The California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) styles itself as the United States' largest public fund. In response to a letter from Governor Newsom, CalPERS has reported that it has over three quarters of a billion dollars in Russian investments, consisting of $420 million in public stocks and $345 million in illiquid real estate assets. Although these are sizable amounts, CalPERS claims that combined they represent only 0.17% of its total investment portfolio.
In response to Russia's attack on Ukraine, CalPERS has announced the following actions:
- CalPERS has ceased all transactions in Russian publicly traded equity and has stopped the flow of any new investments into the country.
- CalPERS is actively assessing its real estate investments and determining a path forward.
- CalPERS is reviewing all its investments in emerging markets, including Russia, due to the impacts the crisis has had on all financial markets.
- CalPERS is following all regulatory requirements promulgated by U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control and the sanctions that are in place.
None of CalPERS' holdings consist of Russian government debt, which may be a good thing if history is any guide. This large House of Fabergé urn sits on a green jasper pedestal in the boardroom of the New York Stock Exchange. Russia's last Tsar, Nicholas II, reportedly gave this urn to the exchange in appreciation of the listing in 1904 of some $1 billion in Russian government bonds. A year later, the Bolsheviks are calling for repudiation of Russia's debt. In February 1918, they shock the financial markets by doing just that.