Futures Imperfect

The Virginia Retirement System thought it was on to a good thing: After its outside commodity-fund managers recorded a 17.6% gain last year, the $16 billion pension outfit tripled its investment in the futures markets, to $460 million. Alas, the bottom fell out. With the stakes higher than ever, the Virginians lost 7.3% during the first three months of the year--and by mid-August, they had decided to pull out entirely. They were not alone. On average, commodity funds have declined 1.35% through July 31.

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