Retirement

Robert Kiyosaki: 2002 Prediction Of Huge Stock Market Crash Next Year ‘Holding Course’

“‘Rich Dad’s Prophecy’- [Robert Kiyosaki’s] most recent book- predicts that the market will crash around 2016 when the oldest Baby Boomers start cashing out their 401(k) plans. Individuals whose savings are locked into 401(k) plans will suffer because these retirement plans, aren’t flexible and don’t do well in a bear market…”

-CNN.com, October 30, 2002

How many readers out there know who Robert Kiyosaki is? The American entrepreneur, educator, and investor was quite popular back in the early 2000s. I first encountered him while watching public television around that time, sharing financial and investment strategies taught to him by his rich “Dad” and found in his 2000 New York Times best-selling book Rich Dad Poor Dad. Kiyosaki went on to write a number of books, including Rich Dad’s Prophecy in 2002.

Last Tuesday, Robert Kiyosaki appeared on the Alex Jones Show. Kiyosaki talked about his new book, Second Chance, and other subjects, including a certain prediction made about the U.S. stock market next year. From their exchange:

JONES: The world is just crazy at this point. Give us your prognosis for the planet. There’s obviously opportunities for those of us that are studying it. I mean, I going to do better probably than ever as things get worse. But I’m not happy about that, because I know it’s hurting the average person.
KIYOSAKI: Amen. Alex, I would say exactly the same thing. It doesn’t make me happy that I’m getting richer and richer, and I see my friends getting poorer and poorer. I’m very concerned right now about my generation- the Baby Boom generation, the biggest generation in history. And they bought that program of put all your money in a 401(k) and invest for the long term. Now, I wrote a book called Rich Dad’s Prophecy back in 2002. That was 13 years ago. And I said the biggest stock market crash in the history of the world was coming in 2016. I was kind of guessing. But unfortunately, I didn’t write it to be right. I wrote it out of concern. If I’m correct that in 2002 what I said the biggest market crash was coming in 2016, that means millions and millions of Baby Boomers, their kids, their grandkids, will feel the effect of that when their retirement savings are wiped out. I hope I’m wrong. But so far, my numbers look accurate and it’s holding course right now. So I don’t write because I want to be rich or poke fun or want to be righteous. I am rather concerned about my fellow citizens.

“But so far, my numbers look accurate and it’s holding course right now.”

Disturbing. Kiyosaki added later on in the interview:

I’m just concerned about this possible- I hope it doesn’t happen- but if my “rich Dad” was correct, again, published in 2002 Rich Dad’s Prophecy predicted the biggest crash in the history of the world was coming in 2016. And that’s why I wrote Rich Dad Poor Dad, that’s why I speak, that’s why I write, that’s why I take on the media. But I’m very concerned for my [fellow] citizens. Look, Alex, what happens? Let’s say I’m right- hopefully I’m not. And millions of Baby Boomers lose their pensions, their homes, their jobs- they lose everything. What is the ripple effect throughout the world going to mean to that? We’ve never been here before. Never before has the U.S. dollar, one currency, been the reserve currency of the world- and we’re printing it. The Europeans are printing, Japanese are printing. And you’ve got to look at this and go, “This is not good.” So that’s my concern right now.


“Great Economic Collapse & Currency Meltdown Is Coming
Says Financier Robert Kiyosaki”
YouTube Video

So how is Robert Kiyosaki going to fend off the crisis he still sees coming? While taking phone calls from listeners, Kiyosaki revealed:

I like silver personally. I love gold. I have a lot of gold and silver.

Further insight was provided right before the holidays, when Eve Fisher of The Sydney Morning Herald reported:

“The world is in very serious trouble and the next 20 years will not be like the past two decades,” says Kiyosaki, who predicted the downfall of Lehman Brothers investment bank in 2008 and the ensuing GFC.

“I foresee a global currency crash, like the one that ruined Germany in the 1920s, which will wipe out the poor and the middle class – as the rich get richer.

“People will see that money and shares are not real wealth, just paper, and the way to survive is by acquiring assets – like property, resources, gold and other precious metals.”

Farmers will benefit as land and food become highly valued commodities, he says…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein)

Source:

Fisher, Eve. “Robert Kiyosaki says to prepare for the worst.” The Sydney Morning Herald. 10 Nov. 2014. (http://www.smh.com.au/business/robert-kiyosaki-says-to-prepare-for-the-worst-20141111-11jyhr.html). 21 Feb. 2015.

