Status of the Social Security Trust Fund, Fiscal 2020: Beware of Vicious Dog, by Wolf Richter

There will probably be something in the Social Security Trust Fund for future retirees, but don’t expect the benefits to keep up with inflation. From Wolf Richter at wolfstreet.com:

Will Social Security Be There for You? Yes, but…

The Social Security Trust Fund – officially the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) Trust Fund – closed the fiscal year 2020 at the end of September with a balance of $2.81 trillion, the second highest fiscal-year close, behind 2017, up by $6.8 billion from a year ago, and up by $10 billion from two years ago, according to figures released by the Social Security Administration. The Trust Fund has vacillated in the same range since 2016, after growing substantially over the past decade.

The balance is seasonal and peaks in June. The all-time peak was in June 2017, at $2.85 trillion. In June this year, the balance was $2.84 trillion. So far so good:

The Trust Fund invests exclusively in special issue Treasury securities, of two types: $2.797 trillion in interest-bearing long-term special issue Treasury securities and $14 billion in a short-term cash management security, called “certificates of indebtedness.” These securities are not publicly traded, and so their value doesn’t change from day to day with the whims of the market. The Trust Fund purchases them at face value, and the US Treasury redeems them at face value.

By contrast, a bond mutual fund that holds marketable Treasury securities must “mark to market” its Treasuries on a daily basis (producing a gain or loss).

By investing exclusively in Treasury securities that are not exposed to market whims, the Trust Fund follows the most conservative – meaning, low-risk – strategy possible.

This setup is an efficient, low-cost way of administering the Trust Fund and doesn’t allow Wall Street to extract fees and load the fund up with risks. That’s why Wall Street hates the Trust Fund and wants to “privatize” it in order to get its hands on the $2.8 trillion, extract fees out of it, and use it as dumping ground for its risks.

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