Bernanke, Equities and the November Election

In the course of his address, whose meaning was as usual camouflaged in Fed-jargon and stippled with acronyms, Bernanke more or less assured the markets that his motto remains, “Easy does it.”

Research Roundup

We summarize four recent papers: 'Portfolios for Long-Term Investors,' 'What is the Value of Annuities?,' 'Public Economics and Inequality: Uncovering Our Social Nature,' and 'Financial and Total Wealth Inequality with Low Interest Rates.'

An Annuity’s ‘Moneyness’? There’s an App for That

How will variable annuity contract owners use their income benefits? That question is vital to annuity issuers and to fiduciary advisers with clients who own VAs. This Texas Dep't of Insurance actuary knows a product that can help them find out.

A Chip Off the Old Rock?

Bloomberg reported this week that Prudential is considering selling its retirement plan recordkeeping business. Prudential didn't confirm the report, but several industry insiders did. Low interest rates, high costs of IT makeovers, and sticky stable value fund guarantees are driving the move, RIJ was told.
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Japan gets younger, but still struggles with longevity risk

“Traditionally children would inherit their parents’ longevity risk. However, family sizes are shrinking, and the economic circumstances of parents and children have reversed. The last bastion has thus disappeared," a report from Japan says.

“Quote” of the Week

“Today’s stock market is a constantly evolving, bewilderingly complex electronic labyrinth. Not even sophisticated traders can say with certainty what happens to their order when they buy or sell shares of stock" -- from The Payoff: Why Wall Street Always Wins (Perseus 2012), by Jeff Connaughton.

The Bucket

Late-breaking item on The Hartford's sale of its retirement plans business to MassMutual. The Hartford’s institutional retirement business includes 33,000 mainly DC plans with $54.9 billion in AUM and over 1.5m participants. Also, items from Symetra and ING Group, which is selling its stake in Capital One, and MetLife, which has changed its income annuity.

“America the Undertaxed”

Compared with 33 other industrialized nations, total tax revenues in the U.S. were the third lowest as a percent of GDP in 2009. But MIT's Andrea Campbell doesn't necessarily think that's something to brag about.