Robert Kiyosaki’s latest book…

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Robert Shiller: ‘Stocks In Europe Are MUCH Cheaper Than In The United States’

The last time I blogged about Yale economics professor Robert Shiller, he was saying that the bond market “doesn’t clearly fit my definition of a bubble.” Dr. Shiller knows a thing or two about bubbles, considering he spotted the U.S. housing bubble last decade and the dot-com bubble a few years earlier.

Last Thursday, Shiller was interviewed by Bertha Coombs on CNBC’s Futures Now TV show where he shared his thoughts about bonds again (“it’s definitely high”) and some advice for investors. From their exchange:

SHILLER: One of them is, don’t use your usual assumptions about returns going forward. So that means you might want to save more. A lot of people are not saving enough. And incidentally, people are living longer now and health care is improving- you might end up retired for 30 years. People are not really preparing for that. The other thing is, diversify. And that helps reduce risk. And you can diversify outside the United States. Stocks in Europe are much cheaper than in the United States. So some people never invest in Europe- I think that’s a mistake.
COOMBS: So you’d rather go to Europe rather than emerging markets…
SHILLER: Or emerging markets, yeah…


“Robert Shiller’s unconventional investment advice”
CNBC Video

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein)

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Chicago’s 2015 Budget Includes Tax And Fee Hikes

Gee, who could’ve anticipated new fee and tax hikes look to be in store for Chicago next year?

From Fran Spielman over on the Chicago Sun-Times website this morning:

[Chicago Mayor Rahm] Emanuel will campaign for re-election on a budget that raises $62.4 million through “targeted” tax hikes and closing “loopholes,” which amounts to the same thing.

People who live, work and play in Chicago will be paying more for everything from parking and vehicle leasing to cable television and stadium skyboxes…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

These individuals have been doing that for a number of years now. Hal Dardick pointed out over on the Chicago Tribune site:

As the Chicago City Council prepares to approve his latest budget Wednesday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel repeatedly has reminded voters that he didn’t raise city property taxes during his first four years in office.

But that doesn’t mean homeowners haven’t had to pay. Under Emanuel, vehicle stickers cost more. Cable TV and phone taxes went up. And water and sewer fees increased significantly…

Taken together, Emanuel’s hikes mean the typical Chicago family will pay about $481 more to the city next year than it did in 2011. That’s the equivalent of a typical Chicago homeowner paying 60 percent more in city property taxes, which are nearly $800 a year for city and library services on a $250,000 home…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Nearly $800 a year for city and library services on a $250,000 home”

In the Chicago neighborhood I recently moved out of, I’m not sure if any inhabitable houses at that price range with more than 2 bedrooms/1 bath even exists. So I’m guessing a number of my old neighbors- who already shoulder a significant tax burden for the city- will be somewhat pissed to hear of this “good news” coming out of City Hall.

That being said, it’s not exactly Chicago’s “financial reckoning day” we’re talking about here. But it’s probably not what Chicagoans want to deal with as the holiday season kicks-in.

As for the well-publicized pension crisis going on in the “Windy City,” Spielman added:

By December, 2015, the City Council must decide whether to raise property taxes — or find other new revenues — to fund a state-mandated, $550 million payment to shore up police and fire pension funds.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

So a property tax hike might also be coming down the pipeline.

One more thing. Regarding the ongoing manpower shortage in the Chicago Police Department? That doesn’t look like it’s going to be resolved in 2015. From the Sun-Times piece:

Once again, the mayor’s budget includes only enough money to keep pace with retirements. It also includes roughly $70 million in police overtime, down from $100.3 million in 2013 and a projected $95 million this year…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Crime is down!” Yeah, whatever.

As always, I’m glad to see Fran Spielman and Hal Dardick are on top of their game.

What does all this mean for Chicago residents/workers/visitors?

It’s probably wise to budget a good deal more money for anything city-related next year. Even more so in 2016 considering what could be in store with the city’s public pension mess and what Cook County is telegraphing these days (blogged about Monday).

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(UPDATE: The Chicago City Council approved Mayor Emanuel’s proposed 2015 city budget Wednesday by a vote of 46-4, and “puts off dealing with the city’s most vexing financial woes until after next year’s elections” according to the Tribune Thursday morning)

Sources:

Spielman, Fran. “Chicago City Council set to pass Emanuel’s $7.3 billion budget.” Chicago Sun-Times. 19 Nov. 2014. (http://politics.suntimes.com/article/chicago/chicago-city-council-set-pass-emanuels-73-billion-budget/wed-11192014-742am). 19 Nov. 2014.

Dardick, Hal. “Higher Emanuel fees and taxes add up.” Chicago Tribune. 19 Nov. 2014. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-emanuel-budget-2015-met-20141118-story.html#page=1). 19 Nov. 2014.

