In Finland: Saunas are Hot, Retirement is Cool

Finnish people love their saunas and their nation's retirement system, which features a basic tax-funded pension, a compulsory collectively-managed DC plan for private-sector workers, and a government pension for public employees.

A Case of Low Book Yields

“Even if rates were to slowly rise, they would still be historically low. There would be less pressure on companies, but the overall portfolio rate of return could continue to go down,” said Mary Pat Campbell, a life insurance investment analyst at Conning.

The ‘Floor-Leverage’ Model

An easy income recipe from Financial Engines: Put 15% of your savings in a triple- leveraged stock ETF and the rest in something safe, like a TIPS ladder.

A Roundup of RIIA’s Meeting in Texas

Michael Finke of Texas Tech, John Salter of Evensky & Katz Wealth Management, Larry Cohen of Strategic Business Insights and others presented at the Retirement Income Industry Association's annual meeting, held this year at Dimensional Fund Advisors headquarters in Austin, Texas. (Above, the DFA lobby).

Driven by VA de-risking, managed-vol funds grow

Assets in funds in this category reached $200.1 billion by mid-2013 after rising to $153.9 billion at year-end 2012 from $30.9 billion at year-end 2006, an annualized growth rate of 31%. About 64% of the assets, or $127.9 billion as of mid-year 2013, were in variable annuity separate accounts and the rest in mutual funds.

A Second Look at the ‘Floor-Leverage Model’

Two weeks ago we reported on new research by Jason Scott and John Watson of Financial Engines about a retirement income strategy that combines 85% safe assets with a 15% allocation to a triple-leveraged, daily-balanced ETF. One reader contested its value, and one of the authors has replied.

MetLife and ING benefit from Romanian pension growth

Dutch insurance giant ING, with the biggest Romanian DC fund by assets and membership, recorded the highest profit so far this year, of RON146.7m (€33.1m). As of the end of June, total profits in the second pillar grew 43% y-o-y to RON440.4m (€99.3m).

The Bucket

Brief or late-breaking items from Bankers Life and Casualty Company, New York Life, The American College, Vanguard, Mass Mutual, Jackson National Life, Jefferson National and Cerulli Associates.

Quote of the Week

"In an economic system in which a sovereign government operates through its own monetary system, spending (or lending) must occur before taxing. In addition, taxes are not a funding source in that logic. They are part of the destruction of government currency, i.e. they return currency to the issuing government"--Eric Tymoigne and L. Randall Wray, "Modern Monetary Theory 101: A Reply to Critics," p.5. Levy Economics Institute, November 2013.