Have nothing to do with the [evil] things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light... [For] when all things are brought out into the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed...

-Ephesians 5:11-13

Tag Archives: Pension

Puerto Rico Headed to Bankruptcy Court, Likely Costing Investors Billions

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, May 3, 2017: 

English: Map of Peuto Rico, with inset showing...

The federal fiscal oversight board created by Congress last June to fix Puerto Rico gave up on Monday, putting the island country into the hands of a federal bankruptcy judge.

The board, created last June, was designed to help newly elected Governor Ricardo Rossello come to terms with mutual funds and hedge fund owners that own the bulk of the island’s $73 billion debt. Rossello’s first effort, which would have applied a one-third financial “haircut” to them was turned down by the board, which called it too generous.

Rossello’s second effort would have applied a 50-percent haircut, but Franklin Advisers and Oppenheimer Fund, the two largest entities holding the island’s debt, pushed back.

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Pew Research: Gap Between Promises and Assets Widens for State Pensions

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, April 24, 2017:

A RETIRED COUPLE FROM CALIFORNIA STOP TO FISH ...

After reviewing the investment results for 230 public pension plans for the last two years, Pew reported last Thursday that, despite strong recent stock market performance, the gap between liabilities (promises) and assets for those plans widened by 17 percent, to $1.4 trillion. Put another way, those plans should have nearly $4 trillion in assets to enable them to keep their promises. The latest data shows them with just over $2.5 trillion instead.

Said Greg Mennis, director of the project,

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Three Stock Market Indicators Spell Trouble for Pension Fund Managers

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, April 24, 2017:

Warren Buffett speaking to a group of students...

Warren Buffett

Michael Lombardi is a bear. Canadian-born, Lombardi has been dishing out investment advice for decades. He is getting nervous. And so should pension fund managers trying to make up for lost time.

In his March newsletter, Lombardi looked at the Warren Buffett Indicator:

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Growing Pension Crisis Looms Over Wall Street

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, March 27, 2017:

Logo of the United States Pension Benefit Guar...

Logo of the United States Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation

The looming state and municipal pension plan crisis, estimated by Moody’s at $1.75 trillion just a few months ago, has now been adjusted upward to  $1.9 trillion. But that number, according to Bloomberg’s Danielle DiMartino Booth, greatly underestimates the level of underfunding. It’s more like $6 trillion “if the prevailing yields on Treasuries were used.”

Instead, most state and local pension plans use a much higher, more generous, and more deceptive assumed rate of return of between six and seven percent, with some still clinging to a “castles in the sky” eight percent. Those assumptions greatly reduce the pressure on plan sponsors to make proper contributions to fund those plans.

And, according to the investment firm GMO (Grantham, Mayo & van Otterloo),

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The PBGC is Falling. Where is Superman When He is Needed?

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, March 3, 2017:

In the 1978 film Superman, Lois Lane is caught mid-air by Superman who says: “Easy, miss. I’ve got you.” Responds Lois: “You – you’ve got me? Who’s got you?

Concerning government agencies making promises, the answer is always and everlastingly: the U.S. taxpayer.

For example, consider the 42-year-old government agency backing up single-employer and multi-employer pension plans:

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Federal Insurance Agency Backing Union Pensions Facing Crisis Itself

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, March 2, 2017: 

Logo of the United States Pension Benefit Guar...

When Teamsters Local 707’s pension plan ran out of money in February, it sought assistance from the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. Said PBGC Director Tom Reeder:

This is a big issue for us. It’s a big issue for Local 707 and it’s a big issue for others in the same situation across the country.

 

We’re projected to run out of money in eight to 10 years. Many union pension plans are projected to run out in 20 years.

The federal insurance agency is now paying out $1.7 million every month to the stranded retirees of Local 707.

707’s problems have been decades in the making.

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Update on Warren Buffett’s “The Bet” (or How Your Money Finds Its Way to Wall Street)

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, March 1, 2017:

Warren Buffett speaking to a group of students...

