Long Term Census Bureau Public Employee Pension Data for NY and NJ Through 2019: The Public Service Killers are Hiding the Fiscal Mass Graves

Three years have passed since I last appended data from the Governments Division of the U.S. Census Bureau to my spreadsheet of individual public employee pension plans in New York and New Jersey.  The latest data for 2019 may be found here.

https://www.census.gov/topics/public-sector/public-pensions.html

There were some big changes for 2019.  Both the pension plan identification codes, and the data item codes, have been changed from the prior few decades, and some data items previously available have been eliminated.   But an entirely new set of data items has been added as part of a separate “actuarial” file, with data on how well funded each state and local government pension plan is, its covered payroll, its total unfunded liability, and its discount rate.  

The new data shows something very important and perplexing that I have written about before – the New York State pension funds that also cover local government workers in the rest of New York State are far better funded than the New York City pension funds for employees of the City of New York and New York City Transit.  Even though the same New York state legislature has set the rules for both for decades.  And even though the people of New York City have paid far more into the city pension funds over those decades, with higher taxes for worse services as a consequence, than have people in the rest of the state.  How?  Why?  And why has the media failed to ask that question of the City and State Comptrollers, and pursue the answers?

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The Census Bureau actuarial data that is used in this post may be found in this spreadsheet.

Reporting for this new database is spotty, and it only includes one, small local pension plan in New Jersey.   In New York State, both the New York State pension system and the New York City pension system have separate pension funds for teachers, police officers and firefighters, and everyone else.   (In the NYC system, the police officer and firefighter pension funds are also separate from each other, and there is an additional, very small Board of Education pension fund that covers very few NYC education workers).

As of 2019, the peak of yet another a stock market bubble that has made New York’s pension funds appear better-funded than they really are, the New York State Teachers Retirement System was reported to be more than 100.0% funded, but the New York City Teachers Retirement System was reported at just 79.0% funded.  

The New York State & Local Police & Fire Retirement System was reported at 95.0% funded, while the New York City Police Pension Fund Article 2 was reported at just 82.0% funded, and the New York City Fire Department Article 1B Pension Fund was reported at just 65.0% funded.  

For the two large pension plans for most workers, the New York State & Local Employees Retirement System was reported to be 96.0% funded, but the New York City Employees Retirement System was reported at just 79.0% funded.

For all public employee pension funds in New York (city and state) added together, the Census Bureau data shows a funded level of 91.7%.  But the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), using the same assumptions that the federal government requires private pension funds to use to avoid defrauding workers, lenders and shareholders, reported that the average public employee pension fund in New York State was just 61.8% funded, as I discussed here.

https://larrylittlefield.wordpress.com/2020/09/13/the-bureau-of-economic-analysis-on-state-and-local-government-pension-funding/

Given that the Census Bureau is just reporting what the New York City and New York State pension funds are telling it.  And that those same union-controlled pension funds have claimed that the huge increases in pension benefits enacted over and over again over 25 years “cost nothing” — even as taxpayer pension costs (and taxes) have soared and services and benefits for new hires have been cut.  Then as far as I’m concerned you can knock 30.0% off those Census Bureau funding levels right now.

Key to the discrepancy is the assumed future rate of return on pension plan assets, as I explained here.

https://larrylittlefield.wordpress.com/2013/11/29/pensions-the-nature-of-the-lie/

The actual future rate of return on an asset depends in large part on the price paid for that asset.  The higher the price paid up front, the lower the future return.  When stocks and bonds are in a bubble, as they were in 2000 and in 2007, and as they are now, the future rate of return from those inflated values will be very low.  Whereas after a crash, there is the potential for better returns going forward.  

State and local government pension funds, however, never adjust the expected rate of return down as asset prices bubble up.   They end up double counting both those inflated asset values and a higher rate future rate of return.  Therefore, every time stock prices bubble up the New York state legislature decides there is “plenty of money” and starts handing out pension increases.  And then when asset prices fall back to normal, they claim “Wall Street stole our money” and therefore tax increases and service cuts are “not our fault.”  Over and over again, for decades.  At this point it isn’t a mistake.

