As he tries to jump start the economies of today, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi is punching holes in the retirements of tomorrow.
Draghi said the ECB may continue asset buying beyond March 2017 until it sees inflation consistent with its targets. The purchases, along with low and negative interest rates from the ECB and the region’s national banks, are pushing more and more bond yields below zero, hurting European pension managers that are already struggling to fund retirement plans.
“Pension funds can’t meet their future obligations if interest rates remain as low as they currently are,” said Olaf Stotz, a professor of asset management at the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management. “Some sponsors will have no choice but to add more capital” to their pension plans.
Funds that supply retirement income of millions of European workers face a growing gap between the money they have and what they must pay out. To make up the shortfalls, they may have to tap their sponsoring companies or institutions, reduce or delay payouts or try to boost returns by investing in riskier assets. That mirrors the dilemma faced by pension managers from the U.S. to Japan who are also being affected by central bank monetary policy.