US - Experts have testified to Congress about the economic importance of pension schemes as long term investors and the central role they play in the US economy.
Casey added that over 40% of investment capital for US venture capital funds was generated by DB pension plans: "Money invested in defined benefit plans typically stays there until an employee leaves or retires.
"As a result, defined benefit plans can invest in less liquid, alternative asset classes, such as venture capital, which are crucial to job creation, particularly in high-tech industries."
William Pryor, chairman of the US$41bn Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association and a member of the executive board of the National Conference of Public Employee Retirement Systems (NCPERS), which represents funds with total assets of almost $3trn, said public pension plans played an important part in the US economy as well diversified investors.
He added: "Traditional DB pension plans play an important role in the overall US and international economic cycle. We are long term, patient investors [which] may make investments in venture or real estate funds that may not be fully realised for as many as 20 years.
"We provide an important role in the local and national economy as patient, long term investors."
Pryor explained as local investment had become a standard practice for DB schemes and the large proportion of hi-tech and clean-tech companies based in California meant California based schemes were often 'overweight' in these areas.
Beth Almeida, executive director, National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS), commented: "Pensions are much more than the cornerstone of retirement security.
"The assets held by pension funds make a significant contribution to the economy and provide capital to create new businesses and jobs. This aspect of pensions is all the more important in these tough economic times."
According to evidence presented at the hearing, private sector DB plans fell from 88% of the workforce in 1975 to 33% in 2005.
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