David Bronner, who has headed the Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA), the state employee pension fund now valued at $50 billion since 1973, says turmoil in the financial markets can be primarily blamed on two phenomena: inflation caused by government overspending in response to COVID-19 and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict.
During an appearance on this week's episode of "What's Working with Cam Marston," a radio show airing in Mobile, Montgomery, Birmingham, and Huntsville, Bronner gave a wide-ranging interview about his tumultuous start at RSA, his decision to invest in tourism, including the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, and the current market conditions he is facing in leading the state employee pension.
Bronner downplayed President Joe Biden's role in upheaval abroad, noting that first-term presidents are typically tested by adversaries early in their tenures.
Relevant portion begins at 32:23
"I guess I'm so old that I've seen it numerous times," Bronner said. "It crashed in the 80s. I saw the crash of 2000. Each crash was different. 2000 was the tech crash. 2008-09 was the mortgage. It's just like my friend -- we worked on all the problems of the crooks around the world in '08 and '09 in the mortgage business. This crash is a weird one because you've put too much money in the economy. If they would have put some in for the pandemic. They put in a lot and a lot and a lot more. You simply had so much money chasing so few goods that you've screwed up everything relative to that.
"Now, you throw on top of that two countries -- and that's what I caution people about in the case of Biden. Yeah, he's been around Washington a long time, but he's president. He's president, and every country of the world has always tested a new president. Every country has always tested them. Usually, one or two will really be a test. But you have a more serious situation than I have seen in my lifetime because you've got China, and you've got Russia. Both of them are dead serious. Both of them are dead serious problems.
Bronner said too much money was spent on the pandemic.
"To get out of the pandemic, you had to spend some money," Bronner said. "You spent a little bit too much. Let's put it in nice terms. So you look at that, and you say, 'What's going to change the market? How did it change after '08 and '09 with the mortgage crisis? How did it change with the technology bubble in 2000 and 2001?' Well, it changed. It will change again. I can assure you that. And even though the market is down 18% now, I always say that one stock market, literally I started buying seven days in the crash, and the thing was over literally in a month.
"So, they go up and down. This one is hanging on because of the one I hate the worst, and that's the Putin-Ukraine thing because it now leads to a bigger problem down the road, and that is a shortage of food. You have to remember what oil does. You have to remember that us, as Americans -- we got all fired up for the last 18 months? Why? Tesla, the wonderful little electric car, is going to change the world. Well, you can't change the world overnight. It takes time. The electric vehicle is coming, but you are not switching it off like a light switch. It takes years."
To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email jeff.poor@1819News.com.
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