Our nation's debt is literally indenturing our children to our international debt holders, but most Americans don't care because they are more concerned about the latest saga involving Snooki on Jersey Shore rather than what really matters, our country’s future.

Monday, November 1, 2010

WSJ - Warning: Retirement Disaster Ahead

Best advice for a good retirement: 1. cash is always king, and 2. being debt free allows you the flexability to do what you want when you please.

Also don't buy into the inflation numbers put out by the government as they are designed so that the government can pay less to retirees under social security in order to keep the ponzi scheme running at little longer.

Warning: Retirement Disaster Ahead


Don't let the rally in the stock and bond markets fool you. Many Americans are still hurtling towards a retirement disaster. Few realize it. Even many of those running the big pension funds don't know.

That's the conclusion of John West and Rob Arnott at Research Affiliates, an investment management firm, in Newport Beach, Calif. In their latest report, "Hope Is Not A Strategy," they have some numbers to back it up.

"I worry a lot about people reaching their golden years and discovering, 'Oh, I should've saved more,' and 'Oh, I don't qualify for Social Security any more because it's means tested'," says Mr. Arnott, a widely respected market strategist. "We're headed for a retirement train wreck," he adds, "and it's going to get really ugly over the next 15 years."

Alarmist? Perhaps. But follow the math.

The returns you will get from your stock funds can only come from four things, they note: Dividends, earnings growth, inflation and changes in valuation.

Right now the dividend yield on U.S. stocks is about 2.2%, they note. Historically, earnings have only grown by a surprisingly low 1% a year in real, inflation-adjusted terms. Mr. Arnott tells me the average since 1900 is only about 1.2%, and in the last half century just 0.6%. Will we get more in the future? With the U.S. population ageing and heavily in debt? It's hard to imagine.

Throw in a 2% inflation forecast–more on this later–and Research Affiliates forecasts a long-term return of 5.2%.

What about changes in valuation? Some generations are lucky. They invest in the stock market when it's depressed and shares are cheap in relation to earnings. This was the case in the 1930s and the 1970s. Then they retire and cash out when the market is booming and shares are expensive in relation to earnings–such as in the 1960s and 1990s.

People today are not so lucky. The stock market's latest rally has lifted shares already to pretty high levels in relation to average cyclically-adjusted earnings. This so-called "Shiller PE" (named after Yale professor Robert Shiller, who popularized the notion) has been an excellent indicator of market value. Right now it's at about 22–well above its historic average of 16. The only time the market has boomed from these levels, was in the late 1990s bubble–an atypical moment unlikely to be repeated any time soon.
You can read the rest of the story here.

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