Guaranteed Trouble: The Economic Effects of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation
How did the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, a government corporation created to insure the pensions of workers and retirees in bankrupt firms, end up facing financial distress of its own? How did an organization designed to strengthen retirement security come to be seen as contributing to retirement insecurity? The superficial answer is that the PBGC's current funding problem arises from the decline in stock market prices in 2000, which reduced pension assets, and the fall in interest rates at about the same time, which boosted the present value of pension liabilities. But more fundamentally, much of the blame for the poor financial state of the PBGC, as well as the defined benefit system more generally, lies in some major design flaws of the PBGC pension insurance program. Specifically, the PBGC has: 1) failed to properly price insurance and thus encouraged excessive risk-taking by plan sponsors; 2) failed to promote adequate funding of pension obligations; and 3) failed to promote sufficient information disclosure to market participants. Together, these three flaws produced a system in which many firms fail to adequately fund their pension obligations, knowing that in financial distress, they can dump their pension liabilities onto the PBGC. Though the Pension Protection Act of 2006 made some progress in improving the PBGC program, it failed to correct these three major problems fully. Absent further reform, substantial problems will continue to plague the private defined benefit pension system in decades to come. To prevent this deterioration, this paper concludes that Congress should transfer much of the responsibility for defined benefit pension insurance to compulsory private markets.
Volume (Year): 22 (2008)
Issue (Month): 1 (Winter)
|Contact details of provider:|| Web page: https://www.aeaweb.org/jep/|
More information through EDIRC
|Order Information:||Web: https://www.aeaweb.org/subscribe.html|
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Zvi Bodie & John B. Shoven, 1983. "Financial Aspects of the United States Pension System," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bodi83-1, April.
- Zvi Bodie, 1988. "Pension Fund Investment Policy," NBER Working Papers 2752, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Lazear, Edward P, 1979. "Why Is There Mandatory Retirement?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1261-1284, December.
- Jeremy I. Bulow, 1982. "What are Corporate Pension Liabilities?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 97(3), pages 435-452.
- Sharpe, William F., 1976. "Corporate pension funding policy," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(3), pages 183-193, June.
- Julia Lynn Coronado & Steven A. Sharpe, 2003.
"Did Pension Plan Accounting Contribute to a Stock Market Bubble?,"
Brookings Papers on Economic Activity,
Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 34(1), pages 323-371.
- Julia Lynn Coronado & Steven A. Sharpe, 2003. "Did pension plan accounting contribute to a stock market bubble?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2003-38, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
- Thomas Davidoff & Jeffrey R. Brown & Peter A. Diamond, 2003.
"Annuities and Individual Welfare,"
NBER Working Papers
9714, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Jeffrey R. Brown, 2007.
"Guaranteed Trouble: The Economic Effects of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation,"
NBER Working Papers
13438, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Jeffrey R. Brown, 2008. "Guaranteed Trouble: The Economic Effects of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(1), pages 177-198, Winter.
- Deborah Lucas, 2007. "Valuing & Hedging: Defined Benefit Pension Obligations - The Role of Stocks Revisited," Money Macro and Finance (MMF) Research Group Conference 2006 169, Money Macro and Finance Research Group.
- Pennacchi, George, 2006. "Deposit insurance, bank regulation, and financial system risks," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 1-30, January.
- Zvi Bodie, 2006. "On asset-liability matching and federal deposit and pension insurance," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jul, pages 323-330.
- Jeremy I. Bulow & Myron S. Scholes, 1983.
"Who Owns the Assets in a Defined-Benefit Pension Plan?,"
in: Financial Aspects of the United States Pension System, pages 17-36
National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Jeremy I. Bulow & Myron S. Scholes, 1982. "Who Owns the Assets in a Defined Benefit Pension Plan," NBER Working Papers 0924, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- David W. Wilcox, 2006. "Reforming the Defined-Benefit Pension System," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 37(1), pages 235-304.
- Pesando, James E, 1982. " Investment Risk, Bankruptcy Risk, and Pension Reform in Canada," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 37(3), pages 741-749, June.
- Jeremy Gold & Nick Hudson, 2003. "Creating Value In Pension Plans (Or, Gentlemen Prefer Bonds)," Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Morgan Stanley, vol. 15(4), pages 51-57.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:22:y:2008:i:1:p:177-198. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jane Voros)or (Michael P. Albert)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.