The Next Shoe to Drop: Pension Payments

Mish has been warning about underfunded pension funds for years (see this and this). I have to admit, though, I didn’t pay much attention until the meaning of underfunded pensions hit me today.

Specifically, I stumbled into this March 2008 prediction from Leap/2020 (which has been right in many, although not all, predictions so far):

Meanwhile, dozens of millions of newly retired “baby-boomers” are beginning to call upon payback from these [pension] funds. According to our team, it is likely that, by the end of 2008, this crisis will be the dominant aspect of the current global financial crisis. It will also provoke a social crisis affecting pensioners, in particular in the US (45 percent of pension funds’ total assets in the world), in Japan (18 percent) and in various European countries depending heavily on capital-based pension systems, i.e. UK (7 percent), Sweden (1 percent), Denmark (1 percent) and above all, in the Eurozone, the Netherlands (6 percent of pension funds’ total assets in the world). Canada too, which represents 5 percent of these assets, will be affected (3). In the rest of the world, only accounting for 11 percent of these assets, pensioners will not be affected so much.

According to this list, pensioners in the US, Japan, UK, Netherlands and Canada, who counted on regular capital-based pension revenues, will find themselves in a difficult situation. At the end of 2008, as the global systemic crisis unfolds in the economic and financial sphere, LEAP/E2020 estimates that half of those pension funds will be confronted to a drastic decrease in their revenues and to a shrinking value of their capital.

What does this mean?

Well, millions of retirees in the U.S., UK, Japan, Canada and the Netherlands are about to get their pension benefit checks slashed.

Which means that they’ll have less to spend.

Which means that there will be another major hit to the economies of those countries.

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