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The Next Big Bailout: The US Postal Service

Tyler Durden's picture


Following the roughly two-year overdue rout of municipal securities, which somehow has caught market "professionals" by surprise, there are increasing calls that the Socialist States of America should bail out all the insolvent cities and states that back these securities post haste. Judging by the approach to risk (or lack thereof) so far by supreme chancellor Bernanke and his impotent fiscal policy determining brethren, this will certainly happen within the next 12 months. But the government may be smart to leave some money on the sidelines: another far more prominent bankruptcy is coming - that of the US Postal Service itself, which in tried and true fashion, continues to raise compensation even as net income plummets, and the organization can no longer be deemed to be long-term viable. John Lohman explains.

After guiding toward a loss of $6 to $7 billion for fiscal 2010, the Postal Service disappointed on Friday, November 12th  announcing an $8.5 billion loss (they apparently didn’t attend the Jack Welch University of ‘guide-down-and-beat-by-a-penny’) for the year ending September 30th.  This is on top of a loss of $3.8 billion in 2009 and $2.8 billion in 2008.

These losses have forced the USPS to borrow $3 billion in 2009 and $1.8 billion in 2010, bringing their current debt level to $12 billion.  Only one problem: a statutory limit that prohibits them from borrowing more than $3 billion in any given year, and not to exceed $15 billion total.  And on page 71 of the report, they are kind enough to point out that they have cash obligations this year of $6.7 billion.

“The Postal Service has two substantial cash payments scheduled for September and October 2011: the previously-noted $5.5 billion due to the PSRHBF on September 30, 2011; and approximately $1.2 billion due in October 2011 to the Department of Labor (DOL) for the Postal Service’s annual payment on its workers’ compensation liability.”

So, $12 billion in current debt + $6.7 billion in obligations + another year of guaranteed losses (as foretold in the report’s Outlook on pp. 58-59) - $1.2 billion in cash = welcome to the taxpayer funded USPS bailout of 2011.  The “self-sufficient” monopoly run by the federal government that doesn’t “rely on the taxpayer” will request that Congress increase its debt limits so that it can borrow another $10 billion from the taxpayer-funded U.S. Treasury (at what appears to be, based on current debt outstanding, a taxpayer-subsidized weighted interest cost of 1.4%).  And this from page 54 of the report, where K-Y is applied to the taxpayer in advance of said bailout:

“…Based on the cash balance at September 30, 2010, current borrowing capacity of $3 billion, and projections of cash available from operations, there will be insufficient cash available to fund these financial obligations absent regulatory adjustments to some, or all, of these obligations.

…Given these restrictions, it is unlikely that Postal Service efforts to positively impact cash flow, will be, either individually or in the aggregate, sufficient to offset a cash shortfall on September 30, 2011.”

And the outlook for operations in 2011 which obliterates any hope that K-Y will not be necessary:

“For 2011, we project revenue to be flat versus 2010….Total expenses for 2011, excluding retiree health benefits, are expected to increase, as planned cost reductions are outweighed by the impact of contractual wage and benefit increases and inflation”

As it relates to wage and benefit increases, the USPS is currently negotiating with two of their four unions: APWU (211,000 employees) and NRLCA (207,000 employees), so collectively 62% of their total labor force.  And as of a couple weeks ago, it appears the negotiations aren’t going terribly well.

A final note on compensation, which is a mere 80% of their total cost.  It’s difficult to say for certain what the average postal employee compensation is because they use temporary employees (the Cato Institute estimates $79,000).  But, from the Total Workhours table (p. 45) and Compensation and Benefits line from Operating Expenses (p. 44), average hourly compensation and benefits can be computed. 

And there you have it.  Look for what will be the first in a very long series of USPS bailouts sometime in early 2011.


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Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:01 | 734951 dick cheneys ghost
dick cheneys ghost's picture

dont touch my "junk"

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 16:13 | 735293 Miss Expectations
Miss Expectations's picture

I junked you.  Was I supposed to ask first?

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:14 | 734957 Spalding_Smailes
Spalding_Smailes's picture

LEeeeOoo  ...? Has anyone seen Leo ? He told me to buy the dip yesterday ... "SOL"

ReneSola Ltd. (ReneSola) is a manufacturer of solar wafers and producer of solar power products based in China.

