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    Entries in California (2)

    Thursday
    Sep062018

    Berkeley's Bold Bet on Bitcoin

    BY  AUGUST 2018

    Berkeley, Calif., has always had an independent streak. It was named after Irish philosopher George Berkeley, who advanced the theory of immaterialism or the belief that material things have no objective existence. Located across the bay from San Francisco, Berkeley has long attracted people and ideas outside of the mainstream. In the 1960s, it was the birthplace of the free speech movement and hippie counterculture. In the 1990s, an advocacy group tried to bring back the bartering system in protest of economic globalization. And in the 2000s, voters overwhelmingly approved the nation’s first-ever soda tax to counteract the damage done by high-sugar drinks.

    But now this city known for its out-there policies is taking perhaps its biggest risk yet: Later this year, it plans on becoming the first municipality in the country to issue municipal bonds using the blockchain technology that underpins cryptocurrency. The project is the brainchild of Mayor Jesse Arreguín and Vice Mayor Ben Bartlett and is being billed as a way to make investing in municipal bonds more accessible than ever. That’s because, unlike the minimum $5,000 bond denomination common today, “cryptobonds” can be issued in denominations as low as $5 or $10. The bonds also have the potential to open up a whole new way for the city to raise money for housing. This is an acute issue since the Trump administration has slashed the budget for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, cut funding for Section 8 housing credits and targeted sanctuary cities such as Berkeley for federal funding cuts.

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    Thursday
    Oct012015

    As Retirees Outnumber Employees, Pensions Seek Saviors

    Desperate for more money, public pension systems have been making high-risk investments hoping for a higher profit. But they may ultimately cost taxpayers more.
    BY  OCTOBER 2015

    The $300 billion California Public Employees’ Retirement System began showing its age this year: It started paying out more money to retirees than it gained in contributions and investments. In roughly 20 years, CalPERS’ retirees will outnumber active workers by a ratio of nearly 2-to-1 in some of its plans.

    In fact, a lot of state and local pension systems are already showing their age. Back in the 1970s, the typical pension fund had four to five times more active employees than it had retirees. Today, that ratio has slipped to 1.5-to-1 and is falling.

    In the investment world, fi

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