Apr 30

parthenon

Greece “Scrambles”To Make Full Monthly Pension Payments: “Still Missing Several Hundred Million Euros” (ZeroHedge, April 30, 2015):

To be sure, Greece has been “running out of money” for quite some time. Given the incessant media coverage surrounding the country’s cash shortage and the fact that Athens somehow seems to scrape together the funds to make payments both to lenders and to public sector employees against impossible odds, it’s tempting to think that as dire as the situation most certainly is, the country might still be able to ride out the storm without suffering a major “accident.” Having said that, some rather alarming events have unfolded over the past week or so, including a government decree mandating the transfer of excess cash reserves from municipalities to the central bank. As it turns out, that didn’t go over well with local officials and as we reported on Tuesday, the government finally hit the brick wall, coming up some €400 million short on payments to pensioners.

Here’s what we said then:

According to Bloomberg, the Greek government is €400 million short of the amount needed for payment of pensions and salaries this month, citing a Kathimerini report.

Surprisingly, this takes place even as Greece’s IKA, OGA pension funds have been informed by the government that amount needed for payment of pensions will be deposited today, while the Greece’s OAEE pension fund has said payment of pensions won’t be a problem.

In other words, someone is not telling the truth: either there is enough money or there isn’t. And if the latter case is valid, then either the government or the pensions are now openly lying to the population.

Fast forward to Thursday and we learn that sure enough, the government ran out of money earlier this week. Here’s FT: Continue reading »

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Apr 11

NYC Pension Earns $40 Million Over 10 Years, Pays Fund Managers $2 Billion (The Reformed Broker, April 9, 2015):

“We asked a simple question: Are we getting value for the fees we’re paying to Wall Street?” Mr. Stringer said. “The answer, based on this 10-year analysis, is no.”

The party is over.

At great political risk to his own ambitions (given the local campaign-funding base), New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer took a look at how much the city’s been paying to Wall Street (or Greenwich) to manage its money over the last decade and what they’ve gotten in return.

It doesn’t look good.

via the New York Times (emphasis mine):

over the past 10 years, the five pension funds have paid more than $2 billion in fees to money managers and have received virtually nothing in return…

Until now, Mr. Stringer said, the pension funds have reported the performance of many of their investments before taking the fees paid to money managers into account. After factoring in those fees, his staff found that they had dragged the overall returns $2.5 billion below expectations over the last 10 years.

Over the last 10 years, the return on those “public asset classes” has surpassed expectations by more than $2 billion, according to the comptroller’s analysis. But nearly all of that extra gain — about 97 percent — has been eaten up by management fees, leaving just $40 million for the retirees, it found.

It’s bordering on parody. They report investment returns gross of fees and then add the fee information onto their statements as footnotes. Do you know of anyone who can eat their returns gross of fees and taxes? I don’t.

Continue reading »

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Mar 14

Government Admits It Can’t Fully Guarantee 51% Of Insolvent Pension Plans (ZeroHedge, March 12, 2015):

A new report suggests that the government agency in charge of backstopping private-sector pension plans (the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation) isn’t entirely optimistic about its own ability to provide an effective safety net for multiemployer plans. In fact, more than half of participants will see their benefits cut if their plans become insolvent and are forced to turn to government guarantees.

 …

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Mar 13

SyrizaSyriza-change
Lagarde-Varoufakisyanis schauble shaking handsscrewed

From the article:

“We wonder how the increasingly disenfranchised Greeks will react when they find their savings (whatever there is left) are now being directly plundered to fund the nation’s transfer payments (via The IMF) to Ukraine.”


Greece Passes Law To Plunder Pension Funds (ZeroHedge, March 12, 2015):

Having previously hinted that they might ‘dip’ into public pensions funds for some short-term cash to payback The IMF, and then confirming that the plan is to repo that cash from pension cash reserves (raising concerns about how they will unwind the repo – i.e. pay it back); the Greek government finally signed the bill today that enables them to plunder the Greek people’s pension funds (for their own good).The massive irony of this bill is the bill enables greek deposits to be fully invested in Greek sovereign bonds… which Tsipras and Varoufakis both admitted today is “unsustainable” and “will never be repaid.”