They are down another 7% today ...?Hmmmmm 33% in 9 days :-(

LDK - 4%

TSL - 4.3%

JASO - 3.3%

WTF ???


by Leo Kolivakis
on Tue, 11/16/2010 - 17:46



My ass is fine, sold some after earnings, and bought more today. Options expire this week. Do yourself a favor and buy some of these Chinese solars. I'll even spoonfeed you some tickers to keep an eye on: SOL, LDK, TSL, YGE, JASO, and SOLF. If you're not in solars, you're missing the ride of your life! Solar bitchez all the way! LOL!

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:31 | 735085 ZackAttack
ZackAttack's picture

SOLF... that doesn't look like a lot of SolarFun to me. That looks like SolarPain to me.

You know perfectly well what's going to happen here. When the subsidies get cut off, these will wind up like the ethanol stocks.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 16:16 | 735301 Cruel Aid
Cruel Aid's picture

Headwinds: Oil dropping currently/Carbon Exchange CCX dead. It needs to go lower. I was in love with TSL for a while there, but left her while the getting was good.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:04 | 734961 tmosley
tmosley's picture

Why do we need a first class mail monopoly again?

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:11 | 734988 idea_hamster
idea_hamster's picture

Originally, there was a significant 4th Amendment advantage to sending written matter by first class mail -- prosecutors needed a full-fledged probable-cause judicial warrant to search first class mail, whereas postcards and FedEx (all third class, IIRC) needed a much lower showing.

As for the meaning of that today?  Just ask the TSA, whose new slogan should be:

TSA: Free Govt Junk Rubz since 2010

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 16:01 | 735232 Divided States ...
Divided States of America's picture

US POSTAL cannot fail, I repeat, cannot fail. If it does, who will be sending out all the welfare checks to us?? Bailout is imminent.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 16:16 | 735303 Miss Expectations
Miss Expectations's picture

Last year was the first time in my adult life that I didn't send out Christmas cards.  Between card cost and postage it would have set me back well over $100.00.

Thu, 11/18/2010 - 10:46 | 737528 RockyRacoon
RockyRacoon's picture

Wow!  You have a lot of friends/relatives.  Mine would have cost $12.50.


Wed, 11/17/2010 - 20:41 | 736373 Triggernometry
Triggernometry's picture

Are they hiring? My ex needs a job

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:16 | 734962 Mr Lennon Hendrix
Mr Lennon Hendrix's picture

Bailout the government until the dollar or government itself goes belly up, then the zombie corpses (Coprorations) take over.  THE PLAN.  UPS and FedEx are licking their chops.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:04 | 734963 Goldenballs
Goldenballs's picture

No doubt the Bosses are very well paid as usual.Love to know how their pay has increased in the last 10 years.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:19 | 735029 Gene Parmesan
Gene Parmesan's picture

I'd be interested in seeing how all of the union members working for the USPS have been doing over that time.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:31 | 735088 Goldenballs
Goldenballs's picture

Quite,especially like to know how many large profit making sevices within the organisation have been sold off over the last few years to the private sector.Easy to blame the employee,s if we don,t question the management or lack of it we have learned nothing recently.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:06 | 734969 knukles
knukles's picture

Lick my stamp.

Thu, 11/18/2010 - 10:48 | 737531 RockyRacoon
RockyRacoon's picture

Oh, that's old fashioned.  Stamps are all self-adhesive now.

Where ya been?

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:08 | 734980 bob_dabolina
bob_dabolina's picture

There is something wrong here.

They deserve at least $60 p/hr.


Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:13 | 734999 knukles
knukles's picture

Who?  Oh, you mean that one employee that's never at the counter during business hours. 

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:28 | 735070 bob_dabolina
bob_dabolina's picture

That guy deserves at least $80 p/hr

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:11 | 734987 midtowng
midtowng's picture

So postman, firefighters, schoolteachers, and the unemployed are what is wrong with America today.

Funny how the guys who actually run the country somehow manage to not get blamed.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:14 | 735013 Cdad
Cdad's picture

What the fuck are you talking about?  Who do you think facilitated these ridiculous pay and retirement packages?

The postman, the firefighter, the school teacher the unemployed, along with our f'n bureacratic slugs, ARE ONE AND THE SAME!

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:18 | 735027 Goldenballs
Goldenballs's picture

Poor Management is to blame for nearly every problem toay.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:20 | 735037 economessed
economessed's picture

And the root cause of poor management is non-existent leadership....

