David M. Gross: CU Foundation: Defining Your Role
David Migoya’s July 21 article regarding the CU Foundation argues that the foundation should avoid active and alternative investments and invest in indices instead. The article argues that indexation would have earned more with less risk. Unfortunately, this misses the essential role of the foundation. Its objective is not to maximize returns, but rather to ensure sufficient funds to meet the restrictions chosen by donors each year. This is the primary measure by which the foundation is to be judged.
Almost no one gives CU money and says to do whatever you want with it. Donations are limited by the donor to fund specific priorities such as scholarships, research, university programs, or student services. A constant annual income is essential for the university which administers these programs. The industry standard is 4% distribution per year. Thus, a donation of $ 250,000 at 4% will generate $ 10,000 per year to fund the donor’s priority. The foundation’s investment objective is to ensure this 4% return, not to maximize the return.
The average return of the S&P 500 over the past 20 years was 8.44%, but in seven of those 20 years it gained less than 4%, including two years with losses of 23.37% and 38 , 49%. Such large losses jeopardize the current and future funding of the donor priority.
Unlike index investing, the foundation’s investment strategy can be tailored to ensure that it has a much higher probability of generating predictable returns and distributions. The foundation’s investments are in fact less risky than an index. We know this because the foundation meets its obligations, even when the market is down, even if it is down the year after the donation.
A quick aside: the article indicates that Warren Buffett invests in passive index funds. This is not true. He is arguably the most famous stock picker in the world.
David M. Gross
Associate Professor of Finance
Leeds School, CU Boulder
Kristen Marshall: Prairie Dogs: Comcast Should Move Them
Arapahoe County Commissioners recently approved Comcast’s request to pave a parcel of land in the Iliff Business Park and “set up” an ancillary parking lot. This land is not vacant. It is home to a colony of black-tailed prairie dogs. Most of the speakers at the July 27 Commissioners’ meeting attempted to defend these prairie dogs. In particular:
- The existing parking could be converted to a multi-level parking lot.
- Vans could be used to transport people from existing but underutilized parking lots.
- COVID has changed the structure of the business, more and more people are working from home.
Some residents near this land described how their families enjoyed using it for nature viewing. Comcast could choose not to build a parking lot and donate the land to a nature park.
If Comcast decides to build the parking lot, they should move the prairie dogs humanely. Arapahoe County has 31,000 acres of open space. This current colony only needs about 10 acres. The alternative to relocation is extermination and it is painful.
Comcast has a choice and so do we. Comcast is not the only Internet service provider. At the July 27 meeting, a representative from Comcast explained how Comcast relates to the community. This community should include nature. We are part of nature, not outside of it.
The last line of Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” is, “You never realize what you’ve got until it’s gone.” I wish the prairie dogs could take a taxi for freedom.
Kimman Harmon: CU South: the 30% made me change my mind
For months, I watched CU Sud’s procedures. I understand why the residents of Frasier Meadows care about flood protection. This seems to be the reason why they are supporting the annexation of CU Sud.
But a 2014 FEMA and City of Boulder report shows that only 30% of the damage to Frasier Meadows during the 2013 flood came from South Boulder Creek. This means that a dam from South Boulder Creek to CU South will not provide anything like the protection we have been promised.
Does this change the perspective of residents of Frasier Meadows on CU South, like mine?
Imagine there is another flood like 2013. And after spending almost $ 100 million on CU South and its dam on site, and accepting all the traffic, noise and impacts of another campus in CU, Frasier Meadows still receives 70% of his damage from 2013?
I think we will all feel extremely guilty. The city may in fact face legal liability after so promising flood protections from a CU South Dam – protections we now know to be bogus. (Unless you consider less than a third of protection, fine.)
I’m concerned that some residents, town workers, and council members are so rooted in CU South that they’re basically saying, ‘Don’t confuse us with the facts, we have to have CU South. No matter the iceberg, full steam ahead.
Don Tocher: Not vaccinated: Call for a presidential message
President Biden and the country must get rid of the non-vaxxers, many of whom are conservatives. However, Biden did nothing according to his claim to unite the country. Instead, he drove the Conservatives crazy. For example, he opened the border, didn’t challenge hard-line teachers’ unions, made love to Iran, canceled Keystone, and flattered the masses with free money. And, he has his own big lie – that Republicans pass voter suppression laws.
Here’s what Mr. Biden should do: publicly give Trump a heartfelt compliment on “Operation Warp-Speed” (he gave lip-service thanks). Then call Trump, asking him to announce that he is making (a heartfelt statement) that he firmly wants everyone to get vaccinated now!
They would both be presidential.