New York’s pension funds are assuming a future rate of return of 7.0% from today’s inflated asset values, even though their actual cash income from investments – interest, dividends, etc. – is very low.  Most of the recent investment returns have been on paper only — increases in the paper value of stocks and bonds as interest rates fell to zero.  But it is actual income – interest and dividends — that can actually be used to pay benefits.  And the actual income paid by investments is what the BEA uses for its assumed future rate of return.  What cash rate of return are insurance companies prepared to guarantee on annuities?   Look here.

https://www.annuity.org/annuities/rates/

The difference between that and 7.0%, multiplied by the total purported assets of NYC pension funds in 2019 — $129 billion, is how much money the DeBlasio Administration was shorting the pension fund to hand out to his interest group supporters that year.  About $5.8 billion.  That money will have to be paid back, with interest, by whoever still lives or has a business in NYC in the future, just like all the additional payouts from all the retroactive pension increase over the years.

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-single-best-investment-for-the-next-decade-2019-08-08?mod=mark-hulbert

The stock and bond markets are currently so overvalued that it’s not only possible, but downright plausible, that real estate will do better than either of these asset classes over the next decade…

In light of events subsequent to this August 2019 article, perhaps commercial real estate wasn’t a good idea either.

Currently the 10-year Treasury is yielding 2.1%, which is just 0.3 percentage points higher than the break-even 10-year inflation rate. (The break-even rate is the difference between the yields on the nominal and inflation-protected 10-year Treasury.) So the market’s best judgment right now is that your return above inflation over the next decade will be just 0.3% annualized.  And if inflation is worse than the market currently expects, bonds will do even worse.

Next let’s consider stocks’ prospects. Forecasting equity performance is much more difficult than in the case of bonds, given the far greater number of factors that can impact their returns. But you should know that, according to almost all standard valuation metrics, stocks currently are somewhere between overvalued and extremely overvalued. Furthermore, you cannot explain away this overvaluation because of low interest rates.

Given this overvaluation, it’s entirely possible that stocks will join bonds over the next decade in falling far short of their historical averages. How far short? By way of a possible answer, I refer you to the 10-year forecast compiled by Research Affiliates. They currently are projecting that the S&P 500 (including dividends) will produced an inflation-adjusted return of just 0.5% annualized over the next decade, and that long-term U.S. Treasury bonds will produce an inflation-adjusted return of minus 0.7%.

Or take the 7-year forecast from Boston-based GMO. They are projecting that the S&P 500 will produced an inflation-adjusted total return of minus 4.2% between now and 2026, with U.S. long-term Treasury bonds losing at a rate of 1.1% annualized.

There is another mystery that no one seems to want to talk about. How is it that the Teachers Retirement System (NYCTRS) of New York City, and the New York Police Pension Fund Article 2, have the same percent funded as the New York City Employees Retirement System (NYCERS)?

New York City teachers have gotten far more and far richer retroactive pension increases than most city workers, and also benefit from a special guaranteed 7.0% return on investments on their own savings.  Teachers work fewer years, on average, than most other city employees as a result, and they have paid less into the pension plans.  NYC Police Officers work even fewer years relative to the number of years in retirement than teachers, and those who aren’t disabled and don’t commit disability fraud get an extra $12,000 pension benefit per year.  

None of these benefits were funded, and as a result NYCTRS and the New York Police Pension Fund Article 2 ended up with far worse funding than NYCERS.  Or so it was the case from when I first started analyzing this data until FY 2016, the last time I did so.  Now they are about the same?  

I suspect that with regard to pension funding, money was shifted from NYCERS to the other plans.  And titles were shifted away from NYCERS to the United Federation of Teachers, so fewer disadvantaged new hires would be paying into NYCERS and more into NYCTRS.  All to cover up the damage from the deals the more politically powerful unions had cut. Otherwise, NYCERS might be close to full funding by now, at least by the Census Bureau’s measure.  

