NO ONE TOLD YOU WHEN TO RUN, YOU MISSED THE STARTING GUN

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Posted on 20th November 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way.
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way.

Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain.
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today.
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you.
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.

Pink Floyd – Time

I stumbled across two mind blowing charts yesterday that had me pondering how generations of Americans had frittered their lives away, spending money they didn’t have  on things they didn’t need, utilizing easy to acquire debt, and saving virtually nothing for their futures or a rainy day. We are a nation of Peter Pans who never grew up. While I was driving home from work, one of my favorite Pink Floyd tunes came on the radio and the lyrics to Time seemed to fit perfectly with the charts I had just discovered.

We were all young once. Old age and retirement don’t even enter your thought process when you are young. Most people aren’t sure what they want to do for the rest of their lives when they are in their early twenties. Slaving away at your entry level low paying job, chasing the opposite sex, getting drunk, and having fun on the weekends is the standard for most young people. But you eventually have to grow up. Because one day you find ten years have got behind you. No one tells you when to grow up. And based on the charts below, tens of millions missed the starting gun.

I graduated college in 1986 and started my entry level CPA firm job, making $18,000 per year. I did live at home for a year and a half before getting an apartment with a friend. I was able to buy a car, pay off my modest student loan debt, go out on the weekends, and still save some money. I was in my early 20’s and had opened a mutual fund account at Vanguard. Anyone who entered the job market from the mid 1970s through the mid 1980’s, which would be the late Baby Boomers and early Generation Xers, had job opportunities and the benefit of low stock market valuations.

P/E ratios of the market were single digits in the late 70s and early 80s, versus 20 today. Dividend yields on stocks averaged 5% for the S&P 500, versus 1.9% today. The Dow bottomed out at 759 in 1980, while the S&P 500 bottomed at 98. A 20 year secular bull market was about to get under way. Baby Boomers and Generation Xers had the opportunity of a lifetime. Even after six years of the bull, when I graduated from college the Dow stood at 1,786 and the S&P 500 stood at 521. I had just begun to invest when the 1987 crash wiped out 20% in one day. It meant nothing to me. I didn’t have much to lose, so I just kept investing.

The 20 year bull market took the Dow from 759 to 11,722 by January 2000. The S&P 500 rose from 98 to 1,552 by March 2000. You also averaged about a 3% dividend yield per year over the entire 20 years. Your average annual return, including reinvested dividends, exceeded 17%. Anyone who even saved a minimal amount of money on a monthly basis, would have built a substantial nest egg for retirement. If you had invested in 10 Year Treasuries, your annual return would have exceeded 11% over the 20 years. Even an ultra-conservative investor who only put their money into 5 year CDs would have averaged better than 7% per year over the 20 years.

Even with the two stock market collapses since 2000, your average annual return in the stock market since 1980 still exceeds 11%. That’s 34 years with an average annual total return of better than 11%. Every person who had a job over this time frame should have accumulated a decent level of retirement savings. That is why the chart below is so shocking. Over 15% of all people 60 and older and 23% of people 45 to 59 years old have NO retirement savings. None. Nada. Zilch. This means 25 million Boomers and Xers are stuck living off a Social Security pittance and choosing between keeping the heat on or eating a feast of Ramen noodles and Friskies. It seems they let 30 years get behind them. They missed the starting gun.

http://www.mybudget360.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/retirement-savings.png

I’m not shocked that over 50% of 18 to 29 year olds have no retirement savings. With the terrible job market, declining real wages, massive levels of student loan debt, two stock market crashes in the space of eight years, and 4% annual returns since 2000, young people today have neither the means nor trust in the system to save for retirement. Their elders had no such excuse. Just a minimal amount per paycheck saved over the last 30 years would have compounded to well over $100,000, even at modest salary levels. It is disgraceful that 25 million people over the age of 45 have saved nothing for their retirement. Far more disgraceful is the median household retirement balance of $3,000 for all working age households. There are 122 million households in this country and 61 million of them have $3,000 or less in retirement savings.

http://www.mybudget360.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/20130620__figure9.jpg

The far worse data points are the $12,000 median retirement balance of aged 55 to 64 households and the $10,100 median retirement balance of aged 45 to 54 households. These people are on the edge of retirement and have less than one year’s expenses saved. There is no legitimate excuse for this pitiful display of planning. These people had decades to save, strong financial market returns, and if they worked for a decent size organization – matching contributions to their retirement accounts. They didn’t need a huge salary. They didn’t need to save 20% of their salary. They didn’t have to be an investing genius. A savings allocation of just 3% to 5% would have grown into a decent sized nest egg after a few decades of compounding.

We know from the data in the chart, it didn’t happen. The concept of delayed gratification is unknown to the millions of nearly broke Boomers and Xers, shuffling towards an old age of poverty, misery and regret. A 64 year old has a life expectancy of about 20 years. They’ll have to budget “very” frugally to make that $12,000 last. The question is how did it happen. I don’t buy the load of crap that you can’t judge people as groups. I judge people by their actions, not their words. I know you can’t lump every Boomer and Xer into one box. Individuals in every generation have bucked the trend, lived within their means, saved for the future, and accumulated significant nest eggs for their retirement. But the aggregate numbers don’t lie. The majority of those over the age of 45 have squandered their chance at a relatively comfortable retirement. These are the people who most vociferously insist the government do something about their self created plight. It’s their right to free healthcare, free food, subsidized housing, free utilities, higher minimum wages, and a comfortable government subsidized retirement. They are wrong. They had a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It was up to them to educate themselves, get a job, work hard, and accumulate savings.

