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Ex-PBGC chief Gotbaum joins Brookings Institution

Ex-PBGC chief Gotbaum joins Brookings Institution

Joshua Gotbaum, who resigned last month as director of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., Wednesday joined the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think-tank, as a guest scholar.

As a guest scholar, Mr. Gotbaum will do research on pension and retirement issues, a Brookings spokeswoman said, adding that Mr. Gotbaum is expected to stay through June 15, 2015.

In his four-year tenure at the PBGC, the longest of any PBGC director, Mr. Gotbaum’s greatest accomplishment is widely recognized as being the hard and ultimately successful stance he took in 2012 when then-financially troubled American Airlines moved to terminate and shift to the PBGC four massively underfunded pension plans.

Mr. Gotbaum fought the move, saying at the time that American had not proven that it could no longer afford to fund the plans, which had more than 130,000 participants.

That hard line paid off when one month after saying that it intended to fold the plans, the airline said it would freeze them instead.

That reversal saved the PBGC from what would have been its biggest loss ever: According to preliminary PBGC estimates, the four plans had about $8.3 billion in assets and about $18.5 billion in promised benefits.

Mr. Gotbaum also drew praise for other efforts as well, including a 2013 rule that reduced certain reporting requirements for plan sponsors and reduced to once a year from twice a year the number of times plan sponsors have to pay PBGC premiums.

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