Estimations made by Employers of Poland, the value of OFE net assets at the end of November was ca. 143.3 bln PLN. This is 16.3 bln PLN less than six months before which would that in that time, the pension savings of every OFE member shrunk by ca. 985 PLN. Official figures will be published on December 20th by the Polish Financial Supervision Authority (KNF). – Deepening OFE losses are a wind in the sails of those who claim that the stock exchange is essentially gambling and that Poles should not be involved in it. However, the truth is that open pension funds were left without defenses against losses after, in early 2014, they were denied the right to invest in treasury bonds and order to maintain a 75-percent share of stocks in their portfolios. Therefore, the OFEs were effectively transformed into aggressive stock funds – a development we warned against as early as 2 years ago – comments Łukasz Kozłowski, expert of Employers of Poland.
At the end of May, the value of OFE assets was at a level of 159.6 bln PLN. Now it is 10 percent lower. This is a result of deep stock value losses at the Warsaw Stock Exchange – in a year, the WIG20 index has nosedived by almost 23 percent, while eg. the German DAX index has grown by over 12 percent. The weakness of the Polish capital market results from a negative change in sentiments towards the so-called emerging markets. Political risk also plays a significant part. The possible introduction of a bank tax and the reemerging topic of support programs for debtors with loans in foreign currency have made a mark on the pricing of companies from the financial sector. Moreover, the news that there are no plans to get rid of the mineral tax have had a significant impact on the price of KGHM shares.
The losses incurred by OFEs provide a convenient excuse to argue for a continued restriction of their role. However, letting them use diverse investment strategies – better suited to the risk levels accepted by those who are saving for their pensions – would surely be a better solution.
Łukasz Kozłowski, economic expert of Employers of Poland