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How the Crisis Caused a Pension Train Wreck

How the Crisis Caused a Pension Train Wreck

We’ve been writing for some time that one of the consequences of the protracted super-low interest rate regime of the post crisis era was to create a world of hurt for savers, particularly long-term savers like pension funds, life insurers and retirees. Even though the widespread underfunding at public pension plans is in many cases due to government officials choosing to underfund them (New Jersey in the early 1990s is the poster child), in many cases, the bigger perp is the losses they took during the crisis, followed by QE lowering long-term interest rates so much that it deprived investor of low-risk income-producing investments. Pension funds and other long-term investors had only poor choices after the crisis: take a lot of risk and not be adequately rewarded for it (as we have shown to be the case with private equity).

And as we’ve also pointed out, if you think public pension plans are having a rough time, imagine what it is like for ordinary people (actually, most of you don’t have to imagine). It is very hard to put money aside, given rising medical and housing costs. Unemployment means dipping into savings. And that’s before you get to emergencies: medical, a child who gets in legal trouble, a car becoming a lemon prematurely. And even if you are able to be a disciplined saver, you also need to stick to an asset allocation formula. For those who deeply distrust stocks, it’s hard to put 60% in an equity index fund (one wealthy person I know pays a financial planner 50 basis points a year just to put his money into Vanguard funds because he can’t stand to pull the trigger).

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

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