And who got laid off as a fiscal crisis unfolded?  Not police officers, despite overstaffing at the NYPD.  And not teachers, despite falling enrollment.  Blame the PBA and UFT – and the politicians they own — for service cuts in other agencies.  Now, and when asset prices fall and NYCERS requires a larger share of the budget of those other agencies.

Thanks to those pension increases, NYC taxpayers are being forced to pay far more for pensions than are people in the rest of the state.  

For teachers, residents elsewhere in the state have to pay 10.6% of payroll in taxes and public services foregone to the New York State Teachers Retirement System, while NYC residents have to pay 35.5% of payroll to the NYC Teachers Retirement System.  

For police officers and firefighters, residents of the rest of the state have to pay 22.9% of payroll to the New York State & Local Police & Fire Pension Plan.  NYC residents have to pay 63.2% of payroll to the New York Police Pension Fund Article 2, and 107.3% of payroll to the New York City Fire Department Article 1B pension plan.

And for other local government workers, residents of the rest of NY State have to pay 14.2% of payroll to NYSTRS, while residents of NYC have to pay 25.5% to NYCERS.

It is no surprise that there are currently higher pension contributions for the NYC pension funds, since they are less well funded.  But how did they get less well funded? 

New York City taxpayers have also paid vastly more into the New York City pension system over the decades, as a percent of public employee payroll and as a percent of their own incomes, than have taxpayers in the rest of the state.  As I showed here…

https://larrylittlefield.wordpress.com/2018/12/16/sold-out-futures-by-state-public-employee-pensions-in-fy-2016/

New York City taxpayers averaged contributing an average of 17.0% of public employee payroll, and 2.13% of their own incomes, to the NYC pension system, from 1987 to 2016.  The latter is more than any state.  The former is more than any state other than Nevada, where public employees do not also get Social Security, saving taxpayers 6.2% of payroll.  

Meanwhile, taxpayer contributions to the New York State pension system averaged just 8.4% of public employee payroll over the decades – half what NYC residents had to pay.  And residents of the rest of the state ended up paying just 0.95% of their own incomes for public employee pensions – less than half the level of NYC.

And yet at the end of this the NYC pension funds were worse-funded. Why?  And why is that fair?  And why is it fair that NYC public union leaders are constantly claiming that we have cheated them, and we should have to pay higher taxes and accept less in return?  And that no elected official dares to contradict them, and virtually no one in the local media will call them out?

You don’t hear that level of arrogance and contempt from public employees in other parts of the country, places where government workers objectively have far more to complain about.  I grabbed the data from some of the larger public employee pension funds around the country for which the Census Bureau has received and tabulated actuarial data.  

Many of them are for teachers.  Compared with the purported 102.0% funding level for the New York State Teachers Retirement System, and the purported 79.0% funded level for the New York City Teachers Retirement System, the funding levels were 73.0% funded for CALSTRS in California, 40.0% for the Illinois Teachers Retirement System, 44.0% for the separate Public School Teachers Pension and Retirement System of Chicago, 52.0% for the Massachusetts Teachers Retirement System, and 75.0% for the Teachers Retirement System of Texas.  

What do these other states have in common?  Their state and local government tax burdens are far lower, as a percent of their residents’ personal income, than the tax burden for New York State, and the even higher tax burden for NYC.  (Every state has a lower tax burden than New York, and it isn’t close).  And those teachers, whose pension plans are even more underfunded than New York City’s do not also get Social Security, while New York City’s teachers do get it.  

How could politicians in these other states justify leaving their pension funds underfunded for workers who are not also due Social Security? I suspect some version of this. “There is no problem, because there is plenty of money available for current beneficiaries.”  The same thing you here from politicians here in New York, and at the federal level for Social Security and Medicare.  And it’s bi-partisan.

Meanwhile, the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System is just 45.0% funded, the Houston Fireman’s Relief and Retirement fund is just 86.0% funded, and the Houston Police Officers Pension System is just 82.0% funded.  (Fort Worth is broke due to underfunded pension plans too).  These police officers and firefighters don’t get Social Security either.   

