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Retirement Experts to New Government Employees: Think for Yourself
Source: Governing

When pension reform happens, new workers often carry the biggest financial burden. But they don’t always have to.

When politicians talk about pensions, it’s usually about the enormous weight they place on government budgets. According to the Volcker Alliance, where we are consultants, state and local governments are on the hook for $1 trillion in unfunded pension liabilities.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle push for pension “reform,” a word often used in a positive sense, to rescue dollars that could instead be used for other services. But what about future retirees? Is pension reform positive for them?

In many cases, not so much.

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Susana A. Mendoza, Illinois Comptroller, to be Feature Speaker at the 2018 IPPFA Illinois Pension Conference
Source: IPPFA

 

Susana A. Mendoza, Illinois Comptroller, to be Feature Speaker at the 2018 IPPFA Illinois Pension Conference

 

Susana A. Mendoza

Illinois Comptroller

Susana A. Mendoza was elected Illinois Comptroller on November 8, 2016. She became the first Hispanic to ever run for and win a statewide office in Illinois as a Democrat.

Prior to her statewide election, she made history by becoming the first woman ever elected as Chicago City Clerk. Under Mendoza’s leadership, more than 1.3 million Chicago City Vehicle Sticker customers were shifted from an inefficient and archaic seasonal sales program to Year-Round Sales. The new system, modeled after the Illinois Secretary of State’s license plate renewal program, resulted in millions of dollars of new revenue and vastly improved customer service at a lower cost to taxpayers. The program was awarded a 2015 “Bright Idea Award” from Harvard University.

As Clerk, Mendoza also took on the puppy mill industry, successfully authoring and passing a City-wide ban on the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in pet stores unless they are sourced from humane shelters or rescue organizations.

Prior to her service as City Clerk, Mendoza served six terms between 2001 and 2011 as a Democrat in the Illinois House of Representatives. Starting as the youngest member of the 92nd Illinois General Assembly, she quickly earned a reputation as a tenacious and effective legislator, who stood out for her bipartisan approach to governing. Mendoza was routinely recognized for her leadership in the areas of social services, education, law enforcement, job creation and animal welfare.

Mendoza served as Co-Chairperson of the Conference of Women Legislators and has served three times as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. She is a co-founder of the Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus.

In 2004, Mendoza was named one of Crain’s Chicago Business Magazine’s “40 Under 40” and in 2011 she was highlighted again in the magazine’s “Women to Watch” series. Most recently, she was listed in Chicago Magazine’s March 2016 “Power 50” edition.

Mendoza has been part of the US Department of State’s Professional Speaker’s Program, which aims to promote democracy and leadership across the globe. Through this program she has visited Uganda, Tanzania, Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Venezuela and Chile. She was also Chairman of the Illinois International Trade and Commerce Committee.

In 2010, Mendoza was selected by the National Conference of Women Legislators, at the behest of the US Secretary of State, to serve as one of only seven women representing the United States as an international observer of the Iraqi elections in Baghdad.

As Comptroller, Mendoza plans to bring the same tenacity, passion and creativity that she has always exhibited throughout her career in public service. A tested and proven executive officer, Susana is uniquely qualified to help the State get itself back on track financially in a way that doesn’t put the burden on the backs of the working-class families that make Illinois such a great place to live. She will be an independent, truth-telling, fiscal watchdog that prioritizes both the fiscal and moral health of the State. Mendoza will work to enhance the overall internal control environment of the State to run a more effective, transparent and efficient office. Susana will also work to broker needed fiscal stewardship measures across the Illinois state enterprise and leverage technological advances to make it more efficient and easier to maintain accountable stewardship of and control over funds.

Mendoza lives in Chicago’s Portage Park neighborhood with her husband David and their four-year-old son David Quinten. She is a foodie, a soccer fan (and former collegiate soccer player) and occasionally loves jumping out of perfectly fine airplanes.


 

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Welcome Lazard Asset Management to IPPFA
Source: IPPFA

Welcome Lazard Asset Management to IPPFA.

