The stock market has been on a wild ride with the coronavirus panic and gas prices causing the largest one day drop since 2008.
During the Democratic primary for North Carolina state treasurer, won by Ronnie Chatterji of Durham, all three candidates were critical of the conservative investment strategy employed by Republican State Treasurer Dale Folwell.
When the market fell on Monday, March 9, Folwell in a press release stated, “We want to assure the nearly 950,000 members who are paying into or receiving pension payments from the North Carolina Retirement Systems that the stock market’s recent downturn will have no impact on their pension payments. As of today, the state pension plans are down less than 1%. This is because the plans have been conservatively managed under the Folwell administration and other administrations for the past 50 years.”
According to Folwell, Moody’s Investors Services rated the North Carolina retirement fund as the best funded in the nation when considering adjusted net pension liability and Pew Charitable Trusts reported that the state pension fund “is well positioned to maintain solvency during tough economic times.”
The state retirement system is the ninth largest public pension fund in the country and is valued at more than $105 billion. It pays out over $6.5 billion a year in pension payments.
All three Democratic candidates suggested during the campaign that a system of investing that $105 billion to take advantage of the recent increases in the stock market would be a better strategy. However, according to Folwell that would also make the retirement fund more susceptible to drops in the market as happened on Monday.
Folwell had no Republican challenger in the March 3 primary and will face Chatterji in the General Election on Tuesday, Nov. 3.
Chatterji won a tight race in the Democratic primary with 35.8 percent of the vote over Charlotte City Councilmember Dimple Ajmera with 34 percent and Matt Leatherman with 30 percent.