NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: Dear reader: Recently, much has been written and speculated about the collapse of Social Security in the next couple of decades. Michael Snyder, of The Economic Collapse, brings to us a few facts that should be taken into consideration when reviewing the causes of that collapse. El Reportero reprints the article below, in order to facilitate a better understanding of this institution to which most American have, unknowingly, a contract with it. Due to its length, it will be published in two parts. This is the First Part.
The Federal Reserve is systematically destroying Social Security and the retirement plans of millions of Americans
by Michael Snyder
The Economic Collapse
Last week the mainstream media hailed QE3 as the “quick fix” that the U.S. economy desperately needs, but the truth is that the policies that the Federal Reserve is pursuing are going to be absolutely devastating for our senior citizens.
By keeping interest rates at exceptionally low levels, the Federal Reserve is absolutely crushing savers and is systematically destroying Social Security. Meanwhile, the inflation that QE3 will cause is going to be absolutely crippling for the millions upon millions of retired Americans that are on a fixed income. Sadly, most elderly Americans have no idea what the Federal Reserve is doing to their financial futures. Most Americans that are approaching retirement age have not adequately saved for retirement, and the Social Security system that they are depending on is going to completely and totally collapse in the coming years. Right now, approximately 56 million Americans are collecting Social Security benefits. By 2035, that number is projected to grow to a whopping 91 million. By law, the Social Security trust fund must be invested in U.S. government securities. But thanks to the low interest rate policies of the Federal Reserve, the average interest rate on those securities just keeps dropping and dropping. The trustees of the Social Security system had projected that the Social Security trust fund would be completely gone by 2033, but because of the Fed policy of keeping interest rates exceptionally low for the foreseeable future it is now being projected by some analysts that Social Security will be bankrupt by 2023. Overall, the Social Security system is facing a 134 trillion dollar shortfall over the next 75 years. Yes, you read that correctly. The collapse of Social Security is inevitable, and the foolish policies of the Federal Reserve are going to make that collapse happen much more rapidly.
The only way that the Social Security system is going to be able to stay solvent is for the Social Security trust fund to earn a healthy level of interest.
By law, all money deposited in the Social Security trust fund must be invested in U.S. government securities. The following is from the official website of the Social Security Administration….
By law, income to the trust funds must be invested, on a daily basis, in securities guaranteed as to both principal and interest by the Federal government. All securities held by the trust funds are “special issues” of the United States Treasury. Such securities are available only to the trust funds.
In the past, the trust funds have held marketable Treasury securities, which are available to the general public. Unlike marketable securities, special issues can be redeemed at any time at face value. Marketable securities are subject to the forces of the open market and may suffer a loss, or enjoy a gain, if sold before maturity. Investment in special issues gives the trust funds the same flexibility as holding cash.
So in order for the Social Security Ponzi scheme to work, those investments in government securities need to produce healthy returns.
Unfortunately, the ultra-low interest rate policy of the Federal Reserve is making this impossible.
The average rate of interest earned by the Social Security trust fund has declined from 6.1 percent in January 2003 to 3.9 percent today, and it is going to continue to go even lower as long as the Fed continues to keep interest rates super low.
A recent article by Bruce Krasting detailed how this works. Just check out the following example….
$135 billion of old bonds matured this year. This money was rolled over into new bonds with a yield of only 1.375%. The average yield on the maturing securities was 5.64%. The drop in yield on the new securities lowers SSA’s income by $5.7B annually. Over the fifteen year term of the investments, that comes to a lumpy $86 billion.
So what happens when the Social Security trust fund runs dry?
As Bruce Krasting also noted, all Social Security payments would immediately be cut by 25 percent…..
Anyone who is 55 or older should be worried about this. Based on current law, all SS benefit payments must be cut by (approximately) 25% when the TF is exhausted. This will affect 72 million people. The economic consequences will be severe.
In other words, it would be a complete and total nightmare.
Sadly, the truth is that the Social Security trust fund might not even make it into the next decade. Most Social Security trust fund projections assume that there will be no recessions and that there will be a very healthy rate of growth for the U.S. economy over the next decade.