A demographic stampede is about to pulverize American society. Eighty million retirees—the baby boom generation—are rapidly heading into their retirement years and, according to a recent survey, Americans have less money than ever. Being so unprepared can only mean a very unhappy “retirement” unless they pull their heads out of the sand and do something about it before it is too late. Words: 807
Lorimer Wilson, editor of www.FinancialArticleSummariesToday.com, provides below further reformatted and edited excerpts from Robert Morley’s (www.The Trumphet.com) original article* for the sake of clarity and brevity to ensure a fast and easy read. Morley goes on to say:
27% Have Savings of Less Than $1,000
According to Jack VanDerhei, research director for the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), the percentage of American workers with virtually no retirement savings grew for the third straight year. Of the over 1,000 workers and retirees surveyed who were over the age of 25, a whopping 27 percent said they had less than $1,000 in savings. That’s up by over 7 percent from last year.
43% Have Savings of Less Than $10,000
The percentage of workers who said they have less than $10,000 in savings (the equivalent of 3 months’ worth of average yearly salary) jumped to 43 percent, up 4 percent from 2009.
Average American Goes $300 Further into Debt Each Month
The great American recession is already taking its toll, despite still being in its early stages. On average, U.S. consumers are going $300 in the hole per month after all expenses are met, says John Lekas, senior portfolio manager for Leader Short-Term Bond Fund.
Lekas says conditions are only going to get worse, as real unemployment (as measured by the government U6 number) heads toward 25 percent over the next couple of years. Indeed, for many families, conditions would already have been much worse had governments not borrowed billions to pay out extended unemployment benefits, food stamps and other welfare.
Only 16% Think They Will Have Enough Savings for Retirement
It is no wonder that the EBRI report found that only 16 percent of respondents were confident in their ability to save enough for retirement. The finding was the second lowest in 20 years and is especially ominous because many of these workers are probably expecting to rely heavily upon Social Security and Medicare benefits—two massive and currently unfunded government liabilities. Social Security is already bankrupt (the government is borrowing money to make payments) and Medicare is projected to have a $38 trillion deficit over the course of the baby boom generation.
Politicians Also Have Their Heads in the Sand
The nation’s retirement safety net is looking more precarious than ever. With national health care, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Iran seeking nuclear weapons, pirates preying on American shipping, and jobs being offshored to Asia, don’t expect much political action because it is far easier for politicians to bury their heads in the sand.
Public Pension Plans Gambling on Outsized Future Returns
Even among those who recognize the debt problem facing America, the desperation is akin to chickens running around with their heads cut off. Public pension plans are facing a massive crisis too, the New York Times reports. All across the country, state and local pension plans are chronically underfunded.
Governments have promised big, but put aside little. Instead of admitting they had been lying to their workers (basing predictions on ridiculously high estimates of future investment returns), and telling voters that they need to start paying higher taxes to fund civil servant retirement plans, states and other government bodies are trying to get back into the money by heading to the casino.
The Times reveals that most government pension plans have based their pension plan funding on the assumption that stocks will return an astounding 9.5 percent yearly growth on average, and that bonds will pay about 5.75 percent. Both suppositions have been shown to be ridiculously high. Even considering the current stock market rally, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is still below levels seen 10 years ago. The Nasdaq is much further underwater. As for government bonds, even the longest dated ones pay only 4.68 percent. A one-year bond pays only 0.37 percent.
Commodity futures, junk bonds, foreign stocks, mortgage-backed securities, leveraged investing, credit default swaps, exotic derivatives—are now all on the table for many desperate pension funds. As any casino patron knows, however, for every winner, there are many losers.
It is time Americans pull their heads out of the sand. The current relatively light economic crisis is only the beginning. A stampede is headed in this direction, and when the money is gone, many are going to get trampled.
– The above article consists of reformatted edited excerpts from the original for the sake of brevity, clarity and to ensure a fast and easy read. The author’s views and conclusions are unaltered.
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