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:32 | 735094 tmosley
tmosley's picture

And the cause of non-existent leadership is a system where those making economic decisions are spending other people's money rather than their own.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:45 | 735156 cosmictrainwreck
cosmictrainwreck's picture

WOW - tmosley...bullseye!

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 18:15 | 735959 economessed
economessed's picture


Thu, 11/18/2010 - 10:49 | 737538 RockyRacoon
RockyRacoon's picture

It goes all the way to the top.  The Postmaster General is an appointed position.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:54 | 735199 ColonelCooper
ColonelCooper's picture


The fact that you'd even come up with a statement so asinine is simply stunning.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 16:01 | 735228 financeguru500
financeguru500's picture

It's easy to sit here and point fingers as one institution after another needs bailing out. How about we start pointing fingers at the true cause of the failing economy, the baby boomers who didn't boycott when the mega corporations shipped all our jobs overseas.

I was born in the 80's and so im shit out of luck I guess. We were past the point of no return before I even knew what was going on.

So if were going to blame anyone, I blame the people who during the 70's and 80's did nothing to prevent our current situation.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 16:10 | 735273 Bam_Man
Bam_Man's picture

They just wanted the $29 DVD player.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 21:18 | 736450 Uncle Remus
Uncle Remus's picture

I was born in the 80's and so im shit out of luck I guess.

Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.

Thu, 11/18/2010 - 10:53 | 737549 RockyRacoon
RockyRacoon's picture

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

Born in the 80s.   How quaint.   I had 2 kids in school by the 80s.

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

Sorry, can't help myself. 

While you were at it, did they teach you that "80's" is not correct?  How about proper capitalization?  Oh, never mind.  You're screwed all right, and it ain't my fault.  When you look in the mirror in the morning you're seeing the problem.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:13 | 735002 ZeroPower
ZeroPower's picture

Wow you'd think all those shitty ebay items being packaged and shipped would save them?

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:28 | 735066 sourgrapesson
sourgrapesson's picture

Strangely enough the only shitty ebay item I have ever received came from Canada.......

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:28 | 735067 sourgrapesson
sourgrapesson's picture

Strangely enough the only shitty ebay item I have ever received came from Canada.......

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:45 | 735154 Fraud-Esq
Fraud-Esq's picture

direct marketing is the first budget cut. 

Recessionary numbers, lean years...

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:13 | 735003 buzzsaw99
buzzsaw99's picture

Anyone who can lose money like that deserves a bonus. Bailout = double bonus.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:14 | 735006 TruthInSunshine
TruthInSunshine's picture


Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:32 | 735091 aheady
aheady's picture


Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:14 | 735007 Joe Davola
Joe Davola's picture

I don't know how Tyler pulled this off, but the ad Google is serving up at the top of my page view is to apply for local mail clerk jobs!

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 16:17 | 735310 centerline
centerline's picture

"Going postal" has a whole new meaning now.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:16 | 735020 Rainman
Rainman's picture

USPS has over 400,000 union members.....?? Taxpayers are seriously fucked.

Public sector employees should never have been allowed to organize into unions anywhere in the USA. Politicians negotiating labor contracts on behalf of the taxpayer is a still-hidden economic disaster. USPS is just one of many examples.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:34 | 735103 NOTW777
NOTW777's picture

you r talking about the base of the dem party

this is how we get obama, pelosi, reid, frank, et al

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:18 | 735023 Clark_Griswold ...
Clark_Griswold Hedge Mnger's picture

I think they should pay the post office people the same that they pay our front line soldiers; get a few marine drill sargents in there, so they can have proper weapons training...

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 21:19 | 736453 Uncle Remus
Uncle Remus's picture

The last fucking thing this country needs is trained brownshirts...

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 23:29 | 736750 Clark_Griswold ...
Clark_Griswold Hedge Mnger's picture

read sarcasim

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:22 | 735046 jag
jag's picture

How many individuals or businesses need six days of common mail delivery a week?

You could cut it to 3 days for households and no one would be affected a whit. How many individuals get ANY routine checks in the mail? Even my 90 year old mother has her pension and social security direct deposited.And what is the need for anyone to recieve anything other than a check delivered in a timely fashion?

Even assuming you found those handful of people who somehow actually needed such intense delivery wouldn't it be far cheaper simply to accomodate them, individually, instead of continuing to deliver intensely to the 99.9% who don't need or care for such "service"?

