Elderly Poor, a Big and Growing Problem

Elderly Poor, a Big and Growing Problem

There will be elderly poor.  Look at page 26 of this PDF.  I interpret those that don’t know or declined as being well below $50K in assets.  That means 60% of those reaching “retirement age” will have less than two years income stored up.

That said I feel more sorry for younger workers who have to pay high amounts into Social Security/Medicare, and they will not get out of program what they put in.  There’s a longish article here, excerpting from a recently released book on the topic.  In general, the older you are, the sweeter the deal was for those who received payments from Social Security, at least until 2026 when benefits will be cut by 25%, or taxes raised.

What this means is that in aggregate, Americans don’t save enough, particularly the Baby Boomers, of which I am one, but not a negligent one.

We are heading for elderly poverty/work for a large portion of Americans.  I suspect that many older people will continue to work, solving their problem but taking jobs from those who are younger.

This should be no surprise.  Incomes should be declining for lower skilled people in the US, because there are more people who can do that work abroad.  My advice to all readers is to make sure you cannot be obsoleted by foreigners.

One more note: don’t expect the asset markets to bail you out.  Returns to financial assets will do poorly as so many begin to sell them to pay for living expenses, whether directly as individuals, or indirectly as defined benefit plans pay retirement benefits.

This is on top of the problem that when high-quality long interest rates are so low, it is typically a bad time to try to make money in financial assets, because returns on risky assets are typically only 0-2% percent higher than the yield on long BBB/Baa debt over the long run.

All for now…

By David Merkel, CFA of Aleph Blog



About the Author

David Merkel
David J. Merkel, CFA, FSA — 2010-present, I am working on setting up my own equity asset management shop, tentatively called Aleph Investments. It is possible that I might do a joint venture with someone else if we can do more together than separately. From 2008-2010, I was the Chief Economist and Director of Research of Finacorp Securities. I did a many things for Finacorp, mainly research and analysis on a wide variety of fixed income and equity securities, and trading strategies. Until 2007, I was a senior investment analyst at Hovde Capital, responsible for analysis and valuation of investment opportunities for the FIP funds, particularly of companies in the insurance industry. I also managed the internal profit sharing and charitable endowment monies of the firm. From 2003-2007, I was a leading commentator at the investment website RealMoney.com. Back in 2003, after several years of correspondence, James Cramer invited me to write for the site, and I wrote for RealMoney on equity and bond portfolio management, macroeconomics, derivatives, quantitative strategies, insurance issues, corporate governance, etc. My specialty is looking at the interlinkages in the markets in order to understand individual markets better. I no longer contribute to RealMoney; I scaled it back because my work duties have gotten larger, and I began this blog to develop a distinct voice with a wider distribution. After three-plus year of operation, I believe I have achieved that. Prior to joining Hovde in 2003, I managed corporate bonds for Dwight Asset Management. In 1998, I joined the Mount Washington Investment Group as the Mortgage Bond and Asset Liability manager after working with Provident Mutual, AIG and Pacific Standard Life. My background as a life actuary has given me a different perspective on investing. How do you earn money without taking undue risk? How do you convey ideas about investing while showing a proper level of uncertainty on the likelihood of success? How do the various markets fit together, telling us us a broader story than any single piece? These are the themes that I will deal with in this blog. I hold bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Johns Hopkins University. In my spare time, I take care of our eight children with my wonderful wife Ruth.