The New York Times article Padded Pensions Add to New York Fiscal Woeshas been making the rounds. At least 20 people sent me the link. Let’s take a look at few snips, then a look at a followup Times article on addressing the problems.
In Yonkers, more than 100 retired police officers and firefighters are collecting pensions greater than their pay when they were working. One of the youngest, Hugo Tassone, retired at 44 with a base pay of about $74,000 a year. His pension is now $101,333 a year.
It’s what the system promised, said Mr. Tassone, now 47, adding that he did nothing wrong by adding lots of overtime to his base pay shortly before retiring. “I don’t understand how the working guy that held up their end of the bargain became the problem,” he said.
According to pension data collected by The New York Times from the city and state, about 3,700 retired public workers in New York are now getting pensions of more than $100,000 a year, exempt from state and local taxes. The data belie official reports that the average state pension is a modest $18,000, or $38,000 for retired police officers and firefighters. (The average is low, in part, because it includes people who worked in government only part time, or just a few years, as well as surviving spouses getting partial benefits.)
Some will receive the big pensions for decades. Thirteen New York City police officers recently retired at age 40 with pensions above $100,000 a year; nine did so in their 30s.
The Times article is 4 pages long so please give it a closer look.
Undoubtedly Mr. Tassone is not as stupid as he sounds. He knows full well he gamed the system, but it was legal.
Tassone argues he held up his end of the bargain. Excuse me for asking what end is that? Public unions are legalized mobs. They coerce votes from corrupt politicians willing to buy there patronage.
There is no "public end" because there is no one working on the public’s behalf. Indeed the public in general has been crucified with never ending tax hikes to support union thugs who pack every school board in the country, and promise Armageddon if police or firefighters get laid off.
The wave of social unrest is spreading. A new round of protests has hit Spain with a public sector strike set for June 8. In Slovenia, students are protesting new rules that limit their work hours and pay.
"Luka Gubo" an economist from Slovenia writes:
First I must say that I love your blog. Great job!
I just wanted you to know that Slovenian students are protesting too.
The main reason for organizing protests is changes in law regarding student jobs. Current tax law makes average workers uncompetitive because businesses pay about 15% income tax for students and more then 35% income tax for average worker (average net income is 930€).
Bear in mind that the average time for a student to complete his higher education here is 6 years and that more then 20% of "students" do not to school at all. Instead, they just enjoy student benefits like lower income taxes, food stamps, etc.
I think that everyone would agree a new law is needed in Slovenia. However, the new will limit the maximum hours worked by students to one third of full work time, and put a limit on maximum hourly wage at 8€ per hour.
That one *ing great free-market solution, wouldn’t you agree?
Here is the Slovenian parliament building after 2 hours:
Public sector union ADEDY and private sector union GSEE called the strikes against the government’s austerity measures, in particular the pension reforms announced last week. The reforms include raising the retirement age, which varies in different professions.
It is the first major strike since May 5, when violent protests against the austerity measures resulted in the deaths of three people in the capital, Athens.
Spanish government workers were set to protest at 6 p.m. (noon ET) outside the Ministry of the Treasury in Madrid and outside the central government offices in their respective towns. Spanish government workers were set to protest at 6
You are so right on the Boeing strike. What makes it even more stupid is that the same union pulled the same stunt in Washington a couple years ago. We now have a brand new 787 plant under construction here in non union Charleston, SC because of it.
These guys just don’t have a clue. I was at Boeing in Seattle when the last strike took place, and I can tell you that a lot of the rank and file knew better, but they had to follow the union’s marching orders.
As for Gate’s comment about airlift, I’d like to see him come the Charleston Air Force base and say it, while the US government leased Russian AN-124s taxi past loaded with equipment headed for the middle east.
The truth is that we don’t have enough airlift capacity or tanker capacity, or fighter capacity… to be the world’s big brother.
The better solution is to quit being the self appointed nanny to the world.
And yes, I work for a defense contractor.
Yes, it is perfectly clear the US absolutely needs to "quit being the self appointed nanny to the world" even as the union apologists cry about the loss of jobs. The US simply cannot afford to be the world’s policeman.
