Tag Archives: Retirement

Labor Day Reflections on Retirement and Working for 49 Years, by Charles Hugh Smith

Current economic policies will obliterate the idea of retirement for many people. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

What happens when these monstrous speculative bubbles pop?

Let’s start by stipulating that if I’d taken a gummit job right out of college, I could have retired 19 years ago. Instead, I’ve been self-employed for most of the 49 years I’ve been working, and I’m still grinding it out at 65.

By the standards of the FIRE movement (financial independence, retire early), I’ve blown it. The basic idea of FIRE is to live frugally and save up a hefty nestegg to fund an early comfortable retirement. As near as I can make out, the nestegg should be around $2.6 million–or if inflation kicks in, maybe it’ll be $26 million. Let’s just say it’s a lot.

You’ve probably seen articles discussing how much money you’ll need to “retire comfortably.” The trick of course is the definition of comfortable. The conventional idea of comfortable (as I understand it) appears to be an income which enables the retiree to enjoy leisurely vacations on cruise ships, own a boat and well-appointed RV for tooling around the countryside, and spend as much time golfing or boating as he/she might want.

FIRE retirees might opt for socially aware volunteer work or hiking trips in remote regions. Whatever the activities, the basic idea here is: retirement = no work = enough cash to do whatever I please.

Needless to say, Social Security isn’t going to fund a comfortable retirement, unless the definition is watching TV with an box of kibble to snack on.

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Congress courageously sticks US taxpayers with a $6 trillion liability, by Simon Black

It’s an odds on favorite bet that if Congress decides to “fix” the US’s looming pension problem, it will make that problem worse. From Simon Black at sovereignman.com:

There seems to be an unwritten rule with lawmakers that, every time they create a terrible piece of legislation, they give it the most noble-sounding name.

The USA PATRIOT Act from 2001 was a great example. It sounds great. Who wouldn’t love a law named for Patriots?

And yet that was easily among the most freedom-killing laws ever passed in US history, giving the federal government nearly unlimited authority to wage war and spy on its own people.

There are so many other examples– the USA FREEDOM Act from 2015 (which renewed many of the worst provisions of the PATRIOT Act).

Or the HIRE Act from 2010, which created some of the most heinous tax rules of the last fifty years.

The names of these laws all sounded wonderful. But their effects were absolutely terrible.

The new SECURE Act will likely be no different.

If you haven’t heard of SECURE, it’s a new piece of legislation aimed at ‘fixing’ the US retirement system.

SECURE stands for “Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement”, which is pretty clever when you think about it.

People want to associate their retirement with a word like ‘secure’. So even without knowing anything about the law, most people will probably have good feelings about it based solely on the name.

But if you actually read the legislation, SECURE contains a number of predictably terrible consequences.

For starters, SECURE is a basically a gigantic tax increase. And it’s a tax increase that will particularly affect your children when you pass away.

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The Festering Social Rift Over Pensions, by Adam Taggart

Perhaps the biggest rift will be between private sector employees with inadequate retirement savings and public sector employees with rich pensions paid for by the private sector’s taxes. From Adam Taggart at peakprosperity.com:

Most Americans will never be able to afford to retire.

We laid out the depressing math in our recent report Will Your Retirement Efforts Achieve Escape Velocity?:

  • The median retirement account balance among all working US adults is $0. This is true even for the cohort closest to retirement age, those 55-64 years old.
  • The average (i.e., mean) near-retirement individual has less than 8% of one year’s income saved in a retirement account
  • 77% of all American households aren’t on track to have enough net worth to retire, even under the most conservative estimates.

(Source)

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Opinion: The next bear market in stocks will spark a retirement crisis, by Howard Gold

A bear market in stocks would substantially reduce the Baby Boomers’ already inadequate savings. From Howard Gold at marketwatch.com:

A recession could decimate even substantial retirement portfolios, and Social Security and Medicare are facing shortfalls
AFP/Getty Images

Almost lost amid the torrent of recent news was a sobering item that will surely have far-reaching consequences.

The U.S. government announced that for the first time since 1982, it is tapping into Social Security trust funds to pay current benefits to recipients and it is dipping into Medicare’s reserves to cover the costs of that program.

The trustees also projected that the trust fund will run out of money by 2034 and that Medicare’s fund for paying costly hospital bills will be depleted by 2026.

That may ultimately force a cowardly Congress to cut benefits, raise taxes, increase the eligibility age, or some combination of the three. For the 52% of Americans who rely on Social Security for more than half their retirement income and the 25% of retirees who get more than 90% of their income from the program, that would be a disaster.

Read: Fixing Social Security starts with us, the voters

But the 10,000 baby boomers who will turn 65 every single day from now until 2029 face an even broader retirement crisis that could cause big social and political fallout.

Over the next few years, we will almost surely confront a bear market and recession that could decimate even substantial retirement portfolios, not to mention financially dicey state and local pension plans and the federal government itself. And those governments will have few tools to fight it. Consider:

• We are in the 10th year of an economic recovery and bull market in stocks. The S&P 500 index SPX, -0.86%   has more than quadrupled from its March 2009 bottom, for a compound annual growth rate of 17.5% during that time. Since the S&P 500 has averaged a 10% annual gain over the past 89 years, at some point there has to be a reversion to the mean.

Global Retirement Reality, by John Mauldin

Here’s the reality: there won’t be enough money for most people to have what we now consider a decent retirement. From John Mauldin at mualtineconomics.com:

Today we’ll continue to size up the bull market in governmental promises. As we do so, keep an old trader’s slogan in mind: “That which cannot go on forever, won’t.” Or we could say it differently: An unsustainable trend must eventually stop.

