What The U.S. Can Learn From Chile’s Retirement System

Chile provides a safety net for those who fall into poverty in old age, but it’s still an imperfect pension system that needs work.

Pay-as-you-go (PAYG) retirement programs in the U.S. and many European countries are struggling to remain solvent in the face of an aging population, fewer workers, and a shortfall in private savings. A different approach would strengthen individual savings accounts by requiring workers to contribute out of pre-tax income, combined with a redistributive means-tested safety net for those who fall into poverty in old age.Read More

Chile’s Fabled Retirement System: Why Fix It?

Since its launch 35 years ago, Chile’s retirement system has been hailed as “best in class” by pension experts near and far. The country’s fabled individual and privately-managed accounts include around 10 million affiliates, hold $160 billion in investments, and pay retirement benefits to over a million retirees. So why did President Michelle Bachelet establish a Pension Reform Commission that just delivered to her 58 specific reforms and three comprehensive proposals to overhaul remodel Chile’s retirement system?Read More

Unfunded Pension Debts of U.S. States Still Exceed $3 Trillion

It’s well-known that there’s a huge financial hole in state-sponsored retirement plans for public employees, a hole that states will eventually have to fill with tax increases and spending cuts.

There is, however, still considerable debate as to the size of this government debt owed to public employees. In July 2015, the Pew Charitable Trusts released their latest issue brief, reporting that as of 2013, the nation’s state-run retirement systems had a $968 billion funding gap GPS +1.75%, not far from the “Trillion Dollar Gap” they reported in 2010.Read More

Target Date Funds: The Good, the Bad, and the Unknown

Target Date Funds, which automatically diversify, adjust and rebalance retirement saving allocations over very long periods of time, are among the most successful individual investing products of the past decade. Initially introduced in 1994, target date funds (TDFs) really took off after the U.S. Pension Protection Act of 2006 allowed defined contribution (DC) pension plans to use them as a default option for plan participants. Assets in TDFs rose from a total of $100 billion in assets in 2005 to over $700 billion in 2015, and more than 60% of new DC pension contributions are now flowing into these funds. At least 36 mutual fund companies offer TDFs to pension plans, and a growing part of the pension consulting business consists of helping pension plan sponsors to “customize” their TDFs.Read More

A New Approach To Timing Pension Payouts

US federal law requires retirees to annually withdraw a minimum amount from their retirement accounts after the age of 70 ½. [1] This is driven by a tax rationale: since pension contributions are generally tax-deferred, Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) rules require that taxes should be paid on pension benefits during old age. Yet a criticism has been levied at RMD rules, namely that they may prejudice good retirement policy. To the extent that some households are required to draw down their pension wealth too soon, this increases the risk that they will outlive their resources.Read More

What’s Wrong With Our Retirement System & What We Can Do About It

As the Baby Boom moves into retirement, confidence in our retirement system is waning, for good reason. Plan sponsors, including public and private employers, are rapidly freezing their defined benefit plans—those that promise a guaranteed level of income in retirement—by closing the plans to new hires or stopping current employees from earning additional benefits.Read More

Capping Pension Costs? Cautionary Lessons from the UK

Economists typically criticize price regulation because, for most products, competition is seen as sufficient to drive pricing to reasonable economic levels. Moreover, consumers are usually better off as a result of the competitive process. Exceptions would include cases where significant economies of scale exist, as in the case of utilities, and also where imperfect information impedes the orderly operation of markets.Read More