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Fixed? Illinois Public Pension Gap Surpasses $111 Billion

“The Illinois General Assembly barely passed legislation yesterday that’s been touted to ‘fix’ the state’s $100 billion public pension crisis.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, who has promised to sign SB0001, declared in a press release Tuesday:

Since I took the oath of office, I’ve pushed relentlessly for a comprehensive pension reform solution that would erase a $100 billion liability and restore fiscal stability to Illinois.

Today, we have won. The people of Illinois have won.

Not so fast, big guy…”

-Survival And Prosperity, December 4, 2013, post

I remember when Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed off on Illinois Senate Bill 1 (or 0001, take your pick) on December 5 of last year, talk about the State’s monstrous public pension funding gap practically disappeared overnight. But yesterday, Benjamin VanMetre of the Illinois Policy Institute- “an independent research and education organization generating public policy solutions aimed at promoting personal freedom and prosperity in Illinois”- dredged up that nightmare for Illinoisans over at their website. That “$100 billion liability” that was supposed to be “erased.” It’s now more than $111 billion. VanMetre wrote:

Illinois’ unfunded pension liability grew to more than $111 billion this year, according to official estimates. That’s a $48 billion increase just since 2009.

That $111 billion pension shortfall means the state now has only 39 cents of every dollar it should have in the bank today to pay for future benefits. In the private sector, these funds would be deemed bankrupt…

Illinois Senate Bill 1, which was touted to reduce the State’s annual pension payment by more than $1 billion, is currently facing a legal challenge. VanMetre added:

But as we wait for a decision, Illinois’ pension debt continues to grow. The state’s pension payment for the current budget year totals $6.9 billion, and without reform, that pension payment will balloon to $7.6 billion for the 2016 budget year; an increase of $681 million…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

So what’s the likelihood of the courts shooting down this new public pension law? As I wrote in that December 4, 2013, post:

This legislation is almost certainly headed to court, as in the Illinois Supreme Court. As I noted on December 1, a provision of the 1970 Illinois Constitution defines public pension benefits as “an enforceable contractual relationship” that “shall not be diminished or impaired.”

And even if it passes constitutional muster, consider what I also added in that post:

As I blogged yesterday, the Wall Street Journal recently picked apart the legislative “fix,” and concluded not only was it “fake” but:

Even under the most optimistic forecasts, these nips and tucks would only slim the state’s pension liability down to $80 billion- which is where it was after Governor Quinn signed de minimis fixes in spring 2010 to get him past that year’s election…

“$80 billion.”

Stay tuned…

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

VanMetre, Benjamin. “Illinois’ Pension Debt Balloons To $111 Billion.” Illinois Policy Institute. 17 Nov. 2014. (http://www.illinoispolicy.org/illinois-pension-debt-still-ballooning/). 18 Nov. 2014.

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85% Of Public Pension Funds To Fail In 30 Years?

Caught the following yesterday on the USA Today website regarding a looming national public pension crisis. Matt Krantz reported Wednesday:

Influential and well-regarded hedge fund Bridgewater Associates Wednesday warns public pensions are likely to achieve 4% returns on their assets, or worse. If Bridgewater is right, that means 85% of public pension funds will be going bankrupt in three decades

Public pensions have just $3 trillion in assets to invest to cover future retirement payments of $10 trillion over the next many decades, Bridgewater says. An investment return of roughly 9% a year is needed to meet those onerous obligations…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Westport, Connecticut-based Bridgewater was founded in 1975, and “manages approximately $150 billion in global investments for a wide array of institutional clients, including foreign governments and central banks, corporate and public pension funds, university endowments and charitable foundations,” according to their website.”

I don’t want to steal USA Today’s thunder here, so you can read the entire story on their website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Friday, April 11th, 2014 Bankruptcy, Entitlements, Retirement No Comments

State Of Illinois Deficit Grew By $49 Million Over Last Fiscal Year

The deficit for the State of Illinois is approaching $45 billion. And tucked inside a news release on Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka’s website yesterday was the following which showed the deficit widened over the last fiscal year. From “Topinka announces earliest state financial report release since 2006”:

The State of Illinois’ net position was reported as a deficit of $44.799 billion as of June 30, 2013. That represents a $49 million decrease in net position compared to the deficit of $44.750 billion at June 30, 2012. The State’s assets increased $3.762 billion from the prior year, offset by an increase in liabilities of $3.811 billion. The increases in liabilities resulted mainly from increases in the State’s net pension obligation of $1.720 billion and net other postemployment benefit obligations of $1.753 billion