If anything epitomizes the hysterical stupidity of government managed "operations" the post office is it. 


Wed, 11/17/2010 - 16:04 | 735250 RmcAZ
RmcAZ's picture

There should be an option to opt out of standard mail delivery... but the problem with this is that everyone would opt out, and then there would be no market for junk mail anymore. I believe the only reason the USPS even exists is because of junk mail. That is all I get. Everything else is done online. Any packages I get either come from UPS or Fedex.

Thu, 11/18/2010 - 10:58 | 737569 RockyRacoon
RockyRacoon's picture

You are more right than you know.  That junk mail actually pays to keep First Class rates as low as they are.  It would cost about $1 to mail a regular letter if there were not tons of junk mail to carry the cost.  The best way to help the USPS "system" is to repack all the junk back in the postage paid reply envelope (without your address on it, of course) and mail it back.  The receiving agent then charges the original mailer for the freight.  Yipee!

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:22 | 735049 Ripped Chunk
Ripped Chunk's picture

How about we just get rid of all the dead wood, abusive USPS employees that piss on your mail if you dare complain about the service and replace them with a bunch of the currently unemployed? At 60% of the current cost.

Or just privatize the POS and let them compete with the other 2 monopolies.  

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:59 | 735219 badnews...buyspus
badnews...buyspus's picture

+1   I have been saying the same thing for months. The gooberment needs to sell most of their $ losing assets. The gooberment can't run shit - does anything cash flow positive? Privatize the USPS and then keep going. That is the best way to shrink the gooberment.

Thu, 11/18/2010 - 11:05 | 737581 RockyRacoon
RockyRacoon's picture

Yo, Ripped and Badnews, you guys have the problem by the short & curlies.  It's the monopoly aspect of the USPS that is the problem.  There have been many attempts to bypass the delivery of mail and they have all failed -- actually, they have been put out of business since the USPS has a legal monopoly.   The USPS would disappear tomorrow if that mandate were removed.   Ben Franklin's idea was a great one at the time, but it is now time to move on.  That won't happen until it HAS to happen.  Just like any other quasi-governmental situation.  Freddie/Fannie anyone?  The USPS retirement funds are the real situation.  Ain't no way they can maintain the current schedule. 

You ain't seen pissed off folks until you see postal workers told that they are cut loose.  It would make the riots in Greece look like a kindergarten outing.   Piles of mail will be set ablaze in the Post Office parking lot near you.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:24 | 735051 Everybodys All ...
Everybodys All American's picture

Well when this money train Federal government comes to a halt it is going to be painful for alot of people. Talk about going postal.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:37 | 735114 Dburn
Dburn's picture

+ 400,000

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:25 | 735055 curbyourrisk
curbyourrisk's picture

Those asswipes make more than me!  Stupid college diploma...what a waste of money.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:49 | 735173 cosmictrainwreck
cosmictrainwreck's picture

yo - you got to the thread ahead of me; youbetcha - wish I could find a $40 job....

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 18:41 | 736067 Clycntct
Clycntct's picture

I'm pretty sure it isn't including the bennies with that hourly.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 16:47 | 735483 Mariposa de Oro
Mariposa de Oro's picture

That's what I think everytime I hear strippers talk about how much money they make.  I should'a got the nose job....

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 18:32 | 736036 cosmictrainwreck
cosmictrainwreck's picture

I don't know, M de O.....ya sound like you're OK with the nose you got -  "and she's smart, too...."

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:25 | 735056 Bastiat
Bastiat's picture

Or just privatize the POS and let them compete with the other 2 monopolies. 

Although I agree with the sentiment, that sentence was just too much to let pass. 

Thu, 11/18/2010 - 01:29 | 736900 Milestones
Milestones's picture

Yes, there are some anamolies.     Milestones

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:29 | 735072 Hustler Elite
Hustler Elite's picture

Add them to the list of future bailout recipients, which includes most munis and what do you get: More money printing!

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:37 | 735104 John McCloy
John McCloy's picture

 The problem with these ongoing escalating subsidies like Amtrak is that no steps are taken to resolve the core problem which is inefficiency, poor management and the lack to reform because Uncle Sam is always there to continue to make the problem worse as the years go on. If business is permitted to fail then it will act as incentive to become more efficient. We should just call this what it is since they will neither raise prices or cut costs and that is a semi-welfare system for those who cannot afford the higher prices of postage and shipping.  There is a reason UPS and Fedex are more expensive and profitable.

