May 16, 2016

The best pension security you can get is to have grandchildren who love you and who work in a not too bad economy.

Sir, John Plender valiantly discusses one of the most difficult and delicate current problems, namely if tomorrows pensioners will even come close to collect on their expectations, “Uncertainty clouds the outlook for pension funds” May 16.

And looking at the problem solely from the perspective of the current manipulated low rates he already concludes: “What we can safely posit is that an exit from the low or negative rates that cause the blight, however desirable for the pensions system, is unlikely to be a smooth and painless affair”

Add to that longer life expectancies, more robots - less job opportunities, already extremely high indebtedness, climate change, demographic changes, existing inequality and quite possibly much weaker economies… and we start getting the feeling that the only variables capable of balancing the disastrous pension outlooks… are those variables we do not even want to think of… down the line of epidemics and wars.

But how could it not be?

Never ever before has a generation consumed as much of any existing borrowing capacity to sustain its own consumption… so of course little is left for retirement.

And to top it up, we have had to suffer the risk aversion of manipulating regulators who do not want our banks to take the risks that building a healthy future economy needs.

When in the past I often protested the implicit promises of sustainable high rates of return of pension fund plans, I remember always ending up with that the best pension plan was to have children that loved you and who worked in an economy that was not too bad. And I have found no reason to change that opinion… much the contrary… although I now include loving grandchildren too J