You can read the entire news release on the State of Illinois Comptroller’s website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Moody’s Downgrades Chicago’s Credit Rating Again, Issues Negative Outlook

Just as I was about to blog about prepping tonight I observed the following splashed on the homepage of the Chicago Tribune website:

Chicago credit rating takes major hit

Chicago’s financial standing took a hit Tuesday when a major bond rating agency once again downgraded the city’s credit worthiness…

No surprise there, all things considered. No real effort has been made to tackle Chicago’s financial woes, which led to bond credit rating giant Moody’s Investor Service downgrading the City of Chicago’s general obligation (GO) and sales tax ratings to A3 from Aa3, water and sewer senior lien revenue ratings to A1 from Aa2, and water and sewer second lien revenue ratings to A2 from Aa3 back on July 17, 2013.

After seeing that headline, I decided to head over to Moody’s Investors Service website to check out the latest “Ratings News,” where the following was posted:

Rating Action: Moody’s downgrades Chicago, IL to Baa1 from A3, affecting $8.3 billion of GO and sales tax debt…

Also downgrades water and sewer senior lien revenue bonds to A2 from A1 and second lien revenue bonds to A3 from A2, affecting $3.3 billion of debt; outlook negative for all ratings…

According to Moody’s, “Obligations rated Baa are judged to be medium-grade and subject to moderate credit risk and as such may possess certain speculative characteristics.”

Their Global Credit Research unit added:

The Baa1 rating on Chicago’s GO debt reflects the city’s massive and growing unfunded pension liabilities, which threaten the city’s fiscal solvency absent major revenue and other budgetary adjustments adopted in the near term and sustained for years to come. The size of Chicago’s unfunded pension liabilities makes it an extreme outlier, as indicated by the city’s fiscal 2012 adjusted net pension liability (ANPL) of 8.0 times operating revenue, which is the highest of any rated US local government. While the Illinois General Assembly’s recent passage of pension reforms for the State of Illinois (A3 negative) and the Chicago Park District (CPD) (A1 negative) suggests that reforms may soon be forthcoming for Chicago, we expect that any cost savings of such reforms will not alleviate the need for substantial new revenue and fiscal adjustments in order to meet the city’s long-deferred pension funding needs. We expect that the city’s pension contributions will continue to fall below those based on actuarial standards. The city’s slowly-amortizing debt levels are also large and growing. The Baa1 rating also incorporates credit strengths including Chicago’s large tax base that sits at the center of one of the nation’s most diverse regional economies and the city’s broad legal authority to raise revenue…

You can read the entire Moody’s piece about the downgrade on their website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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The Civic Federation Proposes Plan For Achieving Long-Term Fiscal Sustainability In Illinois

The last time I blogged about The Civic Federation, an independent, non-partisan government research organization that provides analysis and recommendations on government finance issues for the Chicago region and State of Illinois, was right before the holidays.

The Civic Federation is in the headlines again these days for proposing a five-year plan to balance the Illinois state budget, eliminate its huge bill backlog, and reduce income tax rates. From a March 3 press release:

In a report released today, the Civic Federation’s Institute for Illinois’ Fiscal Sustainability proposes a comprehensive plan for achieving long-term fiscal sustainability for the State of Illinois. The five-year plan would fully pay down the State’s $5.4 billion backlog of unpaid bills while gradually reducing income tax rates by 20%, broadening the tax base and building a reserve fund as protection against future economic downturns…

$5.4 billion? That’s a lot of bills.

One part of this financial rescue plan will likely raise the eyebrows of certain Illinois residents. From the press release:

3. Broaden Income Tax Base to Include Federally Taxable Amounts of Retirement Income: Out of the 41 states that impose an income tax, Illinois is one of only three that exempt all pension income and one of 27 that exclude all federally taxable Social Security income. The State should broaden its income tax base to create greater equity among taxpayers and facilitate the gradual rollback of the income tax rates. The broader base will also ensure greater long-term sustainability of the State’s resources by accessing a growing portion of the Illinois economy…

You can read the entire press release here, as well as find a link to The Civic Federation’s 50-page report State of Illinois FY2015 Budget Roadmap: State of Illinois Budget Overview, Projections and Recommendations for the Governor and the Illinois General Assembly.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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WSJ Calls Proposed ‘Fix’ To Illinois Public Pension Crisis ‘Fake’

Today’s the day Illinois lawmakers may vote on SB0001 to “fix” the state’s $100 billion public pension crisis.

But according to the Wall Street Journal last night, the whole thing’s a “fake.”