Warren Buffett speaking to a group of students from the Kansas University School of Business (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the latest shareholder letter just released by Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett brought his fans up to date on “The Bet.” On its face it seems simple: Buffett was willing to bet good money that any S&P 500 index fund would beat, over a period of time, the performance of the best money managers in the business. But no one took him up on his wager:

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Dallas Pension Plan Solution: Everyone Shares the Pain

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, February 22, 2017: 

Downtown Dallas in the background with the Tri...

Downtown Dallas in the background with the Trinity River in the foreground.

Following the pension plan board meeting on Monday, Presidents’ Day, a decision was made to accept the rough outlines of a proposal by Texas House Pensions Committee Chairman Dan Flynn to keep the Dallas police and firefighters pension plan from going bankrupt. Said city council member Philip Kingston, “Flynn’s [plan] is the best of the bad options.”

Everyone involved will share the pain: some by having their benefits cut back, and some by having the contributions increased.

Under the Summary issued late Monday night:

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Teamsters’ Pension Plans Seek Massive Cuts to Retirees to Stay Solvent

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, January 2, 2017:

Logo of the United States Pension Benefit Guar...

The Central States Teamsters pension plan, covering more than 400,000 participants, expects to receive permission shortly from the Treasury Department to cut benefits to those participants, possibly by as much as 30 percent. At the end of 2014 the plan had $35 billion in liabilities (future promises to participants as they retire) compared to less than $18 billion on hand to pay them.

Right behind Central States was the New York State Teamsters Conference Pension and Retirement Fund, which is also in trouble. Owing nearly $3 billion to its 35,000 plan participants, it has less than $1.3 billion to meet this obligation. Its plan, in its request to the Treasury Department, spelled out just how great the cuts would be:

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LOL Illinois: Corporate Group Works to Keep State From Becoming a Laughingstock

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, December 28, 2016:  

English: 1987 Illinois license plate

The name of the group LOL Illinois can taken two ways: Land of Lincoln, or Laughing Out Loud. As Scott Santi, chairman of Illinois Tool Works, which employs 48,000 workers around the world, noted:

There’s a crisis of confidence in terms of a plan to address some pretty significant structural problems in the state. It’s challenging for Illinois to be competitive given the uncertainty around the fiscal crisis.

“Crisis of confidence”? “Challenging”? “Uncertainty”? Illinois was headed into oblivion until Bruce Rauner, the first Republican governor in 12 years, faced reality.

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Large Pension Plans Adjusting Their Targets Downward

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, December 21, 2016:  

English: Jerry Brown's official picture as Att...

California Governor Jerry Brown

Heading into negotiations this past weekend between the California governor’s office, teachers’ unions, and pension plan trustees managing the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), Governor Jerry Brown spoke the truth: “There’s no doubt CalPERS needs to start aligning its rate of return expectations with reality.”

Coming out of the meeting, the gap between the plan’s target rate of return and reality remained immense.

The last time CalPERS faced reality and flinched was in 2012 when

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Simmering Greek Financial Crisis Explodes Once Again

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, December 15, 2016:  

Under the terms of its last bailout, Athens (above) was required not only to continue to impose harsh austerity terms (higher taxes, less government spending, better accountability, and increased tax collection enforcement onto Greek citizens) but to inform the unelected “higher” European authorities of any change in those terms by Athens.

Last week Athens unilaterally

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Civilization’s Thin Veneer

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, December 14, 2016:  

The dictionary defines civilization as “an ideal state of human culture characterized by a complete absence of barbarism and non-rational behavior.” Rich Galen thinks a better definition is living in a “constant state of positive assumptions.”

Many of those assumptions are coming into question, with many more already proven to be false. One of them is that pension plans are safe, that promises made will be kept, and that the assumptions underlying those plans regarding rates of return on invested assets are reasonable and that they virtually guarantee predictable results.

Those positive assumptions vanished last summer in Athens when

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Boomers Are Retiring, Draining Pension Plans

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, December 12, 2016:

Roosevelt Signs The : President Roosevelt sign...

President Roosevelt signs Social Security Act, at approximately 3:30 pm EST on 14 August 1935.

