Friday, December 5, 2008

Does Harvard need a bailout? Nah.

"Harvard is too snooty to beg like mere CEOs of automobile companies. They will probably just try to influence congressional opinion with op-eds and thinly veiled autobiographical novels and episodes of The Simpsons."
~ "Harvard Needs a Bailout!",

First of all, can we just revel in the hilarity of this fake ad? How I love Gawker. They ran a story yesterday about how Harvard's 36.9 billion-dollar endowment has shriveled by 8 billion dollars lately, leaving the ivy-covered Ivy with "only" 29 billion. Hmm. That still doesn't seem too bad if you ask me. The Wall Street Journal says, "That's more than the entire endowments of all but six colleges, according to the latest official tally. The university is planning for a 30% decline for the fiscal year ending in June 2009."

The piece poses the question if this venerable yet going-broke institution -- which U.S. News and World Report just rated as the best college in the world -- is too big to fail. And the answer is pretty much yes. Harvard has been around since 1636. They probably know what they're doing.

As one of the commenters writes:

Most of Harvard's endowment is untouchable, it may have lost value but they still own the shares, real estate etc. and only 25% of their operating budget comes from the endowment. Harvard and its ilk will be fine. No more 29% returns for awhile, but they have been planning on this for years and only paying out 3-4% of their endowments every year. If they have to adjust that rate by a few % like they did in the 70s and 80s, it certainly won't kill them. Might delay a few building projects or something but everything else is fine.

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