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The theory of life-cycle saving and investing
How much should a family save for retirement and for the kids? college education? How much insurance should they buy? How should they allocate their portfolio across different assets? What should a company choose as the default asset allocation for a mandatory retirement saving plan? We believe that the life-cycle model developed by economists over the last fifty years provides guidance for making such decisions. The theory teaches us to view financial assets as vehicles for transferring resources across different times and outcomes over the life cycle, and that perspective allows households and planners to think about their decisions in a logical and rigorous way. This paper lays out and illustrates the basic analytical framework from the theory in nonmathematical terms, with the aim of providing guidance to financial service providers, consumers, and policymakers.
AUTHORS: Willen, Paul S.; Bodie, Zvi; Treussard, Jonathan
TIPS scorecard: are TIPS accomplishing what they were supposed to accomplish?: can they be improved?
In September 1997, the U.S. Treasury developed the TIPS market in order to achieve three important policy objectives: (1) to provide consumers with a class of assets that allows for hedging against real interest rate risk, (2) to provide holders of nominal contracts a means of hedging against inflation risk, and (3) to provide everyone with a reliable indicator of the term structure of expected inflation. This paper evaluates progress toward the achievement of these objectives and analyzes prospective ways to better meet these objectives in the future, by, for example, extending the maturity of TIPS and/or the use of inflation indexes suited to particular geographic regions or demographics. We conclude by arguing that while it is tempting to consider completing markets by introducing more TIPS-like securities indexed to inflation rates more tailored to particular demographics, our analysis suggests that TIPS indexed to CPI do, in fact, facilitate good synthetic hedges against unexpected changes in inflation for many different investors, since the various inflation measures are very highly correlated. We do, however, argue for extending the maturity of TIPS.
AUTHORS: Barnes, Michelle L.; Bodie, Zvi; Triest, Robert K.; Wang, J. Christina
The lender's view of debt and equity: the case of pension funds
AUTHORS: Bodie, Zvi
On asset-liability matching and federal deposit and pension insurance
Asset-liability mismatch was a principal cause of the Savings and Loan Crisis of the 1980s. The federal government's failure to recognize the mismatch risk early on and manage it properly led to huge losses by the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation, which had to be covered by taxpayers. In dealing with the problems now facing the defined-benefit pension system and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), the government seems to be making some of the same mistakes it made then. Among the causes is the fallacious belief that because pension funds have a long time horizon the risk of investing in equities is negligible. In fact, the opposite is true. Moreover, for the PBGC, the mismatch risk is magnified by moral hazard and adverse selection. Distressed companies facing the prospect of bankruptcy have an incentive to underfund their pension plans and adopt risky investment strategies; healthy companies have an incentive to terminate their plans and exit the system. The paper explores some ways to limit the costs of a potential PBGC bailout.
AUTHORS: Bodie, Zvi