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Junior Must Pay: Pricing the Implicit Put in Privatizing Social Security

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  • George M. Constantinides
  • John B. Donaldson
  • Rajnish Mehra

Abstract

Proposals that portion of the Social Security Trust Fund assets be invested in equities entail the possibility that a severe decline in equity prices renders the Fund assets insufficient to provide the currently mandated level of benefits. In this event, existing taxpayers may be compelled to act as insurers of last resort. The cost to taxpayers of such an implicit commitment equals the value of a put option with payoff equal to the benefit's shortfall. We calibrate an OLG model that generates realistic equity premia and value the put. With 20 percent of the Fund assets invested in equities, the highest level currently under serious discussion, we value a put that guarantees the currently mandated level of benefits at one percent of GDP, or a temporary increase in Social Security taxation of at most 25 percent. We value a put that guarantees 90 percent of benefits at merely .03 percent of GDP. In contrast to earlier literature, our results account for the significant changes in the distribution of security returns resulting from Trust Fund purchases. We also explore the inter-generational welfare implications of the guarantee.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8906.

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Date of creation: Apr 2002
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8906

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References

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  1. George M. Constantinidies & John B. Donaldson & Rajnish Mehra, 1998. "Junior Can't Borrow: A New Perspective on the Equity Premium Puzzle," NBER Working Papers 6617, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Mehra, Rajnish & Prescott, Edward C., 1985. "The equity premium: A puzzle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 145-161, March.
  3. Kotlikoff, Laurence J & Smetters, Kent A & Walliser, Jan, 1998. "Social Security: Privatization and Progressivity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 137-41, May.
  4. John Y. Campbell & Joao F. Cocco & Francisco J. Gomes & Pascala J. Maenhout, 2000. "Investing Retirement Wealth? A Life-Cycle Model," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1896, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  5. Henning Bohn, 1999. "Online Appendix to Should the Social Security Trust Fund hold Equities? An Intergenerational Welfare Analysis," Technical Appendices bohn99, Review of Economic Dynamics.
  6. Andrew B. Abel, . "The Effects of Investing Social Security Funds in the Stock Market When Fixed Costs Prevent Some Households from Holding Stocks," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 9-00, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  7. Olivia S. Mitchell & Stephen P. Zeldes, 1996. "Social Security Privatization: A Structure for Analysis," NBER Working Papers 5512, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. 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.
  9. N. Gregory Mankiw & Stephen P. Zeldes, 1991. "The Consumption of Stockholders and Non-Stockholders," NBER Working Papers 3402, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Kent Smetters, 2001. "The Effect of Pay-When-Needed Benefit Guarantees on the Impact of Social Security Privatization," NBER Chapters, in: Risk Aspects of Investment-Based Social Security Reform, pages 91-112 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Mehra, Rajnish & Prescott, Edward C., 2003. "The equity premium in retrospect," Handbook of the Economics of Finance, in: G.M. Constantinides & M. Harris & R. M. Stulz (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Finance, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 14, pages 889-938 Elsevier.
  12. Andrew B. Abel, 2002. "The effects of a baby boom on stock prices and capital accumulation in the presence of Social Security," Working Papers 03-2, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  13. 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.
  14. Henning Bohn, 1997. "Social Security reform and financial markets," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, vol. 41(Jun), pages 193-227.
  15. Rajnish Mehra, 2003. "The Equity Premium: Why is it a Puzzle?," NBER Working Papers 9512, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. John Y. Campbell & Martin Feldstein, 2001. "Risk Aspects of Investment-Based Social Security Reform," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number camp01-1, October.
  17. repec:fth:calaec:4-98 is not listed on IDEAS
  18. Mehra, Rajnish, 1988. "On the Existence and Representation of Equilibrium in an Economy with Growth and Nonstationary Consumption," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 29(1), pages 131-35, February.
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Cited by:
  1. Nosbusch, Yves & Campbell, John, 2007. "Intergenerational Risksharing and Equilibrium Asset Prices," Scholarly Articles 3196340, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Lee Redding, 2006. "Social Security Reform and Corporate Governance," Journal of Economic Policy Reform, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(3), pages 235-246.
  3. George M. Constantinides, 2002. "Rational Asset Prices," NBER Working Papers 8826, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Panageas, Stavros, 2010. "Bailouts, the incentive to manage risk, and financial crises," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(3), pages 296-311, March.
  5. Bossi, Luca, 2008. "Intergenerational risk shifting through social security and bailout politics," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 32(7), pages 2240-2268, July.
  6. Marianna Brunetti & Costanza Torricelli, 2010. "Demographics and asset returns: does the dynamics of population ageing matter?," Annals of Finance, Springer, vol. 6(2), pages 193-219, March.
  7. Stavros Panageas, 2009. "Bailouts, the Incentive to Manage Risk, and Financial Crises," NBER Working Papers 15058, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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