Cannot lose the postal vote so once again "democracy" prevails and vote buying resumes. This all works as well all know until the money runs out.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 16:51 | 735511 Mad Mad Woman
Mad Mad Woman's picture

You're right, Uncle Sam does make things worse for Amtrak. For years a lot of Senators & Congress critters make demands of Amtrak that were ridiculous. They "thought" they weremaking things better. Ha!

Plus the management at Amtrak isn't the greatest either.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:35 | 735107 notadouche
notadouche's picture

What do you expect when 27% of the workforce reports to a room to watch tv 8 hours aday in order to avoid getting workman's comp because they have bad backs.  

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:37 | 735110 Agent P
Agent P's picture

Um...maybe if they raised the price of postage to a more realistic level, then the business could be self-sustaining.

Now, I realize this can be a sensitive topic for people who have become used to (entitled) to cheap subsidized mail service, but before you cry foul, take a step back and look at the business model...

The USPS will come to you (home and business) six days a week to bring you your mail and to see if you have anything you'd like to send.  They will then take the item you want to send, let's say a standard letter, and deliver it anywhere in the country, and charge you 44 cents for that service (and on days you don't send anything it's free).

Seriously...44 cents...what else can you buy for 44 cents anymore?  I challenge you to come up with a list of more than five items (let alone a service like cross country delivery).

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:41 | 735134 notadouche
notadouche's picture

How about charging 5 bucks per ad mailer.  That would cut out all the crap I get in the mail I don't need, save a few million trees, cut the workforce of the postal service down by 30%.  Problem solved on a lot of fronts all at once.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 16:09 | 735267 nufio
nufio's picture

absolutely. after reading that comment I just signed up at

How come EPA doesnt have any opinion about this :

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 16:25 | 735350 MachoMan
MachoMan's picture

It doesn't just cost $.44...  you also have to add the taxes taken from you to pay for their bloated, inefficient service as well as the future obligations for retirement/pensions/etc.  My guess is the cost will be substantially higher...

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 19:02 | 736133 DukkButt
DukkButt's picture

Swing and a miss there, MachoMan. The Post Office hasn't been taxpayer supported for more than 20 years. They have also been paying the federal government for the cost of the retirees under the old Civil Service Retirement System. As a matter of fact, some recent independent estimates are that they have OVERPAID the CSRS by about $50-$70 Billion dollars. And they are the only federal agency that has to prefund their retiree benefits.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 20:17 | 736315 MachoMan
MachoMan's picture

Am I missing something here?  Just some quick google links.

So what's the $10b tab all about?

Are we in a situation where its operating costs aren't taxpayer funded, but since it operates at a loss, it borrows money or is otherwise routinely bailed out?  Please elaborate.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 16:32 | 735380 Dixie Normous
Dixie Normous's picture

Agent P: What a load of crap.  Like any government run operation the cost is not at the point of service, it's behind the scenes.  Shit like paying the post master general and other postal execs too much in current and deferred comp to run a service that's been on autopilot for decades is what kills the system. Shit like wasting money on sponsoring cycling and 6 days a week of delivering junk mail while paying union hacks far more than they are worth now and in retirement is what costs the most.

If wages for the avg American blue collar worker aren't rising, and haven't for at least a decade, then how the hell are they supposed to pay for all the COLA increases of all these government hacks year in and year out?

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 16:48 | 735446 bbqporkwings
bbqporkwings's picture

Agent P, Correct. You see the value and judging from the other comments that fail to take in the total math of the logistics and parameters imposed on the USPS. They can't raise prices without permission and that service can not operate at a profit. How many successful company's fiscal goal is limited at par? There is a lot of waste, as with any large corporation. Those that wish to privatized the most are those who would love to have the metro delivery, not te cost of Keys West to Nome for 44¢. That "junk" mail advertisement pays for about 20% of the operating costs. Anybody notice how little of that there is now days? Whose job was that, to include the supply chains, materials, printing of?


But then, I guess that this view will get flagged as junk...


Then, I have to add the story of the government worker who gets a $5.5M bonus to retire this Xmas.


PMG Jack Potter

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 21:29 | 736470 Uncle Remus
Uncle Remus's picture

A farm laborer has more value.

