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Accumulated Pension Collars: A Market Approach to Reducing the Risk of Investment-Based Social Security Reform

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  • Martin Feldstein
  • Elena Ranguelova

Abstract

This paper shows how a new type of derivative product that could be provided by private financial markets could in principle be used to guarantee that an investment-based Social Security reform provides at least the level of real retirement income that is projected in current Social Security rules. In effect, future retirees could purchase a put option' that guarantees that the future retirement benefit will not fall below the level projected in current Social Security law or some other chosen level. To pay for this guarantee, they would agree to give up the part of the annuity payments which exceeds a given level, effectively selling a call option on the stream of payments. This market-based approach could be completely voluntary, leaving each individual to decide what level of guarantee he wants. The higher the minimum guarantee that the individual chooses, the more of the potentially higher returns he must give up. The financial market can thus tailor each individual's product to his own risk preferences. Alternatively, the government might require that any product that is sold as part of the investment-based Social Security reform must include at least some such market-based guarantee. Our analysis calculates some of the tradeoffs that could be provided in today's financial markets. We show that it is feasible to protect future benefits equal to those projected in current law with a combination of the current payroll tax rate and Personal Retirement Account savings equal to 2.5 percent of covered earnings. Raising the savings rate to 3.0 percent increases substantially the amount of the return that the individual can keep, raising it to 145 percent of the currently projected level of benefits. Reducing the guarantee level to 90 percent of the projected future benefits would increase this upside potential to 150 percent of the currently projected level of benefits with a 2.5 percent saving rate and 195 percent of the currently projected benefits with a 3.0 percent saving rate.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7861.

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Date of creation: Aug 2000
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Publication status: published as Martin Feldstein, Elena Ranguelova. "Accumulated Pension Collars: A Market Approach to Reducing the Risk of Investment-Based Social Security Reform," in James M. Poterba, editor, "Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 15" MIT Press (2001)
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7861

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References

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  1. Martin Feldstein & Andrew Samwick, 1997. "The Economics of Prefunding Social Security and Medicare Benefits," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1997, Volume 12, pages 115-164 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Feldstein, Martin & Liebman, Jeffrey B., 2002. "Social security," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 32, pages 2245-2324 Elsevier.
  3. Jeffrey Brown, 2002. "Differential Mortality and the Value of Individual Account Retirement Annuities," NBER Chapters, in: The Distributional Aspects of Social Security and Social Security Reform, pages 401-446 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Black, Fischer & Scholes, Myron S, 1973. "The Pricing of Options and Corporate Liabilities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 637-54, May-June.
  5. Feldstein, Martin (ed.), 1998. "Privatizing Social Security," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226241012, Winter.
  6. John McHale, 1999. "The Risk of Social Security Benefit Rule Changes: Some International Evidence," NBER Working Papers 7031, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Martin Feldstein & Elena Ranguelova & Andrew Samwick, 2001. "The Transition to Investment-Based Social Security When Portfolio Returns and Capital Profitability Are Uncertain," NBER Chapters, in: Risk Aspects of Investment-Based Social Security Reform, pages 41-90 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Cox, John C. & Ross, Stephen A., 1976. "The valuation of options for alternative stochastic processes," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(1-2), pages 145-166.
  9. Martin Feldstein & Andrew Samwick, 1998. "The Transition Path in Privatizing Social Security," NBER Chapters, in: Privatizing Social Security, pages 215-264 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Zvi Bodie, 2001. "Financial Engineering and Social Security Reform," NBER Chapters, in: Risk Aspects of Investment-Based Social Security Reform, pages 291-320 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Marie-Eve Lachance & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2003. "Guaranteeing Individual Accounts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 257-260, May.
  2. Andrew A. Samwick, 2009. "Changing Progressivity as a Means of Risk Protection in Investment-Based Social Security," NBER Chapters, in: Social Security Policy in a Changing Environment, pages 299-327 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Marie-Eve Lachance & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2002. "Understanding Individual Account Guarantees," NBER Working Papers 9195, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Cerny, Ales & Miles, David K, 2001. "Risk Return and Portfolio Allocation under Alternative Pension Systems with Imperfect Financial Markets," CEPR Discussion Papers 2779, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Olivia S. Mitchell, 2001. "Developments in Decumulation: The Role of Annuity Products in Financing Retirement," NBER Working Papers 8567, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. David Miles & Ales Cerny, 2001. "Risk, Return and Portfolio Allocation under Alternative Pension Arrangements with Imperfect Financial Markets," CESifo Working Paper Series 441, CESifo Group Munich.

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