Assets of the 100 largest public employee retirement systems in the fourth quarter were the highest since the 2007 peak in the fourth quarter, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Thursday.
Assets reached $2.836 trillion, up 1.7% from the previous quarter and up 8.6% from the fourth quarter in 2011, but below the peak level of $2.929 trillion.
The 100 plans' investments earned $67.3 billion in the fourth quarter.
Corporate stocks, which account for 33.1% of assets, decreased 1% to $939.5 billion in the quarter, while corporate bonds, at 12.3% of assets, decreased 0.2% to $349.2 billion.
International securities, which make up 20.2% of assets, increased 6.6% from the previous quarter to $574.1 billion, the highest level since the survey started collecting data for international securities in the third quarter of 2000. International securities increased 21.4% year-over-year. Federal government securities, with 8.9% of assets, increased 2.2% from the previous quarter, but increased 40.7% from the same date in 2011, to reach $251.5 billion.
The 100 largest public plans represent 89.4% of total public plan assets.
The year-over-year comparisons are relevant for only total assets and international securities since the classifications were changed in the first quarter of 2012. Federally sponsored agency securities were moved into the “federal government securities” category from the “corporate bond” category, and private equity, venture capital and leveraged buyouts went to the “corporate stocks” category from “other securities.”
Government contributions to the plans in the survey increased 22.7% from the previous quarter and 9% year-over-year, to $23.4 billion. Employee contributions increased 28.7% in the quarter and 11.9% from the previous year, to $10.3 billion.