Thursday, August 26, 2010

Social Security: An Analysis

You know all that money you pay in Social Security taxes? Where do you think it goes? Into current expenses and US bonds!

That’s right, the feds just use the money to finance whatever fool scheme they’ve got going at the moment…and give the Social Security Administration a bond in return. In theory, the SSA has assets. In practice, all they’ve got is the hope that the feds can squeeze enough money out of taxpayers to meet their obligations...

In other words, there is no question about whether the US government will default or not. It will default. The only question is how. Will it manage to slip out of its obligations by raising the inflation rate enough to slough them off? Or will it have to officially renounce them? Will it refuse to pay retirees? Or bondholders?

Any way you look at it, the situation is interesting. Retirees, employees, loafers and chiselers – all are stakeholders in the US government. They have something to lose and will fight to hold onto what they’ve been promised. Bondholders have something to lose too.

So far, the bondholders have been largely protected – even enriched. Stakeholders in Greece, Ireland and other countries have begun to feel the pain. In America, the class of stakeholders is actually increasing, as the public sector spends more and the private sector spends less.

Best guess: stakeholders, bondholders, placeholders, cupholders, napkin holders – they’ll all take a loss.

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