013

It is time for an update on public pensions. In the past three months, there has been a flurry of new activity and commentary. The new Government Accounting Standards Board’s (GASB) changes for pension plans go into effect in June (changes for governments take effect in one year). Moody’s formally issued its approach for adjusting public pension liabilities and put 29 high-grade issuers on watch for downgrade. The Puerto Rican Legislative Assembly passed substantive changes to its deeply troubled pension system. Even the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expressed concern about U.S. public pensions in its recent Global Financial Stability Report (GFSR). We mention a few more items below. For basics and greater detail, we direct readers to two of our earlier pieces: Pension Tensions: A Primer published Aug. 22, 2012, and Public Pension Plans: What We Worry About, published Dec. 2, 2011. If read together, investors should either get a great night’s sleep or gain a deeper understanding of public pension dynamics (or both)….