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MSU portfolio declines by $300 million

February 2, 2009

MSU’s $1.4 billion investment portfolio has declined almost $300 million since the end of June.

The portfolio, which mainly consists of endowments, is made up of donations and investments that accumulate interest over time.

Because of the nation’s ongoing economic crisis, the university’s portfolio has decreased about 20 percent through the end of last December, which is six months into fiscal year 2009.

By October of last year, the portfolio had decreased by 10 percent. At that time, Glen Klein, MSU’s director of investments and financial management, said there was no reason to worry.

Although the portfolio’s decline has since doubled, he said MSU still isn’t panicking.

“These things aren’t things that will correct themselves in months,” Klein said Saturday. “We feel the same as we did in October. We’re still positioned in a way to ride out this downturn.”

Universities across the country also are feeling the effects of the economy, some worse than MSU. According to a survey conducted by the National Association of College and University Business Officers and TIAA-CREF Asset Management, college endowments have decreased an average of 22.5 percent since the end of June 2008.

“Everybody who invests money in the market right now, or most everybody, is below 40 percent,” MSU Trustee Faylene Owen said. “We have to wait, but I’m sure when we do come back, we’ll be just fine.”

MSU spokesman Terry Denbow echoed Owen’s and Klein’s positivity.

“I consider our approach reasoned, responsible and responsive,” he said. “I say this based on three outcomes: The proportion of resources we invest in markets allows for a commendable track record for strategic management of funds; the performance of our investments; and an MSU-designed portfolio that maintains enough liquidity to help ride out market downturns.”

Although Klein maintains MSU will be able to outlast the economic turmoil, he said the current climate is the worst he’s seen since he’s worked at the university.

“The magnitude of this downturn, with the global recession and credit crisis, I don’t know if we’ve had this happen simultaneously,” he said.

Owen said the administration will continue to look for cost-cutting solutions to lessen the blow of the financial crisis.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a major thing we have to look at,” she said.

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