The California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) provides pension fund, healthcare and other retirement services for approximately 1.5 million California public employees. As of October 2007, it owns $254.8 billion worth of stock, bonds, funds, private equity and real estate.Fact|date=July 2008 It is the largest pension fund in the United States.Fact|date=July 2008 CalPERS provides benefits to all state government employees and, by contract, to local agency and school employees. Many California counties and large cities have their own retirement system. California teachers are covered under CalSTRS (California State Teacher Retirement System), with funds in excess of $179.6 billion.Fact|date=July 2008

CalPERS shareholder proposals

Being one of the largest owners in the world (and the third largest purchaser of employee health benefits in the nation), CalPERS has attempted to use this power to change the way certain things are done in business. For example:

*Demanding companies disclosed their Y2k readinessFact|date=July 2008
*Calling on companies which operate in offshore havens to repatriate to the United StatesFact|date=July 2008
*Calling for reform in executive compensation, especially Golden ParachutesFact|date=July 2008
*Suing the NYSE over allegations that their specialists (floor workers) engage in practices which hurt investorsFact|date=July 2008
*Banning investment of its funds in nine companies that do business in Sudan until the government of that country halts ongoing genocideFact|date=July 2008

Praise and criticism

CalPERS has been both praised and criticized by some for its shareholder activism. Many feel that the organization has well represented the will of the employees whose pensions it manages by pushing for a wide array of causes, ranging from greater fiscal responsibility to social justice.Fact|date=July 2008 Some others argue that this unduly interferes with business, is backed by a political agenda (citing the dominance of Democrats on CalPERS' board), and further encourages the belief that California is "anti-business."Fact|date=July 2008 A recent president of CalPERS, Sean Harrigan, was removed from his position in December 2004, amid criticism for his activism on matters of corporate governance. He claimed his removal was politically motivated. [ [ - Calpers president says governor, chamber behind his ouster ] ]

CalPERS has been criticized for being foolish to invest in CDOs before the July 2007 mortgage meltdown, [ [ Exclusive ] ] and for not publicly addressing the issue, [ [ W.C. Varones Blog: Where's CalPERS? ] ] and more recently for having invested in the failed LandSource deal [ [ L.A. Times Blog: Bankruptcy for CalPERS-backed LandSource ] ] at the height of the housing bubble.

CalPERS Member Home Loan Program

CalPERS offers to its member a program called the CalPERS Member Home Loan Program. This program assists members in buying or refinancing homes to be used as a primary residence. The program is open to members of the following: CalPERS, Legislators' Retirement System, Judges' Retirement System, and Judges' Retirement System II. The program offers reduced rates and fees while providing a program that is also beneficial to the members' retirement program. CalPERS certifies independent companies, like [ [ CalPERS Member Home Loan Program Information ] ] to assist the borrower through the loan process. Members are also allowed to borrow against their retirement for the purpose of buying a home.


External links

* [ The CalPERS Website]
* [ CalPERS Shareowner Forum]
* [ CalSTRS]
* [ PERSWatch]
* [ the New Colossus]
* [ Certified CalPERS Home Loan Program]
* [ CalPERS urged to divest from KBR]

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