News

PSSI US Capital Markets Triumph

12.05.2020

The White House has made a major move to stop the imminent transfer of some $50 billion of  US federal pension funds into a new stock index that includes a number of U.S.-sanctioned Chinese companies and other corporate national security and human rights “bad-actors”. 

The Federal Retirement Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), the world’s largest of its kind, manages $557B in funds covering US federal employees, including the armed forces, the Congress and the Executive Branch. Wall Street and other supporters of the transfer emphasize the financial benefits from including Chinese firms in the Plan’s investment portfolio. Those opposed to the action, including PSSI and its Chairman Roger Robinson – who was the first to bring this issue to the attention of the White House and other US government officials’, note the obvious policy contradiction in using federal employees’ retirement dollars to invest in U.S.-sanctioned Chinese companies and other corporate bad actors which are likewise not compliant with U.S. federal securities laws.. 

A letter from the National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien and National Economic Council Chair Larry Kudlow to U.S. Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia (who oversees the TSP) cites as grounds for the decision “national security and humanitarian concerns”, including funding China’s military buildup, advanced weapons systems and repression of national minorities. The text also mentions the “culpable actions of the Chinese government with respect to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic”, although it should be noted that Mr. Robinson first brought this issue to the Executive Branch and the Congress in July 2019, well before the outbreak of the pandemic. 

The size of the federal Thrift Savings Plan makes the decision significant in its own right. It would prevent over $4.5B from being transferred into the wrong sorts of Chinese equities. But, perhaps even more importantly, the decision could send a signal to European governments and exchanges that there are major fiduciary, national security and human rights dangers in Chinese equity investments, encouraging similar moves among other China-skeptic governments, and possibly even extending to private investment funds as well.

 

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