Permanent Wyoming Minerals Trust Fund (PWMTF)


What is the Wyoming Permanent Minerals Trust Fund (PWMTF)?

The Wyoming Permanent Minerals Trust Fund (PWMTF) is an investment fund owned and managed by the state of Wyoming. Established in 1975, it is the oldest and largest government fund in the state, with assets of nearly $ 8 billion as of June 30, 2020.

Key takeaways

The Wyoming Permanent Minerals Trust Fund (PWMTF) is an investment fund owned and managed by the state of Wyoming.

The PWMTF is the largest sovereign wealth fund in the state, with a market value of around $ 8 billion.

Funded largely by layoff taxes on minerals and other natural income, the PWMTF acts as an endowment for Wyoming, covering the state’s operating costs.

The PWMTF invests in both bonds and stocks, but only its earnings, from capital gains, interest income, and dividends, can actually be spent.

Understanding the Wyoming Permanent Minerals Trust Fund (PWMTF)

The Wyoming Permanent Minerals Trust Fund is a type of permanent fund called a sovereign wealth fund (SWF). Sovereign wealth funds are typical government financing tools. They consist of investments and assets that the government cannot withdraw or deplete. However, although it cannot touch the principal, the government normally has the right to spend any income these investments generate on appropriate functions and expenses.

The Wyoming Permanent Minerals Trust Fund (PWMTF) is one of nine non-pension funds administered by the Office of the State Treasurer. Covers part of Wyoming’s running costs and acts as a donation to the state. Cushions the impact of the state’s economic cycles. Because Wyoming is rich in natural resources, its economy is dependent on commodity prices and is therefore prone to boom-bust cycles. By conserving its wealth, the PWMTF ensures that future generations share in the profits generated by these finite resources.

The PWMTF is funded by a portion of layoff taxes on mineral income and occasional direct legislative appropriations, while proceeds from the fund go to the state general fund. The largest contributors of mineral layoff taxes to the PWMTF since its inception have been natural gas, coal, and crude oil.

Originally, the PWMTF only invested in bonds; in fact, the fixed income requirement was enshrined in the state constitution. However, in 1996, Wyoming voters passed an amendment to allow the fund to invest in stocks as well. Up to 70% of the PWMTF can be invested in stocks.

35%

The percentage of the total market value of the Wyoming investment portfolio that the PWMTF represents. In other words, more than a third of the state’s wealth is generated by the Wyoming Permanent Minerals Trust Fund.

The PMTF has a 5% spending policy, which means that the maximum amount available for the state legislature to spend is 5% of a five-year average of the fund’s market value. However, only income, dividends, and capital gains can be spent.

PWMTF performance

The value of the PWMTF has risen steadily since its inception, delivering double-digit annual returns for its first 11 fiscal years through 1986. The fund eclipsed $ 1 billion in assets in 1989 and has delivered a positive return in every fiscal year of its existence. During fiscal year 2015, the PWMTF had generated $ 4.5 billion in interest income for the state general fund.

As of fiscal year 2020 (ending in June), the PWMTF had a market value of $ 7,961,095,743 on a cost basis of $ 7,561,927,587. It made $ 243 million in income, dividends, and capital gains.

For the decade 2010-2020, the PMTF showed 7.15%.

History of the Wyoming Permanent Minerals Trust Fund (PWMTF)

The origin of the Wyoming Minerals Permanent Trust Fund dates back to 1968 when Wyoming Governor Stan Hathaway introduced a bill in the state legislature to institute a layoff tax on minerals in the state. Hathaway took this action after the balance in the state’s bank account fell to approximately $ 80. The bill passed in the 1969 legislative session, establishing a 1% severance tax.

Wyoming lawmakers sought to increase the tax in 1974, but Hathaway vowed to veto the increase unless part of the tax revenue was set aside in a permanent mineral trust fund, paving the way for passage of the PWMTF. It was officially created by an amendment to the state constitution in November 1974.

During its first 13 years, 2% of layoff tax income was used to grow the account. Subsequently, the requirement was lowered to 1.5% and 0.5% was diverted to the state savings account. In 2005, an additional legal 1% was added to the constitutional requirement, bringing the total to 2.5% of the severance payments that were deposited in the PWMTF.

Example of the Wyoming Permanent Minerals Trust Fund (PWMTF)

In 2016, a sharp drop in coal production combined with low oil and natural gas prices led to a revenue shortfall for the state. The Wyoming State Legislature, during the 2016 budget session, mandated a diversion of the statutory indemnity tax of 1% from the PWMTF to the general fund to address the shortage.

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Mark Holland

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