A financial lesson from Yale

Jeremy Hobson Sep 27, 2007


Lisa Napoli: You always knew the people who went to Yale were a bunch of smarty-pants. At 50 grand a year to send your kid there, they should be.

Well, apart from the return on your investment for your tuition, Yale’s cash is making pretty good bank, too. The school’s endowment grew 28 percent this past fiscal year. Yo-yo stock market be darned. Here’s Jeremy Hobson.

Jeremy Hobson: Richard Anderson of Hammond Associates advises about 75 universities on how to manage their endowments. When he heard Yale’s investment portfolio had grown from $18 billion to $22.5 billion in the last fiscal year, he couldn’t believe it.

Richard Anderson: It is a stunning return.

At 28 percent, even more stunning than Harvard’s rate of return, though Harvard still lays claim to the nation’s biggest endowment — about $35 billion.

Endowment funds are largely tax-free, and universities typically benefit from the returns while leaving the principal intact. And, says Anderson, endowment managers, unlike Wall Street investors, have an infinite horizon.

Anderson: They do not need full liquidity, so they can invest for a very long term.

But universities have invested heavily in alternative investments, like hedge funds. Anderson says they are not totally immune to market turbulence.

Yale won’t comment on how its portfolio has performed since June 30th.

In Washington, I’m Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

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