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

Greek Referendum to Determine European Union’s Viability

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, July 2, 2015: 

Cover of "Confessions of an Economic Hit ...

The latest polls show that on Sunday Greek citizens are likely to reject the terms of the bailout from the troika — the European Union, the European Central Bank (ECB), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) — but by a steadily decreasing plurality. Before Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced the referendum, polls showed voters were opposed to the bailout terms, 57 to 30 percent. When the banks closed and citizens were restricted to withdrawing just $67 a day from their ATMs and pensioners couldn’t cash their checks, polls showed a narrowing, 46 to 37 percent.

Tsipras repeatedly said that the referendum is only about accepting or rejecting the terms imposed by the troika, not about leaving the euro or the European Union: “No does not mean rupture with Europe but a return to Europe with values.”

Citizens weren’t impressed and

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More Proof People Are Moving From High Tax States

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, June 26, 2015: 

The latest interactive graph from CNBC  shows more people moving from high tax states such as Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Illinois to lower tax states such as Texas, Tennessee, Colorado, and Arizona. The authors of the latest study reviewed data from United Van Lines and Atlas Van Lines over the last 10 years and concluded that Connecticut was the poster child for out-migration from a high tax state.

For the year 2013, and for the 10 years prior, 55 percent of all moves by these movers took people out of Connecticut. The Nutmeg State levies more than

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Moody’s Lowers Chicago’s Debt Rating to Junk Status

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, May 13, 2015: 

Moody’s cut its rating on another $4 billion of Chicago’s debt to just above junk status, for a total of $13 billion that was downgraded on Tuesday. This is approaching two times the city’s total annual revenues, and fails to take into account the $550 million payment the city must make in December to keep the police and firemen’s pension plan solvent. Nor does it take into account the $230 million penalty the city must pay for terminating previous “swap” agreements that allowed it to continue to borrow at competitive rates.

With this two-level drop, $2 billion in additional penalties may come due, according to Moody’s: “[Our] current rating actions give the counterparties of these [swap] transactions the option to immediately demand up to $2.2 billion in accelerated principal and accrued interest [payments] and associated termination fees.”

Doing the math is frightening. But Chicago’s Budget Director Alex Holt seems unconcerned: 

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Chicagoans had to Choose Between Venal and Feckless for Mayor

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, April 8, 2015: 

In Tuesday’s mayoral runoff in Chicago, voters had only two choices: to vote for the venal Rahm Emanuel or the feckless Chuy Garcia. Four years ago Emanuel rode Barack Obama’s coattails to victory, winning in a walk with 55 percent of the vote. In February, Emanuel couldn’t squeeze out a majority, getting only 46 percent of the vote and forcing a runoff with a far-left progressive on the Cook County Board of Commissioners, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.

With the help of an estimated 100 “friends of Rahm,” Emanuel buried Garcia, raising some $30 million for his campaign, eight times what Garcia was able to raise. On Monday Emanuel held an 18-point lead over Garcia.

Garcia was hoping for a miracle.

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Election Win Will Cost Chicago Even More

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, April 7, 2015:

, former White House Chief of Staff

Going into Tuesday’s runoff election, Mayor Rahm Emanuel held nearly a 20-point advantage over his rival, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, a hard-left progressive member of the Cook County Board of Commissioners. Four years ago Emanuel won in a walk, taking 55 percent of the vote. In February he couldn’t even manage a majority, with just 46 percent, forcing Tuesday’s runoff. As a North Side small business owner explained:

[In February] I cast an “anybody-but-Rahm” vote. Rahm is not a likeable guy. Sadly, he has no competition. Chuy is a nice guy but doesn’t seem to have a clue what he would do if elected.

When I go back for the final vote, I will vote for Rahm. Maybe he has a chance of fixing some of the [city’s] financial problems.

That’s hardly likely. In the past four years, Emanuel’s abrasive personality and his leftist worldview have added immensely to Chicago’s woes:

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Memphis Police, Firemen Quitting Following Pension Plan Reductions

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, March 16, 2015: 

English: Memphis, Tennessee skyline from the a...

Memphis, Tennessee skyline from the air

Last July more than half of Memphis’ police officers took sick days off to protest the reductions in the city’s contributions to their pension plan and increases in their contributions to the city’s health benefits plan. The national media was sympathetic with cases of “blue flu,” instead of recognizing the new economic reality: Because public pensions are underfunded, everyone expecting benefits from the city will now take a hit, not just new hires.

Some of those who took sick days in July now are quitting altogether, finding other better opportunities elsewhere. In fact, other departments from nearby states are advertising in local papers and setting up job fairs to entice the discontented to new positions.

In a word, those unhappy with the new reality are adjusting.

