In this economy, a college education is more important than ever: The unemployment rate for college graduates is 3.8 percent, compared to 7.8 percent for everyone else. Yet, the exploding costs of education are causing some students to graduate with heavy debt burdens.
Co-authored with Theresa Hamacher.
Private pension funds across the world are finding it more difficult to meet their obligations to future retirees. In July 2012, the 100 largest US private pension funds faced a $533bn shortfall, according to the consulting firm Milliman. In the same month, private pensions in the UK faced a £283bn shortfall, according to the government’s insurer of pension plans.
The transportation bill that Congress passed this summer is financed, in part, with a budget gimmick: Lawmakers changed the funding rules for corporate pension plans. These changes help the federal budget in the short term by reducing the tax deductions that corporations take for contributing to these plans — thereby reportedly increasing their taxable income.
Co-authored with Theresa Hamacher:
For U.S. mutual fund marketers, China is the Holy Grail. Given the country’s fast-growing economy and its large and rapidly aging population needing to save for retirement, China’s fund market has enormous potential for growth. Although the fund industry started in China only a decade ago, funds in that country already hold close to $350 billion in assets. And given the expanding size of China’s economy, its fund assets could easily grow to several trillion dollars over the next decade. But the Chinese market has been tough for U.S. firms to break into, because both regulation and local preferences tend to favor homegrown funds over U.S.-sponsored offerings. In general, China encapsulates the difficulties that investment managers must address when trying to export mutual funds — one of the United States’ most successful financial products — to other countries.
I recently returned from a trip to Beijing, where I launched the Mandarin translation of a book that I co-authored with Theresa Hamacher entitled The Fund Industry: How Your Money is Managed.
The book was translated because the Chinese fund industry is expanding rapidly; Chinese mutual funds were introduced in 2001 yet held over $340bn in assets by the end of 2011.
The Social Security Trustees released their latest report yesterday, which showed that the finances of the system are deteriorating. In particular, The Trustees moved up the date when Social Security will become insolvent by three years, from 2036 to 2033. In 2033, absent any reform, the Social Security benefits of all recipients will be reduced across the board by 25%.
Government workers’ pensions may sound like an obscure topic, but it’s front and center in some of the most rancorous of today’s political discussions. Retirement benefits for public workers are at the heart of the conflict between state and local governments and the unions representing their workers — and how that conflict gets resolved will affect investors in the municipal bonds issued by those states and cities. Let’s take a look at the looming public pension crisis, its effect on municipal finance and how accounting reform might help.