Harvard University’s admission that it lost $8 billion from its $36 billion endowment fund, as staggering as it sounds, may grossly underestimate the true magnitude of the loss between from July 1 through Oct. 31 2008. According to a source close the Harvard Management Corporation (HMC), which runs the fund for Harvard, the loss is closer to $18 billion if the losses on the fund’s illiquid investment are realistically appraised.

The giant pension fund of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, which heavily invested in the same sort of "real assets" as Harvard. Leveraging its own funds, it bought so much undeveloped real acreage, that by 2008 it became the largest private land owner in America, and as the real estate bubble expanded, it marked up the notional value of its portfolio accordingly.

The Huffington Post