Jun 27

Taxpayers Could Be On the Hook

New York City officials are bracing for increased pressure on the budget as the city’s pension funds are reeling from the credit crisis and posting billions of dollars in losses. In the nine months leading up to March 31, the city’s five pension funds lost a total of nearly $5 billion, or 4.4%, according to data from the city comptroller’s office. This is a far cry from projections published as recently as last month, when budget planners assumed the pension system would post no losses.

If those losses are not recovered by the end of the fiscal year, which ends Monday, the city will have to pay out several billion dollars through 2015, with the first payment of $190 million set for 2010.

The government will have to make up the shortfall from the poor performance of the pension funds at a time when it is already suffering from tax revenue losses due to a souring economy.

“In itself, it’s manageable,” the research director for the Citizens Budget Commission, Charles Brecher, said of the pension fund losses. “The fact that it’s going to be combined with revenue shortfalls means that we’ve got serious problems.”

The Teachers’ Retirement System of the City of New York, which has lost 5.06% of its value in the nine months ending March 31, has been the worst performer so far this year. The New York City Employees’ Retirement System, which lost 3.98% in the same period, performed the best. Other pension funds include the New York City Police Pension Fund, the New York City Fire Department Pension Fund, and the Board of Education Retirement System of the City of New York. Numbers for the state pension system are not yet available, a spokesman for the state comptroller said.

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Apr 17

Nothing for Families and Retirees

If the move to a Unitary Executive of unfettered presidential power frightens you, America’s radical right turn to Unitary Finance should compound your fears–and your debts as well. The financial events of the last two weeks of March 2008 demonstrate that the “economic royalists” and “money changers” whom Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) drove from the temple of finance have returned to mismanage our economy into dire straights of unprecedented risk–debt creation, euphemized as “leveraging” and “wealth creation.”

The few checks and balances that remain in the way of the financial sector’s increasingly centralized planning, especially at the state level, are being swept aside under the guise of “saving the system.” Few Wall Street beneficiaries who use this phrase explain just what the system is. For starters, its political managers are industry lobbies appointed to high managerial and planning positions in the public agencies that are supposed to regulate these industries. Their idea of financial planning is to put a trillion dollars in government agency funds and credit guarantees at risk. This agency funding was supposed to be used to help average American families obtain housing and health care, and to protect their savings and provide for their retirement. Instead, it is being mobilized to support the economy’s bankers and financial managers. Indeed, the past few weeks have seen seemingly trillions of dollars committed for war making and bank support.

The banking system’s free creation of credit, doubling each five years or so for the economy at large, threatens to culminate in debt peonage for many American families and also for industry and for state and local governments. The economic surplus is being quickly absorbed by a combination of debt service and government bailouts for creditors whose Ponzi schemes are collapsing right and left, from residential to commercial real estate and corporate takeover loans to foreign bubble-economy credit.

This is the context in which to view the past few weeks’ financial turmoil surrounding Bear Stearns, JPMorgan/Chase and the rapidly changing debt landscape. “The system” that the Treasury, Federal Reserve and the New Deal agencies captured by the Bush Administration is trying to save is an economy-wide Ponzi scheme. By that I mean that the business plan is for creditors to lend debtors enough money for them to pay the interest costs so as to keep current on their loans.

Super Imperialism – New Edition: The Origin and Fundamentals of U.S. World Dominance Continue reading »

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Mar 06

Every day, thousands of Americans look to invest their money in stocks, and many of them go through brokers and traders to simplify the process.Unfortunately, according to Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne, a majority of those purchasers will be victims of Wall Street’s criminal tactics and will help line the pockets of corrupt brokers and lawyers. Byrne, a Utahn who founded Overstock.com, talked to a crowd in the Union on Monday about how New York financial media and law firms have teamed up with big-wig business elites to create massive amounts of profit at the cost of American consumers. Continue reading »

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