Tax Aspects of Corporate Pension Funding Policy
NBER Working Paper No. 724
This paper explores four models of firms' pension liabilities. All of the models yield the result that if it is the stockholders who gain or lose from a change in the market value of pension fund assets, a pension fund invested entirely in bonds will maximize that gain. If a firm's pension liabilities are considered to be no more than the present value of accrued benefits, then most plans for salaried employees would maximize the pension's value by having their assets entirely in bonds. However, for less well funded plans such as most union plans, holding both stocks and bonds or even all stocks may maximize the value of the firm.. Implicit contracts on the liability side of the pension balance sheet can encourage holding some stock, but implicit contracts on the asset side are likely to encourage increased bond holdings.