Thu, 11/18/2010 - 11:11 | 737614 RockyRacoon
RockyRacoon's picture

Not sure why you garnered all the junks since what you said is 100% correct.

The "right price" for a First Class one-ounce letter is $1, as I pointed out above.

But folks won't pay that, they'll just send more emails.  I get more email Christmas cards than ones that come in the mails.  

The USPS tinkered with the idea of electronic transmittal of letters from local post offices to post office boxes.  They abandoned the idea for some weird reason.  Seems like good ideas get squashed -- union pressure perhaps, since no live person gets to go out in the rain, sleet, and dark of night?

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:41 | 735117 Fraud-Esq
Fraud-Esq's picture

More Privatization PROPAGANDA. 

"Big bailout"? No.

13 trillion into the dark of night is "big". 

A few billion to keep the oligarchs away from my door, data mining my mail and selling my info is fine by me.  

Protection money.  

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:44 | 735146 DosZap
DosZap's picture

The USPS is always in the RED.

They are the "ORIGINAL QE".

They get bailed, we pay ever yet higher prices,they continue to lose, and stay under the Fed umbrella.

This entity should have been privatized 20yrs ago.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 20:51 | 736386 StychoKiller
StychoKiller's picture

The US Constitution MANDATES that first class letters be under the control of the Postal Service.  Check your premises.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:48 | 735169 ShankyS
ShankyS's picture

An Obamacare Healthcare waiver like 111 other big boys are getting may cut that deficit in half.


Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:52 | 735186 notadouche
notadouche's picture

Someone correct me if I'm wrong but I seem to remember back in the 70's there was a time when the postal service was held up as a model institution in the way it was profitable and never needed taxpayer money.  It actually returned money to the treasury.  Am I "misremembering" this?  If my facts are right then what happened?  How did they manage to snatch losses from the jaws of profits?

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:55 | 735204 DollarDive
DollarDive's picture

"Misremembering" reminds me of Roger !!

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 16:53 | 735525 bbqporkwings
bbqporkwings's picture

When Reagan moved the USPS to be under the OBM, their excesses and blue books were "absorbed". Been red ever since.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 16:53 | 735526 Mad Mad Woman
Mad Mad Woman's picture

You're right. Somewhere they took a wrong turn.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:54 | 735189 DollarDive
DollarDive's picture

Raise Stamp Prices to $2.00..... Layoff 1/2 of the "non-essential" workers.  (if they laid off all "non-essential" then nobody would be left......problem solved.....but then we'd really have to admit inflation, and the powers that run this freaking country don't want to admit that we really are in an inflationary environment.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 20:53 | 736389 StychoKiller
StychoKiller's picture

If the movers of the mail were paid by the piece, I guarantee that efficiency would shoot through the roof!

Thu, 11/18/2010 - 11:15 | 737624 RockyRacoon
RockyRacoon's picture

Pay the desk clerks a commission on services sold and you'd see some efficiency as well.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 15:58 | 735216 RafterManFMJ
RafterManFMJ's picture

Sadly in the coming conflict, the Federal Employees and Banker Vampires vs. the destroyed and desiccated Middle Class, only the Feral Banker and Federal class will be able to afford guns and ammo.  And groups like the Postal Class, have had ongoing field exercises for years, sometimes referred to as, 'going postal.'  

Short futures on the Revolution.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 21:30 | 736472 Uncle Remus
Uncle Remus's picture


Wed, 11/17/2010 - 16:07 | 735260 max2205
max2205's picture

I could careless if I ever get any mail through usps.  that's a black hole 50,000 light years wide

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 16:12 | 735283 Id fight Gandhi
Id fight Gandhi's picture

How? People ship more packages due to ecommerce then ever! So instead of letters they're getting a shit load of Internet shipping.

I don't get it. They make it seem as though since people don't write letters due to email the whole thing is falling apart.

Just stupid money handlers. Fire em all.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 16:15 | 735296 JimboJammer
JimboJammer's picture

Raise  the  stamps  to  $  1.60

Tax  Gasoline   $  6.00  /  Gal. 