Their pension funds got in the hole as middle class whites, including older generations of officers, started moving out of the cities to the suburbs. And then the suburban-dominated Texas State legislature granted huge retroactive pension increases to those prior generations of city officers.  They made a huge score on their way out the door just like New York City’s police officers, firefighters, transit workers and teachers did in the 1960s, after NYC public employees started moving out of the city en masse.  Right on schedule.

Today both Houston and Dallas are diverse cities, with Black mayors presiding over the tax increases and service cuts needed to pay for the costs prior generations of city residents left behind.  Dallas, which has a higher poverty rate than NYC ever had even at its 1970s nadir, has cut the pay and benefits of new officers so low it has trouble hiring, all while paying like crazy for those who cashed in and moved out.  This happens over and over and over again.  As I’ve noted, when the White politicians slink away and you get the Black guy (or gal) the excrement has either already hit the fan, or it is about to.

While taxpayer contributions to the Dallas and Houston police and fire pension funds are high as a percent of payroll, they are not nearly as high as NYC residents have had to pay.  The pension disaster that has befallen California and Illinois is having to pay nearly as much for public employee pensions as NYC residents have had to pay all along.   Those states would need even higher taxes, and much worse services, to match what the political/union class does to the serfs of New York City. 

Look, however, at the Massachusetts Teachers’ Retirement System, with a taxpayer contribution at just 10.2% of payroll, and the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, at just 7.7% of payroll.  Those taxpayer contribution percents are about what I believe would be required for a reasonable pension (like the original Tier IV in New York before all the retroactive increases, or the current Tier VI) – starting from full funding!  And yet these pension plans are significantly underfunded, even based on the very loose assumptions reported to the Census Bureau!  What does this mean for future taxpayers in those states, and/or current teachers who will be left with neither pensions nor Social Security in their old age?

And yet in Texas, unlike in those Blue States, they say…

https://www.star-telegram.com/opinion/ryanjrusak/article249370585.html

Teachers actually want to go to work and school boards are mostly looking for ways to keep the doors open for the sake of children. In other states, teacher unions are forsaking science and willfully hurting children by refusing to work, and Democratic leaders, beholden to their campaign donations, are going along.

Now that teaching virtually from home has been established as normal working conditions here in New York City, as a state arbitrator would inevitably rule, what will “Governor” DeBlasio agree to in exchange for NYC teachers returning to the classroom next September (actually in exchange for political support in 2022)?  Another pension deal?

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Now for the updated long-term data on individual pension funds. The raw data for individual large, active New York City, New York State and New Jersey pension funds may be found here.

Note the new items codes, the new plan identification codes, and the shift from $000s to whole numbers.

In my prior posts on this subject, I chronicled all the self-dealing and deceit over the decades that have led to the New Jersey and New York City pension funds being as underfunded as they are.  I did so because the powers that be are so desperate to sweep all this under the rug.  How desperate?  How about this description of public employee pensions in New York State.

Click to access New-York.pdf

New York has three large state-administered pension systems, and some locally-administered systems.  The state also maintains one retiree health plan.  This analysis focuses primarily on the three large state-administered systems – the New York State and Local Employees Retirement System (ERS),  the New York State Teachers Retirement System (NYSTRS), and the New York State and Local Police and Firemen Retirement System (PFRS) – which make up about 70 percent of public pension active membership in the state.

Some local ones?  The New York City pension system is huge, but they don’t want to talk about it.  No one does.

In response to the financial crisis, substantial cuts were made to benefits for new hires. All three systems in- creased the age and tenure required to received normal retirement benefits, increased the salary averaging period and, most importantly, reduced the benefit factor. In addition to the benefit cuts, all three systems also increased employee contributions…The decline in the aggregate normal costs depends heavily on the continued full payment of the ARC and on assumed returns materializing.