The generations of live for today, don’t worry about tomorrow Americans over the age of 45 have no one to blame but themselves. They bought those 4,500 sq foot McMansions with negative amortization 0% down mortgages. They had to keep up with the Jones-es by putting in granite counter-tops, stainless steel appliances, home theaters, Olympic sized swimming pools, and enormous decks. They have HDTVs in every room in their house and must have every premium cable channel, along with the NFL package. They upgrade their phones every time Apple rolls out a new and improved version. They pay landscapers to manicure their properties. They lease new BMWs every three years. They have taken exotic vacations on an annual basis. They haven’t packed a lunch for themselves since they were 16 years old. Eating out for lunch and dinner has been a staple of their existence for decades. That morning Starbucks coffee is a given. A new wardrobe of name brand stylish clothes for every season is a requirement because your neighbors and co-workers are constantly judging you. Nothing proves you’re a success like a Rolex watch, Canali suit, Versace boots, or Gucci handbag. The have it now generations got it then and have virtually nothing now because they acquired all of these things with debt.

Real cumulative household income is up 10% since 1980. Consumer debt outstanding has risen from $350 billion in 1980 to $3.267 trillion today. That is a 933% increase. We’ve had decades of faux prosperity aided and abetted by Wall Street shysters, corrupt politicians, mega-corporation mass merchandisers, and Madison Avenue maggots trained in the methods of Edward Bernays to convince willfully ignorant consumers to consume. And consume we did. Saving, not so much. You can blame the oligarchs, bankers, retailers, and politicians for the fact you didn’t save, but it rings hollow. No matter how much propaganda is spewed by the ruling class, we are still individuals with free will. The older generations had choices. Saving money requires only one thing – spending less than you make. Most Boomers and Xers chose to spend more than they made and financed the difference. When the average credit card balance is five times greater than the median retirement account balance, you’ve got a problem. The facts about our consumer empire of debt are unequivocal as can be seen in these statistics:

  • Average credit card debt: $15,593
  • Average mortgage debt: $153,184
  • Average student loan debt: $32,511
  • $11.62 trillion in total debt
  • $880.3 billion in credit card debt
  • $8.05 trillion in mortgages
  • $1.12 trillion in student loans

I don’t blame those in their 20’s and 30’s for not having retirement savings. Anyone who entered the workforce around the year 2000 has good reason to not trust the system or their elders. There have been two stock market collapses and every asset class is now extremely overvalued due to the criminal machinations of the Federal Reserve. There are far less good paying jobs. Real wages keep declining. They were convinced by their elders to load up on student loan debt, leaving them as debt serfs. The Wall Street/Federal Reserve scheme to boost home prices and repair their insolvent balance sheets has successfully kept young people from ever being able to afford a home. So you have young people unable to save, invest or spend. You have middle aged and older Americans with little or no savings, mountains of debt, low paying service jobs, and an inability to spend. The only people left with resources are the .1% who have captured the system, peddle the debt, and reap the rewards of consumption versus saving. They may be able to engineer a stock market rally to further enrich themselves, but they can not propel the real economy of 318 million people. Our consumer society is dying – asphyxiated by debt – shorter of breath and one day closer to death.

I’d love to offer some sage advice on how to fix this problem, but it’s too late. Too many people missed the starting gun. More than ten years got behind them. No one is going to come to the rescue of people who never saved for their future. The Federal government has already made $200 trillion of entitlement promises it can’t keep. State governments have made tens of trillions in pension promises they can’t keep. They can’t tax young people who don’t have jobs. Older generations who think the government is going to rescue them from their foolish shortsighted choices are badly mistaken. Their benefits are likely to be reduced because the unsustainable will not be sustained. The 45 to 64 year old cohort who chose not to save can run and run to try and catch up with the sun, but it’s too late. It’s sinking. Their plans have come to naught. They are destined for lives of quiet desperation. There is nothing more to say.

So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again.
The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older,
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.

Every year is getting shorter; never seem to find the time.
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way
The time is gone, the song is over,
Thought I’d something more to say.

Pink Floyd – Time

MY FATE

15 comments

Posted on 14th November 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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I thought my 90 minute commute into work was bad yesterday. My 2 hour and 10 minute commute home made me appreciate the commute in. I spent 3 hours and 40 minutes traveling 60 miles. It’s days like yesterday that slowly but surely kill me. Only 10 or so years until retirement. Robmu1 and I always joke about retirement and how death will follow shortly thereafter. He sent me this Dilbert today.

The Official Dilbert Website featuring Scott Adams Dilbert strips, animations and more

RETIRING AT 30

23 comments

Posted on 17th January 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

How to retire early — 35 years early

Blogger who retired at 30 says it’s time to rethink spending


By Andrea Coombes

For many Americans, the idea of an early retirement is pure fantasy — many surveys suggest that a good portion of us are convinced we’ll never be able to retire at all. But what if retirement saving isn’t quite as insurmountable an obstacle as you think?

The idea that retirement — even early retirement — is within anyone’s grasp is a big part of the appeal of a popular personal-finance blog called “Mr. Money Mustache,” written by a 39-year-old man named Pete, who lives with his wife and 8-year-old son in Longmont, Colo. (The blog recently had 417,000 monthly unique visitors, and has had a total of 4 million unique visitors since it launched in April 2011.)

