Pension Liquidity Risk

Pension funds rely on interest rate swaps to hedge the interest rate risk arising from their liabilities. Analyzing unique data on Dutch pension funds, we show that this hedging behavior exposes pension funds to liquidity risk due to margin calls, which can be as large as 15% of their total assets. Our analysis uncovers three key findings: (i) pension funds with tighter regulatory constraints use swaps more aggressively; (ii) in response to rising interest rates, triggering margin calls, pension funds predominantly sell safe and short-term government bonds; (iii) we demonstrate that this  procyclical selling adversely affects the prices of these bonds.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.

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