Note the assertion that the benefit cuts were due to the financial crisis, not to pay for prior benefit increases – which are never acknowledged to have occurred.  That pretty much summarizes the public employee pension problem as described by PBS Frontline. There were no retroactive benefit increases, just politicians (not older taxpayers of course) shorting the heroes, and Wall Street stealing money.

The Center for Retirement Research also reports taxpayer pension contributions as a percent of the total budget, including federal entitlements from which federal funding cannot be diverted.   Rather than taxpayer pension contributions as a percent of local tax revenues, or covered payroll.  In contrast, consider this report on what happened to the New York City budget in the 1970s.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1470515/

To avert bankruptcy and restore stability, city and state officials appointed a group of businessmen, bankers, and city officials to serve as an Emergency Financial Control Board (EFCB). The primary goal of the EFCB was to balance New York City’s budget so that the city could again borrow money from public credit markets. To achieve this goal, the EFCB mandated cuts in city services and reductions in the city workforce, the transfer of some municipal responsibilities to state government, and tax increases.

 In 1975, the city’s budget was about $13 billion. The EFCB asked the city to cut $200 million in spending, approximately 6% of its operating expenses, each year for 3 years. However, because of federal and state mandates for entitlement programs, debt services, and other fixed costs, the city had control over and could make cuts from only about a quarter of its budget.   As a result, sectors dependent on discretionary tax levy funds experienced reductions much larger than 6%.

“Other fixed costs?”  Double talk, triple talk, quadruple talk, and Omerta.  That’s why I keep updating this data.

Nonetheless, the past hasn’t changed much from three years ago when I last wrote about public pensions.  So I’m just going to provide updated spreadsheets with all the charts, and links back to the prior posts with all the sordid details I could find.

The spreadsheet with charts for general employees (NYCERS, NYSTERS and the NJ Public Employees Retirement System.

Which I wrote about here.

https://larrylittlefield.wordpress.com/2017/07/02/long-term-pension-data-for-new-york-and-new-jersey-to-2016-the-large-plans-for-most-public-employees-with-commentary-on-hedge-funds/

The New York and New Jersey plans for teachers.

Which I wrote about here.

https://larrylittlefield.wordpress.com/2017/07/29/long-term-pension-data-for-new-york-and-new-jersey-to-2016-teacher-pensions/

There is one update.  In data reported to the Census Bureau former New York City actuary Robert North, perhaps feeling guilty about remaining silent as all those retroactive pension increases that “cost nothing” were enacted, included as “benefits” the money that was taken from the pension fund to pay for guaranteed 7.0% return on teachers’ own 401K-equivalent accounts.  That cost was more than $1 billion per year for years, and taxpayers had to make it up with interest. 

(You can download a list of all the retroactive pension increases for NYC teachers over the decades, a list that North added and Stringer removed from the annual reports of NYCTRS, from the post above.  DeBlasio deleted the “full agency cost” table, which shows city spending on pensions and other benefits for individual agencies, from city budget documents).

The UFT subsequently ordered “President/Governor” DeBlasio and “Mayor” Stringer to make that information go away in Census Bureau data. Suddenly the teachers’ own 401K-equilvalent accounts were reported as NYC teacher pension fund assets, and money that was owed to them by the pension fund was not reported at all.  I raised this with the Census Bureau multiple times, but in the Obama Administration this was never fixed, despite what the Bureau’s reporting manual says about 401k-equivalent plans (they should not be included with pension data).

In a new twist, “Mayor” Stringer reports that after having cost NYC taxpayers more than $1 billion per year for a decade, that guaranteed 7.0% return on teacher 401Ks now costs the pension plan nothing!  In fact it saves money, because the rate of return on those 401K equivalent accounts now exceeds 7.0% (after having caught up) and they are paying money back to the pension fund.  So the NYC teachers’ pension fund, which the state constitution says cannot be reduced or “impaired,” owed those 401K-type plans about $1.8 billion in 2019, but because the rate of return was higher thanks to that “Great Trump Economy” and stock market, that cost less than nothing!

