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March 25, 2013

DOOM: Welcome to the wasteland


So the Fed has been pulling out all the stops to make sure that saving money is a chump's game, and yet economists are surprised that people are saving less. And Boomer retirees are paying the price not only for the Fed's saver-hostile monetary policy, but also by their own inability (or unwillingness) to save enough for their retirements.

Some interesting chart-fu on global retirement trends.

Employee benefit packages often compose a quarter or more of total compensation in many jobs, yet few employees really have a good idea of what these benefits are worth...or how much the cost is to their employers.

Cyprus makes the same devil's bargain that Greece made in order to avoid bankruptcy and ejection from the Euro. Basically, they're committing to a program of austerity and fiscal policies that have no support in the population. And like in Greece, they're not buying salvation so much as years of grinding recession, civil unrest, and political upheaval. Cyprus is still going to steal some depositor money; it's just that they moved their arbitrary cut-off to a higher amount so they'd only be stealing from the relatively wealthy. This was done to fool the rubes so there wouldn't be a run on the banks. So the takeaway from this episode is: it's okay to steal from the rich. Class-warfare is policy now, there and here.

And lest you think that Cyprus will be the end of the Eurozone's troubles, Nigel Farage is here to remind you that Spain is still a bomb on the verge of exploding as well. There wasn't much trust in the Eurozone banking system prior to the Cypriot bailout, but now there will be none at all. That lack of trust will have implications that the Eurocrats and their pet bankers haven't really thought all the way through just yet.

There are a lot of eventualities that come into play when planning for retirement, but the best solution is one I've been harping on all along: don't depend on Social Security for the foundation of your retirement income. Think of it as frosting on the cake, not the cake itself. If you make sure that you can meet your retirement needs of your own resources, Social Security acts as a buffer...which is what it was intended to be at first.

Is California still boned? Why, yes. Yes they are.

Larry Kudlow suggests that maybe Teh Bernank deserves a pat on the back rather than a kick in the nuts. (I'm still resolutely in the "kick in the nuts" camp, however.)

Just remember that dollars your state or municipality are spending on employee pensions are dollars they're not spending on stuff like roads, bridges, and state parks. More and more tax dollars get funneled into the black-hole of the unfunded pension programs (and healthcare benefits), and less and less into stuff the state and local governments are actually supposed to be doing.

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posted by Monty at 08:24 AM

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