The New Orleans pension fund has fallen from $158.5 million in net assets at the end of 2011 to a low of $84.8 million.
From the World Socialist Web Site:
Like all funded pension schemes, the New Orleans firefighters’ pension plan is prey to the swindling and double-dealing of the financial industry. The list of bad and often downright shady investments made by the fund could fill several volumes. For example, in 2008 it and two other Louisiana public employee pension funds invested $100 million in a scheme by Fletcher Asset Management, supposedly involving an anonymous financial backer, which guaranteed a 12 percent return on investment. Fletcher Asset Management is now embroiled in several lawsuits filed by pensions and hedge funds throughout the country, including the three pension funds in Louisiana, alleging tens of millions of dollars worth of corruption and fraud.
The firefighters’ fund is particularly vulnerable, however, because it relies heavily on high-risk real estate investments, which cannot be easily liquidated in the event of a budget shortfall. Fully 45 percent of its investment portfolio is tied up in real estate, ranging from a $2.3 million loan to a now-closed Days Inn in the New Orleans suburb of Metarie to a 99 percent stake in the Lakewood Golf Club, a few blocks away from the fund’s offices, which accounts for $17.5 million of last year’s net asset loss. Source
The New Orleans firefighters’ have a bitter pill to swallow due to the losses in their pension funds.