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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Jan 30

Related info:

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


ira-confiscation

- IRA confiscation: it’s happening (Sovereign Man, Jan 29, 2014):

I have an old acquaintance named Sam who has a hell of a deal for you.

Sam is actually a pretty famous guy with a big reputation. Unfortunately he has been a bit down and out on his luck lately… but he’s trying to make a comeback. And Sam is prepared to float you a really great investment opportunity.

Here’s the deal he’s offering: you give Sam your hard-earned retirement savings. Sam will invest your funds, and pay you a rate of return.

Granted, the rate of return he’s promising doesn’t quite keep up with inflation. So you will be losing some money. But don’t dwell on that too much.

Continue reading »

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Jan 29

obama-myra

- Obama Introduces MyRA: The “No Risk, Guaranteed Return” Retirement Savings Bond (ZeroHedge, Jan 29, 2014):

Earlier today we hinted at what was coming in “Obama To Unveil Treasury IRAs.” Well, here it is, and it even has a catchy name. Presenting: the MyRA, and since it offers “guaranteed return and no risk” we now know where all the Fed’s bond trades will go to work once QE ends.

From the president:

Let’s do more to help Americans save for retirement. Today, most workers don’t have a pension. A Social Security check often isn’t enough on its own. And while the stock market has doubled over the last five years, that doesn’t help folks who don’t have 401ks. That’s why, tomorrow, I will direct the Treasury to create a new way for working Americans to start their own retirement savings: MyRA. It’s a new savings bond that encourages folks to build a nest egg. MyRA guarantees a decent return with no risk of losing what you put in. And if this Congress wants to help, work with me to fix an upside-down tax code that gives big tax breaks to help the wealthy save, but does little to nothing for middle-class Americans. Offer every American access to an automatic IRA on the job, so they can save at work just like everyone in this chamber can

Or put another way – if you like your retirement account you can keep your retirement account.

And just like that, the “automatic” continuity to the Fed’s Quantitative Easing is ensured. Continue reading »

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Jan 28

20140128_ira_0

- Obama To Unveil Treasury IRA Plans, Or Planning For A Post-Monetization World (ZeroHedge, Jan 28, 2014):

Wondering who will take over the mantle of Treasury bond buyer now that the Fed is stepping away? Curious of the government’s next steps towards repression and control of wealth? Wait no longer. As the AP reports, President Obama will unveil a new retirement savings plan tonight that allows first-time savers to buy US Treasury bonds tax-deferred for retirement. Of course, this is not the mandatory IRA that remains somewhat inevitable (as the muddle-through fails) but is certainly a step in the direction we alerted readers to a year ago by which the government generously offers to help manage your retirement savings. Two words spring to mind… remember Poland.

Via AP,

Continue reading »

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Jan 24

spain1

- Seven Shocking Statistics On Spain’s Surging Joblessness (ZeroHedge, Jan 24, 2014):

Spain’s unemployment rate hit 26% again this week. Despite Rajoy’s please for people to believe things are getting better, that the crisis is over (even as Draghi proclaims it otherwise and Axel Weber warns it is still festering), Spanish local ex-pat newspaper “The Local” has uncovered seven statistics that will help you understand just how serious the situation is. What is perhaps even more surreal is that in a year in which the economy supposedly grew, they depleted their pension reserve fund by 15%…

  • *SPAIN WITHDREW EU11.6B FROM PENSION RESERVE FUND IN 2013
  • Spain pension reserve fund ends 2013 With EU53.7 bln

So apart from that, here is how bad it really is in Spain… Continue reading »

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Jan 02

- Retirement Unlikely For Many Blue-Collar Americans (Dec 31, 2013):

WASHINGTON – Tom Edwards grew up in a family that’s been cutting trees and hauling timber in the Pacific Northwest for more than a century. The Spanaway, Wash., resident says he has worked as a logger since he was a kid — it’s just what an able-bodied youngster was expected to do.

Now, at 53, with business in a slump and little money in savings, he’s pessimistic about his chances of retiring.

“It’s never going to happen. By the time I reach retirement age, there won’t be Social Security. There’s not going to be any money,” Edwards said. “I’ll do like my father did: I’ll work ’til I die.”

Continue reading »

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Dec 06

“They want your fucking retirement money!”
- George Carlin (2005)


- Detroit bankruptcy ruling triggers calls for pension cuts across the US (WSWS, Dec 6, 2013):

Within days of a federal judge’s ruling in support of the Detroit bankruptcy, the devastating implications for the working class across the US are becoming apparent. States and cities throughout the country are citing the legal precedent of the Detroit ruling to attack public employee pensions, initiating a new stage in the assault on workers’ rights and living standards.

Politicians of both big business parties, media outlets and financial institutions have welcomed the decision by Judge Steven Rhodes, hailing its categorical assertion that federal courts can override state and local guarantees of public workers’ pensions.

The Michigan Constitution declares that accrued pension benefits are “contractual obligations” that “shall not be diminished or impaired.” Many other state constitutions have similar provisions. But Rhodes brushed aside the Michigan Constitution in order to open the door to the gutting of pensions.

On Thursday, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed into law a pension bill that slashes benefits for retired as well as active state employees, in violation of the Illinois Constitution’s prohibition of such pension cuts. Described as a “landmark” law, the Illinois measure will raise the retirement age for younger workers by eight years, slash cost-of-living adjustments for current pensioners, and transfer many workers from state-paid pension plans to employee-paid 401(k) plans.

Continue reading »

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