I don’t recall DeBlasio and Stringer claiming that the Trump stock market boom was sustainable and justified by the great economy back in 2019, do you?  If so, please provide the link to the newspaper article in the comments.  

The Census Bureau data show that NYCTRS had $8.8 billion in investment income in FY 2019.  Including just $1.9 billion in actual cash income, and $6 billion in paper gains on assets such as stocks and bonds, minus $366 million in administrative and investment expenses.  Based on that $6 billion paper gain, NYC taxpayer contributions were cut from around 44.0% of payroll to around 33.0% of payroll.  If it ever goes up again, you’ll know that those costs were just shifted to a poorer future and those who will live in it.  

The spreadsheet with charts for police and fire pensions is here.

With a description of the history here.

https://larrylittlefield.wordpress.com/2017/07/06/long-term-pension-data-for-new-york-and-new-jersey-to-2016-police-and-fire-pensions/

If the data on NYC teacher pensions became more misleading during the DeBlasio, Stringer, Obama administrations, what might we expect about NYC police and fire pensions during the Trump Administration?  Note the data that was notupdated for FY 2019.  Data on the number receiving disability pensions, compared with regular pensions, has been eliminated.

Not every pension plan had been reporting it accurately.  The first time I went through the trouble of looking, the Los Angeles police department was reporting the number of former police officers receiving disability pensions at zero.  That turned out to not be true.

https://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-drop-20180203-htmlstory.html

After I called attention to it, the data for later years was corrected to show a share of police and fire retirees receiving disability pensions in Los Angeles was more like one finds in New York City.

https://nypost.com/2020/10/26/disabled-fdny-firefighter-pads-pension-with-stuntman-career/

A New York City firefighter has been moonlighting as a stuntman — while also raking in a $136,684-a-year disability pension, according to court documents.  Firefighter John A. McGinty retired with the lucrative annual payout citing leg, hip and spinal injuries in 2016 after 25 years with the FDNY.

Of course the fact that we know about this shows that the City of New York is cracking down on abuses, right?

McGinty’s double life — retired disabled firefighter and vigorous stuntman — might have remained a secret except that he sued his next-door neighbor in the Rockaways for defamation and claimed the name-calling in front of an actress friend, Julie Reifers, hurt his stuntman/movie acting career.

“The plaintiff is employed as a stuntman and actor with the Screen Actors Guild,” said McGinty’s suit against neighbor Brian Sullivan, also a retired firefighter.  McGinty alleged in court docs that Sullivan called him a “pedophile,” “chicken hawk” and a “sexual predator” who harassed his wife.  The two also sued each other over a dispute involving a fence Sullivan erected separating their properties.

Starting with FY 2019, it will no longer be possible to use Census Bureau data to compare the share of retirees in different state and local government pension funds that are receiving disability pensions.  A decision made by somebody, for some reason, in the dark.  There is no new Census Bureau Governments Classification manual, and I don’t recall the change being proposed.  It is at least possible that this data elimination is the direct result of my having used the data to make that comparison.  

One thing for certain.  We are long past the point of peak transparency, and it is bi-partisan, with the media going along.

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A few more notes on articles related to public employee pensions.

The life expectancy of the average American had been going down even before COVID-19.

https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/26/health/us-life-expectancy-decline-study

In contrast the life expectancy of the average public employee – and thus their years of paid retirement – keeps going up, another factor increasing taxpayer costs.

The Society of Actuaries (SOA) today released first-of-its-kind public retirement plan mortality tables, Pub-2010, which includes the individual mortality experience for teachers (school teachers, college professors), public safety professionals (police, firefighters, correctional officers) and general employees (judges, military, administrative staff). The SOA is releasing public plan mortality tables to give pension actuaries and plan sponsors current information to assist in setting mortality assumptions. This is the first time the SOA has studied public retirement plan mortality separately from the private sector.

The SOA decided to conduct a study specifically focused on public plan mortality after seeing initial data during the development of their private sector mortality tables, RP-2014, which indicated private pensions have differing levels of mortality than public pensions.

