SeLFIES for Portugal: An Innovative Pan European Retirement Solution

November 27 2019 | Portugal
Financial and Monetary Policy Studies, Vol. 48
With a rapidly aging population, Portugal faces some serious pension challenges including a Social Security system which is under pressure, and pension benefits gradually approaching levels that will require individuals to supplement Social Security with private savings. In addition, Portugal has a low rate of financial literacy and hence transferring the responsibility of retirement planning to the general population runs a major risk of many individuals retiring poor. While some attempts have been made to create private pension plans, they have not had the level of acceptance as has been the case in some of the Anglo-Saxon countries. This paper argues that the government of Portugal could issue a new form of Sovereign Contingent Debt Instrument (SCDI) that can address the growing retirement challenge and achieve other goals as well. SeLFIES (Standard-of-Living indexed, Forward-starting Income-only Securities) are a new type of bond that greatly simplify retirement planning to the level of basic financial literacy and can not only address retirement security, but also improve the government’s debt financing and funding for infrastructure. Finally, since Portugal is part of the EU, the demand for these new bond instruments could be Euro-wide thereby providing additional benefits to the government in reducing its overall financing cost.