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Bar braces for a weak market.

It was only a short time ago--the end of 2007 and into early 2008--that many economists and government leaders were saying there was only a slight chance of a recession this year.

But professionals at the Morgan Stanley brokerage firm who oversee The Florida Bar's investment funds are advising their clients that they see an 85 percent chance of a mild recession this year.

Board member and Investment Committee Chair Ian Comisky brought that message to the Board of Governors when it met last month.

Even if a recession is mild instead of severe, the investment advisors "see a flat market this year," he added.

He also said the Bar's investments were structured to avoid serious harm from the volatility that hit the stock market in January.

Overall, he said the Bar earned 9.02 percent on its long-term portfolio for 2007, including 1.22 percent for the fourth quarter. In response to a question, Comisky said there is a "policy" index that measures overall return for investments like the Bar's and its average for 2007 was 7.19 percent, less than the Bar earned.

He also recommended, and the board approved, giving the investment managers additional flexibility to sell off some international and small- and mid-capitalization company mutual funds and increase the holdings in bonds and cash in the portfolio. Comisky said the holding would still be within the ranges set for each type of investment in the portfolio.
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Publication:Florida Bar News
Date:Mar 1, 2008
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