Thursday, August 25, 2016

Retiring Baby Boomers could blow America's pension ponzi schemes wide open

There are a myriad of retirement vehicles out there, with some being run by the government and others being decided by the individuals themselves.  But as we enter into uncharted waters now that the Baby Boomer generation is moving into their retirement life phase, a boiling cauldron of doubt is coming onto the scene...

Could the fiscal insolvency of America's retirement system be completely shattered now that the nation's largest generation in history is about to siphon their money from these ponzi schemes?

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The reason I refer to most retirement plans as ponzi schemes is that by their very nature, they require others to put in money so that those who paid in first can receive their benefits.  And of these, at least two are now virtually insolvent while the others rely upon markets to continue to grow from the input of new money into them as well.

1.  Social Security

Initially, social security was a program created to provide basic incomes to individuals who paid into the system during their working years, and would be compensated from a trust that originally was well funded, and was receiving new monies from those people still working.  But over time the government added new recipients beyond retirees to the program such as the disabled and those who lost family bread winners, and of course over time the nearly $3 trillion in surpluses was stolen by legislators and replaced with debt instruments that have to be paid back by an insolvent government.

And as we saw during the government battle to raise the debt ceiling back in 2013, the Treasury Secretary validated that Social Security was insolvent since it needed borrowed money to pay out beneficiaries.
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warned Thursday that timely payments to Social Security beneficiaries, veterans, active duty military personnel and Medicare providers would be at risk if Congress does not raise the debt ceiling. - CNN Money
2.  Pensions

Already in 2016 two of the nation's largest pension funds, both public and private, have reported that they are so underfunded that beneficiaries will need to take cuts, or in some cases, see their benefits ended altogether.  And this doesn't include most state pension funds that are now an estimated $2 trillion in the hole.
As the nation’s largest public employee pension plan, CalPERS stands out as the most irresponsible for having failed to prevent government pension spiking and for not forcing their government clients to pay for the spikes. But the pension fund’s $277.2 billion of investments leaves a $144.3 billion unfunded debt to cover 1.6 million state employees and retirees’ pensions, according to CalPERS’ October 31, 2013 report. 
California public employees now enjoy the highest benefits of any state in the nation. To pretend to fund this largess, CalPERS has become the worst “outlier” among public pension plans in using creative accounting to blur their grossly underfunded status. This has allowed its government clients to short-check their annual payment for the nation’s most lucrative pension benefits. - Breitbart
3.  Mutual funds, IRA's, and 401K's

As the Baby Boomers begin moving into their 70's over the next 11 years, the majority of them who hold a mutual funds, IRA, or 401K will soon be required to start selling their assets to pay Uncle Sam their tax obligations.  And this will mean a combination of less money being put into equity markets to prop up stocks, and a shift downward as sellers potentially could outnumber buyers... creating a disastrous scenario where the value of their retirements decline as the stocks they hold diminish in value.

4.  Bonds and Annuities

Ever since central banks embarked upon a policy of zero and now negative interest rates, the return on bonds has not even kept up with the rate of inflation.  Meaning that these former interest bearing yield instruments no longer hold a place in one's retirement portfolio.

Both government and private retirement managers have been able to keep their financial schemes going because there were enough workers that were inputting just enough to keep the system from collapsing completely into insolvency.  But now that the largest generation is ready to stop giving, and change course into taking what they rightfully invested during their working lives, the potential of nearly all retirement programs collapsing is each day becoming a very real probability.

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