From the WSJ website Monday evening:

Illinois’s Fake Pension Fix

Democrats in Illinois have dug a $100 billion pension hole, and now they want Republicans to rescue them by voting for a plan that would merely delay the fiscal reckoning while helping to re-elect Governor Pat Quinn. The cuckolded GOP seems happy to oblige on this quarter-baked reform.

Legislative leaders plan to vote Tuesday on a bill that Mr. Quinn hails as a great achievement. But the plan merely tinkers around the edges to save a fanciful $155 billion over 30 years, shaves the state’s unfunded liability by at most 20%, and does nothing for Chicago’s $20 billion pension hole.

Most of the putative savings would come from trimming benefits for younger workers. The retirement age for current workers would increase on a graduated scale by four months for 45-year-olds to five years for those 30 and under. Teachers now in their 20s would have to wait until the ripe, old age of 60 to retire, but they’d still draw pensions worth 75% of their final salary.

Salaries for calculating pensions would also be capped at $109,971, which would increase over time with inflation. Yet Democrats cracked this ceiling by grandfathering in pensions for workers whose salaries currently top or will exceed the cap due to raises in collective-bargaining agreements.

Democrats are also offering defined-contribution plans as a sop to Republicans who are desperate to dress up this turkey of a deal. These plans would only be available to 5% of workers hired before 2011. Why only 5%? Because if too many workers opt out of the traditional pension, there might not be enough new workers to fund the overpromises Democrats have made to current pensioners.

At private companies, such 401(k)-style plans are private property that workers keep if they move to a new job. But the Illinois version gives the state control over the new defined-contribution plans and lets the legislature raid the individual accounts at anytime. That’s a scam, not a reform.

Even under the most optimistic forecasts, these nips and tucks would only slim the state’s pension liability down to $80 billion— which is where it was after Governor Quinn signed de minimis fixes in spring 2010 to get him past that year’s election…

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

“Would only slim the state’s pension liability down to $80 billion.”

Sounds like this legislation would only “kick the can down the road” as the public pension crisis is concerned- once again.

I shouldn’t be surprised to read any of this.

After all, it’s what Illinois state legislators have been doing for quite some time now on this issue.

At the end of the day- including today, if a pension “fix” is signed into law- it looks as if public sector retirees participating in these particular pensions are the ones who will be most screwed.

Illinois taxpayers won’t be far behind.

Consider what Kenneth Griffin, the richest Chicagoan and Illinoisan who’s also CEO of the global financial institution Citadel Group, had to say in a Chicago Tribune piece on November 29:

The bitter truth is that our politicians have sold government employees a fraudulent bill of goods. Absent extraordinary economic growth, our state is going to collapse under the weight of generous pension promises made by union leaders and politicians. And with each passing day, the $100 billion gap between what has been promised and what is provided for grows by roughly $5 million.

Here is where this story will inevitably end: Our state is going to be forced to break its promises to our government employees and retirees. They will receive less than they bargained for. Our state’s taxpayers will see the 67 percent “temporary” tax increase converted into a permanent tax increase. And soon we will hear that even further tax increases are needed to meet our obligations. This is the price we are all going to pay for sending the wrong leaders to Springfield for too many years.

I don’t think shaving $20 billion off that total will change Griffin’s prognosis much.

An $80 billion public pension funding gap.

Wonder if that will fake out the credit rating agencies?

Something tells me it won’t, and rewinding the clock only three-and-a-half years will still leave us with an ongoing public pension crisis.

The Wall Street Journal did a nice job picking apart the proposed “fix.” You can read the entire article on the WSJ website here or on the Illinois Policy Institute’s website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Griffin, Kenneth. “Guaranteeing financial ruin in Illinois.” Chicago Tribune. 29 Nov. 2013. (http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-11-29/site/ct-illinois-pension-reform-financia-ruin-1129-20131129_1_tax-increase-state-income-tax-bill). 3 Dec. 2013.

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Illinois Public Sector ‘Double-Dipping’ Targeted

“Double-dipping.” When public sector public employees draw a public paycheck while at the same time drawing a public pension.

Back when I as a civil servant, not only did I see this taking place, but suspected the arrangement would come under fire one of these days.

As Main Street’s finances eroded significantly after the economic crisis reared its ugly head five years ago, more grumbling was heard over the practice. I blogged back on April 4, 2011:

An employment arrangement I witnessed during my days as a civil servant is coming under increased fire these days. Bloomberg’s David Mildenberg wrote on March 29:

With U.S. unemployment averaging 8.9 percent, so-called double-dipping by tens of thousands of government workers nationwide is drawing increasing scrutiny.

Lawmakers from coast to coast are taking steps to curb the practice as states face combined deficits projected at $112 billion and unfunded pension liabilities of as much as $3 trillion.