With a stock market bubble near its peak, there is now “plenty of money” for more benefit increases, right?  In New York, and in Illinois.

https://chicago.suntimes.com/city-hall/2021/1/11/22225434/firefighter-pensions-increase-illinois-senate-bill-passes-chicago-mayor-objects

With the spotlight focused elsewhere, such as the Mike Madigan saga and the Black Caucus push for criminal justice reform, the Illinois Senate voted Monday to raise retirement benefits for 2,200 Chicago firefighters in a way that would saddle beleaguered city taxpayers with $850 million in added costs by 2055. 

The bill already had passed the Illinois House and now awaits Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s signature or veto.

It was introduced by Sen. Robert Martwick, D-Chicago, when Martwick was a state representative. Martwick, a political nemesis of Mayor Lori Lightfoot, has since been appointed to the Illinois Senate to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of state Sen. John Mulroe.

Lightfoot is yet another Black politician who inherited a shitstorm.

Civic Federation President Laurence Msall urged Gov. J.B. Pritzker to veto the bill, calling it “unhinged from the economic reality facing Chicago property taxpayers and the $850 million cost” to the firefighters’ pension fund. 

“The only place it can come from because of the Legislature not providing any other resources to pay for this would be from property taxpayers. And the city is already increasing property taxes as recently as this year to pay for their pensions,” Msall said. “They’re now on the sixth year of their actuarial, 40-year plan. So you can directly follow this bill’s cost to property taxpayers.”

Sounds “progressive” to me, based on what that word now means. We can expect the New York State legislature to do no less for the heroes, to be paid for by the people who don’t matter — after some years where it “costs nothing.”

There is substantial evidence that if the federal government ever stopped cashing in the future to benefit older, richer and financial sector asset holders, and allowed the price of paper assets to fall to some kind of free market reality, then New York’s pension funds would once again shift from “plenty of money” to “Wall Street stole our money and it’s not our fault.” So the state legislature will need to get the next set of irrevocable retroactive pension increases done soon. This from 2019.

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/is-the-stock-markets-everything-bubble-finally-popping-this-chart-might-have-the-answer-2019-08-05

“Nothing the Fed could do will restore a fragile, speculation-dependent, debt-bubble economy to any sort of health,” he wrote. “Whatever the Fed does, it further distorts a massively distorted system, increasing the odds of a catastrophic re-set.”

Soon enough, Smith says, the Federal Reserve, at the behest of President Trump, will attempt to save the market but will ultimately fail. 

“The American lifestyle and economy depend on a vast number of implicit guarantees — systemic forms of entitlement that we implicitly feel are our birthright,” he wrote in a post on Monday. “Chief among these implicit entitlements is the Federal Reserve can always save the day.”

In either an inflationary spiral or deflationary collapse of self-reinforcing defaults, Smith warned that the Fed’s “save” would destroy the economy.

“Other than the phantom ‘wealth’ of real estate and stock bubbles, the vast majority of the ‘wealth’ generated by the Fed’s actions of the past 20 years has flowed to the top 0.1%,” he said. “This will become self-evident once the phantom gains of speculative bubbles vanish.”

Yes, but they pulled it off yet again, for now, in 2020.  The amount of additional debt poorer later-born generations will have to pay back, as a result of money borrowed last year will be the subject of my next post, when that data becomes available.

1 thought on “Long Term Census Bureau Public Employee Pension Data for NY and NJ Through 2019: The Public Service Killers are Hiding the Fiscal Mass Graves

  1. larrylittlefield Post author

    As of the day this is being written, a big deal is being made about Governor Cuomo cooking the books by assigning COVID-19 nursing home deaths to other places. But if cooking the books, and lack of transparency in general, is a big deal, there is far more to talk about than that.

    The internet made far more data available from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s, though the quality and extent of the data was falling due to budget cuts at major statistical agencies. Since then, and in particular during the past decade, it has been all downhill.

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