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March 1, 2019 | The Coming Pension Bust

Rick Ackerman

Rick Ackerman is the editor of Rick’s Picks, an online service geared to traders of stocks, options, index futures and commodities. His detailed trading strategies have appeared since the early 1990s in Black Box Forecasts, a newsletter he founded that originally was geared to professional option traders. Barron’s once labeled him an “intrepid trader” in a headline that alluded to his key role in solving a notorious pill-tampering case. He received a $200,000 reward when a conviction resulted, and the story was retold on TV’s FBI: The Untold Story. His professional background includes 12 years as a market maker in the pits of the Pacific Coast Exchange, three as an investigator with renowned San Francisco private eye Hal Lipset, seven as a reporter and newspaper editor, three as a columnist for the Sunday San Francisco Examiner, and two decades as a contributor to publications ranging from Barron’s to The Antiquarian Bookman to Fleet Street Letter and Utne Reader.

(I wrote here earlier that a public-pension bust is coming that will usher in the Second Great Depression. Could California, Illinois, Connecticut, New Jersey et al. avoid disaster by raising taxes? That’s what John Jay, a regular contributor to the Rick’s Picks forum, thinks they will do. I strongly doubt it, however, since there is no way the revenuers will be able to squeeze blood from a stone. It is therefore predictable that the workers will ultimately get stiffed on their pensions because there won’t be sufficient funds to honor their contractual claims.

A catastrophic deflation is coming because it is the only way our massive, manifestly unpayable debts can ever be settled. Hyperinflation could do the job in theory, but I’ve written extensively on why this “option” is extremely unlikely, especially during the initial stages of a global economic collapse. Following are John’s comments, which are interesting regardless of how one believes the endgame will play out. RA)

As far as public pensions go, the states you mentioned already have a solution: Just raise taxes to the point of confiscation. Illinois is planning to give state assets to the pensions, California is working on killing Prop 13 so they can make $20k a year in property taxes on a 60-year-old, termite-infested shack a reality. None of them are backing down on taxes. Good luck finding a judge anywhere who will rule that pensions must be cut to balance the state budget.

Drifting into Feudalism

The population of Connecticut has remained more or less stable for decades, but the size of government budgets has tripled. In California, 13 million people are on the Medi-Cal state health care program. Anyone with an interest in history can see the accelerating drift into Feudalism. Twenty-two million government workers who produce nothing of value are paid two to three times what the job should pay. They have gold-plated pension and health plans, and they can’t be fired.

The government has no qualms about de facto confiscation of real estate, cars, boats, aircraft, whatever, to keep the taxes rolling in. When the Roman Empire was in its death throes, it faced the same problem of tax fugitives. Their solution? Simple. Laws were passed that forbade anyone from moving, or from pursuing any career other than the one of their father. And so the Dark Ages and Feudalism came to pass.  Oh yeah, that solution is in the on-deck circle, you can be sure about that!

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March 1st, 2019

Posted In: Rick's Picks

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