Tax  Electricity   $  200.  /  house  per  month

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 16:22 | 735333 SwannDog
SwannDog's picture

Jimbo, delete that before somebody gets any ideas.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 16:16 | 735306 Eureka Springs
Eureka Springs's picture

I love the postal service! Raise my stamp rates and go to delivery tues thru sat.. adust folks pay accordingly. I bet most would prefer a five day work week.


thanks for all you postal workers do.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 16:23 | 735337 Ripped Chunk
Ripped Chunk's picture

Yea, well I don't know where the fuck Eureka Springs is but in 81632 they don't even deliver the mail to your house and they are only open for "service" from 8:30 to 4:30.  How fucking convienient!

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 16:29 | 735368 FOC 1183
FOC 1183's picture

+295 (which happens to be the current 5yr CDS on California)

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 16:37 | 735417 notadouche
notadouche's picture

Hippie land of Arkansas

Thu, 11/18/2010 - 11:17 | 737630 RockyRacoon
RockyRacoon's picture

You goddam right.  And Eureka Springs is hard to get to.  We like it that way.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 17:26 | 735694 RKDS
RKDS's picture

Wow, it took this long to get a positive comment about the post office?  I too appreciate this constutionally mandated service.  Most of the people commenting otherwise are extremely ignorant.  They don't understand the budget shuffling or the constitutional mandate, let alone give damn about what happens to anyone else because they've got theirs and that's all that matters.

I am so sick of everyone trying to balance their free lunches on the backs of the very people they're lecturing at about free lunches and responsibility.  The USPS is the least of our problems, if it even is one, but the mindless sheeple will howl their talking points all the way into 3rd world poverty.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 22:35 | 736619 Scarticia
Scarticia's picture

Thanks,  I am pretty sure that most of the whiny pissants criticizing the postal service couldn't do the job.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 16:16 | 735308 JimboJammer
JimboJammer's picture

Tax  Death   >>  if  you  die ,   you  pay  a  $  15,000.  tax

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 16:47 | 735344 TruthInSunshine
TruthInSunshine's picture


Trust me, they do this heavy (except for the sole exception of the year 2010).

If you die in any year but 2010, and are worth more than 3.5 million (or 7 million for a married couple), they take at least 50% and as much as 55% of anything over those amounts from you.

This is money saved by someone AFTER they already paid taxes on it (payroll taxes, income taxes, capital gains, etc. etc.), mind you - it's SAVED money after the government has already gotten their pound of flesh.

Some call it an 'estate tax,' but it's really a tax just to prove that these sociopaths can still squeeze you after you're fucking dead.




Wed, 11/17/2010 - 16:27 | 735334 flrzero
flrzero's picture

In socialist Sweden they made the post office into an incorporated government owned company in the 1990s. They even got rid of all nearly all post offices. (According to Swedish wiki there are 9 left, primarily serving business customers.) Basic services now operate via counters at grocery stores, newsstands, etc. It seems to work OK and there are not any strong alternative services for domestic packages like UPS or Fedex.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 16:40 | 735436 -Michelle-
-Michelle-'s picture

The USPS is obsolete.  I rarely get anything other than junk mail and, when I do, they manage to screw that up.  Although I found my experience with Gainesville Coins satisfactory, I can no longer order from them because they ship via USPS.

My chain-smoking mail carrier (she's a rural route carrier and uses her own vehicle) decided it wasn't worth the bother of actually getting out of her car and walking my box of PMs to the door to obtain my signature on the receipt.  Instead, she just forged my name and stuck the box in my mailbox.  My complaint is now being "investigated" by the branch supervisor. 

So, USPS, you can go out of business for all I care.  It's no wonder people go with FedEx and UPS.  Those guys about knock my door down when a signature is required for delivery.

Thu, 11/18/2010 - 11:21 | 737644 RockyRacoon
RockyRacoon's picture

Not really.  Each case is different.  UPS left a package on my doorstep that required an adult signature with photo ID.  It was my GUN that had been sent to the manufacturer for an upgrade.  A GUN left on my doorstep even though the package was clearly and boldly marked.  So, fools reign in all spheres.

Thu, 11/18/2010 - 15:53 | 738623 -Michelle-
-Michelle-'s picture

True, but I imagine the complaint resolution at UPS is quite different from the one at USPS.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 16:41 | 735442 Mad Mad Woman
Mad Mad Woman's picture

I can help the USPS. If they would give me 1 year & $1 million I would have them back in the black in 1 year.

Are the people who manage things at USPS idiots or something?

