Government Unions Try to Intimidate Financial Experts Over Pensions
Union goonery extends to the finance office. Large pension funds are attempting to intimidate financial managers and their sometimes high-profile employees into silence over their criticism of the size and fiscal destructiveness of public pension obligations.
In February, a trustee for New York City’s police retirement system proposed that the fund’s board be able to dismiss future managers who disparage a public pension. Blackstone Group LP (BX)’s chief strategist, Byron Wien, strained relations with New York unions last year when he said benefits are “too generous.” The city’s five pension funds hold combined assets of about $115 billion.
The big dogs of government pensions in on this intimidation campaign. CaLPERS, the massive California state workers’ pension system is emulating the Obama administration’s attempt to silence its critics by implementing elements of the failed DISCLOSE Act by executive order (or is the Obama administration emulating CaLPERS…?).
Wall Street firms seeking to invest for the $235 billion California Public Employees’ Retirement System should disclose if they’ve supported groups critical of government pensions, one of the fund’s board members said.
Money managers trying to win business from the largest U.S. public pension should report contributions to groups advocating for dismantling public worker pension plans that guarantee benefit levels regardless of investment returns, said a Calpers board member, J.J. Jelincic, former head of one of California’s largest state worker unions.
Naturally, financial experts and many economists who have ties to large financial institutions are valuable contributors to the national debate over unsustainable fiscal policy, and their media and public appearances help drive the debate forward. It is no wonder then that the public sector unions want to silence these financial institutions – analysts like Wien are often quite effective and their regular appearance in business-related media represents an essentially costless, sustained message that the unions don’t want seeping into the public consciousness.
I think that these type tactics will fail, because the public at large has already had so much exposure to union goonery of late that people can easily recognize this as no different than the tantrums they’ve thrown in Wisconsin, Indiana, New Jersey and elsewhere. Hell, standing up to these thugs in suits might even help rehabilitate the financial services industry’s reputation a bit!