The Coming Grab at Your Wealth and Retirement
From the New York Daily News: Sucking on cigarettes and slurping sugary sodas could get a whole lot more expensive under Gov. Paterson's new budget proposal.But even the"sin tax" hikes on top of a $1 billion boost in taxes and fees won't raise enough revenue to stave off sweeping cuts in school and health care spending in the $134 billion 2010-2011 budget. Paterson reported stated,"We cannot keep spending money that we do not have." Apparently the STOP SPENDING! alternative has not occurred to him.
From the South Florida Business Journal: Florida employers already have a lot to worry about in 2010 — a sluggish economic recovery first and foremost. Now, add to that an unemployment compensation tax rate hike that, in its worst case, could increase their minimum payment by more than 1,000 percent, from $8.40 per employee to $100.30 per employee. The rate change, which went into effect Jan. 1 unbeknownst to many employers, will cost them an additional $1.2 billion in 2010...
Get out of states like New York, Florida, California.... 2010 is when I expect the worst of the economic hardships to hit; I hope I am wrong; I hope the worst is behind us in 2009. But, realistically, I don't think so. And with the continuing collapse, governments on all levels will act like a wounded savage beast whose goal is to survive. Expect the grab for your hard-earned money -- the same money with which you feed and shelter your children -- to accelerate sharply. One of the best protections you have is to move your assets farther away from the grasping hands of bloated, corrupt government.
Unfortunately, you cannot protect yourself or your family from the feds as long as you stay within American borders. And the most disturbing grabs for your wealth are likely to come from the federal government. Consider just one.... Bloomberg reports that the U.S. Department of the Treasury is officially formulating ways to force a portion of every 401k/IRA account into"fixed payment annuities" -- that is to say, into long-term Treasury bonds. In other words, your retirement dollars would be converted into government IOUs. This is the same government debt that Obama cannot peddle overseas anymore because places like China know the greenback is unsustainable in the long run...perhaps in the short run as well. Nor can Obama get domestic investors to buy it up...at least, not at a rate sufficient to finance his grand schemes of social engineering. And, so, the feds hopes to force it down the throats of those Americans who still have wealth in the form of retirement assets. In essence, the money-grab would make every retiree dependent upon redeeming government IOUs; every retiree would be shoved into a de facto social security situation.
Bloomberg continues, The U.S. Treasury and Labor Departments will ask for public comment as soon as next week on ways to promote the conversion of 401(k) savings and Individual Retirement Accounts into annuities or other steady payment streams... As the website Seeking Alpha comments,
The money-grab at your retirement will begin modestly -- e.g. with just a small portion of your retirement converted -- and then, like government itself, it will expand. The money-grab will be executed for"your own good" because government has"your best interests" at heart. While the humanitarian commandeering of your wealth is still in the discussion stage, protect yourself as best you can.
For more commentary, please visit wendymcelroy.com.
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Michael Price - 1/25/2010
The article claims that they're trying to force people into buying government debt, but that doesn't seem to be happening (so far). What they're trying to do is get people to buy annuities. Annuities have two relevant characteristics, first they pay off a fixed monetary amount each year, quarter or month, second nobody wants to buy them. The latter is probably due to the near certainty of high inflation or hyperinflation that would reduce the value of these securities.
Forcing people who don't want them to buy annuities changes the risks in financial markets, but it doesn't lessen them. Firms selling annuities take on the risk that the assets they buy won't deliver sufficient returns to make payments. This could lead to losses or even bankruptcy. Annuities are generally sold by insurance companies, who may not be as secure as they've lead the regulators to believe. AIG being a rather spectacular example. Of course if lots of companies providing annuities go bankrupt the Feds might step in to insist we buy T-bills, which people like even less.
People who buy annuities, willingly or not, lose the incentive to manage their investments. They are divorced from the effect on their money of bad decisions, which is a big part of why the current crisis happened. It wasn't retail investors who drove us all into the ditch, it was professional money managers making lots of dough off of OPM.