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Public Pension Viewpoints

Waxing Life Expectancies, Waning Return Assumptions

The first half of 2019 has seen a continuation of equity and interest rate volatility driven by Brexit, trade/tariff concerns, and the growth outlook both in the US and abroad. While US public defined benefit (DB) plans grapple with these market forces, many also continue to examine other factors that impact plan management, such as governance and liability growth. We address several of these topics in our latest edition of Public Pension Viewpoints.

Highlights this Quarter:

  • Public plans continue to migrate away from US equities: Our review of recently issued Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFR) confirmed a trend we observed during the course of 2018 – public DB plans reducing target and actual allocations to equities. This is consistent with recent analysis from the National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems (NCPERS) which indicates these reductions focus on US equites, with international allocations enjoying an increase.
  • Staffing levels vary greatly among public DB plans: Staffing levels and overall plan governance continue to be focus topics. While each plan faces unique circumstances and considerations which influence this decision, we review some of our observations across staffing sizes based on various factors such as plan size, percentage of assets managed internally, consultant reliance, and funded status.
  • The downside of longer life spans: Following a commentary period in late 2018, the Society of Actuaries (SOA) released “Pub-2010” in January - mortality tables based on examination of the experience of public sector employees. Amongst the findings, it was observed that the mortality experience for this population varied from that of private sector employees.
  • Market cheat sheet: The start to the year has brought clarity around corporate annual results and outlooks for 2019, but transparency around Brexit and the outcome to the trade dispute between the United States and China remain elusive and threaten to potentially act as headwinds to growth. 
May 2019
US Corporate Pension De-Risking: More Than Just Bonds

The trend of US corporate defined benefit (DB) pension plans engaging in de-risking programs is firmly in place and a variety of factors have coalesced over the past ten-plus years which have guided plans to consider de-risking actions.

November 2018 | Pension Solutions
Public Pension Viewpoints

Public pension CIOs, trustees and administrators have a lot on their plates – recent increases in market volatility, Fed tightening and a re-visiting of pension liability valuation approaches, just to name a few. In this issue of GSAM’s Public Pension Viewpoints, we review the salient issues for public defined benefit (DB) pension plans today based on our observations and conversations with clients.