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Private Pensions as Corporate Debt

In: The Changing Roles of Debt and Equity in Financing U.S. Capital Formation

  • Martin Feldstein

This paper begins by examining the ways in which pension liabilities are and are not like corporate bonds. Some conceptual issues involved in valuing future pension obligations are then discussed. The second section considers the advantage to firms of fully funding their pension obligations and the reasons why many firms nevertheless choose to have unfunded obligations. The third section then summarizes the results of research on the effect of unfunded pension liabilities on the equity value of firms. The first three sections thus consider the role of pensions at the level of the individual firm. The two sections that follow focus on the current and future role of pensions in the national economy. More specifically, section 4 examines the effect of private pensions on the nation's saving rate, paying special attention to the implication of unfunded pension obligations. The fifth section then discusses the impact of inflation on the private pension system and the likely future for indexed and unindexed private pensions.

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This chapter was published in:
  • Benjamin M. Friedman, 1982. "The Changing Roles of Debt and Equity in Financing U.S. Capital Formation," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number frie82-1, September.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 11396.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:11396
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
    Phone: 617-868-3900
    Web page: http://www.nber.org
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    1. Martin Feldstein, 1980. "Do Private Pensions Increase National Saving?," NBER Working Papers 0186, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Martin Feldstein & James M. Poterba, 1980. "State and Local Taxes and the Rate of Return on Nonfinancial Corporate Capital (revised as W0740)," NBER Working Papers 0508, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Feldstein, Martin & Seligman, Stephanie, 1981. "Pension Funding, Share Prices, and National Savings," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 36(4), pages 801-24, September.
    4. Zvi Bodie, 1980. "Purchasing-Power Annuities: Financial Innovation for Stable Real Retirement Income in an Inflationary Environment," NBER Working Papers 0442, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Martin Feldstein, 1980. "Private Pensions and Inflation," NBER Working Papers 0568, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Martin Feldstein & Daniel Feenberg, 1981. "Alternative Tax Rules and Personal Savings Incentives: Microeconomic Data and Behavioral Simulations," NBER Working Papers 0681, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Paul A. Samuelson, 1958. "An Exact Consumption-Loan Model of Interest with or without the Social Contrivance of Money," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 66, pages 467.
    8. Barro, Robert J, 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1095-1117, Nov.-Dec..
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