Social Security Pensions? Surely they are safe … the government told me they were safe. But there is more to the story, so read on.
Private Pensions? State retirement accounts? An IRA or 401(k)? Equivalents in Europe, the UK, Australia, and Japan are probably similar. All are at risk and will be discussed further in part two.
Few individuals think about such things, our unpleasant realities, the facts, and mathematical inevitability. It is easier to dream about the “free stuff” we will collect when our favorite Presidential candidate is elected. You know … “hope and change, a chicken in every pot, no more foreign wars, reduce the deficit, free college tuition, free health insurance, lots of free stuff for everybody, no new taxes, kinder and gentler, the check is in the mail,” and further nonsense.
- PUBLIC AND PRIVATE: Yes, both public and private pension plans are at risk in several ways. Read on.
- DEVALUING FIAT CURRENCIES: Public and private plans pay benefits in fiat currencies – debt based currencies that, in the case of US dollars, are a liability or a debt, of the Federal Reserve. Dollars are not money, just colored paper or digital credits “guaranteed” by a central bank with a long record of devaluing the currency, destroying purchasing power, bad forecasting, and lying. The paper and digital stuff will definitely purchase less in the future.
- ZIRP AND NIRP: Central banks, in their “wisdom” have lowered interest rates to near or below zero. Over $12 trillion in sovereign debt “yields” negative interest rates while most short term paper pays almost nothing. These low rates reduce the interest expense of insolvent governments, encourage massive borrowing by corporations and individuals, and stimulate bubbles in housing, auto-loans, bonds, the stock market, energy loans, and more, but … LOW INTEREST RATES DESTROY RETURNS THAT PENSION PLANS MUST GENERATE TO REMAIN SOLVENT.
- POLITICIANS: When governments and politicians run short of funds, can’t tax more, and will not reduce expenditures, they look elsewhere. Pension funds, IRA funds, and 401(k) funds are fat, multi-trillion dollar targets – not for confiscation of course – but for “strongly encouraged” or required purchases of low yielding and depreciating government debt.
- Both public and private plans are at risk because of chronic (Chicago, New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, California etc.) underfunding, as well as reduced benefits, and rapidly diminishing purchasing power of the currencies that are used to distribute benefits.
- Fiat currencies are continually devalued. A dollar, euro, pound etc. buys much less than 15 years ago, and far less than in 1971 when President Nixon “temporarily” abandoned the link between the US dollar and gold.
- Expect fiat currencies to devalue further. Central banks assure us they want inflation, they own the “printing presses,” and will definitely devalue their currencies. The “trick” is to do it unobtrusively, carefully, and to force the masses to pay for the inflation and currency devaluation from their savings, investments, and pension plans.
- When financial systems are stressed, when recessions are created, when wars are started; governments demand more revenues and increased spending. Raising taxes is unpopular so sneaky methods are needed – such as the proposed SAVE UP Accounts Act, MyRA, or more mundane confiscations such as in Hungary, Poland, and Bolivia.
- In short: The system is rigged, the fix is in, and citizens must increasingly take care of themselves and depend less upon public and private retirement systems.
OBSERVATIONS FROM OTHERS
“The Board of Trustees for Social Security (which includes the US Treasury Secretary) wrote that major parts of the program have already run out of money, and the rest of Social Security will run out of money in the next decade.”
“Think about it: half of Americans have ZERO retirement savings and will be fully dependent on the Social Security once they retire.”
“Because the main street economy is failing, the nation’s entitlement rolls have exploded. About 110 million citizens now receive some form of means tested benefits. When social security is included, more than 160 million citizens get checks from Washington.”
“The total cost is now $3 trillion per year and rising rapidly. America’s entitlements sector, in fact, is the sixth biggest economy in the world.”
“The good news is since SS’s (Social Security) inception in 1935, the program collected $2.9 trillion more than it paid out. The bad news is that the $2.9 trillion has already been spent. But by law, Social Security is allowed to pretend that the “trust fund” money is still there and continue paying out full benefits until that fictitious $2.9 trillion is burned through.” [Look out below!]
- Social Security benefits and public retirement plan benefits are endangered for many reasons listed above. Private plans are similarly endangered and will be discussed further in part 2.
- The real problem begins with The Great Lie. As stated by the late Richard Russell,
“Central banks create fiat money, denigrate gold, and try to convince the people that the money they print is wealth. That’s the great lie behind fiat money.”
- Social Security and the pension plans of many cities, counties, states, and countries are increasingly insolvent as zero and negative interest rates destroy fixed income investment returns. Further, people live longer and collect more benefits, politicians lie and promise more than systems can provide, medical costs skyrocket, central banks crush interest rates and push long term fixed income returns to near zero, and, as if the above were not enough to worry pensioners … central banks and governments inevitably and increasingly devalue currencies so the benefits that pensioners actually receive are worth less each year.
- The fix is in and the system is rigged to benefit the political and financial elite. George Carlin: “It’s a big club and you ain’t in it!”
- Russia and China have accumulated gold for decades with good reason. In addition, many wealthy individuals understand and are quietly adding to their stash of gold in storage. They prefer gold to promises from politicians and central bankers.
- When the “Great Lie” is understood by a significant percentage of the population, the credibility of central banks, governments, and politicians will crash, and desperate people and institutions will seek hard assets that will preserve purchasing power and protect remaining wealth.
Gary Christenson | The Deviant Investor