Bridge over ocean
1 January 2007 Financial Analysts Journal Volume 63, Issue 1

P/Es and Pension Funding Ratios

  1. Martin L. Leibowitz, PhD
  2. Anthony Bova, CFA

Some evidence supports the intriguing conjecture that P/Es in the U.S. market may decline in times of both significantly lower, as well as significantly higher, real interest rates. The P/E response pattern would then resemble a tent that angles downward at both ends. For pension liabilities defined in real terms, very low real rates would then lead to a clifflike falloff in the funding ratio from the decline in equity valuations combined with surging liability costs. This article explores the risk implications of such a low-rate scenario and the equity valuations that could give rise to such a tent pattern.

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