Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A pension benefit used to seem as good as money in the bank—but now most plans are falling short

Retirement security is ending the year at an all-time low. The $1.1 trillion last-minute spending bill will allow trustees to cut benefits in multiemployer defined benefit pension plans. And while it affects a relatively small population, 10 million people at most, it opens the door for other employers to make similar cuts. Maybe that’s a long way off; maybe not. But the provision is a rude awakening: We may romanticize guaranteed retirement benefits and lament our 401(k) world, but pensions aren’t safe these days either.
Until recently, a pension benefit seemed as good as money in the bank. Companies or governments set aside money for employees’ retirements; the sponsors were on the hook for funding the promised benefits appropriately. In recent years, it has become clear that most pension plans are falling short, but accrued benefits normally aren’t cut unless the plan, or employer, is on the verge of bankruptcy—high-profile examples include airline and steel companies. Public pension benefits appear even safer, because they are guaranteed by state constitutions.
By comparison, 401(k) and other defined contribution plans seem much less reliable. They require employees to decide, individually, to set aside money for retirement and to invest it appropriately over the course of 30 or so years. Research suggests that people are remarkably bad at both: About 20 percent of eligible employees don’t participate in their 401(k) plan. Those who do save too little, and many choose investments that underperform the market, charge high investment fees, or both.
America’s Greece?
Illinois risks default if it fails to tackle its public-pension crisis
Your Money Is NOT Safe In The Bank Or Your Pension – Dick Morris TV: Lunch Alert!
America’s pension crisis

Pensions crisis
The pensions crisis is a predicted difficulty in paying for corporate, state, and federal pensions in the United States and Europe, due to a difference between pension obligations and the resources set aside to fund them. Shifting demographics are causing a lower ratio of workers per retiree; contributing factors include retirees living longer (increasing the relative number of retirees), and lower birth rates (decreasing the relative number of workers, especially relative to the Post-WW2 Baby Boom). There is significant debate regarding the magnitude and importance of the problem, as well as the solutions.[1]
For example, as of 2008, the estimates for the underfunding of U.S. states’ pension programs range from $1 trillion[2] using the discount rate of 8% to $3.23 trillion using U.S. Treasury bond yields as the discount rate.[3] The present value of unfunded obligations under Social Security as of August 2010 was approximately $5.4 trillion. In other words, this amount would have to be set aside today such that the principal and interest would cover the program’s shortfall between tax revenues and payouts over the next 75 years.[4]
Some economists question the concept of funding, and, therefore underfunding. Storing funds by governments, in the form of fiat currencies, is the functional equivalent of storing a collection of their own IOUs. They will be equally inflationary to newly written ones when they do come to be used.[5]

No comments:

Post a Comment