The stock market’s remarkable bull run has been the most consistent bright spot of the economy for most of the past five years. Invesments in the markets have given private investors plenty to smile about, and the gains have been a windfall for public pension funds, too.
In one sense, N.C. Treasurer Janet Cowell might be called a financial genius for choosing how to invest money in the State Employees Association of North Carolina pension fund. But Cowell would be the first to correct that exaggeration.
North Carolina’s state treasurer has always been charged with that responsibility. Under her leadership, the pension fund has been a fortunate beneficiary of a long run of financial gains on Wall Street.
But Cowell recognizes the risk inherent with putting huge investment decisions in the hands of one person, even if that person is elected statewide by the people of North Carolina. She created a bipartisan commission earlier this year that has recommended the creation of a board of trustees that will help state treasurers make investment decisions in the future.
It’s a responsible idea, one that we hope the N.C. General Assembly will embrace. The pension fund for teachers and state employees is critical to the futures of hundreds of thousands of state workers and former state workers. It’s too important to put in the hands of a sole person who might or might not be around after the next election.
Cowell has proved to be a good money manager. Consulting with a board of directors would only strengthen the thinking behind one of the treasurer’s more important areas of responsibility.
Here’s hoping the state follows Cowell’s advice and creates such a board.