Pete, who prefers not to divulge his last name to protect his family’s privacy, retired when he was just 30. His wife retired with him and for the past nine years, they’ve been stay-at-home parents. Their investment income supports their lifestyle, but they also work when they want, on their own terms.

One secret to their success? They live on very little: About $25,000 a year for a family of three. They own a car, but mostly bike. Dining out is an occasional luxury. And shopping for stuff? That’s best avoided. But their philosophy goes beyond just scrimping, says Mr. Money Mustache. It’s about enjoying life with less.

MarketWatch asked Mr. Money Mustache about his philosophy on spending, how he retired early, and his take on retirement planning. Our Q&A is below. And, if you’re wondering about the name?

“Mr. Money Mustache is meant to be a bit of a character — a financial superhero,” Pete said. “He’s me, but a slightly bossier and more opinionated version of me. I find that people gladly obey the commandments of Mr. Money Mustache, even while they would scoff if plain old Pete, the former software engineer, stepped up and started giving them advice.”

How old were you when you decided to try to retire early, and how long did it take you to get to the point where you could retire?

It was a gradual process. I brought some frugal instincts along with me from childhood so I always tended to save a bit of money rather than spending it all. My wife has been a pretty reasonable spender since the time we met as well. So I graduated from college in 1997, we eventually moved in together, and after several years of full-time work, some cash was starting to build up in our investment accounts and we wondered if there was something useful we could do with it.

Sometime around 2002, we decided we wanted to be parents eventually, and that it would be great if we could retire from our relatively demanding careers in the tech industry before any babies came along. This really increased our motivation to spend less and invest more, and we cranked things up. At the end of 2005, our savings were sufficient to generate passive income that we could theoretically live off forever, so we quit the regular jobs and have been winging it ever since. And we now have an amazing 8-year-old-boy.

How did you decide how much money was enough to retire?

Based on a long-lasting hobby of reading books on stock investing, I realized that you can generally count on your nest egg to deliver a 4% return over most of a lifetime, with a good chance of it never running out. In other words, you need about 25 times your annual spending to retire. So we tracked our spending and our net worth, and when we hit the magic number, we declared ourselves “retired.”

(For more on Mr. Money Mustache’s take on the 4% rule here, read this blog post.)

Did you have a written retirement plan in place early on, or more of a ballpark figure you were trying to save up?

We did most of the saving before we knew all that much about early retirement. But once the picture became a bit clearer, we had a clearer goal. For the last few years, the mantra was “$600,000 in investments, plus a paid-off house.” This is enough to generate $24,000 of spending money, which goes quite far if you have no rent or mortgage to pay.

How important is it for people to have a written retirement plan, in your opinion?

It doesn’t matter to me if it’s written, verbal, or mental. But I do encourage people to open their minds to how real and possible an early retirement can be. It isn’t a vague, fluffy concept like, “someday,” “never” or “when I’m 65.” Retirement (or financial independence) simply means that you have your living expenses covered by nonwork income. In the worst case, this requires 25 to 30 times your annual spending, socked away into investments. If you’re eligible for a pension or Social Security, it’s even easier.

For more on how Mr. Money Mustache invests (hint: he’s a fan of low-cost, broad-based stock index funds), read this blog post.

Do you work with a financial planner or manage your finances on your own?

I have always enjoyed managing my own finances. On the blog, I maintain a good-natured battle with the financial planning industry in general, because they focus too much on retiring at a very old age with many millions in savings — just so you can continue to spend $100,000 a year until you die. It is much more efficient to get a handle on your materialism and spending so you can live more happily on a fraction of that amount, which can shave 20 years or more from the time you need to keep commuting in to that office.

How crucial is it, in your opinion, for people to have a monthly or annual spending plan or budget?

This really depends on your personality type. I’ve never had a spending plan or a budget at any point in my own life. Instead, it was a simple set of values to apply just before I make any purchase or commit to any expense: “Is this the best possible use for this chunk of money, if my goal is creating lifelong happiness for myself?”

Since I valued freedom and financial strength, this automatically ruled out quite a few purchases. For example, as a young man I was a major car enthusiast. But I didn’t run out to borrow money to buy an Acura NSX, because I valued having that money for other things more than I valued a fancy car. Nowadays I can finally afford a car like that without even borrowing, but I am happy to discover that the desire has disappeared.

See this Mr. Money Mustache article for details on the family’s spending in 2013

Some people might think so much cost-cutting is akin to living like Scrooge and not having any fun. How would you respond to that?

If you tell yourself that is how it will be, then you will create your own truth and life will not be fun. But if you understand the fundamentals of what it means to be a happy person, you realize that buying more stuff for yourself has no relationship at all to how happy you are. These fundamentals include things like close relationships with other people, health, rewarding work, a chance to be creative and help others.

Work on those things and you’ll start living a much better life immediately, and soon wonder where the odd compulsion to own a yacht with a submarine came from in your old self.

Surveys suggest there are a lot of people out there who are worried about retiring, who don’t have enough money saved, who feel like they may never retire. Can you offer people in that situation any words of advice in terms of how to turn their situation around?

The quickest way to turn things around is to realize that you are in much more control than you realize. The time to reach retirement depends on only one thing: your savings rate as a percentage of your take-home pay. And this depends entirely on how much you spend. So the moment you can learn to live a less expensive life, suddenly the clouds clear up and the financial picture brightens considerably.

Read Mr. Money Mustache’s 5 most important strategies for planning an early retirement.

