Last week, the head of a New York state pension fund found herself a new job.
Vicki Fuller, the former head of New York's $209 billion fund, now earns $275,000 per year working part time for a natural gas group called The Williams Companies– good work if you can get it.
It's noteworthy that when Ms. Fuller ran her state pension fund, she invested $110 million of taxpayer money to buy bonds issued by none other than The Williams Companies.
Bear in mind that Moody's, the credit rating agency, downgraded Williams' financial outlook to "negative" because of the company's high leverage and risk.
The fund that Ms. Fuller managed also voted in favor of huge, multi-million dollar pay packages for senior executives of The Williams Companies even though the stock price was dropping.
So… gee… maybe it's just a crazy coincidence that Ms. Fuller left her job at the state pension fund and took an extremely lucrative part-time job THE SAME WEEK with The Williams Companies.
This is so blatant… it's banana republic stuff. It's not as bad as the billion+ dollar theft from Malaysia's pension fund, but it's the same stink.
Bear in mind that most pension funds are already in terrible condition to begin with, even before you factor in potential malfeasance by the bureaucrats who manage them.
Overall, public pension funds in the US are short $7 TRILLION on what they have promised to pay out to retirees.
If you include Social Security that amount balloons beyond $50 trillion.
And that's just the US.
The World Economic Forum said the total global pension shortfall was $70 TRILLION in 2015. They expect it to reach $400 trillion by 2050.
Pension funds across nearly every major economy on the planet are seriously in the red… it's merely a question of how severe the problem is, and how much longer they can kick the can down the road.
Japan, for example, borrows billions each year to prop up its pension fund, going deeper and deeper into debt.
Some countries have started to make major pension reforms– Russia is one notable example. Vladimir Putin recently raised the retirement age, a move which proved HIGHLY unpopular.
And that's precisely the point: pension benefits are loooooong term promises that people have spent decades dreaming about.
And for a lot of people, it really is their only hope.
They work terrible jobs that they hate for bosses they despise earning pitiful salaries for decades, all for the dream that one day they'll be able to retire on the pension that the government promised them.
When politicians make any adverse changes to that promise, people become unglued.
And yet, the arithmetic is completely obvious: a lot of major pension funds pay out more in benefits than they generate in tax revenue and investment income.