Most solutions proposed to bring underfunded pension plans back into balance have involved

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Boston University Economist Calls Out Congress on Enormous Fiscal Gap

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, March 12, 2015:

Logo of the United States Government Accountab...

Logo of the United States Government Accountability Office

During his annual trek to Washington, D.C., to lecture Congress on its spendthrift habits, Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff took the gloves off this year. He dressed down Senator Mike Enzi, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, along with the committee’s members:

Let me get right to the point. Our country is broke. It’s not broke in 75 years or 50 years or 25 years or 10 years.

 

It’s broke today.

 

Indeed, it may well be in worse fiscal shape than any development country, including Greece.

It isn’t just Enzi, or his committee, or the present Congress, that’s responsible for a fiscal gap that’s vastly larger than that projected by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). It’s the idea that the country can borrow without limit because

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Politics and Mathematics Collide in Chicago

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, March 4, 2015:

English: Downtown Chicago, Illinois at night. ...

Downtown Chicago, Illinois at night.

Chicago is a microcosm of Illinois: it has a determined unwillingness to face reality. Even Moody’s, in its latest downgrade of Chicago debt, has failed to grasp the enormity of the shortfalls facing the city and the state.

Moody’s tried to be realistic, using unrealistic numbers:

[Our rating] incorporates expected growth in Chicago’s already highly-elevated unfunded pension liabilities and continued growth in costs to service those liabilities, even if recent pension reforms proceed and are not overturned….

The “expected growth” will likely surprise to the downside even the realists at Moody’s, as the real shortfall in the five pension plans the state is funding is vastly greater than even the $100+ billion the state faces. A “special pension briefing” performed back in November by the state’s Commission on Forecasting and Accountability showed the accrued liabilities on those plans to be

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Moody’s Downgrades Chicago Again

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, March 3, 2015:

English: in Chicago, Illinois, USA.

Downtown Chicago, Illinois

Within hours of Moody’s Investors Service announcing another downgrade to Chicago’s general obligation bonds last Friday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration responded, saying that Moody’s was out of touch with reality:

We strongly disagree with Moody’s decision to reduce the city’s credit rating and would note that Moody’s has been consistently and substantially out of step with the other rating agencies [Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings], ignoring progress that has been achieved.

At the moment those other two agencies rate Chicago’s debt at A-plus or A-minus, each with a negative outlook. But in light of an imminent court ruling that could invalidate efforts to cut pension benefits, along with the crushing and increasing burden of those benefits, observers are just waiting for the next two shoes to drop.

As Moody’s noted, its downgrade will stand even if the court validates those pension modifications: 

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New Illinois Governor Facing Torrent of Red Ink

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, January 12, 2015:

 

Previous Illinois administrations and politicians have been kicking the can down the road for decades. Now, the state has run out of road. Bruce Rauner, Illinois’ new Republican governor, was inaugurated on Monday and is facing a daunting task: a $4 billion backlog of unpaid bills and a budget showing deficits approaching $21 billion in three years unless something is done.

During his campaign that successfully ousted what Huffington Post noted as the “nation’s least popular governor,” Pat Quinn, Rauner made the usual political promises of streamlining government and improving education and the state’s business climate, all without increasing taxes. In fact, he promised

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Judge Approves Detroit’s “Grand Bargain” to End Bankruptcy

 

English: City seal of Detroit, Michigan.

City seal of Detroit, Michigan.

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, November 10, 2014:

 

 

The party began immediately after bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes approved the plan to get Detroit out of bankruptcy last Friday. Rod Meloni, a local journalist who has been following Detroit’s woes from the beginning, was there:

There was nothing short of a party atmosphere around the federal courthouse….

Attorneys hugged, shook hands, slapped backs, promised to get together soon and said goodbye.

The only thing missing was the signing of yearbooks!

This was evidence of the rule that no matter who takes a haircut in a bankruptcy, the attorneys always get paid first, one hundred cents on the dollar. As of October 2013, those fees had mounted to

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Stockton Bankruptcy Judge Hammers CalPERS

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, October 3, 2014:

English: CalPERS headquarters at Lincoln Plaza...

CalPERS headquarters at Lincoln Plaza in Sacramento

All Franklin Templeton Investments wanted was a fair shake. All CalPERS wanted is what it already has: exemption from bankruptcy laws. As attorneys for CalPERS – the California Public Employees Retirement System – tried to defend the country’s largest pension plan from contentions that it was getting off scot-free in the Stockton bankruptcy reorganization plan while other creditors were getting hammered, they sounded rather silly.