  • *GREEK GOVT SUBMITS BILL, ALLOWING USE OF PENSION FUND RESERVES

As Bloomberg reports,

Cash reserves of pension funds and other public entities kept in Bank of Greece deposit accounts can be fully invested in Greek sovereign notes, according to amendment to be submitted in parliament, country’s finance ministry says in e-mailed statement. Continue reading »

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Mar 02

As Greek Default Fears Return, Government Considers “Borrowing” Pensions To Repay IMF (ZeroHedge, March 2, 2015): 

Greek short-term default risk jumped over 300bps today putting the odds of a restructuring at 50-50 within the next year as the warnings we issued last week with regard Greece’s imminent default on its IMF loan loom. Seeking to reassure its lenders (and avoid yet more capital flight), Reuters reports the Greek government said it was “exploring solutions,” including delaying payments to suppliers or try to raise up to 3 billion euros by borrowing from state entities such as pension funds.    Continue reading »

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Jan 29

What could possibly go wrong?


real-estate-bubble

– Teachers’ Retirement Funds Are Piling Into Manhattan Real Estate At Record High Prices (Liberty Blitzkrieg, Jan 28, 2015):

Rather than buying equity interests in buildings, TIAA-CREF and KTCU are seeking to invest in mortgages backed by office towers, retail properties, warehouses and apartments in major U.S. cities. The venture between the two companies, which manage teachers’ savings in their respective countries, is 51 percent owned by TIAA-CREF and 49 percent held by Seoul-based KTCU.

“You invest in a huge office tower in New York because you want a safe place to put your money and a decent return,” over the long-term, he said. “This is more a capital preservation play than it is a capital appreciation play.”

– From the Bloomberg article: Manhattan Towers Lure Koreans in $1 Billion Joint Venture

As soon as I woke up this morning, I saw an email from a very smart friend of mine in the finance industry. He forwarded me an article from the New York Post, about how TIAA-CREF had paid $3,158 per square foot for a building in the Meatpacking area of Manhattan (a record for the area), which isn’t far from where I lived for several years in the mid-2000s.

For those of you who aren’t aware, TIAA-CREF stands for Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association – College Retirement Equities Fund. According to the company’s own website, it: Continue reading »

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Dec 12

change-we-can-believe-in

LIKE CLOCKWORK: Pension plans to be looted nationwide as Congress okays institutional theft of funds (Natural News, Dec 12, 2014):

On April 2, 2013, in an article entitled Economics 101: Production, coercion and theft, I wrote about the coming looting of pension plans, stating:

When societies approach collapse, coercion shifts to outright theft: Stealing money right out of your bank account, for example, like we recently witnessed in Cyprus. Government also routinely target pension funds and even private retirement accounts, attempting to keep itself afloat by any means necessary.

Just like clockwork, that looting of pension plans is now about to commence. “Congress could soon allow the benefits of current retirees to be cut as part of an agreement to address the fiscal distress confronting some of the nation’s 1,400 multi-employer pension plans,” writes Michael Fletcher of the Washington Post. [1] The Post continues: Continue reading »

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Dec 10

US-Congress

Congress eyes move to cut pension benefits (CNBC, Dec 10, 2014):

The latest assault on private pensions may be coming from the U.S. Congress.

Lawmakers on Wednesday were finalizing a deal to shore up the government’s pension insurance fund with provisions that would raise premiums and allow troubled pension plans covering more than one employer to cut retiree benefits.

As of midday Wednesday, the reform provisions, which drew loud opposition from unions and other groups representing retirees, were not included in the latest version of a massive, $1.1 trillion spending bill, according to a spokeswoman for the House Appropriations Committee. The measure may be voted on as an amendment in the Rules Committee, she said. Continue reading »

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Nov 07

US Pension Plans Need Massive $110 Billion In 7 Years, Moodys Warns (ZeroHedge, Nov 6, 2014):

Thanks to improving life expectancy and the Federal Reserve’s financial repression lowering yields, US company pension funds have been hit by a double whammy. As Moody’s warns, companies will have to find $110 billion in the next seven years to fund pension liabilities shortfalls. Moody’s adds, “given these increasing liabilities and cash drains, we expect to see an acceleration in lump sum offers,” as firms try to derisk.

As Chief Investment Officer reports, Continue reading »

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Oct 23

George Carlin: The American Dream (Video):

“…they want your fucking retirement money.

They want it back, so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street.

