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What determines corporate pension fund risk-taking strategy?

  • An, Heng
  • Huang, Zhaodan
  • Zhang, Ting
Registered author(s):

    Corporate sponsors of defined benefit pension plans generally assume low investment risk when they have low funding ratios and high default risk, consistent with the risk management hypothesis. However, for financially distressed sponsors and sponsors that freeze, terminate, or convert defined benefit to defined contribution plans, the risk-shifting incentive (moral hazard) dominates. Pension fund risk-taking is also affected by labor unionization and sponsor incentives to maximize tax benefits, restore financial slack, and justify the accounting choices of pension assumptions. Sponsors shift toward an aggressive risk strategy when their pension plans emerge from underfunding, bankruptcy risk is reduced, or marginal tax rate decreases. Overall, we show that corporate sponsors adopt a dynamic risk-taking strategy in their pension fund investments.

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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Banking & Finance.

    Volume (Year): 37 (2013)
    Issue (Month): 2 ()
    Pages: 597-613

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:jbfina:v:37:y:2013:i:2:p:597-613
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jbf

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