“Political Representation and Governance: Evidence from the Investment Decisions of Public Pension Funds ” by Yael V. hochberg
Wednesday, 5 April 2017 | 2:30pm - 4:00pm
Yael V. Hochberg
Joshua D. Rauh
We examine how political representatives affect the governance of organizations. Our laboratory is public pension funds and their investments in the private equity asset class. Representation on pension fund boards by state officials or those appointed by them-often determined by statute decades past-is strongly and negatively related to the performance of private equity investments made by the fund. This underperformance is driven both by investment category allocation and by poor selection of managers within category. Funds whose boards have high fractions of members who were appointed by a state official or sit on the board by virtue of their government position (ex officio) invest more in real estate and funds of funds, explaining 20-30% of the performance differential. These pension funds also choose poorly within investment categories, overweighting investments in small funds, in-state funds, and in inexperienced GPs with few other investors. Lack of financial experience contributes to poor performance by boards with high fractions of other categories of board members, but does not explain the underperformance of boards heavily populated by state officials. Political contributions from the finance industry to elected state officials on pension fund boards are strongly and negatively related to performance, but do not fully explain the performance differential.