Arkansas banned double-dipping by state workers last month, while bills to curb it are pending before lawmakers in Olympia, Washington, and Trenton, New Jersey.

And then there’s Illinois, where double-dipping is still permitted in a state saddled with a nearly $100 billion unfunded public pension liability.

Perhaps for not much longer though.

Enter Illinois State Representative Jack D. Franks (D-Woodstock). Representative Franks has introduced Illinois House Bill 3760, the “Retirement Means Retirement Act,” on November 14. Natasha Korecki reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website today:

[Representative Franks] says the legislation would address anyone — from state lawmakers to school superintendents to those in law enforcement who retire from one public job because they’ve maxed out on their pension, then take another public job as they begin to draw pension benefits.

Franks pointed to school superintendents and police chiefs who retire on a Friday only to return the following Monday with a new title, new salary — and drawing a pension— all while staying in the same office.

“I see a lot of people who retire and just end up in another government job shortly thereafter,” Franks told the Sun-Times. “That’s not what this system was designed for, but it’s a major loophole that they’re able to exploit… We’re going after the abusers — and we know who we’re talking about. Some of these guys make more than the president in retirement.”

Supporters of “double-dipping” argue that someone has to be hired to fill the job opening, so it might as well be the best qualified candidate applying for the position- which in many cases is the new retiree.

Reading over the proposed legislation, “double-dipping” looks to be prohibited only going forward. Illinois public sector retirees who are already participating in such an arrangement appear to be safe.

For now, at least.

You can find out more about Illinois House Bill 3670 on the Illinois General Assembly website here.

Source:

Korecki, Natasha. “Public pension and salary ‘double-dippers’ targeted in new bill.” Chicago Sun-Times. 19 Nov. 2013. (http://www.suntimes.com/23845706-761/public-pension-and-salary-double-dippers-targeted-in-new-bill.html). 19 Nov. 2013.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Report: Chicago Could Soon Require ‘Signficant Increase In The City’s Property Tax Levy, Crippling Cuts To City Services Or Both’

Fresh off publishing a report that found Chicago’s financial condition fared worse than many major U.S. cities from FY2007 to FY 2011 comes this from The Civic Federation, an independent, non-partisan government research organization that provides analysis and recommendations on government finance issues for the Chicago region and State of Illinois. From a press release eariler today:

In a report released today, the Civic Federation announced its support for the City of Chicago’s proposed $7.0 billion budget as a reasonable short-term plan that continues to reduce the City’s structural deficit. However, Chicago’s fiscal and economic stability continue to be jeopardized by the failure to fix the City’s broken pension system. The full 111-page analysis is available at www.civicfed.org.

“This budget should serve as an urgent reminder of the enormous price the City will pay if it is unable to stabilize its pension system,” said Laurence Msall, president of the Civic Federation. “Mayor Emanuel and his team have made significant fiscal progress in recent years, much of which will be derailed when the City’s unaffordable pension contribution increase takes effect next year.” The City faces a $590 million increase in its required pension contribution in FY2015, a rise so sharp it would require a significant increase in the City’s property tax levy, crippling cuts to City services or both

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

That massive jump in the City of Chicago’s required pension contribution should come as no surprise to regular Survival And Prosperity readers. It’s been something I’ve been warning about for a while now.

So what does The Civic Federation recommend to fix Chicago’s public pension crisis? From the new report, entitled “CITY OF CHICAGO FY2014 PROPOSED BUDGET: Analysis and Recommendations”:

Work with the State legislature to enact comprehensive pension reform specific for the City pension funds, including changing employer and employee contributions so that they relate to the funded status of the plans, reducing benefits for current employees and retirees, pursuing pension fund consolidation and reforming pension board governance

“Including changing employer and employee contributions so that they relate to the funded status of the plans, reducing benefits for current employees and retirees”

I’m guessing many City of Chicago employees and retirees won’t be to happy with these particular recommendations.

You can read the entire press release on The Civic Federation’s website here, and view the new report on the site here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Wednesday, November 13th, 2013 Entitlements, Fiscal Policy, Government, Retirement, Taxes No Comments

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Wants More Time To Fix Chicago’s Public Pension Crisis

“Corporations are moving in, and housing prices are looking better across the region. There has been a slight uptick in population. But a crushing problem lurks beneath the signs of economic recovery in Chicago: one of the most poorly funded pension systems among the nation’s major cities. Its plight threatens to upend the finances of President Obama’s hometown, now run by his former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel.

