Harvard, Yale, Stanford post not-so-smart investment returns

Bigger doesn't always mean better for endowment investing

Harvard, Yale, Stanford and other elite universities may help shape some of the brightest minds in the country, but some of their endowment investment returns can look something less than brilliant.

Harvard, Brown, Cornell, Stanford and Yale all under-performed a classic allocation of 60 percent stocks and 40 percent bonds and even benchmark returns for hundreds of other colleges and universities, according to a new ranking of five-year returns compiled by recruitment firm Charles A. Skorina & Co.

Of course, such an analysis isn't perfect. Comparing complex, multi-billion dollar portfolios that attempt to balance risk management with strong performance is inherently difficult and much of the underlying structure of the endowment investments are kept private.

That doesn't mean the relatively crude analysis isn't interesting.

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