What would you say to someone in his 50s or 60s who maybe doesn’t have any credit-card debt, but is paying a mortgage and has about $100,000 saved for retirement? Is there any scenario where that person would be able to retire in, say, his early 60s?

That’s not a great starting point, but the turnaround can be incredibly fast once you realize where your money has been leaking out, and change your life so that you can save much more of your income. Ten to 15 years is plenty of time for most people to go from zero to financial independence, so with a $100,000 head start and the kids all out of the house, this 55-year-old might be in a good place. Adding in Social Security income, the time to retirement would be even faster.

Do you think that the rule of thumb of needing about 85% of pre-retirement income in retirement is accurate, useful, dangerous, innocuous?

This is a good guideline for people who currently spend almost everything they earn, and plan to continue that habit in retirement. But for the rest of us, it is ridiculous!

A much more useful idea is to separate the idea of income from that of spending. Your income is determined by what you do for a living. But your spending should be decided based on your needs — the things and experiences that truly make you happy. As an example, my family’s needs and wants have always ended up adding to about $25,000 a year. So that’s how much we spent, whether we were making $25,000 or $200,000.

So as soon as our retirement income safely exceeded $25,000 a year, we were financially independent and we decided to retire.

I hate to get morbid, but the idea of how long one is going to live is sort of a crucial piece to a retirement plan. How are you handling this impossible-to-answer-yet-essential question? Are annuities and/or long-term-care insurance part of your long-term financial plan?

If you plan your retirement right, your expected longevity might actually have nothing to do with your planning. This is because the amount of money required to fund a 30-year retirement is almost identical to the amount to fund a person forever — an odd behavior of the equation for amortization of a large sum of money.

I’m not into annuities or any type of insurance myself, although those products do have value for some. Both of those ideas are based on statistics and probabilities, and when you do the math you can actually be safer handling things yourself. With a big enough collection of income-producing assets (stocks, rental property, etc.), your savings will easily outlive you, and probably be much larger by the time you die. This big chunk of savings also allows you to pay for unexpected expenses without rocking the boat too much — you have many years to adjust if you do hit a bump that forces you to deplete part of it for something like a medical expense.

You have said in the past that it’s important to “make your dollars work for you.” Does that mean the idea of an emergency savings account at the bank is overrated? Should people be investing more of their savings in the financial markets, via a taxable account, rather than using bank accounts?

Yeah, I’ve always questioned the idea of an emergency fund. It’s a great tool for the financial beginner who lives from paycheck to paycheck, and for whom a broken water heater would make the difference between making ends meet and borrowing via a credit card. But once you get off the ground, your credit card is a monthly buffer and your investment accounts are the emergency fund.

So I have no savings account at all, and keep just a few thousand dollars in the checking account. If a huge unexpected expense ever came up that was greater than my income, I would put it on the credit card along with all other monthly spending. Then just sell some shares of an index fund and transfer that back to the bank before the credit-card automatic payment happened at the end of the month. And I’ve still never had to run a credit-card balance in my life.

The great part is that if your spending is much lower than your income, these emergencies become very rare, because there is always a surplus which you have to sweep away into investments each month. So if the water heater dies, you buy a new one and just invest a little bit less that month.

To what degree would you say rental income was key to your ability to retire early?

A small degree — I haven’t had the most brilliant landlord career so far, so my results have been only average. But rental properties chosen wisely can return much more than stocks, which could really speed up a savvy person’s retirement program. In my own case, I probably saved only about one year of work by using rental houses along with stocks.

Would you say it’s better to use extra savings to pay down one’s mortgage, or to invest in the financial markets?

For people in a high tax bracket, 401(k) plans in low-fee index funds win this battle pretty easily, especially if there is an employer match. For investment in taxable non-retirement accounts, it all depends on the interest rate (and if you’re pretty well-versed in investing, the stock market’s valuation or P/E 10 ratio).

Right now, with stocks expensive and interest rates very low, it’s probably a somewhat uninspiring tie in my opinion and you could do either. But if mortgage interest rates were 6% or more, I’d start getting more excited about paying off a house.

For people with other debts, like student loans, car loans, or credit-card debt at higher rates, I’d prioritize debt payoff even more.

It sounds as though a lot of your success has to do with cutting costs. But I know that some of my readers are really tired of hearing the “cut out the lattes” idea. What would you say to those readers?

For most people, cutting costs is by far the most powerful way to increase wealth. This is because it is easy to burn off almost any amount of money — just ask the 78% of NFL players that have financial problems shortly after turning off the cash fire hose of a pro-sports career. It is also possible to cut almost any budget in half, leaving the happy latte-cutter saving 50% or more of her income.

But the key to making this work is not cutting out treats — it’s eliminating your desire for those treats in the first place. Driving my 2005 Scion hatchback would be a chore if I had a desire for a 2014 BMW. But since this little Scion is more than enough car for all of my wants (and I usually ride a bike anyway), I am actually winning and living a happier life even while saving $20,000 a year in depreciation and other costs. The handy part of all this is that anyone can eliminate the desire for any of the expensive luxuries currently dominating most of our spending.

Do you have any sorts of items you love to buy and won’t give up?

That’s a tricky question, because our lifestyle does include quite a few luxuries that are fun to have around. I enjoy nice coffee at breakfast and wine many nights at dinner, and the food we eat is very high-end these days. And we live in a pretty fancy house full of nice stuff and take a lot of trips. While I enjoy all of these things, I also make fun of myself for living such a decadent lifestyle, as a reminder that none of these things are essential components of happiness. I would give them up in a heartbeat if we couldn’t afford them — for example if we were in debt or if they compromised our ability to live a free life. But since life is an adventure and there is no need to seek perfection, we dabble in all of the normal treats of American life.