The pension fund for retired Chicago teachers stands at risk of collapse. The city’s four funds for other retired city workers are short by $19.5 billion. At least one of the funds is in peril of running out of money in less than a decade. And starting in 2015, the city will be required by the state to make far larger contributions to the funds, which could leave it hundreds of millions of dollars in the red — as much as it would cost to pay 4,300 police officers to patrol the streets for a year.”

-Monica Davey and Mary Williams Walsh, The New York Times, August 5, 2013

Yesterday I blogged about the Illinois public pension crisis. Today, it’s Chicago.

Hal Dardick and Rick Pearson reported on the Chicago Tribune website late last night:

Faced with the prospect of a major tax hike or severe service cuts just as he stands for re-election a year from now, Mayor Rahm Emanuel told the Tribune Wednesday that his formula for fixing the financially out-of-whack government worker pension system requires “reform, revenue and time.”

Dardick and Pearson noted that Chicago’s mayor didn’t offer any specifics about his formula, and just had this to say:

“I believe, push this back, allow us the time, the foresight, to work through the issues,” Emanuel said. The state requirements have “got everybody focused. Now, (the unions should) come to the table and work with us, push the time out,” he said.

Sounds to me that Mayor Emanuel is trying to “kick the can down the road” on the city’s public pension crisis- something his predecessors did and which got the City of Chicago into trouble in the first place.

I can understand why Emanuel is looking for time. As things stand right now, Chicago’s “financial reckoning day” looks to be fast approaching. I blogged backed on August 5:

The “Windy City” faces a number of financial hurdles in the coming years:

• A projected budget gap of $339 million next year
• Growing projected deficits of $994.7 million in 2015 and $1.15 billion in 2016, according to the city’s annual financial analysis released last Wednesday (blogged about here)
• A total long-term debt of nearly $29 billion, or $10,780 for every one of the city’s nearly 2.69 million residents (blogged about here)
• A pension crisis with the Chicago Public Schools, which Davey and Williams Walsh note draws from the same tax base and where an extra $338 million must be found in 2014

It’s one thing to stall and “pass the buck” onto a future administration. It’s another to be granted more time and actually work to resolve this pension problem (if it can even done at this point).

If the State of Illinois “concedes” on the funding requirement, I would hope Rahm Emanuel is in that second camp. Although, plenty of other observers would count him in the first one.

Stay tuned…

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Dardick, Hal and Pearson, Rick. “Emanuel trying to buy time as city’s pension crisis escalates.” Chicago Tribune. 25 Sep. 2013. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-chicago-budget-reckoning-promo-20130925,0,6194998.story). 26 Sep. 2013.

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Moody’s Cuts Cook County Bond Rating, Outlook Negative

In the wake of significantly downgrading the City of Chicago’s credit rating, bond credit rating giant Moody’s Investor Service lowered Cook County’s bond rating a notch last Friday. In a news release from the Moody’s website right before the weekend:

New York, August 16, 2013 — Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded the rating on Cook County’s (IL) general obligation (GO) debt to A1 from Aa3, affecting $3.7 billion of general obligation debt. The outlook remains negative.

SUMMARY RATING RATIONALE

The downgrade of the GO rating reflects Cook County’s growing pension liabilities due to, in part, a statutory funding requirement that is not tied to the health of the County Employees’ and Officers’ Annuity and Benefit Fund of Cook County (the Fund), resulting in a growing disparity between the fund’s actuarially required contribution (ARC) and its actual employee and employer contributions. Additionally, approximately 50% of the county’s tax base includes the city of Chicago (GO rated A3/negative outlook), resulting in a significant overlapping long-term liability burden. These considerations are balanced by the county’s key credit strengths, including a large tax base that comprises the second most populous county in the nation, inclusive of numerous communities with strong demographic profiles; broad revenue raising flexibility inherent in the county’s home rule status; recent stabilization of financial operations across multiple funds; and a strong management team that continues to implement best practices across all lines of county business. Additionally, the A1 rating reflects the county’s demonstrated willingness to pursue pension reform.

The negative outlook reflects the formidable hurdles facing the county in its quest to pursue meaningful pension reform. Changes to the Fund, including employer contributions and benefits received by plan participants, must be enacted at the State of Illinois (GO rated A3/negative outlook) level. The General Assembly’s legislative paralysis to date with respect to enacting its own pension reforms may further delay the county’s attempt to present a reform package, despite having a significantly developed plan. Further, strong constitutional protections for pension benefits may result in a legal challenge that could further delay the implementation of reforms.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

According to Moody’s, Cook County now has “above-average creditworthiness relative to other US municipal or tax-exempt issuers or issues” as compared to “very strong creditworthiness” prior to the downgrade.

You can read the entire Moody’s news release on their website here.

