Archive: Pension Program

2010 Apr 21

Capital Matters VIII - Managing Labor's Capital

Wed - Fri, Apr 21 to Apr 23, 6:00pm - 2:00pm


Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA

coverAmong the topics on which this year’s Capital Matters conference focused were systemic risk and its pension fund and other implications, various aspects of pension fund risk management, a rethinking of fiduciary duty, an assessment of the success of capital stewardship, challenges faced by employment-based retirement plans and the broader challenge of retirement security for all households, and the new landscape of pension fund investment in infrastructur0
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2011 Mar 16

9th Annual Conference of the Pensions and Capital Stewardship Project: Pensions, Retirement Security and Strategies for Investment

Wed - Fri, Mar 16 to Mar 18, 5:00pm - 2:00pm


Harvard Law School, Cambridge MA

penconf_2011_4_COVERThis year’s annual conference featured speakers and panels on key topics, including a critical perspective on the operation of financial markets in which pension funds participate, the nature and implications for pension funds of the recently enacted financial markets reform legislation; the current and future landscape of those who provide financial services to funds, the relationship between pension fund boards and their staff, consultants, and asset managers,  the progress and impact of corporate governance reforms, efforts to sustain public sector pension plans both currently and with any eye to the future, and the challenge of retirement income security for all households.
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2012 Mar 29


9:00am to 2:00pm


Harvard Law School, Cambridge MA

Cover Pension conference March 2012The Pension Project held its tenth annual conference, attended by pension trustees from across the United States as well as from Canada and the United Kingdom.  They were joined by scholars, researchers, and practitioners from the U.S., Canada, France, and Germany. The conference explored a range of issues concerned with the relationship between pension fund investment and economic growth and job creation; assessed the merits of financial markets reform in the United States, especially as it pertains to pension funds; considered the rationales for and the import for themselves and others of pension fund investment in commodities; discussed a range of activities - from research to engagement - concerned with the bearing of S-factors, particularly workplace related considerations, on investment decisions; described new and important ways of rethinking the meaning and practice of fiduciary duty; and described initiatives in the United States by which public sector pension plans can facilitate private sector worker participation in retirement plans.
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2013 May 16