In a moment of surprising candor, Danielle DiMartino Booth, a former advisor to the Federal Reserve, said in a Real Vision TV interview on Saturday that “the Baby Boomers are no longer an actuarial theory. They’re a reality. The checks [from their retirement plans] are being written.”

For years commentators have repeatedly asserted that “when” the Baby Boomers (that generation born between 1946 and 1964) start to retire, they will start using up funds set aside in pension plans, putting those plans into crisis. According to Booth, that day has arrived.

She pointed to the crisis in Dallas that threatens to put the city into bankruptcy, and the report from Calpers (the California Public Employees Retirement System),

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UPDATE: Dallas Pension Plan Stops Early Withdrawals

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, December 9, 2016:

English: Flag of Dallas, Texas Esperanto: Flag...

On November 21, The New American published an article entitled “Dallas to Declare Bankruptcy?” suggesting that the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System was in such poor shape that Dallas was looking more and more like Detroit.

It was pointed out that Moody’s declared that Dallas has higher unfunded pension liabilities, relative to its balance sheet, than any major American city except Detroit. The article noted that the plans’ present troubles dated back to a 1993 decision to offer a “retention perk” to keep officers considering retirement to stay on for a few more years.

That “perk,” referred to as DROP  — Deferred Retirement Option Plan — allowed those agreeing to stay on to

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Illinois Governor Vetoes Chicago Bailout Bill

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, December 5, 2016:  

English: Source: http://www.chicagob2b.net/lin...

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed a bill on December 1 that would have provided a $215 million bailout of the Chicago public schools. So certain were school officials that he would sign it — allowing them to make a past-due payment to the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund — that they made it a part of their budget for next year.

The original bill passed by Democrat supermajorities in both houses was for $700 million, but during negotiations Rauner, a Republican, agreed to $215 million instead, in exchange for a promise that the Democrats would institute real pension reform. Once the bill hit Rauner’s desk, however, all deals were off: Give us the money, said the Democrats, and forget pension reform.

Rauner’s veto message is instructive in several regards.

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Chicago Dreaming

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, December 5, 2016:  

Chicago Public School Officials were so sure that they would get another bailout from the state that they actually put it into next years budget. The city is behind on making a $730 million pension payment due its teachers pension plan, and the $215 million they were expecting from the state would allow them to make it.

The bill that passed the state senate unanimously and the house overwhelmingly was headed for Governor Bruce Rauners desk for signing until Rauner (pictured) learned that the Democratic leadership had no intention of keeping their promise to institute significant pension reform in order to get the bailout.

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Dallas to Declare Bankruptcy?

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, November 21, 2016:  

The New York Times just reported that the Dallas police and firefighters pension plan is $7 billion short of meeting its obligations and needs an immediate bailout of $1 billion just to stay afloat. The problem is that Dallas’ annual budget is $3 billion.

Three years ago Dallas wasn’t on anyone’s “watch” list.

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The Coming Puerto Rican Bailout

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, August 29, 2016:  

On or before September 1, President Obama will complete the eight appointments to the oversight board created when he signed PROMESA (Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act) into law on June 30. Those already on the board include Republican Senators Orrin Hatch and Marco Rubio, Democrat Senator Bill Nelson and Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez.

In theory the board will have the power to override the island’s government, delay litigation, fire government workers, and “suggest” other ways the island can begin to recover from its present economic implosion. It has been described as a “de facto” Chapter 9 bankruptcy. In practice it is likely that,

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Vulture Funds Expecting to Profit Handsomely from Puerto Rico’s Problems

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, August 29, 2016:  

English: Map of Peuto Rico, with inset showing...

Map of Peuto Rico, with inset showing it’s position in relation to American continents.

George W. Plunkitt was not the world’s first dishonest politician, but he might have been one of the first ones to be honest about his dishonesty. Plunkitt was a Tammany Hall pol who served in the New York State Assembly and then in the New York State Senate around the turn of the 20th century. He called what he did – and what made him wealthy – “honest graft.” He defined “dishonest graft” as efforts to work solely for his own interests. “Honest graft,” on the other hand, was graft that worked for the interests of his own party.

He made his money by

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Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.