California's public employees' pension fund, the world's largest, made its first investment of $1.1 billion into oil and other commodities early last year, and since then, Calpers has seen it soar 68 percent. Fairfax County pension managers have enjoyed a 61 percent return from a similar move over the past 12 months, far outpacing any other segment of the fund's portfolio.
"Our commodity investment has really helped," said Robert L. Mears, executive director of Fairfax County's Retirement Administration Agency. "This year would have been a lot worse."
Other pension funds are rushing to get in on the action as the prices of oil, precious metals, corn, uranium and other vital goods continue to reach record highs. Montgomery County officials are in the process of shifting 5 percent of their $2.7 billion pension fund away from stocks and into commodities.[...]
"Our job is to minimize our risks on the taxpayer," said Mears, the county's pension executive director. "If you can do that, why wouldn't you?"