Tag Archives: Unfunded Liabilities

New study from the Federal Reserve finds that QE stimulus doesn’t grow the economy

Investors Business Daily reports on our incompetent government’s policies.

Excerpt:

For four years now, we’ve heard policymakers and pundits alike defend the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing based on the idea that, without it, the nation’s economy would have imploded.

Now, a new study from the Fed itself suggests that’s not the case.

The study, by San Francisco Federal Reserve economist Vasco Curdia and New York Fed economist Andrea Ferrero, suggests that quantitative easing (QE) has done little to boost the economy’s trajectory.

“Asset purchase programs like QE2 appear to have, at best, moderate effects on economic growth and inflation,” the economists wrote in a special research note that was released last week.

In their study, Curdia and Ferrero looked specifically at the impact of the Fed’s QE2 program, which totaled $600 billion.

Assuming the $600 billion program lasts for five years — with the Fed buying bonds the first year, holding them for two, then selling them off for the remaining two — the spending turns out largely to have been a waste.

That level of QE stimulus, even when coupled with the Fed’s promise to hold interest rates at zero, likely boosted GDP by a mere 0.13 percentage point, the study found. It added just 0.03 percentage point to inflation.

Bottom line: $600 billion in QE2 spending boosted GDP by less than $200 billion.

[…]And even that minor amount of growth was due in large part to the Fed’s explicit vow to hold official interest rates at close to 0% until the unemployment rate reaches 6.5% or lower, Curdia and Ferrero said.

Take away that promise, and QE2 added just 0.04 percentage point to GDP and 0.02 percentage point to inflation.

What caused it?

With $17 trillion in total U.S. debt — an amount that’s now growing at a rate of $1 trillion a year — the authors argue that the Fed is essentially trapped into printing money through QE.

If QE — which now pushes $85 billion a month into U.S. Treasury and agency debt — stops, interest rates will soar, dragging the economy down.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has been sanguine about this, suggesting this enormous pile of debt can all be sold off with little disruption.

We’re not so sure. Once the Fed begins selling off its massive $3.6 trillion in assets acquired under the QE program (see chart), it will send interest rates surging and tank the economy.

Even more troubling is what it says about current politics.

The White House and a Democrat-led Senate have boosted spending dramatically — outlays as a share of GDP rose initially by 25% under President Obama

The Fed, by buying up much of the newly issued federal debt, has become the No. 1 enabler of a spendthrift government that’s pushing us to the brink of fiscal disaster.

At $85 billion a month, QE2 spending is roughly equal to the amount of federal debt we add each month.

We elected a Keynesian who thought that government could create economic growth (jobs!) by borrowing money and printing money. The countries of the world largely cheered our decision to elect him. He failed to grow the economy and he failed to create jobs. Eventually, the money he’s been spending to keep a sinking ship afloat is going to run out.

U.S. cities face half a trillion dollars in public pension deficits

Story from CNBC. (H/T ECM)

Excerpt:

Big US cities could be squeezed by unfunded public pensions as they and counties face a $574 billion funding gap, a study to be released on Tuesday shows.

The gap at the municipal level would be in addition to $3,000 billion in unfunded liabilities already estimated for state-run pensions, according to research from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and the University of Rochester.

“What is yet to be seen is how this burden will be distributed between state and local governments and whether the federal government will be called upon for bail-outs,” said Joshua Rauh of the Kellogg School.

The financial demands of unfunded pension promises come as state and local governments grapple with years of falling tax revenue related to the recession.

The combination has raised concern that defaults, which are historically rare in the $2,800 billion municipal bond market where local governments obtain money, could now rise.

“The bondholders would be competing with the pension beneficiaries for scarce government resources,” Mr Rauh said.

Current pension assets for plans sponsored by Philadelphia can only pay for promised benefits through 2015, while Boston and Chicago would deplete their existing funds by 2019.

Cincinnati, Jacksonville, Florida and St Paul have current pension assets that can only pay for promised benefits through 2020.

Local governments use unique accounting methods that many, such as Mr Rauh, believe understate obligations. Based on his estimates, which use US Treasuries as the benchmark, each household already owes an average of $14,165 to current and former municipal public employees in the 50 cities and counties studied.

“Philadelphia has the most immediate cause for concern, as the city can pay existing promises with existing assets only through 2015,” Mr Rauh said, assuming an 8 percent annualized return, the most common benchmark for municipal plans.

In New York City, San Francisco and Boston the total is more than $30,000 a household and, in Chicago, it tops $40,000.

