And Now A Few Words On The Coming Pension Crisis That Will Screw Us All
Aug. 7, 2010
Sadly, I find myself with more than enough time to compose yet another Thoughts from the Frontline in an airport, as a flight booking error has me at JFK for six hours instead of fishing in Maine. Details for those interested or amused at the end.
But it does allow me to offer you a peek into a very sobering report on how badly underfunded public pension are. The situation is worse than you think. Then we will close with a eye-opening report on China from the gracious Simon Hunt, who is allowing me to reprint his latest missive in toto. You really want to read this one. And we start with this rumor from Reuters, just in. Read this and weep. It comes from James Pethokoukis.
Political Risk: An August Surprise from Obama?
“Main Street may be about to get its own gigantic bailout. Rumors are running wild from Washington to Wall Street that the Obama administration is about to order government-controlled lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to forgive a portion of the mortgage debt of millions of Americans who owe more than what their homes are worth. An estimated 15 million U.S. mortgages – one in five – are underwater with negative equity of some $800 billion. Recall that on Christmas Eve 2009, the Treasury Department waived a $400 billion limit on financial assistance to Fannie and Freddie, pledging unlimited help. The actual vehicle for the bailout could be the Bush-era Home Affordable Refinance Program, or HARP, a sister program to Obama’s loan-modification effort. HARP was just extended through June 30, 2011.
“The move, if it happens, would be a stunning political and economic bombshell, less than 100 days before a midterm election in which Democrats are currently expected to suffer massive, if not historic losses. The key date to watch is August 17, when the Treasury Department holds a much-hyped meeting on the future of Fannie and Freddie.”
Normally I blow this type of stuff off. But Pethokoukis is a serious journalist with a solid pedigree and a long list of inside contacts, which you can see at the link below.
I hope this is just a rumor. Seriously. You want to tax renters (about 35% of us) to help pay for mortgages for people who entered knowingly into a business transaction that sadly did not end well? I truly feel sorry for them. I have several very good (and responsible) friends who are in trouble, and I understand the issues. They just bought at the wrong time. But what about my investment in a start-up that failed? People who are behind on credit cards? If you bought a new car, you are underwater the moment you drive the car off the lot. Help for those? Where does it end? Hundreds of billions of debt that our children will have to pay? Say it ain’t so, Joe. You can read the whole blog if you have adult beverages or blood-pressure medicine nearby. http://blogs.reuters.com/james-pethokoukis/2010/08/05/an-august-surprise-from-obama/