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Accumulated Pension Collars: A Market Approach to Reducing the Risk of Investment-Based Social Security Reform

Author

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  • Martin Feldstein
  • Elena Ranguelova

Abstract

This paper shows how a new type of derivative product that could be provided by private financial markets could in principle be used to guarantee that an investment-based Social Security reform provides at least the level of real retirement income that is projected in current Social Security rules. In effect, future retirees could purchase a put option' that guarantees that the future retirement benefit will not fall below the level projected in current Social Security law or some other chosen level. To pay for this guarantee, they would agree to give up the part of the annuity payments which exceeds a given level, effectively selling a call option on the stream of payments. This market-based approach could be completely voluntary, leaving each individual to decide what level of guarantee he wants. The higher the minimum guarantee that the individual chooses, the more of the potentially higher returns he must give up. The financial market can thus tailor each individual's product to his own risk preferences. Alternatively, the government might require that any product that is sold as part of the investment-based Social Security reform must include at least some such market-based guarantee. Our analysis calculates some of the tradeoffs that could be provided in today's financial markets. We show that it is feasible to protect future benefits equal to those projected in current law with a combination of the current payroll tax rate and Personal Retirement Account savings equal to 2.5 percent of covered earnings. Raising the savings rate to 3.0 percent increases substantially the amount of the return that the individual can keep, raising it to 145 percent of the currently projected level of benefits. Reducing the guarantee level to 90 percent of the projected future benefits would increase this upside potential to 150 percent of the currently projected level of benefits with a 2.5 percent saving rate and 195 percent of the currently projected benefits with a 3.0 percent saving rate.

Suggested Citation

  • Martin Feldstein & Elena Ranguelova, 2000. "Accumulated Pension Collars: A Market Approach to Reducing the Risk of Investment-Based Social Security Reform," NBER Working Papers 7861, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7861
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. John McHale, 2001. "The Risk of Social Security Benefit-Rule Changes: Some International Evidence," NBER Chapters,in: Risk Aspects of Investment-Based Social Security Reform, pages 247-290 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Feldstein, Martin & Liebman, Jeffrey B., 2002. "Social security," Handbook of Public Economics,in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 32, pages 2245-2324 Elsevier.
    3. Martin Feldstein & Andrew Samwick, 1997. "The Economics of Prefunding Social Security and Medicare Benefits," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1997, Volume 12, pages 115-164 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Cox, John C. & Ross, Stephen A., 1976. "The valuation of options for alternative stochastic processes," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(1-2), pages 145-166.
    5. Martin Feldstein & Andrew Samwick, 1999. "Maintaining Social Security Benefits and Tax Rates through Personal Retirement Accounts: An Update Based on the 1998 Social Security Trustees Report," NBER Working Papers 6540, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Jeffrey Brown, 2002. "Differential Mortality and the Value of Individual Account Retirement Annuities," NBER Chapters,in: The Distributional Aspects of Social Security and Social Security Reform, pages 401-446 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Martin Feldstein & Andrew Samwick, 1998. "The Transition Path in Privatizing Social Security," NBER Chapters,in: Privatizing Social Security, pages 215-264 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Zvi Bodie, 2001. "Financial Engineering and Social Security Reform," NBER Chapters,in: Risk Aspects of Investment-Based Social Security Reform, pages 291-320 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Black, Fischer & Scholes, Myron S, 1973. "The Pricing of Options and Corporate Liabilities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 637-654, May-June.
    10. Martin Feldstein & Elena Ranguelova & Andrew Samwick, 2001. "The Transition to Investment-Based Social Security When Portfolio Returns and Capital Profitability Are Uncertain," NBER Chapters,in: Risk Aspects of Investment-Based Social Security Reform, pages 41-90 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Feldstein, Martin (ed.), 1998. "Privatizing Social Security," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226241012, December.
    12. Martin Feldstein & Elena Ranguelova, 1998. "Individual Risk and Intergenerational Risk Sharing in an Investment-Based Social Security Program," NBER Working Papers 6839, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Andrew A. Samwick, 2009. "Changing Progressivity as a Means of Risk Protection in Investment-Based Social Security," NBER Chapters,in: Social Security Policy in a Changing Environment, pages 299-327 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Olivia S. Mitchell, 2001. "Developments in Decumulation: The Role of Annuity Products in Financing Retirement," NBER Working Papers 8567, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Marie-Eve Lachance & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2002. "Understanding Individual Account Guarantees," NBER Working Papers 9195, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. John F. Cogan & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2003. "Perspectives from the President's Commission on Social Security Reform," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(2), pages 149-172, Spring.
    5. David Miles & Ales Cerny, 2001. "Risk, Return and Portfolio Allocation under Alternative Pension Arrangements with Imperfect Financial Markets," CESifo Working Paper Series 441, CESifo Group Munich.
    6. Giuseppe Grande & Ignazio Visco, 2010. "A public guarantee of a minimum return to defined contribution pension scheme members," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 762, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    7. Cerny, Ales & Miles, David K, 2001. "Risk Return and Portfolio Allocation under Alternative Pension Systems with Imperfect Financial Markets," CEPR Discussion Papers 2779, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Thomas Url, 2001. "Profitability Risks of Fully Funded Old-Age Pension Systems," WIFO Monatsberichte (monthly reports), WIFO, vol. 74(2), pages 121-128, February.
    9. Marie-Eve Lachance & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2003. "Guaranteeing Individual Accounts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 257-260, May.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty

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