World’s largest pension fund posts $52bn loss

The world’s biggest pension fund posted a $52bn (€46bn) loss in the last quarter as stocks tumbled and the yen surged, wiping out all investment gains since it overhauled its strategy by boosting shares and cutting bonds.

Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF) lost 3.9%, or 5.2trn yen, in the three months to the end of June, reducing assets to 129.7 trillion yen, it said yesterday. 

That erases a 4.1trn yen investing return for the previous six quarters starting October 2014, the month it decided to put half its assets into equities.

The quarterly decline follows a 5.3trn yen loss in the fiscal year through March, the worst annual performance since the global financial crisis. 

After benefiting from a surge in Japanese equities and a weaker yen earlier in prime minister Shinzo Abe’s term, GPIF has posted losses as domestic stocks tumble and gains in the currency reduce the value of overseas assets. Still, for Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank, that’s no reason to veer from the current approach.

“Since its investments are tied to market moves, it’s natural that this would happen and there’s no point looking at it with a short-term view,” said Ayako Sera, a market strategist at the bank. 

“GPIF is so big that its losses look huge even though the fluctuations in its investments just mirror the market.”

The fund’s Japanese shares sank 7.4% in the period as the benchmark Topix index lost 7.5%. More than 80% of GPIF’s local equity investments are passive. Overseas stocks lost 7.8%, while foreign debt fell 8%, as the yen surged 9.1% against the dollar.

 The only asset class to post a profit was domestic bonds, which rose in value as the Bank of Japan’s negative interest rates sent yields lower.

Bloomberg


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