Showing posts with label Muppet Show. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Muppet Show. Show all posts

Feb 9, 2011

Dutch Pension Muppet Show

There's a lot of fuzz about the performance of the largest (€ 246 billion assets) Dutch Pension Funds ABP and the somewhat smaller (€ 91 billion) PFZW (former PGGM). According the Dutch television program Zembla and Bureau Bosch Asset Consultants, Dutch pension funds would have consistently underperformed.

ABP commented: "The yearly return of 7.1% on average since 1993 is much higher than returns on government bonds would have been and is in part thanks to our equity investments."

PFZW overshoots ABP wit the comment: "PFZW's calculations show a return of 8.4% on average during the past 20 years which is much higher than the 10-year Dutch government bonds of 5.3% on average during the same period."

Great statements, but who's right?

Performance Test
Let's quickly "do the proof" by comparing (benchmarking) the 'modest' yearly performance of ABP with the yearly performance of 10 year Government Euro Bond Yield Benchmark as provided by the ECB.

Both pension funds are not limited to  the Dutch market, therefore  performance is not related to Dutch Government Bonds, but to 10-Y Euro Government Bonds.

As the yearly performance of ABP in a particular year is in fact a kind of 'compound performance' of the years before, it's more realistic to relate ABP's (yearly) performance to the 10-years moving average of 10-Y Euro Bonds.  

What becomes clear from is that ABP's volatility overshadows the 10-year Bond's volatility by far. As a consequence ABP's out-performance should be significant.

Let's test this by looking at the YTD (Year To Date) performance of ABP on the long run:

The average performance of ABP 1993-2010 indeed turns out exactly 7.1% as published, but hardly outperforms the 10-year Euro Bonds Moving average of 6.8%.

0.3% '18-years out-performance' (OP-18) for such a high volatility is strongly discussable. The long term out-performance 1994-2010 (OP-17) was 0.0%. The out-performances of shorter periods (OP-[18-x]) are not stable and strongly swap from positive to negative.

Benchmarking Pension funds performance with Euro Bonds 0f 20 years or longer would be even more adequate and in line with the duration of pension fund's liabilities. Taken into account that 20 year Bonds on average score a 0.25% à 1.00% higher return than 10 year Bonds, it can be concluded that Dutch pension funds on average do not out-perform Government Bonds. Not to mention the influence of the yearly investment-costs of at least 0.2% on the returns.....

Pension Fund PFZW
Pension Fund PFZW is completely lost on their non-transparent and backwards changing performance of 8.4% over the last 20 years.
From their annual (inconsistent) accounts it can be concluded that their 2001-2010 performance came down to 4,8%. This performance is exactly the same as the performance op ABP in that period and underperforms the moving average 10-years Euro Bonds with 0.7% !!!

It's clear that pension funds don't convince in the outperformance of Government Bonds and that the pension industry is in desperate need for an impartial benchmark with regard to out or underperformance of Bonds.

The comments from ABP and PFZW, Boenders and Cocken are like 'shooting from the hip' and must be qualified as highly unprofessional.

Dutch pension fund members are watching an extra edition of the Muppet show. Who's gonna stop this pension media madness and bring some order in the pension room?

Related Links and Sources:

- Source: 10 year Government Euro Bond Yield Benchmark
- 'grave miscalculations' in Zembla (Boender aand Kocken
- Watch: Zembla 
- Download: Spreadsheet with calculations as presented
- IPE: Heavyweights ABP, PFZW come out swinging against Zembla
- Bloomberg: 10-year, - -  30-year performance Gv. Bonds