"Pension Funds Burn Cities as $1 Trillion Shortfall Set to Grow"

To quote what the psychiatrist, Dr. Krakower, chillingly tells Carmela Soprano: "One thing you can never say: You haven't been told."

(Transcript of part of the scene here; video clip here. One of the absolutely best scenes of the show.)

Related: You might think they'd know better by now. But noooooooo! "The Dangers of Pension Obligation Bonds". (With extra nice touch: this unanticipated problem is due to a fix to an earlier problem.)

Also related: "Chicago's Financial Fire: The city faces trouble from every direction."

Also related: the private sector, no surprise, is smarter.

The stunning improvement in business and family balance sheets is arguably the most impressive and under-reported characteristics of this U.S. recovery (see chart). The latest government statistics indicate that the private sector has massively deleveraged following the debt binge from 2000 to 2008.


"Pension doomsday: How will Illinois pols cope with this crisis?"

Editorial, July 24, Chicago Tribune:

More bad news for Chicago (and Illinois) taxpayers arrived Friday morning in a 35-page, double-sided packet. On one of the last pages: "The entire Act is void."

. . .

The state is in a grotesque stalemate over its finances. Gov. Bruce Rauner, Senate President John Cullerton and House Speaker Michael Madigan can't agree on much of anything, let alone a pension strategy. Even a compromise offered by Cullerton and supported by Rauner that would give pensioned employees a choice on how to reduce their benefits doesn't appear likely to pass constitutional muster, given the courts' rulings. In this state, under these unambiguous decisions, you can't willingly negotiate away a constitutional right.


Words to remember

From a review of Nina Teicholz's The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet by Donald J. McNamara in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, July 2015:

This book should be read by every nutritional science professional as a guide to risks of hubris and the unquestioning belief in whatever the conventional wisdom of the day is and to the consequences of basing public policy on belief as opposed to evidence of positive, beneficial effects. All scientists should read it as an example of how limited science can become federal policy, which may, in in the long run, be harmful when the basic tenets of science, skepticism, and consistent questioning are set aside to appease the powerful voices convinced that we must do something (even if we do not have the proof that that something is the right something).

(Sorry, no link because the piece is behind a paywall.)


"Hillary Clinton's economics: Suddenly it's 1947"

It is rather amazing how much affection today's Liberals have for the U.S. of 50 to 60+ years ago.

You can understand why that confidence was strong in Clinton's early years. The United States had just won a world war and was facing not the widely predicted resumption of the Depression of the 1930s but the surging postwar prosperity that is still fondly remembered by many.

"We must drive steady income growth," Clinton said, as if that were as simple as popping those new automatic transmission shift levers into "D." "Let's build those faster broadband networks." Which private firms were doing until a Federal Communications Commission network neutrality ruling demanded by Barack Obama. We must provide "quality, affordable child care," as if government were good at this.

"Other trends need to change," Clinton said, including "quarterly capitalism," stock buybacks and "cut-and-run shareholders who act more like old-time corporate raiders." This sounds like a call to return to the behavior of dominant big businesses in the early postwar years, when they worked in tandem with big government and big labor — and faced little foreign competition or market discipline.


"The Perfect Scientific Crime?"

The author makes a good point. (Read the article for the supporting case.)

An almost undetectable fraud would be to conduct a real experiment, and involve other people in it, but to control data management yourself, and substitute convincing fake or edited data for the real measurements. 

Related to science's current problems: "Top 10 ways to save science from its statistical self".