What It Takes (to be Comptroller)

Tomorrow is the deadline for all state comptroller candidates – real and rumored – to file paperwork with the state in advance of interviews on January 23 with the legislature and an independent screening panel.

The procedures were announced in a joint statement from the Assembly and Senate which explained that candidates will have to submit resumes and to fill out financial disclosure forms.

In the meantime, the would-be comptrollers who currently serve in the state legislature are continuing to pour cold water on the Eliot Spitzer-endorsed idea that the position could profitably be filled by someone from the outside Albany, arguing that the skills it takes to manage the state’s money are distinct from those required to manage a portfolio on Wall Street.

“The last thing in the world you want is the comptroller picking stocks,” Richard Brodsky told me earlier this week.

“You can’t possibly manage a $150 billion portfolio one investment at a time. Second of all, the job here is to balance reward and risk, in terms of investment, in ways that are not similar to managing ones own portfolio.

“This is not a question of whether you know whether you should be picking GE or GM. It’s a question of how you calculate risk, especially in a fund that has been very heavily involved in what I’ll call domestic equity. Essentially, if the stock market tanks, the fund tanks. That’s not good policy. There needs to be a diversified investment portfolio including what are called alternative investments in ways that really reduce long term risk.”

– Azi Paybarah