You write a lot about doing things oneself — including being your own handyman. What would you say to people who feel they aren’t good at fixing things and aren’t confident enough to work on their own homes? Is home maintenance going to be a budget killer for them?

You get better at what you do. I think that every homeowner, with possible exceptions for very busy CEOs and rock stars, should be able to take care of a house and can easily learn how to do it. Outsourcing these basic chores is expensive and fussy — it often takes more time to find and supervise a contractor than it takes to do the job yourself.

The key is starting with the assumption that everything is easy, because it is. Then you just grab a book from the library and watch a few YouTube videos on the topic, and dive in. You can also attend the free workshops at Home Depot and ask for help from the handy people within your network of friends. People generally love to help others, and I spend a lot of my own free time giving free home-renovation advice and help to my own friends when they ask for it.

When it comes to spending, what about travel to foreign lands? A no-no because of the steep expense?

Travel can be as expensive or as inexpensive as you choose to make it. We do quite a bit of it these days, spending every summer in Canada and a good part of last winter in Hawaii, with other trips to quite a few other countries in recent years as well. But if you live like a local once you get there, going for the slow and authentic experience rather than flashy hotels and bungee jumping every day, it costs a lot less. One of my favorite trips was a winter driving trip from Colorado down to the Gulf Coast, where we brought along a tent and a kayak and hung out on as many beaches and waterways as we could find in the tropical belt of Texas for a month.

Why did you start your blog?

It was a 50/50 mix of inspiration and exasperation. My wife and I retired from real work at the end of 2005, but all of our friends and peers kept working around us. As their careers blossomed and earnings grew, I kept hearing these complaints about money being tight and retirement being an impossibility. But looking at their lifestyles, I could see exactly where the money was leaking out unproductively — even while they seemed to be missing it. So I decided to start the blog and share the ideas with the world, rather than annoying friends with unrequested financial advice.

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/how-to-retire-early-35-years-early-2014-01-17

THE FRAUD & THEFT WILL CONTINUE UNTIL MORALE IMPROVES

61 comments

Posted on 7th May 2012 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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The BEA reported the latest figures for personal income, personal consumption expenditures and the savings rate last week. The government mouthpieces in the mainstream media obediently reported that personal income and expenditures reached an all-time high in March. The chart below shows the ever increasing level of expenditures by consumers since this supposed economic recovery began in the 4th quarter of 2009. All good Keynesian economists know that consumer spending is always good for America, no matter how it is achieved. We must be in a recovery if income and spending are reaching new highs, right? That is the fraudulent storyline being propagandized to the non-questioning lapdog public. A false storyline and data that has been massaged harder than a Secret Service agent by a Columbian hooker will not lead to a happy ending. Some critical thinking, a calculator, and some common sense reveal the depth of the fraud and expose the theft being committed by the avaricious governing elite at the expense of the prudent working middle class.

 

Digging into the data on the BEA website to arrive at my own conclusions, not those spoon fed to a willfully ignorant public by CNBC and the rest of the fawning Wall Street worshipping corporate media, is quite revealing. It divulges the extent to which Ben Bernanke and the politicians in Washington DC have gone to paint the U.S. economy with the appearance of recovery while wrecking the lives of senior citizens and judicious savers. Only a banker would bask in the glory of absconding with hundreds of billions from senior citizen savers and handing it over to criminal bankers. Only a government bureaucrat would classify trillions in entitlement transfers siphoned from the paychecks of the 58.4% of working age Americans with a job or borrowed from foreigner countries as personal income to the non-producing recipients. How can taking money from one person or borrowing it from future generations and dispensing it to another person be considered personal income? Only in the Delusional States of America.

If you really want to understand what has happened in this country over the last forty years, you need to analyze the data across the decades. This uncovers the trends over time that has led us to this sorry state of affairs. The chart below details the major components of personal income over time as a percentage of total personal income. It tells the story of a nation in decline and on an unsustainable path that will ultimately result in a monetary collapse.  

               
 

1970

1980

1990

2000

Apr-08

2010

Mar-12

Total Personal Income

100.0%

100.0%

100.0%

100.0%

100.0%

100.0%

100.0%

Wages & Salaries

66.1%

60.2%

56.7%

56.2%

52.7%

51.9%

51.8%

Interest Income

8.3%

12.1%

15.5%

11.6%

11.2%

8.2%

7.4%

Dividend Income

2.9%

2.9%

3.5%

4.5%

6.5%

5.8%

6.2%

Government transfers

8.5%

11.3%

11.7%

12.2%

14.3%

17.9%

17.3%

It is always fascinating to compare data from 1970, prior to Nixon closing the gold window and allowing bankers and politicians to print and spend to their hearts delight, to present day. The chart above paints a picture of a nation of workers and savers descending into a nation of parasites and spenders. Any rational person knows that income comes from one of two methods: working or investing. A country can only grow by working, saving, investing and living within its means.  Money taken from workers and investors and transferred to the non-working and spenders is NOT INCOME. It is just redistribution from producers to non-producers. The key takeaways from the chart are:

