New Jersey plans to sell transportation bonds to the state’s pension fund.
Now, New Jersey is lending money to itself.
After struggling to raise debt from third parties to repair crumbling infrastructure, the state of New Jersey has come up with a “clever” approach to fundraising that entails selling debt to their own insolvent pension funds…something we’ve dubbed the “Pension Ponzi Squared.” Of course, because when everybody else shuns your debt for being too risky who better to sell it to than yourself?
With $3.4 billion in annual benefits payments versus only $1.9 billion in contributions, funds like the New Jersey Public Employees’ Retirement System already qualified as a plain vanilla ponzi scheme. But, using what little pension assets they have left (38% net funded) to buy debt in the entity that ultimately backstops their liabilities is a whole new level of madness. As we recall, the mortgage CDO^2 didn’t work out so well back in 2008.