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Old 07-15-2008, 10:51 PM   #21
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After the beating I have taken about this, I'd like to finish this one off for good. Then I'll be done. Sorry for wanting to do that. You'll never hear me start a discussion about 6% IRR annuities again. That's worth it, isn't it?

I'm not trying to sway anyone. I'd just like facts to remain as facts.
OK. Facts is facts. All done. How 'bout them Redskins?
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Old 07-15-2008, 10:54 PM   #22
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OK. Facts is facts. All done. How 'bout them Redskins?
Maybe, they putting in a bid on Favre?
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Old 07-15-2008, 11:07 PM   #23
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Please help me out.
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The question doesn't make sense.

-- so what? If you died sooner, your mutual fund would have outperformed. If you die later your SPIA would outperform.
RockOn, you tell me when I'm gonna die, and you tell me if the annuity company will be solvent until that date, and then I'll tell you if any specific annuity makes financial sense. But I bet you can do that w/o any help.

Without those numbers, it's a crap-shoot.

And the market is a crap-shoot, too - but I won't tie it all up with one company.

And I *like* the *idea* of an annuity. I don't like the idea of getting wrapped up with a 30, 40 or 50 year promise from a company today.

-ERD50

edit - excuse me, I didn't see that another bunch of posts were added from the time I first looked at this thread - darn multi-tasking!
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Old 07-16-2008, 07:07 AM   #24
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Wow, I just stopped by after a whole boatload of posts and can't believe my comment was so offensive. Rock - if you look back you will see that you started complaining about insults after my comment and Ha's suggestion that he also didn't understand the post. I was not trying to insult you -- heck, I am one of the relatively pro SPIA posters. I just didn't think your question made sense. You simply asked for confirmation that VG's annuity has a 6% IRR - no other information to determine what period you were talking about. The question didn't make sense. No insult in pointing that out.
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Old 07-16-2008, 10:00 AM   #25
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This is true, but if you are an actuary you can go a step further and using suitable probailities for living 1,2,3,4,5,....i years and a known discount rate you can price an annuity. Or, knowing the price, you could reverse this process and extract a discount rate.

But it is hardly an exercise to ask people to volunteer to do.

Ha
I don't think you need to be an actuary to do the calculation.

Many people on this board are very comfortable with the method I used. I set up a one-column spreadsheet where the first entry was negative 1,000, then the next 33 entries were all the same number. I used the built in IRR function on those 34 entries to get a percentage return. I simply did trial-and-error on the payments until I got 6.00%.

Call that column A. It seems I could add the mortality adjustment by putting the probability of collecting each payment in column B. That would be the probability of living to each age. I can get the probability of dying from a table like this http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr56/nvsr56_09.pdf
so I should be able to calculate the probability of living.

(Of course the table will give me probabilities of living beyond 33 years, so I need to extend my worksheet.)

Then column C is just A times B, and the same IRR function on C gives the result.

So the math seems manageable. The tricky part is deciding which table to use. Should I use Total US Population? Or Total Male Population? or White Male Population? Should I adjust for the fact that I'm healthy today, and the mortality table includes people who are terminally ill today? Should I adjust for the expected improvement in mortality rates in the future? That seems more challenging to me.
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Old 07-16-2008, 10:22 AM   #26
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I don't think you need to be an actuary to do the calculation.

So the math seems manageable. The tricky part is deciding which table to use. Should I use Total US Population? Or Total Male Population? or White Male Population? Should I adjust for the fact that I'm healthy today, and the mortality table includes people who are terminally ill today? Should I adjust for the expected improvement in mortality rates in the future? That seems more challenging to me.
Insurance companies employ legions of actuaries. They make really good money for mostly just plugging data into a formula. Insurance companies have created an industry out of making sure they make a good profit.

As has been stated many times before, the IRR is determined by how long someone continues to receive payments. Assuming you will live past your mortality table lifespan makes a SPIA look really good. It does not change the fact that among all the people purchasing the annuity half will die before that date. So ask yourself, do you feel lucky? If the answer is yes, buy the SPIA and stop repeating the same absurd thread over and over.
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Old 07-16-2008, 10:41 AM   #27
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All I have to add is that annuities are INSURANCE products, NOT INVESTMENT products..........
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Old 07-16-2008, 10:43 AM   #28
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I'm not sure that you need to be an actuary OR need to know how to do math.
- The insurance company needs to make money on the annuities they sell. If they pay out more than they take in (initial purchase price + gains on that invested money) then they will not be profitable. The things they invest in are things individuals could also invest in. Therefore, on the face of it, unless there's some amazing hidden mechanism at work, we should go in with the assumption that the annuities will, overall, pay out less than you could expect to get yourself by investing in te same or similar things as the annuity companies. Somebody is paying for those skyscrapers and TV ads.