I would cut military spending in half, and call that "a start". I am sick and tired of blowing up the world because it supposedly creates jobs. Moreover, those jobs are an illusion in the first place, as the rest of the economy suffers mightily.
To pay for military spending, taxes have to go up or the dollar has to sink.
That’s a piss poor tradeoff for everyone not in on the scam, especially the poor soldiers who needlessly get their heads blown off so defense contractor CEOs can make hundreds of millions of dollars, some of which are used to buy votes of war-mongers in Congress wanting still more guns and ammo, every day of the year.
Thousands of protesters bused down by labor unions and social service advocates rallied at the Capitol today in an attempt to pressure state lawmakers into raising the income tax to avoid more budget cuts.
A spokesman for Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White estimated the rally crowd at 15,000, with more than 12,000 marching around the building. That would appear to make it the largest Capitol protest since the Equal Rights Amendment crowds a quarter-century ago.
Bus after bus pulled up on streets surrounding the Capitol complex and dumped sign-waving protesters clad in purple, green, red and blue shirts that represented a show of strength from a variety of public employee unions and dozens of groups that formed what they named the “Responsible Budget Coalition.”
"Raise my taxes! Raise my taxes! Raise my taxes!" they chanted, lined up shoulder to shoulder for a few hundred yards stretching a street in front of the Capitol.
Springfield Pro-Tax Rally
Save our Schools is a farce. Save our Salaries is what the protest is all about.
Las Vegas’ firefighters union has taken a hard stance against the city’s budget cuts, alleging that reductions will hurt emergency responses along with fire insurance rating for homes and businesses.
City officials, meanwhile, said the union is engaging in irresponsible “scare tactics” at a time when the city is facing economic difficulties.
The back-and-forth comes as the city readies for a series of town hall meetings scheduled from January to March to hear resident feedback on what city services are most important.
It also comes as the city is considering back-to-back 8 percent salary rollbacks and freezes for all employees, including firefighters, although a union official declined to comment today on the union’s positions on these wage proposals.
The union has created a Web site as well as a radio advertisement warning that cuts could increase response times, result in fewer people on duty, reduce the city’s ability to respond to disasters and hurt the city’s fire insurance rating, which is at the highest level.
This discussion is just one part of the ongoing wrangling over the city’s budget, which has seen an ever-widening deficit since the economic downturn began.
The city has already cut operating costs, eliminated vacant positions and announced some layoffs. City management has also proposed an 8 percent wage rollback in each of the next two budget years to avoid layoffs, a proposal being evaluated by the unions that represent city workers.
My recommendation to Las Vegas is to declare bankruptcy and let the unions see what they can get in court.
The Simi Valley City Council on Wednesday approved a new agreement with the Simi Valley Police Officers’ Association for an 18-month employee contract that includes a 3 percent salary decrease for sworn police officers and sergeants.
The unanimous approval came after the council went into a closed session meeting late Wednesday afternoon with attorneys and representatives from both the city and police association.
Significant provisions of the MOU approved Wednesday include:
In the 1940s, the Fed adopted pegging operations to protect the financial system against rising interest rates and to ensure the smooth financing of the war effort. In effect, the Fed became part of the Treasury’s debt management team; as the budget deficit hit 25% of GDP in WW2, it capped 1Y notes at 87.5bps and 30Y bonds at 2.5%. From the massive bond holdings of its domestic banks to its exploding public debt, Japan today faces a situation very similar to the US in the 1940s. With the market becoming dysfunctional as the BoJ’s massive buying operations drain the pool of available bonds, the BoJ’s overriding presence in the market each day has increasingly made the JGB...
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High Yield ETFs JNK & HYG have formed bearish rising wedges. Two-thirds of the time, prices end up lower in the future after forming this type of pattern. The support lines of the rising wedges are being tested very hard and appear to be giving way right now.
