- Lifecycle impacts of the financial and economic crisis on household optimal consumption, portfolio choice, and labor supply (2011)
- The direct financial impact of the financial crisis has been to deal a heavy blow to investment-based pensions; many workers lost a substantial portion of their retirement saving. The financial sector implosion produced an economic crisis for the rest of the economy via high unemployment and reduced labor earnings, which reduced household contributions to Social Security and some private pensions. Our research asks which types of individuals were most affected by these dual financial and economic shocks, and it also explores how people may react by changing their consumption, saving and investment, work and retirement, and annuitization decisions. We do so with a realistically calibrated lifecycle framework allowing for time-varying investment opportunities and countercyclical risky labor income dynamics. We show that households near retirement will reduce both short- and long-term consumption, boost work effort, and defer retirement. Younger cohorts will initially reduce their work hours, consumption, saving, and equity exposure; later in life, they will work more, retire later, consume less, invest more in stocks, save more, and reduce their demand for private annuities. Keywords: Financial Crisis , Household Finance , Cycle Portfolio Choice , Labor Supply Classification: D1, G11, G23, G35, J14, J26, J32
- The victory of hope over Angst? : Funding, asset allocation, and risk-taking in german public sector pension reform (2007)
- Public employee pension systems throughout the developed world have traditionally been of the pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) defined benefit (DB) variety, where pensioner payments are financed by taxes (contributions) levied on the working generation. But as the number of retirees rises relative to the working-age group, such systems have begun to face financial distress. This trend has been exacerbated in many countries, among them Germany, by high unemployment rates producing further deterioration of the contribution base. In the long run, public sector pension benefits will have to be cut or contributions increased, if the systems are to be maintained. An alternative path sometimes offered to ease the crunch of paying for public employee pensions is to move toward funding: here, plan assets are gradually built up, invested, and enhanced returns devoted to partly defray civil servants’ pension costs. In this study, we evaluate the impact of introducing partial prefunding, paired with a strategic investment policy for the German federal state of Hesse. The analysis assesses the impact of introducing a supplementary tax-sponsored pension fund whose contributions are invested in the capital market and used to relieve the state budget from (some) pension payments. Our model determines the expectation and the Conditional Value-at-Risk of economic pension costs using a stochastic simulation process for pension plan assets. This approach simultaneously determines the optimal contribution rate and asset allocation that controls the expected economic costs of providing the promised pensions, while at the same time controlling investment risk. Specifically, we offer answers to the following questions: 1. How can the plan be designed to control cash-flow shortfall risk, so as to mitigate the potential burden borne by future generations of taxpayers? 2. What is the optimal asset allocation for this fund as it is built up, to generate a maximum return while simultaneously restricting capital market and liability risk? 3. What are reasonable combinations of annual contribution rates and asset allocation to a state-managed pension fund, which will limit costs of providing promised public sector pensions? We anticipate that this research will interest several sorts of policymaker groups. First, focusing on the German case, the state and Federal governments should find it relevant, as these entities face considerable public sector pension liabilities. Second, our findings will also be of interest to other European countries, as most have substantial underfunded defined benefit plans for civil servants. In what follows, we first offer a brief description of the structure of civil servant pensions in Germany, focusing on their benefit formulas, their financing, and the resulting current as well as future plan obligations for taxpayers. Next, we turn to an analysis of the actuarial status of the Hesse civil servants’ pension plan and evaluate how much would have to be contributed to fund this plan in a nonstochastic context. Subsequently we evaluate the asset-liability and decision-making process from the viewpoint of the plan sponsor, to determine sensible plan asset allocation behavior. A final section summarizes findings and implications.