For decades, we have been managing investment portfolios and providing investment advice to institutional and individual investors around the world.

Lazard Asset Management now operates from 18 cities across 13 countries with a global staff of over 750. Our more than 300 investment personnel manage US $222.4 billion across a wide range of global, regional and country-specific strategies – both traditional and alternative – in listed equity and fixed income.

 

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1.5 Million Retirees Await Congressional Fix for a Pension Time Bomb
Source: The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The sprawling agreement to boost government spending reached by Republicans and Democrats this month quietly included a step toward defusing what could be a financial time bomb for 1.5 million retirees and hundreds of companies in the industrial Midwest and the South.

The deal creates a select congressional committee to craft what could effectively be a federal rescue of as many as 200 so-called “multiemployer” pension plans — in which employers and labor unions band together to provide retirement benefits to employees.

Many of these plans are hurtling toward insolvency in the coming decade, with benefits owed to retirees projected to swamp what the plans can afford to pay. The 16-member, bipartisan committee will have to come up with a solution and legislation by the end of November, which the full Senate would need to vote on by the end of the year.

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Will the Financial Fragility of Retirees Increase?
Source: Center for Retirement Research

The brief’s key findings are:

  • Retirees have long been seen as financially fragile – that is, ill-equipped to handle a financial shock without severe hardship.
  • Interestingly, the research suggests that the vast majority of current retirees can weather shocks such as high medical bills and widowhood.
  • Future retirees, however, face greater risk as most people are not saving enough and it is hard to manage a nest egg.
  • The best responses are to reduce fixed expenses (e.g., downsize) and draw more income from assets (e.g., buy an annuity).

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Kentucky House backing off from switch to DC retirement plans
Source: BenefitsPro

A move proposed by Kentucky’s Republican governor, Matt Bevin, last year to transition the state’s public employees from defined benefit to defined contribution plan appears to be losing support—especially after a controversial e-mail sent by business leaders in the state urged lawmakers to end DB plans.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that while no pension bill has yet been introduced in the Kentucky legislature—state workers are already suing retirement system officials and asset management firms over losses sustained by the state’s pension fund—the letter has definitely set teeth on edge.

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Public Pensions Strengthened Their Funding in 2017
Source: National Public Pension Coalition

 

Public pension plans continued to improve and strengthen their funded status last year. That is the takeaway from a new report by the National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems (NCPERS). With many plans earning double-digit investment returns, pension plans took the opportunity to fortify their funded position for the long term.

The annual survey of state and local pensions by NCPERS found that most plans met or exceeded their investment return assumptions. On average, the surveyed pension plans reported 1 year returns of 7.8%, 5 year returns of 8.4%, and 20 year returns of 7.4%. As we’ve noted before on this blog, many public pension plans earned double-digit investment returns during 2017. Just this week, Oregon PERS reported earning 15.3%, more than double their expectations.

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Retirement Benefits
Source: Social Security Administration

Social Security offers an online retirement application that you can complete in as little as 15 minutes. It’s so easy. Better yet, you can apply from the comfort of your home or office at a time most convenient for you. There’s no need to drive to a local Social Security office or wait for an appointment with a Social Security representative.

In most cases, once your application is submitted electronically, you’re done. There are no forms to sign and usually no documentation is required. Social Security will process your application and contact you if any further information is needed.

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Why Have Interest Rates Fallen Far Below the Return on Capital
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

 

Risk-free rates have been falling since the 1980s while the return on capital has not. We analyze these trends in a calibrated OLG model with recursive preferences, designed to encompass many of the “usual suspects” cited in the debate on secular stagnation. Declining labor force and productivity growth imply a limited decline in real interest rates and deleveraging cannot account for the joint decline in the risk free rate and increase in the risk premium. If we allow for a change in the (perceived) risk to productivity growth to fit the data, we find that the decline in the risk-free rate requires an increase in the borrowing capacity of the indebted agents in the model, consistent with the increase in the sum of public and private debt since the crisis, but at odds with a deleveraging-based explanation put forth in Eggertsson and Krugman (2012).

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