The Looming Pension Crisis Is Huge—-Still Widespread And Deep Underfunding After 230% Stock Market Advance
There is a really big crisis coming. Think about it this way. After 8 years and a 230% stock market advance the pension funds of Dallas, Chicago, and Houston are in severe trouble. But it isn’t just these municipalities that are in trouble, but also most of the public and private pensions that still operate in the country today. Currently, many pension funds, like the one in Houston, are scrambling to slightly lower return rates, issue debt, raise taxes or increase contribution limits to fill some of the gaping holes of underfunded liabilities in their plans. The hope is such measures combined with an ongoing bull market, and increased participant contributions, will heal the plans in the future……This is not likely to be the case.
With the latest hasty judgment about Tuesday’s poison-gas deaths in a rebel-held area of northern Syria, the mainstream U.S. news media once more reveals itself to be a threat to responsible journalism and to the future of humanity. Again, we see the troubling pattern of verdict first, investigation later, even when that behavior can lead to a dangerous war escalation and many more deaths…..One possible scenario was that Syrian warplanes bombed a rebel weapons depot where the poison gas was stored, causing the containers to rupture. Another possibility was a staged event by increasingly desperate Al Qaeda jihadists who are known for their disregard for innocent human life. While it’s hard to know at this early stage what’s true and what’s not, these alternative explanations, I’m told, are being seriously examined by U.S. intelligence. One source cited the possibility that Turkey had supplied the rebels with the poison gas (the exact type still not determined) for potential use against Kurdish forces operating in northern Syria near the Turkish border or for a terror attack in a government-controlled city like the capital of Damascus.
Many were caught by surprise by yesterday’s sharp selloff in the last 90 minutes of trading, which saw the Dow Jones slide over 200 points on the double whammy of the Fed’s unexpected “bubble” warning and Paul Ryan’s admission that tax reform is going nowhere fast. Below is BofA’s take on this particular event, together with what it believes is the biggest near-term risk. The vacuum between monetary and fiscal policy easing. A rally in risk assets prompted by better than expected ADP employment data for March was reversed sharply and turned into losses as the FOMC minutes highlighted a desire to begin winding down the Fed’s balance sheet later this year and House Speaker Ryan commented basically that tax reform is not likely anytime soon (Figure 1).
Residential property sales in Greater Toronto soared 17.7% year-over-year to 12,077 homes, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB). New listings jumped 15.2% to 17,052. Prices for all types of homes, based on the MLS Home Price Index Composite “Benchmark,” soared 28.6%. The “average” selling price soared 33.2%! That average selling price of C$916,567 is up from C$688,011 a year ago. Over the past five years, it has doubled!
More than seven years after the Great Recession officially ended, there is yet more depressing research that indicates at least half of Americans are vulnerable to financial disaster. Some 50 percent of people are woefully unprepared for a financial emergency, new research finds. Nearly 1 in 5 Americans (19 percent) have nothing set aside to cover an unexpected emergency, while nearly 1 in 3 Americans (31 percent) don’t have at least $500 set aside to cover an unexpected emergency expense, according to a survey released Tuesday by HomeServe USA, a home repair service. A separate survey released Monday by insurance company MetLife found that 49 percent of employees are “concerned, anxious or fearful about their current financial well-being.”
Few areas in the US are as dependent economically on the startup ecosystem as Silicon Valley and San Francisco. And the crazy boom that peaked in 2014 and 2015 lifted all boats, but then the tide went out….Venture capital investments in the US “downshifted again” in the first quarter, according to the current report by the National Venture Capital Association and PitchBook Data. It was the sixth quarter in a row of declines, and the number of deals dropped to the lowest level since Q3 2010….Including San Francisco darling Airbnb’s $1 billion deal, startups raised a total of $16.5 billion in the first quarter, down 12% year-over-year. The number of companies being funded plunged 24% to about 1,800 – the sixth quarter in a row of declines, and the lowest count since Q3 2010.
Even some very smart colleagues of mine dismissed Trump’s allegations, arguing that no one in Washington found them believable. Then the director of the FBI, James Comey, and the director of the National Security Agency, America’s 60,000-person-strong domestic spying apparatus, Adm. Mike Rogers, testified under oath that they knew of no surveillance of candidate or President-elect Trump at Trump Tower. When I heard these denials, I thought them to be odd at best and erroneous at worst because I was privy to credible chatter in the intelligence community that Trump’s allegations were correct, and I knew that the FBI had revealed it was examining the activities of the Trump campaign to look for Russian involvement and that such an examination would surely find the surveillance of Trump that the intelligence community was chatting about.
…….Consequently, if unmasking was relevant to the Russia investigation, it would have been done by those three agencies. And if it had been critical to know the identities of Americans caught up in other foreign intelligence efforts, the agencies that collect the information and conduct investigations would have unmasked it. Because they are the agencies that collect and refine intelligence “products” for the rest of the “intelligence community,” they are responsible for any unmasking; and they do it under “minimization” standards that FBI Director James Comey, in recent congressional testimony, described as “obsessive” in their determination to protect the identities and privacy of Americans. Understand: There would have been no intelligence need for Susan Rice to ask for the identities to be unmasked…
It’s no secret the plumbers at the Federal Reserve are feverishly at work devising a way to unwind their $4.5 trillion war chest of a balance sheet. Officials claim their carefully devised maneuvers will nary elicit an inkling of a disturbance in the markets they’ve coddled all these years with billions of dollars of purchases, month-in, month-out. But one must wonder, at the timing, at the ostensive optics, if nothing else…….To be fair, recessions are inevitabilities down here on Planet Earth where business cycles are permitted to be cyclical. Just the same, for a group of folks who’ve done backbends for years endeavoring to prolong the recovery at all costs, it’s plain odd that they’re even flirting with shrinking the very balance sheet that secures their power base as Type A monetary control freaks.
Given Trump’s statements on Syria this morning, I’m moving from “becoming concerned,” to nearly convinced that Donald Trump will not only expand America’s idiotic, ongoing wars, but at the same time, start some new ones……This chemical attack just happened, how does he know the Assad regime did this? Is it because the same deep state people who have been trying to sabotage him sine day one told him so? Is he that stupid? Does it even make sense considering things were going pretty well for Assad in the conflict before this attack? No, it doesn’t, and many people are starting to ask these questions.