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Creating Value In Pension Plans (Or, Gentlemen Prefer Bonds)

  • Jeremy Gold
  • Nick Hudson
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    Pension funds are typically one-half to two-thirds invested in equities because equities are expected to outperform other financial assets over the long term, and the long-term nature of pension fund liabilities seems well suited to absorbing any short-term return volatility. What's more, U.S. GAAP currently makes it possible to take credit in advance for the higher anticipated earnings on equity investments without acknowledging their inherent risk. But by allowing the higher expected returns from stocks to reduce a company's current pension expenses, the accounting treatment conflicts with some very basic principles of finance (in particular, the idea that investors must earn higher returns on riskier investments just to "break even"), conceals systematic biases in the actuarial analysis, and gives managers considerable latitude to manipulate the bottom line. 2003 Morgan Stanley.

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    Article provided by Morgan Stanley in its journal Journal of Applied Corporate Finance.

    Volume (Year): 15 (2003)
    Issue (Month): 4 ()
    Pages: 51-57

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    Handle: RePEc:bla:jacrfn:v:15:y:2003:i:4:p:51-57
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