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R.I. pension system outperformed 95% of U.S. pension plans during COVID-19 market crisis

The Rhode Island pension system outperformed the vast majority of its peers in the first quarter of 2020 according to new data released by Investment Metrics, formerly MSCI InvestorForce, the leading source of investment performance analytics for institutional investors.

From January through March, Rhode Island's investment performance outperformed the median U.S. public pension plan by 4.2%, saving more than $365 million - relative to if the state had performed in line with the median plan. Overall, Rhode Island's performance for the period ranked 28th out of 546 public pension funds in the United States, according to Investment Metrics.

"The new data indicating that Rhode Island is performing better than most other pension plans during the COVID-19 crisis is welcome news," said Rhode Island Treasurer Seth Magaziner. "In these challenging times it is more important than ever that we deliver strong performance for the state's finances, and protect the retirement security for the many teachers, first responders, and other public employees serving our communities."

In 2016, Magaziner launched his "Back to Basics" investment strategy for the pension system, including nearly $800 million in a Crisis Protection allocation which is designed to outperform during times of market stress.

During the first quarter of 2020, as the markets reacted to the spread of the Coronavirus, the S&P 500 declined by 20% and the median public pension plan returned -13.8%. During the same period, the Rhode Island Crisis Protection allocation rose by 15.1%, helping to limit the system's overall decline to 9.6%.

Detailed information about the Rhode Island pension system, including the 'Back to Basics' investment strategy, performance, and information about its managers are published online as part of Treasurer Magaziner's "Transparent Treasury" initiative at:

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Contact: Evan England (401) 222-2240 | (401) 439-2199 (mobile)

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  • Department or agency: Office of General Treasurer Seth Magaziner
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  • Release date: 05-21-2020

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