  • Working at a job generated two-thirds of personal income in 1970 and barely half today. This explains why only half of Americans pay Federal taxes.
  • One might wonder how we could be in the third year of a supposed economic recovery and wages and salaries as a percentage of total personal income is lower than pre-crisis and still falling.  
  • Government transfers have doubled as a proportion of “income” in the last forty years. The increase since 2000 has been accelerating, up 122% in 12 years versus the 55% increase in GDP.  The slight drop since 2010 is the result of millions falling off the 99 week unemployment rolls.
  • Luckily it is increasingly easy to leave unemployment and go on the dole for life. The number of people being added to the SSDI program has surged by 2.2 million since mid-2010, an 8.5% increase to 28.2 million people. Applications are swelling with disabilities like muscle pain, obesity, migraine headaches, mental illness (43% of all claims) and depression. Our leaders have set such a good example of how to commit fraud on such a grand scale that everyone wants to get a piece of the action. It’s like hitting the jackpot, as 99% of those accepted into the SSDI program (costing $132 billion per year) never go back to work. I’ve got a nasty hangnail. I wonder if I qualify. I’d love to get one of those convenient handicapped parking spaces. Once I get into the SSDI program I would automatically qualify for food stamps, a “free” government iPhone, “free” government cable and a 7 year 0% Ally Financial (85% owned by Timmy Geithner) auto loan for a new Cadillac Escalade. The SSDI program is now projected to go broke in 2016. I wonder why?    

 

  • A nation that rewarded and encouraged savings in 1970 degenerated into a country that penalizes savers and encourages consumption. The government, mainstream media, and NYT liberal award winning Ivy League economists encourage borrowing and spending as the way to build a strong nation. Americans have been convinced that borrowing to appear successful is the same as saving and investing to actually achieve economic success.
  • Americans saved 7% to 12% of their income from 1960 through 1980. As Wall Street convinced delusional Boomers that stock and house appreciation would fund their luxurious retirements, savings plunged to below 0% in 2005. Why save when your house doubled in price every three years? Americans rationally began to save again in 2009 but Bernanke’s zero interest rate policy put an end to that silliness. Why save when you are being paid .15%? Buying Apple stock at $560 (can’t miss) and getting in on the Facebook IPO (PE ratio of 99) is a much better bet. The national savings rate of 3.8% is back to early 2008 levels. I wonder what happens next?

 

  • The proportional distribution between interest and dividends which had been in the 3 to 4 range for decades is now virtually 1 to 1, as Ben Bernanke has devastated the lives of millions of poor senior citizen savers while continuing to subsidize his wealthy stock investors buddies on Wall Street.

Now for the bad news. The Baby Boom generation has just begun to retire en masse. Government transfers will automatically accelerate over the next decade as Social Security and Medicare transfer payments balloon. Government transfer payments have already increased by 3,250% since 1970, while wages and salaries have increased by 1,250%. The non-existent inflation touted by Ben Bernanke accounts for 590% of this increase. We have passed a point of no return. As the number of Americans receiving a government EBT into their bank account grows by the day and the number of working Americans remains stagnant, the chances of a politician showing the courage to address our un-payable entitlement liabilities is near zero. Americans choose to deal with problems in a reactive manner rather than a proactive manner. Until the next inescapable crisis, the fraud and looting will continue until morale improves. 

 Billions of $

1970

1980

1990

2000

Apr-08

2010

Mar-12

Total Personal Income

$835

$2,257

$4,852

$8,548

$12,457

$12,361

$13,328

Wages & Salaries

$552

$1,358

$2,750

$4,800

$6,565

$6,413

$6,905

Interest Income

$69

$272

$753

$989

$1,397

$1,012

$984

Dividend Income

$24

$65

$169

$381

$810

$723

$821

Government transfers

$71

$256

$570

$1,041

$1,786

$2,217

$2,312

 

A Few Evil Men

“Every effort has been made by the Federal Reserve Board to conceal its powers, but the truth is the FED has usurped the government. It controls everything here (in Congress) and controls all our foreign relations. It makes and breaks governments at will… When the FED was passed, the people of the United States did not perceive that a world system was being set up here… A super-state controlled by international bankers, and international industrialists acting together to enslave the world for their own pleasure!” – Rep. Louis T. McFadden

  

The largest fraud and theft being committed in this country is being perpetrated by the Central Bank of the United States; its Wall Street owners; and the politicians beholden to these evil men. The fraud and theft is being committed through the insidious use of inflation and manipulation of interest rates. The biggest shame of our government run public education system is their inability or unwillingness to teach even the most basic of financial concepts to our children. It’s almost as if they don’t want the average person to understand the truth about inflation and how it has slowly and silently destroyed their livelihood while enriching the few who create it. Converting the chart above into inflation adjusted figures reveals a different picture than the one sold to the general public on a daily basis. Even using the government manipulated CPI figures from the BLS, the ravages of inflation are easy to recognize.