Taxpayers in these areas risk not only local tax increases and service cuts to pay for benefits, but potentially some of the bill for the $3,000 billion unfunded obligations at the state level, the researchers say.

Notice how all the worst offenders are Democrat strongholds. They don’t know how to manage their finances!

Why Obama’s public option health care plan is a bad deal for young adults

This podcast explains how Obama’s health care reform bill would require young people to buy insurance, while simultaneously preventing medical insurers from reducing their premium amounts in accordance with the lower health risks of young people.

The MP3 file is here.

The guest being interviewed is Aaron Yelowitz.

Bio excerpt:

  • Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Economics, 1994.
  • B.A., High Honors, University of California, Santa Barbara, Business Economics, 1990.
  • Department of Economics, University of Kentucky, Associate Professor, July 1, 2001-present.
  • Associate Editor, Journal of Public Economics, January 2004-present.

And you can read the paper that is being discussed in the podcast.

Excerpt from the abstract:

One of the most interesting questions about the health care overhaul now moving through Congress is how it would affect young adults. That legislation would force most or all Americans to purchase health insurance (an “individual mandate”) and would impose price controls on health insurance (“community rating”) that would limit insurers’ ability to offer lower premiums to low-risk enrollees.

Those provisions would drive premiums down for 55-year-olds but would drive them up for 25-year-olds—who are then implicitly subsidizing older adults. According to the Urban Institute, many young people could see their premiums double, whereas premiums for older adults could be cut in half.

[…]The irony is that Barack Obama won the presidency with 66 percent of the vote among adults aged 18 to 29. That’s a larger share than any presidential candidate has won in decades. Yet his health care overhaul could impose its greatest burdens on young adults.

This reminds me of young unmarried women voting overwhelmingly against marriage and family by electing big government socialists like Obama. This is not to even mention the 10.2% unemployment rate, which is worse for younger workers, as well as the massive national debt that will have to be paid for by young people. Why is that young people are so ignorant of economics that they vote against their own best interests?

Note: The Obama health care plan is also a bad deal for elderly patients on Medicare, since he is cutting 500 billion dollars from Medicare.

Understanding the real effects of the Democrat health care reform bill

Story from the Wall Street Journal. (H/T ECM)

Excerpt:

The Congressional Budget Office figures the House program will cost $1.055 trillion over a decade, which while far above the $829 billion net cost that

[…]All this is particularly reckless given the unfunded liabilities of Medicare—now north of $37 trillion over 75 years.

[…]As for Medicaid, the House will expand eligibility to everyone below 150% of the poverty level, meaning that some 15 million new people will be added to the rolls as private insurance gets crowded out at a cost of $425 billion. A decade from now more than a quarter of the population will be on a program originally intended for poor women, children and the disabled.

[…]All told, the House favors $572 billion in new taxes, mostly by imposing a 5.4-percentage-point “surcharge” on joint filers earning over $1 million, $500,000 for singles. This tax will raise the top marginal rate to 45% in 2011 from 39.6% when the Bush tax cuts expire—not counting state income taxes and the phase-out of certain deductions and exemptions. The burden will mostly fall on the small businesses that have organized as Subchapter S or limited liability corporations, since the truly wealthy won’t have any difficulty sheltering their incomes.

This surtax could hit ever more earners because, like the alternative minimum tax, it isn’t indexed for inflation. Yet it still won’t be nearly enough. Even if Congress had confiscated 100% of the taxable income of people earning over $500,000 in the boom year of 2006, it would have only raised $1.3 trillion. When Democrats end up soaking the middle class, perhaps via the European-style value-added tax that Mrs. Pelosi has endorsed, they’ll claim the deficits that they created made them do it.

Under another new tax, businesses would have to surrender 8% of their payroll to government if they don’t offer insurance or pay at least 72.5% of their workers’ premiums, which eat into wages. Such “play or pay” taxes always become “pay or pay” and will rise over time, with severe consequences for hiring, job creation and ultimately growth. While the U.S. already has one of the highest corporate income tax rates in the world, Democrats are on the way to creating a high structural unemployment rate, much as Europe has done by expanding its welfare states.

Meanwhile, a tax equal to 2.5% of adjusted gross income will also be imposed on some 18 million people who CBO expects still won’t buy insurance in 2019. Democrats could make this penalty even higher, but that is politically unacceptable, or they could make the subsidies even higher, but that would expose the (already ludicrous) illusion that ObamaCare will reduce the deficit.

Click here to read the rest of the article. It’s quite comprehensive and yet concise.