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Opinion
Barry Ritholtz

The Shame of Alternative Investments

University endowments and corporate and state pension funds are underperforming because of putting too much money in so-called alternative investments.
The campus that spawned an investment model.                                  
The campus that spawned an investment model.                                  

Last summer in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Trustee Leadership Forum for Retirement Security held its annual meeting at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Trustees and representatives of various state pension funds listened to explanations about the challenges facing endowments and pension funds.

The conference is an attempt to explain why so many state pensions are underfunded and underperforming. The event was run by Jay Youngdahl, a senior fellow at the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Harvard University. Youngdahl is the author of ``Investment Consultants and Institutional Corruption,'' and as you might imagine, there was very little in the way of minced words at this event. I was invited to give a presentation to this group on how cognitive bias and performance-chasing leads to investing failures (you can see ``The High Cost of Neuro-Financial Errors'' here).