Thursday, September 24, 2009


NY Times details:

Steep investment losses have caused painful cutbacks at some of the nation’s best-known universities over the most recent fiscal year and have prompted questions about whether their endowments are taking too much risk.

But as the schools, one by one, disclose their numbers, the managers of these endowments are indicating their continued support for a diversified portfolio chock full of alternative investments like hedge funds, private equity and real estate — the very things that have caused so much trouble.

This portfolio strategy is sometimes called the Swensen model, after David F. Swensen, who heads the Yale endowment. On Tuesday, Yale disclosed the details of its year, reporting an investment loss of 24.6 percent, compared with an average drop of 17.2 percent for large funds, according to the Wilshire Trust Universe Comparison Service.

Mebane Faber (of World Beta) sums it up best, by not saying much at all:

Draw your own conclusions on endowment performance last year, fiscal year ending June 30th. Below are facts.

Here are those facts in chart form...

In their defense...
Preferring to emphasize their long-term results, the chiefs of many big endowments, including Harvard, Yale and M.I.T., have indicated they are sticking with their models. Notably, Mr. Swensen did not lay out Yale’s asset allocation for the coming year in his statement — something he has done in years past.
If they are perpetual, long term is what matters... but is there any entity that actually is perpetual?

Source: World Beta