Harvard University and Yale University have suffered their biggest investment losses in 35 years and have been forced to slash spending as a result.
Harvard’s endowment plunged 30 percent over the past year, to $25.8 billion. Yale’s dropped at the same rate, to $16 billion. The two schools have the biggest endowments in the country.
Both schools were darlings of the alternative investment universe during the boom, trading in timber lands and exotic hedge strategies, to the consternation of ordinary investors.
The S&P 500 has jumped about 40 percent from its March low. But university endowments haven’t benefited that much from the rally, because they are heavily weighted in private equity, real estate and commodities, which haven’t recovered as fast.
Yale put off $2 billion in construction and slashed 600 jobs through voluntary resignations and firings thanks to the endowment losses, Bloomberg News reports.
It plans additional spending cuts of $100 million to $150 million in spending to close future deficits, President Levin told the news service.
“There isn’t going to be a quick recovery, I think it’s clear, and we are going to have to make adjustments over the course of the next year.”
Some schools, including Harvard, Dartmouth College and the California Institute of Technology have issued bonds to raise cash and thus will have the burden of debt payments for years.
California universities this week decided to hike tuition 20 percent to offset losses and keep their doors open, to the shock of hundreds of thousands of strapped students and their families.
It’s not just U.S. universities that are suffering.
In the U.K., “capital projects or longer-term investments will have to be put on hold until the market recovers," Karel Thomas of the British Universities Finance Directors Group tells the Guardian.
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