Drowning in debt and faced with unpopular, unrealistic, ridiculously unpopular austerity measures, the government has announced that it will now tax private pension savings in order to raise 470 million euros (roughly $675 million) per year… a lot of money in a country of only 4.4 million people.
Somehow, the government expects to be able to create 100,000 jobs to bring down an unemployment rate at 14.7%. Perhaps they plan on hiring 100,000 new workers to go around the country and collect the tax.
It reminds me of what I saw in Bolivia a couple of weeks ago– there’s a tax or toll or fee for nearly everything you do. Driving on the highway (if you can call it that) outside of Santa Cruz, you pay a toll… obviously not for the maintenance of the road, but to pay the salary of the toll collector.
At the airport, you have to pay an airport tax before departure… obviously not for the upkeep and efficiency of the airport (it took 2-hours to make it to my gate), but to pay the salaries of the guys who collect the airport tax.
This is what politicians consider ‘job creation,’ yet these positions only serve to destroy value. That they would stick up the retirement funds of hard working people is even more immoral.
Here’s the best part, though. If you are a government worker in Ireland, your pension is exempt. They’re only going after people in the private work force. It’s truly disgusting logic to force private workers to pay for years of political incompetence while absolving government employees.
Coincidentally, there are a few other loopholes as well, particularly for non-residents and non-resident funds. Apparently those Irish who saw the writing on the wall and got busy moving themselves and their assets offshore will get to keep all of their savings.
Ireland is not the first country to call this play, nor will it be the last. Pension funds are attractive targets for politicians who have wide eyes and the most carnal thoughts at the site of any large pool of cash.
Think it can’t happen where you live? Think again. Late last year, the French government went through an elaborate process to change its pension laws, ‘legally’ allowing politicians to steal retirement funds from the public in order to pay off other debts.
In the US, public pensions have been raided for years, Congress routinely ‘borrows’ from Social Security to make up budget shortfalls. This is what talking heads mean when they play down concerns of a $14 trillion debt “because we owe it to ourselves–” $4.6 trillion of the debt is owed to intragovernmental agencies like Social Security.
Chances of this money being repaid to Social Security in full? Slim. The trend is more debt, not paying off existing debt. In fact, I’m convinced that politicians have their eyes firmly fixed on the trillions of dollars in private, individual retirement accounts (IRAs) in the United States to fund new spending.
Here’s how it will go down:
First, there will be some event… some sort of financial cataclysm, similar to the market meltdown we saw in 2008 after Lehman.
Bear in mind that most IRAs are managed by boneheads at big financial institutions; they get compensated not based on the performance of their portfolio, but on the total amount of assets under management. Your interests and their interests do not align.
As such, most IRAs are callously tossed into S&P index funds or some such generic vehicle, citing the safety of broader market diversification, as if that nonsense they teach in MBA finance classes is how the real world actually works.
When a big crash occurs, these unhedged broad market positions get hammered the most. Don’t worry though, your fund manager will still get a big fat bonus check, because his performance is irrelevant.
This is when Congress will step in. Citing its desire to ‘protect’ the American people from future market shocks, the politicians will mandate that a portion of all managed retirement funds be invested in the ‘safety and security’ of US Treasury bonds. And, just to be on the safe side, let’s park them in 30-year bonds that yield 4.35%.
Sound fair? Well who asked you anyways… just be a good citizen and turn over your money already. The important part is that the big financial institutions still get their big fat fees, and the government gets its hands on the mother lode.
This is how US taxpayers will end up being forced to loan their hard earned retirement savings to the government at rates far below any expected inflation.
Right now, there is a window of opportunity to take action; US taxpayers with retirement accounts can set up a special kind of IRA structure that allows you to take control of your retirement savings, and even ship it offshore if you want to, completely legitimately.
After taking control of your IRA, you can do any number of things– buy and store gold and silver coins overseas; hold foreign currencies in an offshore bank account; buy securities on international stock exchanges; purchase agricultural property overseas, or even a beautiful apartment on the beach in some sunny country.
The possibilities are incredible… but the most important thing is that you get this retirement money off the radar of the politicians before they pull an Ireland and announce some new measure, virtually overnight. These things can happen very, very quickly.
I’ve talked about this before a number of times, and every time I read the news of yet another country taking this approach, it serves as a reminder to take action.