Friday, 6 March 2009

A few snippets

First up, Myners comes out fighting. He says: "It is interesting that as far as I am aware not a single institutional shareholder has raised a single question about Sir Fred’s pension."

He's got a point. Actually the offer of an unreduced pension if you got the heave-ho is actually set out in the RBS remuneration report from last year. If it's such a terrible policy (and I think it is) how come shareholders didn't challenge it before?

Secondly, a bit old this, but the Personal Accounts Delivery Authority has published a report (PDF) on individual investment behaviour in terms of savings. Some familiar stuff here - more choices result in less choosing, many savers adopt naive diversification strategies that are heavily influenced by the available choice, few savers switch funds. I'm most interested in the findings in respect of information provision -
• Evidence from the US suggests that information provision and financial education has a limited impact on individual behaviour in relation to making investment fund choices (section 4.2) and fund switching (section 4.4).
• In Sweden, however, the communications strategy adopted by the mandatory pension scheme seems to have had a considerable impact on levels of active decision making (section 4.5).

This is surely worth more exploration. I'm sceptical about the ability of information provision to have a big impact on certain decisions, but it looks like sometimes it can be effective.

Finally there's a really interesting post from Willem Buiter here that is well worth a read. Here's a very short snippet:
The [effeicient markets hypothesis] is surely the most notable empirical fatality of the financial crisis. By implication, the complete markets macroeconomics of Lucas, Woodford et. al. is the most prominent theoretical fatality. The future surely belongs to behavioural approaches relying on empirical studies on how market participants learn, form views about the future and change these views in response to changes in their environment, peer group effects etc.

1 comment:

Charlie Marks said...

I think that while it appeared all was going well, Sir Fred's pension wasn't much of a priority. Consider the response we've got for years over the issue of pay in the financial sector - politics of envy, etc. It just didn't seem to matter.

Ah, economics - they don't call it the dismal science for nothing!