NBER Working Papers by George Pennacchi

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Working Papers

October 2010Portfolio Allocation for Public Pension Funds
with Mahdi Rastad: w16456
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 risk...

Published: Pennacchi, George & Rastad, Mahdi, 2011. "Portfolio allocation for public pension funds," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 10(02), pages 221-245, April. citation courtesy of

May 1991Security Baskets and Index-Linked Securities
with Gary Gorton: w3711
Security baskets and index-lined securities are securities whose values are functions of the cash flows or values of other assets. Creation of these "composite" securities would seem to be redundant since investors can cost1ess1y replicate them. In this paper we study the existence and optimal design of composite securities. We first show that when some investors possess inside information, composite securities are not redundant. By holding composite securities, uninformed investors with unexpected needs to trade can reduce their expected losses to insiders. The existence of these securities will affect real investment decisions. We then show that when uniformed investors are heterogeneous with respect to nontradeable endowment risk, the size of such clienteles determines whether the portf...

Published: The Journal of Business, Vol. 66, no. 1 (January 1993): 1-27. citation courtesy of

December 1990Banks and Loan Sales: Marketing Non-Marketable Assets
with Gary Gorton: w3551
A defining characteristic of bank loans is that they are not resold once created. Yet, in 1989 about $240 billion of commercial and industrial loans were sold, compared to trivial amounts five years earlier. Selling loans without explicit guarantee or recourse is inconsistent with theories of the existence of financial intermediation. What has changed to make bank loans marketable? In this paper we test for the presence of implicit contractual features of bank loan sales contracts that could explain this inconsistency. In addition, the effect of technological progress on the reduction of information asymmetries between loan buyers and loan sellers is considered. The paper tests for the presence of these features and effects using a sample of over 800 recent loan sales.

Published: Journal of Monetary Economics, Vol. 35, no. 3 (1995): 389-411. citation courtesy of

June 1985Serial Correlation of Asset Returns and Optimal Portfolios for the Long and Short Term
with Stanley Fischer: w1625
Optimal portfolios differ according to the length of time they are held without being rebalanced. For the case in which asset returns are identically and independently distributed, it has been shown that optimal portfolios become less diversified as the holding period lengthens.We show that the anti-diversification result does not obtain when asset returns are serially correlated, and examine properties of asymptotic portfolios for the case where the short term interest rate, although known at each moment of time, may change unpredictably over time. The theoretical results provide no presumption about the effects of the length of the holding period on the optimal portfolio. Using estimated processes for stock and bill returns, we show that calculated optimal portfolios are virtually invari...

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