The electoral map, the demographics behind President Barack Obama’s re-election and the high-end tax increases that were just wrung from the Republicans give Democrats reason to believe that long-term political trends are on their side in budget negotiations. This view, however, ignores what is happening at the state level.
Last week, Atlanta’s City Council voted unanimously to address a $1.5 billion public-pension liability by increasing worker contributions and reducing benefits. Florida also increased public-worker contributions.
Joe Dear is giving a pep talk to more than two dozen colleagues at the California Public Employees’ Retirement System. As Dear paces before his people on this July afternoon in Sacramento, he implores them to shake off the funk of the pension fund’s recent troubles.
U.S. state pensions such as Illinois, Kansas and New Jersey are in a “death spiral,” with assets at many insufficient to cover benefits, payouts consuming a growing portion of resources and costs rising twice as fast as investment gains.
After working for almost two decades as a money manager, Britt Harris at age 45 was what most people would consider a success. Bridgewater Associates LP’s Ray Dalio and Bob Prince had just tapped him to be chief executive officer of the world’s largest hedge fund.