Newsdash Insight on Plan Design & Investment Strategy from PLANSPONSOR
November 22nd, 2017
Benefits & Administration
Public Pensions Have Been Able to Pay Promised Benefits
Some policymakers want to close participation in a public pension plan to all new hires, cut benefits and increase employee contributions, or convert defined benefit (DB) plans pensions into defined contribution (DC) plans. They usually cite the underfunding of public pension plans as the reason for these ideas. New research shows that funding status has little correlation with a pension fund’s ability to pay its promised benefits. Michael Kahn, director of research for the National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems (NCPERS) used data from the annual survey of public pensions by the U.S. Census Bureau for 1993 to 2016 and other data and found that during the last quarter century or so, state and local pension plans have always been able to meet their benefit and other payment obligations. Read more >
Less Than 1% of DC Plan Participants Took Hardships in the First Half of 2016
The Investment Company Institute (ICI) also reports defined contribution (DC) plan participants remained committed to investments and contributions. Read more >
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Ask the Experts
Change in Rules for Contract Exchanges
“I work for a denominational church plan sponsor. Our plan permits contract exchanges (we have some inactive vendors in the plan to which we permit transfers to the active vendor), but not plan-to-plan transfers. I have an active employee who does not qualify for a distributable event from the plan. He wishes to transfer his account balance out of our plan to another 403(b) contract that does not appear to be connected to any 403(b) plan of another plan sponsor; and, at any rate, even if it were, our plan does not permit plan-to-plan transfers. However, he was quite insistent that he was permitted to complete such a transfer under the law, and that he in fact, had completed an identical transfer a number of years ago. I am new to the church, so I cannot explain to him why he was able to complete such a transfer back then, but cannot do so now. Can the Experts assist?” Read more >
Economic Events

Existing-home sales increased in October to their strongest pace since earlier this summer, but continual supply shortages led to fewer closings on an annual basis for the second straight month, according to the National Association of Realtors. Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, increased 2.0% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.48 million in October from a downwardly revised 5.37 million in September. After last month’s increase, sales are at their strongest pace since June (5.51 million), but still remain 0.9% below a year ago.

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Market Mirror

Tuesday, the Dow climbed 160.50 points (0.69%) to 23,590.83, the NASDAQ closed 71.76 points (1.06%) higher at 6,862.48, and the S&P 500 was up 16.89 points (0.65%) at 2,599.03. The Russell 2000 increased 15.49 points (1.03%) to 1,518.89, and the Wilshire 5000 gained 157.57 points (0.59%) to finish at 27,019.99.

Compliance
PBGC Asks Permission to Keep Collecting Information on Plan Terminations
The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) is requesting that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approve a collection of information under its regulations on the disclosure of termination information for distress terminations, and for PBGC-initiated terminations of defined benefit (DB) plans. As background, Sections 4041 and 4042 of ERISA were amended by Section 506 of the Pension Protection Act (PPA) to require that, upon a request by an affected party, a plan administrator must disclose information it has submitted to the PBGC in connection with a distress termination filing, and a plan administrator or plan sponsor must disclose information it has submitted to the PBGC in connection with a PBGC-initiated termination. The PBGC is also required to disclose the administrative record relating to a PBGC-initiated termination upon request by an affected party. Read more >
DOL Provides Relief for Hurricane Maria, Wildfire Victims
Following the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS’s) relaxation of loans and hardship withdrawals from 401(k) plans for victims of Hurricane Maria and the October wildfires in California, the Department of Labor (DOL) has issued guidance on how these plans can still remain in compliance with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). In addition, with respect to health care benefits for participants, beneficiaries and sponsors of plans affected by Hurricane Maria, the DOL and the IRS will be extending the deadlines for them to “make critical coverage and other decisions affecting benefits.” The deadlines will be published in the Federal Register on November 21. Read more >
Regulators Announce Modifications to Form 5500
The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL)’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) released advance informational copies of the 2017 Form 5500 annual return/report and related instructions. They include important modifications. For example, IRS compliance questions have been removed from the form. Read more >
Small Talk
“Parents increasingly tend to give their children unusual, if not unique, names during and shortly after positive social mood trends,” says Alan Hall, a senior analyst at the Socionomics Institute (www.socionomics.net) and a contributing author to the book Socionomic Studies of Society and Culture. “Parents are more likely to opt for ordinary names during and shortly after negative mood trends.” Hall says one of the best ways to measure the country’s social mood is through the ups and downs of the stock market, so he compared more than seven decades worth of stock-market records to baby-naming records. He found three ways naming babies has similarities to investing in the stock market. Read more >

ON THIS DATE: In 1718, English pirate Edward Teach (a.k.a. “Blackbeard”) was killed by British soldiers during a battle off the coast of North Carolina. In 1910, Arthur F. Knight patented a steel shaft to replace wood shafts in golf clubs. In 1935, the first trans-Pacific airmail flight began in Alameda, California, when the flying boat known as the China Clipper left for Manila. The craft was carrying over 110,000 pieces of mail. In 1942, during World War II, the Battle of Stalingrad began. In 1943, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek met in Cairo to discuss the measures for defeating Japan. In 1950, the lowest scoring game in the NBA was played. The Fort Wayne Pistons (later the Detroit Pistons) defeated the Minneapolis Lakers (later the Los Angeles Lakers) 19 to 18. In 1963, U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated while riding in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas. Texas Governor John B. Connally was also seriously wounded. Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson was inaugurated as the 36th U.S. President. In 1972, U.S. President Richard M. Nixon lifted a ban on American travel to Cuba. The ban had been put in place on February 8, 1963. In 1985, 38,648 immigrants became citizens of the United States. It was the largest swearing-in ceremony. In 1986, Mike Tyson became the youngest to wear the world heavyweight-boxing crown. He was only 20 years and 4 months old. In 1990, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher announced she would resign. In 2005, Angela Merkel was elected as Germany’s first female chancellor.

 

WEDNESDAY WISDOM: “When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.”—Willie Nelson, singer

 

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Editorial: Alison Cooke Mintzer alison.mintzer@strategic-i.com

Advertising: Paul Zampitella paul.zampitella@strategic-i.com

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