The fiduciaries of four large pension plans—two states and two cities—joined together in writing an open letter in their fiduciary capacity that criticized corporations' stock buyback activities, questioning the corporations' long-term viability when so much of their resources are devoted to rewarding stockholders instead of reinvesting in their businesses.

The signatories are New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, the sole trustee of the New York State Common Retirement Fund, Albany, which totals $181.7 billion; New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, the fiduciary for the five city pension funds that make up the New York City Retirement Systems, totaling $163.4 billion; Chicago city treasurer Kurt A. Summers Jr., a member of the boards of the four city-sponsored pension funds, with about $11 billion in combined assets; and Betty Yee, the controller of California, an ex-officio member of the $308.1 billion California Public Employees' Retirement System, Sacramento, and the $191.2 billion California State Teachers' Retirement System, West Sacramento.

McDonald's annual general meeting served as the catalyst. As an investment in the plans' portfolios, the company came in for a drubbing, since, the letter pointed out, it is "facing serious performance challenges." However, "despite a recently announced and much needed turnaround plan, the company continues to direct capital towards an aggressive share buyback program."

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