New Zealand Superannuation Fund value over $30 billion


The New Zealand Superannuation Fund has topped $30 billion in value.

That should raise questions about when the Government will resume contributions to the Fund and whether it made a mistake when it ceased contributions back in 2009.

The Fund rose 1.25 percent in value in April.

That is close to the 1.24 percent it has gained over the past twelve months. That might not sound like much, but the Fund outperformed the market, in what has been a volatile time for investment markets.

The Reference Portfolio, which the Fund measures itself against, lost 1.34 percent in the twelve months to April 30.

The Super Fund has grown by an average of 9.49 percent per year since it was founded in November 2001.

The Government stopped making annual contributions in 2009. It argued that it did not make sense to borrow money to invest in the Fund.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. But it does look like ending the contributions was a mistake. Particularly when you consider that from 2009 the global markets have strongly recovered from the lows they reached in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis.

The Guardians of the Fund say that if the contributions had continued the Fund would have grown to an estimated $47.8 billion by June 30th 2015, compared to an actual total of $29.6 billion.

That is a difference of $18.2 billion.

That includes an additional $12.7 billion in Government contributions. The rest is after-tax investment gains of more than $5 billion. Those gains well and truly outpaced the borrowing costs the Government would have incurred.

There is also the future to consider.

The additional contributions would not only have earned more than $5 billion already, but they would compound even more over time.

Even when the Government resumes contributions the Fund will not be able to benefit from the compounding effect of the uninvested $12.7 billion. It will always be playing catch up.

Supporters of the decision to halt contributions will argue there is something else to consider. They will argue the Government had other more pressing spending priorities and wanted to rein in debt levels.

But the question now is when might the contributions resume and how much will be invested each year?