Monday, September 16, 2013

Retirement Income Scenarios


This blog will be devoted to discussions of issues surrounding the provision of income for a person or couple during their retirement years. Much of the analysis will be conducted by forecasting a number of possible future scenarios, then analyzing the properties of chosen strategies for producing retirement income across the scenarios. I call this approach “retirement income scenario analysis”. It uses the method of Monte Carlo simulation with an underlying set of assumptions about the behavior of capital market and macro-economic variables as well as an assumed basis for valuations of possible future cash flows.

Since it is important to generate sufficient scenarios to provide a representative set of possible future outcomes, computer programs play a central role in the analyses. I have developed a series of routines for large-scale projections using the Matlab programming language, taking particular advantage of its object-oriented capabilities. I have been using Matlab for decades and find it an excellent language for scientific analysis. However, there is no simple way to make Matlab programs available for use by those who have not purchased the software or have access to it through colleges and universities. Hence I do not plan to try to make these programs available for use by others. Instead I will use the Matlab programs to illustrate and illuminate some of the fundamental relationships involved in retirement income planning.

Fortunately, there is a programming language that can freely be used by anyone, and a supporting system that allows programs to be made available for use, study and modification by others. Moreover, only a standard web browser is required to use the system or to run programs written in the language. Its name? Scratch. I am in the process of preparing a series of programs written in Scratch that will be available for anyone to use, study or modify.

I'll discuss Scratch and the reason why I chose it in some detail in the next blog. Subsequent blogs will describe the components and capabilities of the Scratch programs as I complete them and make them available. I call the overall system RIS, which stands for Retirement Income Scenarios. As befits the subject of a series of blogs, this is an ongoing undertaking, with capabilities that will grow over time.

Of course there will be more in the blogs than discussions of programs. Much of the material will deal more generally with key aspects of the economics of retirement income..

There is much to cover. Please join me in trying to understand and explore the many relevant aspects of this crucially important topic.


8 comments:

  1. WS,
    I would hope that you would choose to use real market data over the last 114 years as your data base instead of you trying to put constraints on a random number generator. The results can be strikingly different as Jim Otar points out in his book "Unveiling the Retirement Myth." Would you expect a random number generator is going to do a better job of it??

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