Tuesday, February 21, 2006

IFRS convergence & consistency

The documents and transcripts of the FEE Seminar on IFRS Convergence & Consistency are finally available. The seminar took place on 1 December 2005 in Brussels and I was asked to represent the views of financial analysts.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Spinning pensions

This excellent article in the Economist reminded me of an important paper that has been on my To Read List for way too much time without careful consideration. The paper evaluates DB pensions schemes from a strictly economic point of view, which has striking - and disagreeable, in the present environment - consequences. Much of the British pensions crisis can be attributed to changed views as a consequence of this.

What is the situation in Switzerland? In the UK, it is mostly actuaries who evaluate pension schemes, and the profession has a bit of a cartel in opinion making. This cartel has decided to adopt an economic view. In Switzerland, critically important rates (technical interest rate, the conversion rate) are defined legally and subject to political opinion making. This rates have been fixed in a period when interest rates were considerably higher, and to adapt them to economic reality now would create a lot of pain. But this is the nature of the ficticious contract of generations: the present generation fixes the terms of the contract for its own benefit.