It is possible to make a case for annuities based on the longevity risk we face, or the value of a steady monthly income. Despite the spirited jousting on this board, this is clearly an individual issue, and some people sincerely believe these attributes of annuities are worth the overall decreased payout they will receive. That's fine, and I'm glad these products are available for consumers who want them.

I do not believe it is possible for anyone to show that they'll receive more absolute, inflation-adjusted, money from investing in an annuity than they would have received from a well-chosen, prudent mix on investment vehicles. Any proof that involves assuming a longevity in excess of the mortality tables is highly suspect.

According to a mortality table I consulted (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/statab/lewk3_2003.pdf ) as of 2003 a 53 year old male in the US should expect to live 26 more years (that is, to age 79). If you assume that you'l live to 86, then the annuity will look better. If you assume you'll live to 100, the annuity looks GREAT! It turns out you can make the annuity IRR anything you want by creatively picking an age of death that meets your psychological criteria for self-proof.

Who is paying for those skyscrapers?
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Old 07-16-2008, 11:33 AM   #29
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So the math seems manageable. The tricky part is deciding which table to use. Should I use Total US Population? Or Total Male Population? or White Male Population? Should I adjust for the fact that I'm healthy today, and the mortality table includes people who are terminally ill today? Should I adjust for the expected improvement in mortality rates in the future? That seems more challenging to me.
That is why you need to be an actuary. That, and the fact that you would get paid for your work.

Ha
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Old 07-16-2008, 12:06 PM   #30
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I'm not sure that you need to be an actuary OR need to know how to do math.
- The insurance company needs to make money on the annuities they sell. If they pay out more than they take in (initial purchase price + gains on that invested money) then they will not be profitable. The things they invest in are things individuals could also invest in. Therefore, on the face of it, unless there's some amazing hidden mechanism at work, we should go in with the assumption that the annuities will, overall, pay out less than you could expect to get yourself by investing in te same or similar things as the annuity companies. Somebody is paying for those skyscrapers and TV ads.

Who is paying for those skyscrapers?
This is exactly the way my dad explained it when I was a teenager. He was right then, and you are now. The topic at the time was deductible on car insurance.

As he went on to explain, because of the skyscrapers, you never want to buy insurance to cover an inconvenience. But, it can still make sense to buy insurance to cover a catastrophe. I know that I'm buying insurance today even though I understand the skyscrapers, and I think I'm a rational person.

When you're trying to decide whether or not to buy, it seems that you should at least know how much the insurance company is going to pay if the "bad thing" happens. In the case of an SPIA, that's not so obvious because of the long time frame. So Rockon's calculation is useful if the question is "What do I get if I live to an unusually old age?". It's not correct if the question is "What do people get on average from this?"

Your answer to the second question "Less than they put in (adjusted for the time value of money)" is enough of a response for a lot of people.

Ha's approach gives us "How much do they lose on average?". This can be a useful number if "living too long" looks like a serious financial problem, but not exactly a catastrophe.
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Old 07-16-2008, 06:25 PM   #31
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Wow, I just stopped by after a whole boatload of posts and can't believe my comment was so offensive. Rock - if you look back you will see that you started complaining about insults after my comment and Ha's suggestion that he also didn't understand the post. I was not trying to insult you -- heck, I am one of the relatively pro SPIA posters. I just didn't think your question made sense. You simply asked for confirmation that VG's annuity has a 6% IRR - no other information to determine what period you were talking about. The question didn't make sense. No insult in pointing that out.
I'm truely sorry if I took your comment in the wrong way wrong, I've been a little overheated lately.
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Old 07-16-2008, 07:10 PM   #32
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So ask yourself, do you feel lucky? If the answer is yes, buy the SPIA and stop repeating the same absurd thread over and over.
I sure didn't mean to get this started again. If we could all just accept that annuities pay a reasonable rate of return (from about 4.5% to 7% depending on how long you live) which does include the loss of principle in the calculation, and are not huge ripoffs like some think, it would have been stopped long ago.
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Old 07-16-2008, 07:13 PM   #33
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All I have to add is that annuities are INSURANCE products, NOT INVESTMENT products..........
They are sold by insurance companies for sure, but why they are not investment products, I don't understand. Over time they will likely pay out a return in the range of CD's and bonds, are those not investment products?
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Old 07-16-2008, 07:23 PM   #34
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I think the place to leave the discussion is this:

- Most people who buy annuities lose money compared to where they would have been if they'd invested the lump sum in a prudent set of investments. Therefore, they are a very poor investment if the criteria is "expected return on investment." Period.