Promoting Labor and Human Rights Through Investments

9:00am to 4:00pm


U.S. Department of State 320 21st Street, NW Washington, DC 20520

US Dept of State LogoCo sponsored with the U.S. State Department Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. 
Participants included activist pension fund, SRI, and other institutional investors, US. State Department officials and staff.
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Capital Matters Newsletter
1/2008. “Capital Matters Newsletter” (Vol. 1, No. 2). Publisher's VersionAbstract
• Point/Counterpoint: Infrastructure Investments 
• What trustees can learn from San Diego 
• Putting labor rights into investment decisions 
• Trustee Perspective 
• Sharing retirement-funding risk: The Dutch Solution 
Capital Matters Newsletter
4/2008. “Capital Matters Newsletter” (Vol. 1, No. 3). Publisher's VersionAbstract
•Understanding the Turmoil in Financial Markets 
• ...What to Do 
• 401(k)s Fall Short of Funding an Adequate Retirement 
• Can VEBAs Alleviate Retiree Health Care Woes 
• Effective Labor Representation on Pension Boards 
Capital Matters Newsletter
7/2008. “Capital Matters Newsletter” (Vol. 1, No. 4 ). Publisher's VersionAbstract
•Experiments in Public Sector Pension Fund Design 
•Accounting for Pension Fund Risk and Reward 
• A Code of Conduct for Pension Trustees 
• CEO Pay as a Proxy for Good Corporate Governance 
• Defined Benefit and Defined Contribution Investment Returns Compared
• Labor, Human Rights and Investment Risk 
Private Equity and American Labor: Multiple, Pragmatic Responses Mirroring Labor’s Strengths and Weaknesses
Larry W. Beeferman. 2009. “Private Equity and American Labor: Multiple, Pragmatic Responses Mirroring Labor’s Strengths and Weaknesses.” Journal of Industrial Relations, Vol. 51, No. 4,, Pp. pp. 545-558 .Abstract
This article briefly describes the recent growth of private equity, details some of the challenges such growth has posed for American labor, and outlines ways in which labor has chosen to respond. In so doing it suggests that the diverse, complicated, and practical choices labor has made to date have been shaped by the particular strengths and weaknesses of its position in American society. More particularly, these choices place the emphasis on (1) legislative change, relating mainly to tax rather than regulatory policy (labor-related or otherwise); (2) capital strategies, by which unions and pension funds engage companies in connection with corporate governance and investments that might be made in or withheld from them; and (3) high-profile campaigns relating to the reputation of private equity firms and the companies in their portfolio.
US Pension Funds’ Labour-Friendly Investments
Tessa Hebb and Larry Beeferman. 2010. “US Pension Funds’ Labour-Friendly Investments.” In "Social" in Social Security: Market, State and Associations in Retirement Provision,, Pp. Chapter 4. Lampeter, UK: Hyde, Mark and John Dixon, Edwin Mellen Press.Abstract
This article explores the evolution of labor friendly US investments by pension funds in the period since the downturn of the financial markets in 2001. It argues that both pension funds and investment vehicles that bring intentional targeting to their investments are becoming increasingly sophisticated financial players. Labor friendly investments that focus on risk adjusted rates of return as the driver for investment are increasingly able to point to strong track records that encourage a wide range of pension fund investors to engage with these vehicles and practices.
Origins of the Financial Markets Meltdown, the Need for Financial Reform, and the Dodd-Frank Bill Response
Larry Beeferman. 1/2011. “Origins of the Financial Markets Meltdown, the Need for Financial Reform, and the Dodd-Frank Bill Response.” Commissioned for the National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems. Publisher's VersionAbstract
This paper reviews: (1) what typically are seen as important near- or short-term causes linked to the financial crisis, (2) the kinds of individual and institutional behaviors that many believe contributed to these causes, (3) the most important among the provisions of recently enacted financial markets reform legislation – the Dodd-Frank Act – ostensibly calculated to change those behaviors, and (4) some critical perspective on whether the provisions are suited to the task.
Capital Stewardship in the United States: Worker Voice and the Union Role in the Management of Pension Fund Assets
Larry W. Beeferman. 2/2011. “Capital Stewardship in the United States: Worker Voice and the Union Role in the Management of Pension Fund Assets.” Transfer: European Review of Labour and Research, vol. 17 , no 1, Pp. 43-57.Abstract
This article describes US unions’ efforts at capital stewardship, that is, the investment and management of the assets accumulated in pension and other retirement plans (frequently termed ‘workers’ or ‘labour’s capital’) — on behalf of plan participants and in the interest of workers more generally. It focuses particularly on the opportunities for direct worker voice in the governance and management of those assets through workers serving as trustees of the plans. The article explores the challenges these trustees face in navigating that role in addition to their possibly conflicting role as a union member or official. It details unions’ visions for capital stewardship and their efforts to integrate trustees’ activities within the broader range of union activities. Finally, it describes ways in which unions have collaborated in support of their trustees and to develop a cross-union capital stewardship agenda.
Supply-Chain Labour and Human Rights
Larry Beeferman and Aaron Bernstein. 12/2011. Supply-Chain Labour and Human Rights. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Prepared at the request of the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI), this report  benchmarks the supply-chain labor and human rights policies of the S&P/ASX 200 (ASX 200) against 2,500 of the largest global companies building on the work of the Project’s previous publication “Benchmarking Corporate Policies on Labor and Human Rights in Global Supply Chains,” (Occasional Paper No. 5)  On the whole, the ASX 200 companies lag their peers in other listed markets, with a mere 17% issuing a labor and human rights policy covering their supply chain, versus 35% in the global sample. This trend carries across when analyzing company procedures to implement policies. There is some exception to this pattern for occupational health and safety policies of ASX 200 companies, which were notably strong, which may reflect the impact of strict health and safety legislation in Australia. The largest Australian companies (by market capitalization) also managed to measure up to their global peers on a number of indicators. The majority of ASX 200 firms however paled in comparison to the performance of the global sample
Corporations Launch First-Of-A-Kind Testing Of New Labor & Human Rights Supply Chain Performance Indicators
Larry Beeferman and Aaron Bernstein. 1/2012. Corporations Launch First-Of-A-Kind Testing Of New Labor & Human Rights Supply Chain Performance Indicators . Developed by a collaboration of The Fair Labor Association and The Pensions and Capital Stewardship Project at Harvard Law School.Abstract

Nine companies this month launched a process to test newly-developed Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to assess reputational risks and operational shortcomings associated with labor and human rights factors in corporate supply chains. Collectively, these companies source goods from 1,755 factories that employ around 1.8 million workers in 62 countries.  Once tested, finalized, and implemented, these standardized KPIs could allow interested parties to assess companies’ progress toward reducing labor and human rights risks. 

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Larry Beeferman and Allan Wain. 12/2012. I N F R A S T R U C T U R E: Defining Matters. Publisher's VersionAbstract
This paper is resource for pension funds in two ways. One is to help them gain a more useful understanding of what infrastructure “is” or might be believed to “be.” The other is to suggest how that understanding relates to ways of thinking about infrastructure and how those ways, in turn, are linked to choices about infrastructure investments for their portfolios. The analysis and findings are based in part on a survey of U.S. public sector pension funds which have made such investments.