Full text: Capital Gains, Pension Funds and the Low Savings Ratio in the United States

1986.The main source of these gains presumably lies in the re 
purchase of shares at high prices as a conseguence of take-overs 
(or of defensive measures by corporations threatened by 
raiders).The stock exchange boom of 1982 - 1987 has favoured 
speculative gains as also has the boom in real estate. 
What is the importance of the realised capital gains for the 
household saving? If the gains are made by households which hold 
shares directly or which get capital gains dividends from 
investment funds ,and if they spend these gains on consumption, 
then the result will be a reduction of household saving as 
measured by NIPA, which is spurious,because the saving 
propensities have not changed - as much is saved as before and the 
additional consumption is financed out of the capital gains. It is 
very difficult to estimate even approximately how much spurious 
reduction in saving may have been caused by realised capital gains 
of households. A large part of share capital is held by households 
directly or indirectly (although some of it has been shifted to 
the pension funds in the course of time), but the holding,direct 
and via investment funds,is highly concentrated,so that only a 
fairly small proportion of the gains can have been 
consumed.Nevertheless it is possible that the saving rate has been 
reduced by something like a third to one half of a percentage 
point on account of realised capital gains of households. 
Quite apart from realised gains the mere fact of the stock 
exchange boom has led to an appreciation of the assets of pension 
funds which in itself has led to considerable overfunding. This 
has led to an absolute and relative reduction in the contributions 
to the funds. Tne policy of the funds is to aim at a certain 
target investment which enables them to meet the pension claims. 
They are constrained by law to reduce their contributions if there

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