Billions of Real $

1970

1980

1990

2000

Apr-08

2010

Mar-12

Total Personal Income

$4,937

$6,261

$8,569

$11,374

$13,304

$13,007

$13,328

Wages & Salaries

$3,264

$3,767

$4,856

$6,387

$7,011

$6,748

$6,905

Interest Income

$408

$754

$1,330

$1,316

$1,492

$1,065

$984

Dividend Income

$142

$180

$298

$507

$865

$761

$821

Government transfers

$420

$710

$1,007

$1,385

$1,907

$2,333

$2,312

CPI

38.8

82.7

129.9

172.4

214.8

218

229.4

Total wages and salaries have risen by only 112% on an inflation adjusted basis over the last 42 years. This is with U.S. population growth from 203 million in 1970 to 313 million people today, a 54% increase. On a real per capita basis, wages and salaries rose from $16,079 in 1970 to $22,060 today, a mere 37% increase in 42 years. That is horrific and some perspective will reveal how bad it really is:

  • The average new home price in 1970 was $26,600. The average new home price today is $291,200. On an inflation adjusted basis, home prices have risen 85%.  
  • The average cost of a new car in 1970 was $3,900. The average price of a new car today is $30,748. On an inflation adjusted basis, car prices have risen 33%.
  • A gallon of gasoline cost 36 cents in 1970. A gallon of gas today costs $3.85. On an inflation adjusted basis, gas prices have risen 81%.
  • The average price of a loaf of bread in 1970 was 25 cents. The average price of a loaf of bread today is $2.60. On an inflation adjusted basis, a loaf of bread has risen 76%.

In most cases, the cost of things we need to live have risen at twice the rate of our income. This data is bad enough on its own, but it is actually far worse. The governing elite, led by Alan Greenspan, realized that accurately reporting inflation would reveal their scheme, so they have been committing fraud since the early 1980s by systematically under-reporting CPI as revealed by John Williams at www.shadowstats.com:

       

The truth is that real inflation has been running 5% higher than government reported propaganda over the last twenty years. This explains why families were forced to have both parents enter the workforce just to make ends meet, with the expected negative societal consequences clear to anyone with two eyes. The Federal Reserve created inflation also explains why Americans have increased their debt from $124 billion in 1970 to $2.522 trillion today, a 2000% increase. Wages and salaries only rose 1,250% over this same time frame. Living above your means for decades has implications.   

 

The country, its leaders, its banks and the American people should have come to their senses after the 2008-2009 melt-down. Politicians should have used the crisis to address our oncoming long-term fiscal train wreck, the recklessly guilty Wall Street banks should have been liquidated and their shareholders and bondholders wiped out, the bad debt rampant throughout the financial system should have been purged, and American consumers should have reduced their debt induced consumption while saving for an uncertain cloudy future. These actions would have been painful and would have induced a violent agonizing recession. It would be over now. We would be in the midst of a solid economic recovery built upon reality. Iceland told bankers to screw themselves in 2008. They accepted the consequences of their actions and experienced a brutal two year recession.

    

The debt was purged, banks forced to accept their losses, and the citizens learned a hard lesson. Amazingly, their economy is now growing strongly. This is the lesson. Wall Street is not Main Street. Saving Wall Street banks and wealthy investors did not save the economy. Stealing savings from little old ladies and funneling it to psychopathic bankers is not the way to save our economic system. It’s the way to save bankers who made world destroying bets while committing fraud on an epic scale, and lost.

Despite the assertion by the good doctor Krugman that there are very few Americans living on a fixed income being impacted by Bernanke’s zero interest rate policy, there are actually 40 million people over the age of 65 in this country that might disagree. There are another 60 million people between the ages of 50 and 64 years old rapidly approaching retirement age. We know 36 million people are receiving SS retirement benefits today. We know that 49 million people are already living below the poverty line, with 16% of those over 65 years old living in poverty. Do 0% interest rates benefit these people? Those over 50 years old are most risk averse, and they should be. Despite the propaganda touted by Wall Street shills and their CNBC mouthpieces, the fact is that the S&P 500 on an inflation adjusted basis is at the same level it was in 1996. Stock investors have gotten a 0% return for the last 16 years. The market is currently priced to deliver inflation adjusted returns of 2% over the next ten years, with the high likelihood of a large drop within the next year.

Ben Bernanke’s plan, fully supported by Tim Geithner, Barack Obama and virtually all corrupt politicians in Washington DC, is to force senior citizens and prudent savers into the stock market by manipulating interest rates and offering them no return on their savings. A fixed income senior citizen living off their meager $15,000 per year of Social Security and the $100,000 they’ve saved over their lifetimes was able to earn a risk free 5% in a money market fund in 2007, generating $5,000 or 25% of their annual living income. Today Ben is allowing them to earn $150 per year. From the BEA info in the chart above you can see that Ben’s ZIRP has stolen $400 billion of interest income from senior citizens and prudent savers and dropped it from helicopters on Wall Street. This might explain why old geezers are pouring back into the workforce at a record pace. Maybe Dr. Krugman has an alternative theory.

          

Another doctor, with a penchant for telling the truth, described in no uncertain terms the depth of the fraud and theft being perpetrated on the American people (aka Muppets) by Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve, their masters on Wall Street, and the puppets in Washington DC:

“We are not doing very well. The economy is just coming along at a snail’s pace. The first quarter numbers that we just got last week were not very good at all. The GDP number was 2.2%. That was a disappointment, but you know, it was all automobiles. 1.6 out of the 2.2 was motor vehicle production. So, people were catching up after not being able to buy them the year before. So, this is a very weak economy… I think the real danger is that this is a bubble in the stock market created by low long-term interest rates that the Fed has engineered. The danger is, like all bubbles, it bursts at some point. Remember, Ben Bernanke told us in the summer of 2010 that he was going to do QE2 and then ultimately they did Operation Twist. The purpose of that was to make long-term bonds less attractive so that investors would buy into the stock market. That would raise wealth and higher wealth would lead to more consumption. It helped in the fourth quarter of 2010 and maybe that is what is helping to drive consumption during the first quarter of this year. But the danger is you get a market that is not with the reality of what is happening in the economy, which is, as I said a moment ago, is really not very good at all.” – Martin Feldstein

The entire bogus recovery is again being driven by subprime auto loans being doled out by Ally Financial (85% owned by the U.S. government) and the other criminal Wall Street banks. The Federal Reserve and our government leaders will continue to steer the country on the same course of encouraging rampant speculation, deterring savings and investment, rewarding outrageous criminal behavior, purposefully generating inflation, and lying to the average American. It will work until we reach a tipping point. Dr. Krugman thinks another $4 trillion of debt and a debt to GDP ratio of 130% should get our economy back on track. When this charade is revealed to be the greatest fraud and theft in the history of mankind, Ben and Paul better have a backup plan, because there are going to be a few angry men looking for them.

