For the 100 largest retirement systems in the country, the third quarter of 2009 marked the highest value of total cash and security holdings in a year, with an increase of 9 percent from $2.1 trillion in the second quarter of 2009 to nearly $2.4 trillion in the third quarter of 2009, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Total cash and security holdings continue to be lower than the same quarter one year ago but at a smaller rate: -7 percent compared with -21.9 percent for the second quarter and -25.5 percent for the first quarter.

Earnings on investments surpassed previous quarters of the last 20 years with a gain of $138.9 billion in the third quarter of 2009. This was the third quarter of continuous increase since the substantial drop in the fourth quarter of 2008 when earnings on investments showed a loss of $106.7 billion. Earnings rose 36.2 percent from $102 billion to $138.9 billion in the third quarter of 2009.

The third quarter of 2009 marked the highest value of corporate stocks in a year. Stocks rose 15.3 percent from $712.7 billion to $822 billion in the third quarter of 2009, but continued to be lower than the same quarter 1 year ago although at a smaller rate: -4.1 percent compared with -22.7 percent for the second quarter and -30.1 percent for the first quarter. Corporate stocks make up about one-third (34.3 percent for 2009:Q3) of the total cash and security holdings of major public employee retirement systems.

Federal government securities had its first quarter increase, after eight consecutive quarter declines, since the last peak at $200 billion (2007:Q2). There was a 6.6 percent increase from $128.9 billion (2009:Q2) to $137.4 billion in the third quarter of 2009 and a 14.2 percent decrease from $160.1 billion in the same quarter one year ago.

With $102.2 billion in the third quarter of 2009, this quarter marked the highest value in cash and short-term investments since they totaled $103.5 billion in the first quarter of 2004. This quarter (2009:Q3) had a 39.3 percent increase from $73.4 billion in the prior quarter (2009:Q2) and rose 41.2 percent from $72.4 billion in the same quarter 1 year ago (2008:Q3).

Download the U.S. Census information.

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