Year of publication
- Betting on death and capital markets in retirement : a shortfall risk analysis of life annuities versus phased withdrawal plans (2004)
- How might retirees consider deploying the retirement assets accumulated in a defined contribution pension plan? One possibility would be to purchase an immediate annuity. Another approach, called the "phased withdrawal" strategy in the literature, would have the retiree invest his funds and then withdraw some portion of the account annually. Using this second tactic, the withdrawal rate might be determined according to a fixed benefit level payable until the retiree dies or the funds run out, or it could be set using a variable formula, where the retiree withdraws funds according to a rule linked to life expectancy. Using a range of data consistent with the German experience, we evaluate several alternative designs for phased withdrawal strategies, allowing for endogenous asset allocation patterns, and also allowing the worker to make decisions both about when to retire and when to switch to an annuity. We show that one particular phased withdrawal rule is appealing since it offers relatively low expected shortfall risk, good expected payouts for the retiree during his life, and some bequest potential for the heirs. We also find that unisex mortality tables if used for annuity pricing can make women's expected shortfalls higher, expected benefits higher, and bequests lower under a phased withdrawal program. Finally, we show that delayed annuitization can be appealing since it provides higher expected benefits with lower expected shortfalls, at the cost of somewhat lower anticipated bequests. Klassifikation: G22, G23, J26, J32, H55 . January 2004.
- How family status and social security claiming options shape optimal life cycle portfolios (2013)
- Household decisions are profoundly shaped by a complex set of financial options due to Social Security rules determining retirement, spousal, and survivor benefits, along with benefit adjustments that vary with the age at which these are claimed. These rules influence optimal household asset allocation, insurance, and work decisions, given life cycle demographic shocks such as marriage, divorce, and children. Our model generates a wealth profile and a low and stable equity fraction consistent with empirical evidence. We also confirm predictions that wives will claim retirement benefits earlier than husbands, while life insurance is mainly purchased by younger men. Our policy simulations imply that eliminating survivor benefits would sharply reduce claiming differences by sex while dramatically increasing men’s life insurance purchases.
- Time is money: life cycle rational inertia and delegation of investment management (2013)
- We investigate the theoretical impact of including two empirically-grounded insights in a dynamic life cycle portfolio choice model. The first is to recognize that, when managing their own financial wealth, investors incur opportunity costs in terms of current and future human capital accumulation, particularly if human capital is acquired via learning by doing. The second is that we incorporate age-varying efficiency patterns in financial decisionmaking. Both enhancements produce inactivity in portfolio adjustment patterns consistent with empirical evidence. We also analyze individuals’ optimal choice between self-managing their wealth versus delegating the task to a financial advisor. Delegation proves most valuable to the young and the old. Our calibrated model quantifies welfare gains from including investment time and money costs, as well as delegation, in a life cycle setting.
- Money in motion: dynamic portfolio choice in retirement (2007)
- Retirees confront the difficult problem of how to manage their money in retirement so as to not outlive their funds while continuing to invest in capital markets. We posit a dynamic utility maximizer who makes both asset location and allocation decisions when managing her retirement financial wealth and annuities, and we prove that she can benefit from both the equity premium and longevity insurance in her retirement portfolio. Even without bequests, she will not fully annuitize; rather, her optimal stock allocation amounts initially to more than half of her financial wealth and declines with age. Welfare gains from this strategy can amount to 40 percent of financial wealth (depending on risk parameters and other resources). In practice, it turns out that many retirees will do almost as well by purchasing a variable annuity invested 60/40 in stocks/bonds. JEL Classification: G11, G23, G22, D14, J26, H55
- 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.
- How unobservable bond positions in retirement accounts affect asset allocation (2007)
- Many tax-codes around the world allow for special taxable treatment of savings in retirement accounts. In particular, profits in retirement accounts are usually tax exempt which allow investors to increase an asset’s return by holding it in such a retirement account. While the existing literature on asset location shows that risk-free bonds are usually the preferred asset to hold in a retirement account, we explain how the tax exemption of profits in retirement accounts affects private investors’ asset allocation. We show that total final wealth can be decomposed into what the investor would have earned in a taxable account and what is due to the tax exemption of profits in the retirement account. The tax exemption of profits can thus be considered a tax-gift which is similar to an implicit bond holding. As this tax-gift’s impact on total final wealth decreases over time, so does the investor’s equity exposure. JEL Classification Codes: G11, H24
- Asset meltdown : fact or fiction? (2006)
- This paper analyzes the relation between demographic structure and real asset returns on treasury bills, bonds and stocks for the G7-countries (United States, Canada, Japan, Italy, France, the United Kingdom and Germany). A macroeconomic multifactor model is used to examine a variety of different demographic factors from 1951 to 2002. There was no robust relationship found between shocks in demographic variables and asset returns in the framework of these models, which suggests that Asset Meltdown is rather fiction than fact. G12 (Asset Pricing), G15 (International Financial Markets), J14 (Economics of the Elderly)
- Proof that it is not always optimal to locate bonds in a tax-deferred account (2006)
- The tax codes in many countries allow for special tax advantages for investments in special retirement plans. Probably the most important advantage to these plans is that profits usually remain untaxed. This paper deals with the question, which assets are preferable in a taxdeferred account (TDA). Contrary to the conventional wisdom that one should prefer bonds in the TDA, it is shown that especially in early years, stocks can be the preferred asset to hold in the TDA for an investor maximizing final wealth, given a certain asset allocation. The higher the performance of stocks compared to bonds, the higher the tax burden put on stocks compared to bonds. Simultaneously, the longer the remaining investment horizon, the larger the relative outperformance of the optimal asset location strategy compared to the myopic strategy of locating bonds in the TDA. An algorithm is provided to determine the investment strategy that maximizes (expected) funds at the end of a given investment horizon when there is an analytical solution.
- Konstruktion transaktionsbasierter Immobilienindizes : theoretische Grundlagen und empirische Umsetzung für den Wohnungsmarkt in Paris (2001)
- Der vorliegende Beitrag zeigt auf, wie hedonische Preisindizes für Immobilien auf der Basis von Transaktionen berechnet werden können. Der Heterogenität der Immobilien wird dabei durch ein ökonometrisches Modell Rechnung getragen, wobei in dieser Arbeit das Problem der Wahl einer geeigneten Funktionsform durch eine Transformation nach dem Ansatz von Box/Cox (1964) explizit berücksichtigt wird. Die Datenbasis deckt etwa 65% der Transaktionen des Wohnungsmarktes im Zeitraum 1990-1999 ab. Die Korrektur aufgrund unvollständiger Angaben führt zu einem Datensatz von 84 686 Transaktionen. Dieser Datensatz ist ein Vielfaches dessen, was bisher vergleichbaren Studien zugrunde lag und stellt damit eine international einmalige Datengrundlage dar.
- Optimal gradual annuitization : quantifying the costs of switching to annuities (2007)
- We compute the optimal dynamic asset allocation policy for a retiree with Epstein-Zin utility. The retiree can decide how much he consumes and how much he invests in stocks, bonds, and annuities. Pricing the annuities we account for asymmetric mortality beliefs and administration expenses. We show that the retiree does not purchase annuities only once but rather several times during retirement (gradual annuitization). We analyze the case in which the retiree is restricted to buy annuities only once and has to perform a (complete or partial) switching strategy. This restriction reduces both the utility and the demand for annuities. JEL Codes: D91 G11 G22 H55 J26