Christian Lindner wants to expand funded pensions

Christian Lindner (left), Kenfo boss Anja Mikus (middle)

At a discussion event, the Minister of Finance declared that he wanted to invest more money in the capital market for pensions.

(Photo: IMAGO/photothek)

Berlin Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) wants to equip the new funded pillar of the statutory pension insurance with significantly higher amounts than previously planned. The goal is to have “a significant three-digit billion amount” in so-called “generational capital” in the 2030s, Lindner said on Friday at a discussion event in Berlin.

The SPD, Greens and FDP have agreed in the coalition agreement to make ten billion euros available to the pension insurance system in order to build up a capital stock. The aim is “to use the return opportunities of the global capital market in order to better prepare the financing of statutory pension schemes for the challenges of the future,” according to the basic concept of the Ministry of Finance from November.

The money is to be managed by the “Fund for the Financing of Nuclear Waste Management” (Kenfo), which was set up to finance the interim and final storage of radioactive waste. The generational capital is to become part of the traffic light coalition’s second pension package, which is being worked on in the department of Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD).

Lindner said it is currently about using the “yield differential” to save capital for retirement. The interest that the state has to pay on the capital market for the ten billion euros is lower than the returns that Kenfo achieves on average. However, he could also imagine that certain state holdings in companies would later be transferred to generational capital.

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The aim of the liberals is that in a “final stage” the insured will also pay their own contributions to the pension fund and thus acquire individual entitlements to generational capital. The current plans are a compromise between the social-democratic idea of ​​organizing the pension system as collectivistically as possible and the FDP idea of ​​using innovative capital market products.

>> Read here: Lindner wants to plan ten billion euros in the 2023 budget for the share pension

In fact, there is a dissent in the traffic light coalition as to how far the capital cover should go. The deputy chairwoman of the SPD parliamentary group, Dagmar Schmidt, was skeptical about Lindner’s call for more public funds to be invested on Friday.

SPD does not want to invest more than ten billion euros in shares

In addition to the pension contributions and the grants from the federal budget, the coalition with the capital stock of ten billion euros is relying on “an additional stability factor” that will further secure the statutory pension. “Not much remains of the original concept of the liberal ‘share pension’,” said Schmidt.

During the election campaign, the Liberals had campaigned to regularly give a portion of the statutory pension contributions to the capital stock, following the Swedish model. However, this would have been at the expense of the previous pay-as-you-go system, in which those currently in employment finance the pensions of the current generation of pensioners.

Dagmar Schmidt

“The linchpin of our pension policy remains the long-term stabilization of the pension level of 48 percent,” says the deputy leader of the SPD parliamentary group.

(Photo: IMAGO/Future Image)

Lindner said that moving away from the pay-as-you-go system was “neither realistic nor necessary nor sensible”. Nevertheless, his party is sticking to the goal of broadening the financing basis of the funded pillar.

At the same time, the finance minister countered fears that a stock market crash could be to the detriment of pensioners. One will not invest in heavily fluctuating penny stocks, said Lindner. It is about a “high but steady return”.

The nuclear fund Kenfo, which manages 24 billion euros, has an average return of 3.8 percent per year, as Kenfo boss Anja Mikus explained at the event in Berlin. The public must get used to the fact that the stock market does not always go up. In view of the long-term investment horizon, however, the chances of return are good, said Mikus. And when in doubt, the state steps in with a higher federal subsidy, emphasized Lindner.

>> Read also: Germany’s first sovereign wealth fund is getting involved in these controversial investments

Federal Minister of Labor Heil told the German Press Agency that it was important “that the money is invested well, securely and for the long term”. In the next few weeks he will launch the second pension package, which will also regulate the stabilization of the pension level at 48 percent.

SPD parliamentary group deputy leader Schmidt emphasized that the linchpin of her party’s pension policy remains the long-term stabilization of the pension level of 48 percent. “Generational capital can now make a contribution to this.”

More: Hubertus Heil – coalition creates share reserves for the pension.

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