And you know something? They’ll get it. They’ll get it all from you, sooner or later, because they own this fucking place.”


A short excerpt from the video “Life Is Worth Losing” (2005).

Related info:

Public Pension Funds Face $2 Trillion Shortfall, Moodys Warns

This Pension Fund Is Daytrading Your Retirement Funds, With Up To 500% Leverage

We’re Relying on Phantom Wealth to Fund Our Retirement

Leaked Documents Show How Blackstone Fleeces Taxpayers Via Public Pension Funds


Screen-Shot-2014-10-22-at-11.38.33-AM-300x143

Another Pension Scandal – The Crony Love Affair Between North Carolina, Credit Suisse and Erskine Bowles (Liberty Blitzkrieg, Oct 22, 2014):

In North Carolina, managing the retirement savings of teachers, police officers, firefighters and other public employees is big business. As the sole fiduciary of the state’s $90 billion pension fund, Treasurer Cowell, a Democrat, was recently named the world’s 18th most important institutional investor by the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute. The State Employees Association of North Carolina (Seanc) estimates that North Carolina is on track to spend a billion dollars a year of retirees’ pension money on fees to private financial firms. Roughly half of all North Carolina pension deals involve placement agents, and Seanc estimates that has generated roughly $180 million in placement agent fees — costs that are effectively paid by the pension fund, according to critics.

Credit Suisse’s own internal regulations say the company aims to “establish a management organization that avoids the creation or appearance of conflicts of interests.” But the North Carolina agreement (the provisions of which were secret until Seanc’s open records request earlier this year) explicitly allows Credit Suisse to engage in “actual and potential conflicts of interest.” The agreement noted Credit Suisse could receive “placement fees” from the firms in which it invests North Carolina pension money.
– From David Sirota’s excellent piece in Investors Business DailyPension Deal Spotlights ‘Placement Agent’ Business, Raises Conflict-Of-Interest Questions

When it comes to how the U.S. economy of fraud functions in 2014, the following article has it all. A government official, a global investment bank and a businessman/politician, all working together to enrich themselves at the public’s expense. It demonstrates how big bucks are really earned by insiders in the new American Dream, characterized by extreme cronyism and corruption. Continue reading »

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Aug 14

We’re Relying on Phantom Wealth to Fund Our Retirement (Of Two Minds, Aug 12, 2014):

Phantom wealth cannot possibly fund unprecedented retirement and healthcare promises.

The narrative that Social Security, Medicare and pension funds invested in stocks and bonds can fund the retirement of 65 million people is a misleading fantasy. The sad reality is we can’t fund the enormous expense of retirement/healthcare for 20% of the populace out of our national earned income, and the savings that have been set aside are either fictitious (the Social Security Trust Fund) or based on phantom wealth created by speculative asset bubbles in stocks, bonds and real estate.

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Jul 21

First Detroit, Now Flint Warns Bankruptcy “Train Is Headed For The Cliff” (ZeroHedge, July 19, 2014):

Flint may be Michigan’s second city to plunge into bankruptcy unless retirees accept cuts in health benefits that threaten to unravel a balanced budget. As Crain’s Detroit reports, Emergency Manager Darnell Earley (Flint’s third emergency leader since it was placed under state control in 2011) warned “If we have no ability to mitigate the cost of retiree health care, that’s going to make it very difficult for the city to remain financially stable over the next few years.” As Eric Scorsone notes, “Flint’s at the forefront, but a lot of cities are on the same train, and that train is headed for the cliff.”

As Crains Detroit reports,

As Detroit draws worldwide attention for its record $18 billion bankruptcy, Flint demonstrates the plight of U.S. cities where unfunded post-retirement costs rival or exceed pension liabilities. In Michigan alone in 2011, municipalities had nearly $13 billion in health-care liabilities for retirees, compared with about $3 billion for pensions. Flint is among 17 cities and school districts under some form of state control. Continue reading »

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May 06

From the article:

“Read it and weep:…”

George Carlin: The American Dream (Video):

“…they want your fucking retirement money.

They want it back, so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street.

And you know something? They’ll get it. They’ll get it all from you, sooner or later, because they own this fucking place.”


A short excerpt from the video “Life Is Worth Losing” (2005).