Lately I have focused on the trend in US public pension funds, many of which are woefully underfunded and will never be able to pay workers the promised benefits, at least without dumping a huge and unwelcome bill on taxpayers. And since taxpayers are generally voters, it’s not at all clear they will pay that bill.

Readers outside the US might have felt smug and safe reading those stories. There go those Americans again, spending wildly beyond their means. You are correct that, generally speaking, we are not exactly the thriftiest people on Earth. However, if you live outside the US, your country may be more like ours than you think. Today we’ll look at some data that will show you what I mean. This week the spotlight will be on Europe.

First, let me suggest that you read my last letter, “Build Your Economic Storm Shelter Now,” if you missed it. It has some important background for today’s discussiion, as well as a special invitation to attend my Strategic Investment Conference next March 6–9 in San Diego. With so much change occurring so quickly now, next year’s conference is an event you shouldn’t miss.

Global Shortfall

I wrote a letter last June titled “Can You Afford to Reach 100?” Your answer may well be “Yes;” but, if so, you are one of the few. The World Economic Forum study I cited in that letter looked at six developed countries (the US, UK, Netherlands, Japan, Australia, and Canada) and two emerging markets (China and India) and found that by 2050 these countries will face a total savings shortfall of $400 trillion. That’s how much more is needed to ensure that future retirees will receive 70% of their working income. This staggering figure doesn’t even include most of Europe.

To continue reading: Global Retirement Reality

The Real Financial Crisis Ahead——American Households Live Paycheck-To-Paycheck, Saving Virtually Nothing, by Lance Roberts

Millions of Americans have not saved enough to have a prayer of retiring. Microscopic interest rates on savings don’t help the situation. From Lance Roberts, at davidstockmanscontracorner.com:

There is a financial crisis on the horizon. It is a crisis that all the Central Bank interventions in the world cannot cure. It is a financial crisis that will continue to change the economic landscape of America for decades to come.

No, I am not talking about the next Lehman event or the next financial market meltdown. Although something akin to both will happen in the not-so-distant future. It is the lack of financial stability of the current, and next, generation that will shape the American landscape in the future.

The nonprofit National Institute on Retirement Security released a study in March stating that nearly 40 million working-age households (about 45 percent of the U.S. total) have no retirement savings at all. And those that do have retirement savings don’t have enough. As I discussed recently, the Federal Reserve’s 2013 Survey of consumer finances found that the mean holdings for families with retirement accounts was only $201,000.

Such levels of financial “savings” are hardly sufficient to support individuals through retirement. This is particularly the case as life expectancy has grown, and healthcare costs skyrocket in the latter stages of life due historically high levels of obesity and poor physical health. The lack of financial stability will ultimately shift almost entirely onto the already grossly underfunded welfare system.

http://davidstockmanscontracorner.com/the-real-financial-crisis-ahead-american-households-live-paycheck-to-paycheck-saving-virtually-nothing/

To continue reading: The Real Financial Crisis Ahead

Looks Like I’ll Be Able to Retire Comfortably at Age 91, by Charles Hugh Smith

We baby boomers are confronting retirement. From microscopic interest rates to longer life expectancies to the government’s pending insolvency, we don’t like what we see. From Charles Hugh Smith, at oftwominds.com:

Looks Like I’ll Be Able to Retire Comfortably at Age 91 (January 30, 2015)

My advice is to focus not on retiring comfortably, but on working comfortably.

You’ve probably seen articles and adverts discussing how much money you’ll need to “retire comfortably.” The trick of course is the definition of comfortable. The general idea of comfortable (as I understand it) appears to be an income which enables the retiree to enjoy leisurely vacations on cruise ships, own a well-appointed RV for tooling around the countryside, and spend as much time on the golf links as he/she might want.

Needless to say, Social Security isn’t going to fund a comfortable retirement, unless the definition is watching TV with an box of kibble to snack on.

By this definition of retiring comfortably, I reckon I should be able to retire at age 91–assuming I can work another 30 years and the creek don’t rise.

Since I earned my first real Corporate America paycheck at 16 in 1970 (summer job for Dole Pineapple), I’ve logged 45 years of work. Now if I’d been smart and worked for the government, I could have retired 10 years ago with generous pension and healthcare benefits for life.

But alas, I wasn’t smart, so here I am, a self-employed numbskull.

The articles and adverts usually suggest piling up a hefty nestegg to fund that comfortable retirement. As near as I can make out, the nestegg should be around $2.6 million–or maybe it’s $26 million. Let’s just say it’s a lot.

This presents retirees without generous government pensions two basic problems. One is making enough money to pay the bills of survival and set aside the two million or whatever the number is to retire comfortably.

The average full-time earned income in the U.S. is around $50,000, depending on how the statistics are massaged. At this income, the worker would need to to save every dime for 40 years to assemble the nestegg. Needless to say, this isn’t practical (unless you inherit a trust fund, in which case you don’t even have to bother with earned income.)

The magic solution is unearned income, i.e. dividends, interest, capital gains on investments, etc. If the worker aiming for that comfortable retirement socks his/her retirement nestegg in high-yielding investments, the nestegg will grow over time to the sky (i.e. the $2 million needed to retire comfortably.)

This raises the second problem: identifying those magical high-yielding investments that won’t suddenly turn to dust when the long-awaited retirement approaches.

http://www.oftwominds.com/blogjan15/retirement1-15.html

To continue reading: Retire Comfortably at Age 91