California Public Employees’ Retirement System — the largest U.S. public pension — is considering dialing up the proportion of its holdings allocated to riskier securities like private equity and emerging markets.
An agenda published ahead of a investment committee meeting shows Calpers suggesting amping up its allocation to sovereign bonds in emerging markets to 5% from 1% and private debt to 5% from less than 1%. The fund manager is also looking to increase investments in private equity to 13% from 8%, the agenda shows.
The reallocation would require Calpers to purchase roughly $25 billion of emerging-market debt, private debt and private-equity holdings to meet its 5% target increase in each asset class, based on the current nearly $500 billion portfolio.
A spokeswoman for Calpers declined to comment on candidate portfolios.
Every four years, Calpers sets new targets for allocations based on assumptions for capital-market returns. It’s been moving more deeply into alternative assets — which include private equity and credit — and using more leverage to increase yields. It’s also struggled to maintain balances in alternative holdings as stocks soared and grabbed a bigger slice of the investment pie.
Emerging markets and private credit offer more yield than haven investments like Treasuries, which have seen nominal yields crushed by years of easy central bank policy.
Calpers’ potential shift comes at a time when yields on developed-market government bonds are stuck near historical lows. Even after the recent increase, 10-year Treasury yield is about 1.6%, almost half of the level three years ago. Globally, more than $12 trillion of debt offers yields below zero. In comparison, the Bloomberg Emerging-Market Local Currency Government Index yields 3.9%. Over the past five years, emerging-market debt has returned 26% in dollar terms, compared with 15% in Treasuries, according to Bloomberg Indexes.