Bernanke managed to shoot global markets in the head the day before yesterday, and then, as has become typical when investors throw brickbats at what the Fed has said, various mouthpieces go about talking the markets back up (this case, in the form of San Francisco Fed president John Williams pointing out that the central bank could ease off or reverse its QE exit if the economy faltered).
I welcome readers telling me I’ve missed something, but looking at the Fed’s problem from 50,000 feet, it appears that the the monetary authority appears to have set boundary conditions for its QE exit that it can’t meet.
While the S&P 500 has had quite a year already the Nikkei has been the story of the globe as they are performing acts of central banking that even put the U.S. Fed to shame. And Japan's central bank can buy ETFs and REITs directly per their charter versus the U.S. bank. Combined with a yen in free fall it's been a heck of a move for the Nikkei since last November. I noted last week we were seeing extremely rare weekly and monthly type overbought readings on bo...
Few stocks have attracted more news over the last six months than nutritional supplement maker Herbalife (NYSE: HLF).
Even casual market observers are aware of the circumstances surrounding the the initial bout of extreme volatility in the name back in December 2012. The shares went into free-fall at the end of the year after hedge fund manager Bill Ackman revealed in typical sanctimonious fashion that his firm Pershing Square Capital Management was short around $1 billion worth of the stock.
Amid much pomp and circumstance, Ackman laid out his short thesis at a New York investment conference and...
HD - Home Depot – Shares in the home improvement retailer are trading lower on Thursday, off the lowest levels of the session but still down 1.25% at $78.69 as of 11:50 a.m. ET, amid a down day for U.S. stocks. Trading traffic in newly issued weekly options on Home Depot suggests some traders are taking advantage of the dip today and positioning for shares in the name to resume hitting record highs next week. The stock yesterday rallied as much as 3.6% to touch an all-time high of $81.56 after the company reported better-than-expected first...
The market went through some gyrations on Wednesday in reaction to Fed Chairman Bernanke’s testimony before the Joint Economic Committee. He first defended continued quant easing by warning, “A premature tightening of monetary policy could lead interest rates to rise temporarily but also would carry a substantial risk of slowing or ending the economic recovery.” Stocks dutifully rallied and all major indexes hit new intraday highs.
But alas, consensus is apparently not a given over the longer term. The minutes hinted that a tapering off could start sooner, “A number of participants expressed willingness to adjust the flow of purchases downward as early as the June meeting if the economic information received by that time showed evidence of sufficiently strong and sustained growth.” So …...
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I am going to share with you how I manage my IRA and the power of reducing your cost basis. My goal each year is a 20% return in my IRA. Sometimes I make it and sometimes I don't, but I believe that all of my success is due to reducing my cost basis. To illustrate the power of reducing your cost basis here are some trades we did last year. These trades are taken from an educational portfolio we ran in a paper-trading account for a little more than a year.
We bought RIG on 5/15/2012 for $44.13, sold it on 1/18/2013 for $46 but booked a profit of $1,154.
We bought MT on 1/4/2012 for $19.24, sold it on 12/21/2012 for $15 but booked a profit of $454.
We bought CHK on 1/27/2012 for $21.93, sold it on 10/19/2012 for $18 b...
Stock market posts another record setting week, but the big news came after Friday’s close.
Courtesy of NASA
The stock market put on another record setting show with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (NYSEARCA:DIA) closing at a record high 15,118 and the S&P 500 (NYSEARCA:SPY) closing at 1633.70, another all time closing high.
For the week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (NYSEARCA:DIA) gained 1%, the S&P 500 (NYSEARCA:SPY) climbed 1.2%, the Nasdaq Composite (NYSEARCA:...
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Well, well, well....it is good to know that there are others in the scientific arena who believed that YMI Bioscience's data (cough - Gilead) is a better drug than Incyte's Jakafi. Now, the definitive data are still unknown, but there was enough evidence from a Phase 2 trial to take a small risk for a huge reward. So, let's forget about Apple (AAPL), and do nothing but biotechs from now until Congress passes universal health care coverage for prescriptions....and drive the prices down so that research and development is no longer feasible to conduct in the US. Even Seattle Genetics (SGEN) has been on a tear as of late...
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