Post-Coronapocalypse pension reform checklist for California

In a perfect world, California’s state and local public employees would receive exactly the same retirement benefits as federal employees. They would receive a modest defined benefit, a contributory 401K, and they would participate in Social Security. Unfortunately, in California, while some state and local public employees are offered 401Ks, and many participate in Social Security, all of […]

Black Swans and Super Bubbles

Black Swan: an unpredictable event that is beyond what is normally expected of a situation and has potentially severe consequences.” – Investopedia For decades there have been so-called “permabears” claiming that investment returns in the stock market were unsustainable. When the internet bubble popped in 1999, the permabears felt vindicated. But then, starting around 2003, the […]

Time for California’s Government Unions to Get Serious About Pension Reform

It’s been a long time since California’s pension systems were responsibly managed. Back then, they made conservative investments, paid modest but fair benefits to retirees, and did not place an unreasonable financial burden on taxpayers. But a series of decisions and circumstances over the past thirty years put these pension systems on a collision course […]

California Cities in Critical Condition

The specter of California’s cities and counties becoming insolvent is nothing new. Three major California cities have already declared bankruptcy, Vallejo in 2008, Stockton and San Bernardino in 2012. In October 2019, the California State Auditor’s Office reported on the fiscal health of 471 California cities. On what the California State Auditor’s office describes as a “Local Government […]

Government Pensions Are Dividing Americans and Damaging the Economy

Now that financial markets around the world are experiencing a long-overdue correction, the best we can hope for is that we hit bottom before a deflationary cascade causes a worldwide depression. Those economists who believe in the long-term debt cycle may claim that this time the end has arrived, and they may be right. COVID-19, oil price […]

Pension reform waits for California Supreme Court

With markets fitfully advancing after a nearly two year pause, the need for pension reform again fades from public discussion. And it’s easy for pension reformers to forget that even when funds are obviously imperiled, with growing unfunded liabilities and continuously increasing demands from the pension funds, hardly anyone understands what’s going on. Unless you are sitting on a […]

The Cost to Taxpayers of Enhancing Sonoma County Employee Pensions

In the early 2000s, along with many other cities, state agencies and counties in California, Sonoma County enhanced their employee pension benefits. As of 6/30/2018, Sonoma County’s pension system had $2.7 billion of invested assets, but nearly $3.1 billion in actuarial accrued liabilities. To what extent is its $400 million unfunded liability attributable to the […]

How much will YOUR city pay CalPERS in a down economy?

CalPERS still hasn’t issued their actuarial analyses for the period ending 6/30/2018, even though a year ago, the 6/30/2017 analyses were available. Could it be related to the fact that the DJIA index on 10/01/2018 was 26,447 and as of midday 10/01/2019 it sits at 26,599? Did CalPERS have a bad year and what does that mean? What […]