Did pension plan accounting contribute to a stock market bubble?
During the 1990s, the asset portfolios of defined-benefit (DB) pension plans ballooned with the booming stock market. Due to current accounting guidelines, the robust growth in pension assets resulted in a stealthy but substantial boost to the profits of sponsoring corporations. This study assesses the extent to which equity investors were fooled by pension accounting. First, we test whether stock prices reflected the fair market value of sponsoring firms' net pension assets reported in footnotes to the 10-K or, instead, some capitalization rate on the pension cost accruals embedded in the income statement. The results strongly favor the latter view. Additional tests indicate that the market does not value a firm's "pension earnings" differently from its "core earnings", suggesting that pension earnings are often overvalued. Simulations show that a failure to differentiate between core and pension earnings induces large valuation errors for many firms, although this pension effect did not materially contribute to aggregate in overvaluation 2000. However, overvaluation from pension earnings reached 5 percent in the aggregate in 2001, when the steep stock price decline and the drop in interest rates had slashed pension net asset values but not pension earnings.
|Date of creation:||2003|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: 20th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20551|
Web page: http://www.federalreserve.gov/
More information through EDIRC
|Order Information:||Web: http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/feds/fedsorder.html|
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, 01.
- Alicia H. Munnell & Nicole Ernsberger (assistant), 1987. "Pension contributions and the stock market," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Nov, pages 3-14.
- Jeremy I. Bulow & Randall Morck & Lawrence H. Summers, 1987.
"How Does the Market Value Unfunded Pension Liabilities?,"
NBER Chapters,in: Issues in Pension Economics, pages 81-110
National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Jeremy I. Bulow & Randall Morck & Lawrence H. Summers, 1985. "How Does the Market Value Unfunded Pension Liabilities?," NBER Working Papers 1602, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Davidson, Russell & MacKinnon, James G, 1981. "Several Tests for Model Specification in the Presence of Alternative Hypotheses," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(3), pages 781-793, May.
- Russell Davidson & James G. MacKinnon, 1980. "Several Tests for Model Specification in the Presence of Alternative Hypotheses," Working Papers 378, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
- Alan L. Gustman & Olivia S. Mitchell & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 1994. "The Role of Pensions in the Labor Market: A Survey of the Literature," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 47(3), pages 417-438, April.
- Zvi Bodie & Jay O. Light & Randall Morck, 1987. "Funding and Asset Allocation in Corporate Pension Plans: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Chapters,in: Issues in Pension Economics, pages 15-48 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Zvi Bodie & Jay O. Light & Randall Morck & Robert A. Taggart, Jr., 1984. "Funding and Asset Allocation in Corporate Pension Plans: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 1315, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Sharpe, William F., 1976. "Corporate pension funding policy," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(3), pages 183-193, June.
- Steven A. Sharpe, 2002. "How does the market interpret analysts' long-term growth forecasts?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2002-7, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
- Steven A. Sharpe, 2004. "How Does the Market Interpret Analysts' Long-Term Growth Forecasts?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2002-07, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
- Irwin Tepper, 1981. "Taxation and Corporate Pension Policy," NBER Working Papers 0661, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Tepper, Irwin, 1981. "Taxation and Corporate Pension Policy," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 36(1), pages 1-13, March.
- Feldstein, Martin & Seligman, Stephanie, 1981. "Pension Funding, Share Prices, and National Savings," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 36(4), pages 801-824, September.
- Martin Feldstein & Stephanie Seligman, 1980. "Pension Funding, Share Prices, and National Saving," NBER Working Papers 0509, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Head, S.J. & Adkins, D.R. & Cairns, A.J.G. & Corvesor, A.J. & Cule, D.O. & Exley, C.J. & Johnson, I.S. & Spain, J.G. & Wise, A.J., 2000. "Pension Fund Valuations and Market Values," British Actuarial Journal, Cambridge University Press, vol. 6(01), pages 55-141, June.
- Barth, Mary E. & Beaver, William H. & Landsman, Wayne R., 1992. "The market valuation implications of net periodic pension cost components," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 27-62, March. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)