Leaked Documents Show How Blackstone Fleeces Taxpayers via Public Pension Funds (Liberty Blitzkrieg, May 5, 2014):

The following story by David Sirota at PandoDaily is simply excellent. It zeros in on the secretive and rapidly expanding relationship between private equity firms and the public pensions that invest in them. It shows a crony capitalist love affair greased by lobbyist influence peddlers known as “placement agents,” as well as non-public agreements between PE firms and public pensions chock full of conflicts of interest, extremely high fees and underperformance. Unbelievably, in many instances the trustees of the public pensions are not allowed to know what funds the “fund of funds” invest in. This makes due diligence impossible, and in one particularly egregious example it led the Kentucky Retirement Systems to unknowingly invest in SAC Capital despite the fact it was under SEC investigation at the time.

Furthermore, with the Wall Street Journal reporting back in 2011 that $37 of every $100 dollars invested in Blackstone’s investment pool coming from state and local pension plans, it appears that taxpayers are once again being fleeced by the financial oligarch class. Additionally, it appears to answer a recent question I posed in my piece: Is the Credit Bubble Popping? Carlyle Group Warns on Frothiness and Junk Bond Deals Get Pulled. After reading about a growing pool of insane “dividend deals” and payment-in-kind” notes being issued, I wondered who in their right mind was buying these deals. Well, based on the complete lack of competence and due diligence happening at public pension funds, I think we have solved part of the mystery. 

Continue reading »

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Apr 19

George Carlin: The American Dream:


The Political Conspiracy Behind the Bankruptcy of Detroit: Anatomy of a Crime  (WSWS, Feb 21, 2014):

The Workers Inquiry into the Bankruptcy of Detroit and the Attack on the DIA & Pensions was held Saturday February 15 at Wayne State University. The WSWS published an initial report on the meeting on February 17. Today we publish an edited version of the report to the Inquiry delivered by Larry Porter, assistant national secretary of the Socialist Equality Party and chairman of the Workers Inquiry.
Video coverage of Lawrence Porter’s full report to the Inquiry

[Click for slide 1]

[Click for slide 2]

Why was Detroit taken into bankruptcy?

In my report, I have the responsibility of uncovering the evidence of a crime.

Continue reading »

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Apr 07

Government Confiscation And Lifting The Veil On “The 401(k) Scheme” (ZeroHedge, April 6, 2014):

From Presidential edicts of ‘MyRA’ being for your own good and “will never go down in value” to Poland’s ‘precedent-setting’ confiscation of public pensions funds for the good of the nation’s debt load; and from the IMF’s “one-off” wealth tax ‘idea’ to Europe’s recent consideration of ‘wholesale savings confiscations and enforced redistribution’, it appears Marc Faber’s warning that “from now onwards, the bailouts will also be at the expense of the asset holders, the well-to-do people. So if you have money I am sure the governments will one day take away 20-30% of my wealth,” is becoming more likely every day. As the following mini-documentary explains, confirming Ron Paul’s warning that “there is more chaos to come,” Jim Rogers’ fear that “they won’t take our bank accounts…they will take our retirement accounts,” is coming true.

George Carlin: The American Dream (Video):

“…they want your fucking retirement money.

They want it back, so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street.

And you know something? They’ll get it. They’ll get it all from you sooner or later because they own this fucking place.”


A short excerpt from the video “Life Is Worth Losing” (2005).

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Apr 05

And yes, they do want your retirement money:


12 Largest Banks Sued By Public Retirement Funds For “Conspiring To Rig Global FX Markets” (ZeroHedge, April 1, 2014):

Yesterday, we read with some amusement that Goldman has moved Guy Saidenberg, reportedly one of the greater profit centers at the firm – and how could he not be when he always traded against Tom Stolper’s recommendations which led to tens of thousands of pips in losses to those who listened to him over the past five years – from head of global foreign-exchange trading to a new role, as co-head of commodities.  Why did Goldman decide to scrap its once uber-profitable FX vertical and redo it from scratch? Simple – the ability to rig and manipulate FX markets, which are now under every global regulator’s microscope after the “Cartel” members so foolishly let themselves be exposed to the entire world, is no longer there, as confirmed last night by news that a dozen large investors have filed a joint lawsuit against 12 banks for “allegedly conspiring to rig global foreign-exchange prices.” Allegedly? Hasn’t everyone read the Cartel chatroom transcripts yet?

