Pensions: One dirty hand washes the other dirty hand
L. Randall Wray at UMKC:
To recap: pension fund managers take on risk on the assumption that with higher risk comes higher return. Wall Street manufactures risky assets such as securitized subprime mortgages. It then convinces pension funds that they ought to diversify to reduce risk, for example by gambling on commodities. By coincidence, Wall Street just happens to be marketing commodities futures indexes to satisfy the demand it has created. It also provides a wide array of complex hedging strategies to shift risk onto better fools, as well as credit default “insurance” and buy-back assurances in case anything goes wrong. If all of these “risk management” strategies were completely successful, the pension fund would achieve a risk-free portfolio. Of course, it could have achieved this if it had bypassed Wall Street entirely and gone straight to the Treasury. However, Wall Street’s masters of the universe then would have had no market for the junk they were pushing, and pension fund managers would not have received their generous compensation. So workers are left with fees ["rents"] that drain their pension funds, and with massive counter-party risk as the hedges, insurance, and assurance go bad.
But the pension fund managers and the banksters both collect their fees!
The problem with private savings is that Americans do not save enough for their retirement. They never have. And even if they tried to do so, they would be duped out of their savings by Wall Street.
Thus, the best solution would be to eliminate government support for pension plans and instead to boost Social Security to ensure that anyone who works long enough to qualify will receive a comfortable retirement. They can supplement this with private savings, according to ability and desires.
Exactly. Put this in the context of Obama's plans to gut Social Security. The plague of Wall Street locusts has already eaten our pensions, so they're looking around for something new. Voila!