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CRASH HELPS STATE’S COFFERS, BUT RETIREMENT SYSTEMS LOSE

SHARE CRASH HELPS STATE’S COFFERS, BUT RETIREMENT SYSTEMS LOSE

The state of Utah made several million bucks off Friday's 190-point stock market crash, while the state's retirement systems lost several thousand dollars.

But when it comes to individual Utahns, it's tough to tally the winners and the losers."I don't think most Utah investors know about the crash," said Michael Tullis, vice president of Smith Barney, Harris Upham's Salt Lake office.

"They are just now finding out," he said Friday evening. "I don't think the concern has hit yet."

Friday's crash was the second worst in the history of the Dow Jones industrial average. The worst crash - a 508-point plunge on Oct. 16, 1987 - left most Utahns unscathed.

In a Deseret News-KSL poll conducted by Dan Jones and Associates shortly after the 1987 crash, 78 percent of those polled said they had suffered little or no negative impact from the crash. Another 15 percent said they had suffered some negative impact, with only 6 percent claiming significant negative impact.

The impact is probably even smaller this time around. Individual investors have been nervous about getting back into the market, Tullis said.

Of those polled by the Deseret News two years ago, 79 percent said they planned to stay away from the stock market for awhile.

Utah law left the state richer Friday. The law does not allow the state to invest in equities, said Larry Richardson, deputy state treasurer. Instead the state invests in fixed income securities like treasury bonds.

Since such securities jumped in price Friday in response to market's plummet, "We made money today," Richardson said.

He isn't sure how much but says it's well into the millions of dollars. "In 1987, when the stock market went down 508 points, the state made something on the order of $200 million," he said.

As impressive as that sounds, the gains are only paper gains unless the state sells the securities, Richardson said.

Like the state's gains, the retirement systems losses are also on paper.

Vee Sharp, deputy director of the Utah State Retirement Systems, wouldn't say what kind of losses the system suffered, but he said the impact was minimal.

When the stock market crashed two years ago, the state's retirement systems lost between $200,000 and $300,000, he said. "By the end of 1987, we had pretty well made that up."

He expects to do the same with Friday's losses. The retirement system diversifies its investments "so when something like this happens its not a total disaster," he said.