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As Retirees Anguish Over a Sub One-Percent Treasury Note, U.S. Companies Are Suspending their Dividends at a Rate Not Seen Since the 2008 Crash

Courtesy of Pam Martens

Broken Piggy BankThanks to the behemoth banks on Wall Street that engineered the largest Inside Job in the history of global banking and cratered the economy in 2008, retirees are now looking at a yield of 0.75 percent on a 10-year U.S. Treasury note. That paltry yield compares to the 4 percent or higher that retirees have been able to get throughout much of the last century on a T-Note.

The Federal Reserve is directly responsible for these unprecedented low yields. For much of the past 12 years, the Fed has been manipulating interest rates lower by buying up trillions of dollars in bonds (quantitative easing) in order to avoid crashing the Wall Street banks. The Wall Street banks are holding tens of trillions of dollars in interest-rate derivative bets — betting that rates won’t rise substantially or will drift lower. So the Fed has to make sure that’s what happens even if struggling Americans have to choose between paying rent or going hungry.

Consider the math. Let’s say you are a widow living on Social Security and a small pension. Let’s say you had a nest egg before the Wall Street crash in 2008 of $150,000 on which you earned 4 percent ($6,000 a year) from a T-Note. But you’ve had to dip into that principal over the past decade to make ends meet. You have just $125,000 left and the 4 percent T-Note has matured. If you roll that over at 0.75 percent, the going rate on a 10-year T-Note, your supplemental income shrinks from the pre-crisis $6,000 to a post-crisis $937.50.

That’s the kind of income squeeze tens of millions of retired senior citizens in America are facing, thanks to the Federal Reserve’s cozy ties to Wall Street.

Now seniors have another financial worry. Cash dividends on stocks are being suspended or cut at a rate not seen since the last financial crisis.

Here’s a sample of some of the cuts: Apache Corp. slashed its quarterly dividend by 90 percent. Harley-Davidson cuts its dividend from 38 cents to 2 pennies – a decline of 95 percent. Occidental Petroleum reduced its dividend by 86 percent. Royal Dutch Shell cut by 66 percent. The oil field services company, Schlumberger, cut its dividend by 75 percent while the San Francisco-based bank, Wells Fargo, slashed its quarterly payout by 80 percent to 10 cents a share.


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