Henry Ford knew what would happen if the people ever became educated about the true nature of the Federal Reserve:

“It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.”  



 

INCOMPREHENSIBLE

101 comments

Posted on 28th April 2012 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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When I read stories like the one below and the information about how much people have saved for their retirement, I’m flabbergasted by the delusional, utterly ridiculous behavior of American consumers. We know for a FACT that 60% of all workers in the country have less than $25,000 of total savings. Many have absolutely nothing saved. Even better, over 25% of all 401k participants have borrowed against their 401k plan as of the end of 2010. This data is for people with jobs. How about the 88 million people who aren’t in the labor market? I wonder how much savings they have. In order to retire at 65 and live above the poverty line, people need to have saved at least a couple hundred thousand dollars. Those who retired in the 1980s and 1990s had equity in their homes, many had defined benefit pensions, and could rely on Social Security and their savings.

Today you have 55 year old people with $25,000 of liquid assets earning .15%, underwater homes, no pension plans, and $15,000 of credit card debt. They cannot afford to retire. They will stay in the labor market until the day they die. This is not good news for the Millenials.

What I find incomprehensible is that Americans ramped up their spending in the 1st quarter of 2012 and their savings rate in back at a four year low of 3.9%. With the data about retirement savings being so pitiful consumers SHOULD BE saving 10% of their disposable income like they did in the early 1980s. Going further into debt in order to enjoy going out to dinner two times per week is about the stupidest thing anyone could do. And our leaders, media and Ivy League trained economists actually encourage this delusional foolish behavior. Can this many Americans be this stupid? What are they thinking? Are they counting on the government to come to their rescue when they are 75 years old, broke, homeless, and begging?

I find myself shaking my head and talking to myself when I see this data and watch the behavior of the majority. We’re surely doomed.   

Delaying retirement: 80 is the new 65

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — A quarter of middle-class Americans are now so pessimistic about their savings that they are planning to delay retirement until they are at least 80 years old — two years longer than the average person is even expected to live.

It sounds depressing, but for many it’s a necessity. On average, Americans have only saved a mere 7% of the retirement nest egg they were hoping to build, according to Wells Fargo’s latest retirement survey that polled 1,500 middle-class Americans.

While respondents (whose ages ranged from 20 to 80) had median savings of only $25,000, their median retirement savings goal was $350,000. And 30% of people in their 60s — right around the traditional retirement age of 65 — that were surveyed had saved less than $25,000 for retirement.

As a result, many people aren’t in a hurry to quit their day jobs.

Three-fourths of middle-class Americans expect to work throughout retirement. And this includes the 25% of Americans who say they will “need to work until at least age 80″ before being able to retire comfortably.

The 2012 Retirement Confidence Survey: Job Insecurity, Debt Weigh on Retirement Confidence, Savings

March 2012 EBRI Issue Brief #369 Paperback, 36 pp. PDF, 1,585 kb Employee Benefit Research Institute,  2012

Download Issue Brief PDF

Executive Summary

  • Americans’ confidence in their ability to retire comfortably is stagnant at historically low levels. Just 14 percent are very confident they will have enough money to live comfortably in retirement (statistically equivalent to the low of 13 percent measured in 2011 and 2009).
  • Employment insecurity looms large: Forty-two percent identify job uncertainty as the most pressing financial issue facing most Americans today.
  • Worker confidence about having enough money to pay for medical expenses and long-term care expenses in retirement remains well below their confidence levels for paying basic expenses.
  • Many workers report they have virtually no savings and investments. In total, 60 percent of workers report that the total value of their household’s savings and investments, excluding the value of their primary home and any defined benefit plans, is less than $25,000.
  • Twenty-five percent of workers in the 2012 Retirement Confidence Survey say the age at which they expect to retire has changed in the past year. In 1991, 11 percent of workers said they expected to retire after age 65, and by 2012 that has grown to 37 percent.
  • Regardless of those retirement age expectations, and consistent with prior RCS findings, half of current retirees surveyed say they left the work force unexpectedly due to health problems, disability, or changes at their employer, such as downsizing or closure.
  • Those already in retirement tend to express higher levels of confidence than current workers about several key financial aspects of retirement.
  • Retirees report they are significantly more reliant on Social Security as a major source of their retirement income than current workers expect to be.
  • Although 56 percent of workers expect to receive benefits from a defined benefit plan in retirement, only 33 percent report that they and/or their spouse currently have such a benefit with a current or previous employer.
  • More than half of workers (56 percent) report they and/or their spouse have not tried to calculate how much money they will need to have saved by the time they retire so that they can live comfortably in retirement.
  • Only a minority of workers and retirees feel very comfortable using online technologies to perform various tasks related to financial management. Relatively few use mobile devices such as a smart phone or tablet to manage their finances, and just 10 percent say they are comfortable obtaining advice from financial professionals online.