Portfolio Allocation for Public Pension Funds

51 Pages Posted: 18 Oct 2010  

George Pennacchi

University of Illinois

Mahdi Rastad

Orfalea College of Business, California State Polytechnic University

Date Written: October 2010

Abstract

This paper presents a dynamic model of a public pension fund's choice of portfolio risk. Optimal portfolio allocations are derived when pension fund management maximize the utility of wealth of a representative taxpayer or when pension fund management maximize their own utility of compensation. The model's implications are examined using annual data on the portfolio allocations and plan characteristics of 125 state pension funds over the 2000 to 2009 period. Consistent with agency behavior by public pension fund management, we find evidence that funds chose greater overall asset - liability portfolio risk following periods of relatively poor investment performance. In addition, pension plans that select a relatively high rate with which to discount their liabilities tend to choose riskier portfolios. Moreover, consistent with a desire to gamble for higher benefits, pension plans take more risk when they have greater representation by plan participants on their Boards of Trustees.

Suggested Citation

Pennacchi, George and Rastad, Mahdi, Portfolio Allocation for Public Pension Funds (October 2010). NBER Working Paper No. w16456. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1692519

George G. Pennacchi (Contact Author)

University of Illinois ( email )

4041 BIF, Box 25
515 East Gregory Drive
Champaign, IL 61820
United States
217-244-0952 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.business.illinois.edu/gpennacc/

Mahdi Rastad

Orfalea College of Business, California State Polytechnic University ( email )

San Luis Obispo, CA 93407
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.cob.calpoly.edu/faculty/mahdi-rastad/

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