- Even with this large shortcoming, annuities may be an appropriate vehicle for an individual who:
-- Needs a gauranteed base income that does not vary (again, even if this base income is significantly less on average than he would have been able to obtain on his own).
-- Has reason to believe he/she will live longer than the actuaries at the insurance company believe he will live.
-- Is not bothered by the fact that the annuity depends entirely on the promise and ability of a single company to remain solvent and to perform for as long as he/she lives.
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Old 07-16-2008, 07:27 PM   #35
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They are sold by insurance companies for sure, but why they are not investment products, I don't understand. Over time they will likely pay out a return in the range of CD's and bonds, are those not investment products?
For the very reasons we keep telling you. In addition, they can only be offered by insurance companies. They are an insurance product. If I recall correctly, that exact phrase is required wording in the literature they hand out. They stink as investments. They may be appropriate as insurance.
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Old 07-16-2008, 07:30 PM   #36
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When you're trying to decide whether or not to buy, it seems that you should at least know how much the insurance company is going to pay if the "bad thing" happens. In the case of an SPIA, that's not so obvious because of the long time frame. So Rockon's calculation is useful if the question is "What do I get if I live to an unusually old age?". It's not correct if the question is "What do people get on average from this?"

Your answer to the second question "Less than they put in (adjusted for the time value of money)" is enough of a response for a lot of people.

Ha's approach gives us "How much do they lose on average?". This can be a useful number if "living too long" looks like a serious financial problem, but not exactly a catastrophe.
I'd like to pursue this a little more.

I agree that the biggest question is will the insurance company pay off. History has never shown a loss. That doesn't mean it can't happen but it's safer than a few things out there.

I don't understand the "what do people get on average" comment. If there has never been a default in history, it seems to me they get exactly what they deserve based on how long they actually live. If I die early, I understand I lost out, but at least I am dead. If I live to 100, I robbed the bank.

I don't think 86 is an unusually old age, maybe you do. Since I don't think 86 is unusual, I look at the 6% IRR. What age do you base your calculations on when you do financial planning? I think that has merit.

I sure don't understand your "Less than they put in" (adjusted for the time value of money) comment. They pay over out time (if the insurer stays solvent) as much as CD's and bonds do. Does the "less than they put in" apply to CD's and bonds also?

On the last comment, why is a 4.5% to 7% IRR at all tied to the comment "how much do they lose on average"? Are you comparing an annuity to a 50/50 portfolio or something? I don't understand that.
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Old 07-16-2008, 07:32 PM   #37
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I'd like to pursue this a little more.
I think I see a pattern here...
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Old 07-16-2008, 07:35 PM   #38
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They are sold by insurance companies for sure, but why they are not investment products, I don't understand. Over time they will likely pay out a return in the range of CD's and bonds, are those not investment products?
Hmmm - for a forum that could/can go on and on and on about recyling dryer sheets, I have learned to move on another topic. Especially when they insist on poking fun.

I thought my dividend stock ladders in 2004 was a 'barn burner of an idea' but after the razzing I took - I threw in the towel.

Sometimes some folks just can't see the shear brilliance of things!

heh heh heh - now where did I put that Curmudgeon Certificate? .
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Old 07-16-2008, 07:38 PM   #39
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I think the place to leave the discussion is this:

- Most people who buy annuities lose money compared to where they would have been if they'd invested the lump sum in a prudent set of investments. Therefore, they are a very poor investment if the criteria is "expected return on investment." Period.

That is the best response I have heard. Period. Still, some of us may not have the risk tolerance you have, why be so negative about options we may have?

- Even with this large shortcoming, annuities may be an appropriate vehicle for an individual who:
-- Needs a gauranteed base income that does not vary (again, even if this base income is significantly less on average than he would have been able to obtain on his own).
-- Has reason to believe he/she will live longer than the actuaries at the insurance company believe he will live.
-- Is not bothered by the fact that the annuity depends entirely on the promise and ability of a single company to remain solvent and to perform for as long as he/she lives.

Amen to that
Thanks
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Old 07-16-2008, 07:40 PM   #40
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