WSJ reports:

The class-action lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York late Monday, was from a group of investors across the U.S. and Caribbean, including city and state pension plans.

Continue reading »

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Mar 07

The Ukraine is on track to be the next country that will be raped & pillaged by the IMF financial mafia.

Greece has been warned before:

“The International Monetary Fund is that last thing you need. You will lose your sovereignty. It exercises terrorism. You will be raped in such a way, that it will be the worst pain you have ever felt.”

So get rid of your self-proclaimed puppet government or suffer.


Pensions in Ukraine to be halved – sequestration draft (RT, March 6, 2014):

The self-proclaimed government in Kiev is reportedly planning to cut pensions by 50 percent as part of unprecedented austerity measures to save Ukraine from default. With an “empty treasury”, reduction of payments might take place in March.

According to the draft document obtained by Kommersant-Ukraine, social payments will be the first to be reduced.

“The Finance Ministry has prepared a plan for optimizing budget expenditures, which implies budget sequestration is to be in force before the end of March. For this purpose, in particular, it has been proposed to reduce capital costs, eliminate tax schemes and preferences and to cut social benefits, for example, 50 percent of pensions to working pensioners,” Kommersant-Ukraine reported.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Social Policy reported on December 1, 2013, that an average pension in Ukraine is $160.
Right after the formation, the self-proclaimed government in Kiev announced that the “treasury is empty”.

Ukraine’s new prime minister, Arseny Yatsenyuk, promised the government would do its best to avoid a default, adding that he expects an EU/IMF economic stabilization package soon. The plan has been formulated in record time, with the government’s strategy ratified in the Ukrainian parliament on February 27, and the document being sent for evaluation to the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade on March 3.

The European Commission offered Ukraine an 11 billion euro loan if Kiev agrees a deal with the IMF, European Commission President Jose Barroso announced on Wednesday. As a rule, help from financial organizations such as the IMF or the World Bank normally includes drastic austerity measures.

Continue reading »

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Feb 05

leviathan-to-eat-401k

The Countdown to the Nationalization of Retirement Savings Has Begun (International Man – Casey Research, Feb 5, 2014):

Simply put, the new myRA program put forward by Obama is at best a sucker’s deal… or worse, it’s a first step toward the nationalization of private retirement savings. (Note: If you haven’t yet heard of myRA, I’d strongly suggest you read this excellent overview by my colleague Dan Steinhart.)

Even before the new myRA program was announced, there had been whispers about the need for the US government to assume some risk for US retirement accounts. That’s code for forced conversion of private retirement assets into government bonds.

Continue reading »

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Jan 31

Obama-Communist

Bankruptcy In The USSA: Detroit Bondholders About To Be GM’ed In Favor Of Pensioners (ZeroHedge, Jan 31, 2014):

First, the Obama administration showed that when it comes to most preferred voter classes in the eyes of the Obama administration, some unsecured creditors – namely labor unions, and the millions of votes they bring – are more equal than other unsecured creditors – namely bondholders, and the zero votes they bring. Five years later we are about to get a stark reminder that under the superpriority rule of a community organizer for whom “fairness” trumps contract law any day, it is now Detroit’s turn to make a mockery of the recovery waterfall. As it turns out, bankrupt Detroit is proposing to favor pension funds at roughly double the rate of bondholders to resolve an estimated $18 billion in long-term obligations, according to a draft of a debt-cutting plan reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Continue reading »

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Jan 30

“By the skillful and sustained use of propaganda, one can make a people see even heaven as hell or an extremely wretched life as paradise.”
– Adolf Hitler

Related info:

IRA Confiscation: It’s Happening

Obama Introduces MyRA: The ‘No Risk, Guaranteed Return’ Retirement Savings Bond


MyRA_0

The MyRA Propaganda Begins: “A Start To A Secure Retirement” Promises Treasury Secretary (ZeroeHedge, Jan 30, 2014):

You didn’t think the US could at first slowly, and then all of a sudden, expropriate retirement accounts and invest them in the “no risk, guaranteed return” MyRA Ponzi scheme introduced by Obama during the State of the Union address without lots of behavior-modifying indoctrination in the “friendly press” first now did you? Sure enough, here is the first major propaganda salvo, coming from none other than the US Treasury Secretary, Jack Lew, which will be published tomorrow across the McClatchy media empire. Continue reading »

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