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Tuesday, August 20th, 2013 Bonds, Borrowing, Entitlements, Government, Retirement No Comments

Chicagoans: Should They Stay Or Should They Go?

These days, there are times living out here in the northwest suburbs of Chicago that I feel like Henry Hill (played by actor Ray Liotta) at the end of the 1990 film Goodfellas.

No, not that part about Henry living the rest of his life as a “schnook.”

Rather, where previously I could step out my door adjacent to a major city artery and things were generally hopping, this suburban subdivision I now live in can be pretty dull at times (which isn’t entirely a bad thing).

Thank god the Italian food around here isn’t nearly as bad as what the other Hill encountered.

Grazie a Dio.

However, I was just reminded this morning of one of the big reasons why my girlfriend and I moved out of the city of Chicago while reading the popular Chicago police blog Second City Cop. “016 Up For Grabs” discussed 5 people getting shot in less than 2 days in the Chicago Police Department’s 16th District, something that kind of hit home considering I used to live in that same district.

Now, it’s not like crime never happened in 016 before. It’s the big city, and the 80 percent of good, law-abiding people are packed shoulder-to-shoulder with the 10 percent of human refuse and remaining 10 percent who play by the rules because they’re forced to. I can recall walking into a convenience store down the street from me just minutes after it had been robbed, having a “welcome to the new home” plant stolen from my building’s entryway shortly after it had been delivered, and finding a big metal Coleman cooler stolen from my underground parking garage space- all within weeks after moving in to my old Northwest Side neighborhood, one of the “nicer” ones in the city.

Funny thing about that cooler. It used to store bottles of antifreeze, windshield washer fluid, engine oil, and more- none of which was taken even though it was inside the cooler. But plenty of which splashed around and/or leaked in that container.

Something tells me those bastards got pretty ill later drinking from those beer bottles/cans because they were too lazy to clean out that cooler before using it.

Karma’s a bitch. Or here’s hoping, right?

Still, armed with “intel” from Second City Cop and other alternative media with a local focus (Chicago mainstream media was hit-or-miss on reporting criminal activity in my neighborhood), Chicago-related research/blog material, and my own local observations, I realized that the 16th District had not only become “grittier” as it concerned crime, but it was occurring at a time when police protection in my area was significantly-reduced from when I first moved in.

Coupled with the City of Chicago’s financial woes that are finally coming home to roost? Chicagoans don’t need to be brain surgeons to figure this one out. Like I’ve been saying for some time now, more fees/fines/taxes and less government services seem to be on the horizon.

I suspect less police protection will be part of that equation, unless Chicago taxpayers pony up more of their hard-earned cash to at least keep the “thin blue line” intact.

And boy is it thin these days.

But I suspect increased revenues will be directed at Chicago’s public employee pension crisis and City Hall’s pet projects (where’s my park, dang it) before it’s steered over to the CPD and public safety.

In other words, Chicagoans had better be prepared to keep hearing “crime is down” for a long time.

In the meantime, City Hall still can’t comprehend that losing Downtown to all the wilding will see the City’s bottom line hit hard as word gets out.

Judging by recent MSM coverage nationwide about such criminal activity here, the word’s already out.

I wonder how hard it is to fudge tourism numbers?

While I would have preferred to have stayed in Chicago, and in particular, our old or the adjacent neighborhood in the CPD’s 16th District, considering what I see is in store for the area and our particular circumstances, my girlfriend and I made the right decision to move when and where we did.

Then again, that might not be the “correct” decision for other Chicagoans. Consider this. We didn’t have much invested in our old location. We didn’t own it (could have, but we steered clear of buying anything until home prices came back down to earth somewhat), we weren’t required to live within the city limits as required by a municipal job, we don’t have kids in the local schools, family and friends didn’t live down the street, the list goes on. So it wasn’t all too painful for us to just pick up and leave when our latest lease ran out.

The same can’t be said for others, and I respect that.

At least I, for one, have given you enough notice of what to expect down the road.

Prepare accordingly.

Is the “Second City” going to get worse? Could get “Third World” when all is said and done, and the ongoing financial storm finally blows completely through.

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

SCC. “016 Up For Grabs.” Second City Cop. 13 Aug. 2013. (http://secondcitycop.blogspot.com/2013/08/016-up-for-grabs.html). 13 Aug. 2013.

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City Of Chicago Annual Financial Analysis 2013

Since the beginning of the month I’ve been bringing up the latest release of the City of Chicago Annual Financial Analysis and its dismal budget deficit projections.

Initially, I couldn’t find the study on the City of Chicago website. I did eventually locate it, and in case you’re interested in looking over the 98-page document, you can read it here (.pdf format).

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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