They claimed that a combination of state laws and statutes dating back into history protected the $300 billion that CalPERS manages from sharing the pain with other creditors in bankruptcy proceedings. They referred to something called

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California Retirement System Loses Big in Stockton Bankruptcy Ruling

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, October 2, 2014:

On Tuesday, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Klein surprised nearly everyone with his ruling that Stockton could cancel its contract with the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) as part of its plan for reorganization after filing for Chapter 9 bankruptcy two years ago. CalPERS immediately issued a statement claiming that Klein’s decision was not legally binding:

This ruling is not legally binding on any of the parties in the Stockton case or as precedent in any other bankruptcy proceeding and is unnecessary to the decision on confirmation of the city of Stockton’s plan of [reorganization].

CalPERS is certainly hoping so. It manages $300 billion of funds for municipal employees across the state and has been spearheading a drive to negate a similar decision by a bankruptcy judge in the Detroit bankruptcy case. These two similar rulings could open the door

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Stock Market Gains Failing to Bail Out Pension Plans

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, September 26, 2014: 

Pension managers’ hopes that investment returns – i.e., pixie dust – would bail them out from their bad assumptions, and keep their plans solvent and fully funded so that they would be able to keep every promise made, have finally crashed on the rocks of reality. Just three months ago, the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College released a study showing that the shortfall between promises and assets to pay them for 25 of the largest public defined-benefit pension plans in the country amounted to more than

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Despite Stock Market Gains, Public Pension Plans Fall Further Behind

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, September 25, 2014:

 

In its latest report on public pension plans, Moody’s announced on Thursday that, despite recent historic gains in the stock market, those plans’ liabilities are increasing even more quickly. Reporting on the 25 largest public defined benefit pension plans in the country, Moody’s Global Credit Research estimates that those plans are now $2 trillion short of where they need to be to pay out all the benefits promised to their beneficiaries. This has occurred despite record gains in the stock market, which,

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California Governor Being Challenged by Republican Upstart in November

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, September 23, 2014:

English: Photo of California Attorney General ...

California Governor Jerry Brown

In response to a challenge posed by his Republican opponent for the governorship in November, California Governor Jerry Brown said:

A lot of people forget the mess that California was in just four years ago. There were 1 million jobs that had been lost. Our budget deficit was astronomical: 27 billion. We hadn’t had a budget on time in probably 10 years.

Brown’s challenger is Republican Neel Kashkari, a practicing Hindu born of Indian parents with a background as a Bush appointee and a former executive with Goldman Sachs. While his political positions on key issues qualify him as a RINO — Republican in Name Only — he is already closing the gap on the once-invincible California governor.

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Market Basket Tells Workers: Return by Friday or You’re Done

This article was first published at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, August 13, 2014:

 

 

Typical Market Basket in Portsmouth, NH.

Market Basket in Portsmouth, NH.

In a carefully worded letter sent to its 25,000 employees on Tuesday, Market Basket’s new co-CEOs Felicia Thornton and James Gooch requested that the workers who have so far been successfully striking the 71-store New England grocery chain cave in and return to work. They should know the workers’ decision by next Monday.

Said the letter:

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New York Times Calls Out City’s Pension System

This article was first published at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, Augusts 4, 2014:

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio

In a nearly 4,000-word lead article on Sunday, the New York Times clearly articulated exactly what is wrong with the city’s five separate pension plans: too-optimistic investment assumptions, excessive fees, overly generous pension benefits, and political interference. Mere tweaking on the margins will only delay the inevitable Detroit experience: drastic benefit cuts for retirees and higher taxes on taxpayers.

In 2000, the city’s contributions to its five pension plans (general city workers, police, firefighters, teachers, and other school personnel) consumed just two percent of the city’s budget, and the plans were considered to be adequately funded. For instance, the plan insuring the city’s general workers was actually overfunded by 36 percent. Today those pension plans soak up more than

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New Jersey Governor Christie’s Lipstick Problem

English: , U.S. Attorney, Governor-elect of Ne...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This article was first published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, May 23, 2014:

Thanks to the current age of skepticism, aided and abetted by the internet, the “lipstick” strategy being used by Chris Christie is about to fail, revealing instead the economic pig that New Jersey has become during his administration.

Back in March 2012, Christie touted his budget that would only balance if a miracle occurred:

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NJ Gov. Christie’s Conservative Light is Dimming

Chris Christie

Chris Christie (Photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Less than six months into his second term New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is having an increasingly difficult time pushing the New Jersey “comeback” theme that gained him reelection in January. This is in addition to the Bridge Gate scandal that has already seen five of his top lieutenants resign or be fired, with three investigations continuing into the matter.

First of all there’s the $807 million budget shortfall in his $33 billion budget that must be filled by the end of June. Then there’s the state’s credit rating which has been downgraded three times so far this year (it’s only May!) and

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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.