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Jeremy Gold, Actuary Who Warned of Pension Crisis, Dies at 75

Category: Business,Finance

If the problem lay in weak actuarial standards, he concluded, the solution would be tighter standards.

More than 30 years later, the tightened standards are still mostly on the drawing board, and change has come too slowly to avoid painful reckonings in places like Detroit, Puerto Rico, Stockton, Calif., and perhaps, soon, Chicago — or to prevent the looming collapse of big pension plans for retired Teamsters and coal miners.

But the fact that stricter standards are being considered at all is testament to Mr. Gold’s conviction that actuarial science was broken, and his refusal to stop saying so.

“Within the actuarial profession, Jeremy has done more than anyone to move this forward,” said Ed Bartholomew, a former chief financial officer of the Inter-American Development Bank, who led a reform of the bank’s pension management following the recent financial crisis.

Mr. Bartholomew, now an independent consultant, said he thought work on new actuarial standards was “going in the right direction.”

“For that,” he said, “I give credit to Jeremy, who has been pushing these ideas for 20 years.”

But even as Mr. Gold won converts, he antagonized many colleagues, who believed the traditional actuarial methods were sound and thought he was harming the profession’s credibility.

He also earned the enmity of union officials, who thought his campaign threatened their members’ benefits. In fact, Mr. Gold was a lifelong liberal Democrat, the son of high school English teachers who knew firsthand the value of traditional pensions.

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