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 16:46 | 735468 notadouche
notadouche's picture

When it's illegal to fire unproductive workers or even to ask for cutbacks to trim overhead expenses in a meaningful way no one can fix this.  

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 16:46 | 735476 notadouche
notadouche's picture

When it's illegal to fire unproductive workers or even to ask for cutbacks to trim overhead expenses in a meaningful way no one can fix this.  

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 16:57 | 735549 Mad Mad Woman
Mad Mad Woman's picture

There's always ways to get around that kind of crap.

Thu, 11/18/2010 - 11:22 | 737646 RockyRacoon
RockyRacoon's picture

Name three.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 16:42 | 735445 notadouche
notadouche's picture

We are fighting a losing battle here folks.  We are being worn down to a nub by government trying to commandeer the people's treasure.   Maybe it's time to let the modern day pirates win and everyone do their job, give all money to the government and just accept what they allow us to have.  It's going to happen anyway, it's just a matter of time so let's just say uncle now.  Death by a million paper cuts is more cruel than just ripping my heart out of my chest and showing it to me before I die. 

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 17:00 | 735560 Mad Mad Woman
Mad Mad Woman's picture

Never surrender!! You have to fight. You can't let them win. I'll fight them to my last dying breath.

And I'm Irish.....we like a good fight!!

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 16:46 | 735475 Ye Ye
Ye Ye's picture

According to Wikipedia, "The Postal Service is the nation's second-largest civilian employer, after Wal-Mart."  Who knew?

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 17:02 | 735578 FOC 1183
FOC 1183's picture

yes, and 85% of them are union

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 17:19 | 735680 TeresaE
TeresaE's picture

Yet more proof that pensions of any kind are 100% unsustainable.


Thank goodness the government is busy doing what the rest of us have had to do for years - removing paid for life to paid for work.


Oh wait, they aren't?  Oh well, my kids apparently won't need paychecks, party on.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 17:28 | 735730 Bigger Dickus
Bigger Dickus's picture

Lysander Spooner must be laughing right now.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 17:31 | 735740 Bigger Dickus
Bigger Dickus's picture

Lysander Spooner must be laughing right now.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 17:46 | 735825 b_thunder
b_thunder's picture

if you want 30% of your mail lost, and another 30% opened and any valuable contents stolen as int he 3rd world countries - you've got to pay postal workers well above average wages.  Unfortunatelly...


Wed, 11/17/2010 - 20:03 | 736240 DukkButt
DukkButt's picture

As a Postal Service worker, I'll stick my neck out and risk getting it chopped off by the "friendly" crowd  :)   here at Zero Hedge.  Working for the Post Office is strange in a lot of ways. It is union and the union leadership is totally pro Democrat. That being said, there are a lot of ex military (I work with a guy who was a sniper out in the sand box, somewhere) and who tend to be more conservative. The leadership of the Post Office AND the unions make obscene salaries. I work in the back of the building as a clerk processing the mail. I am at the highest pay grade and make just over $26/hour, with a night differential (between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m) of about $1.70/hour. The benefits are decent but not like they used to be under the old Civil Service Retirement System. At 30 years of service you retire with 30% of the average of your high 3 years of base pay (doesn't include overtime or any other premium pay). You also get a Social Security supplement that is (number of years fed service)/40 times (age 63 Social Security retirement amout) until you are 63. Then it stops whether or not you start Social Security. I'll admit that it is pretty good pay but in general we work pretty hard for that pay.

As far as the finances go, the Post Office hasn't been taxpayer supported for more than 20 years. As a matter of fact, they pay into the Federal government to cover the cost of the employees who retired under the old CSRS. Some recent independent studies say that they have actually OVERPAID the feds by $50-$70 Billion. What do you think the chances are of the feds giving that back? Also, the Post Office is the only government agency that is required to pre-fund their retirement benefits. Just those two things make the current difference between making and losing money. They have also heavily automated and reduced their number of employees by something like 200,000+ people in the last 20 years. 

Yes, there are lazy employees that get away with not working much but that is because management tends to be either too stupid or too lazy themselves to actually bother with the process the contract lays out to take care of those situations. The union then saves those people, but that is their job - enforcing the contract and making the Post Office follow it. It actually bothers many of the employees when that happens (believe it or not) but, again, that is the fault of management not doing their job.

Speaking of management, there are good and bad managers but overall they are not very impressive. The trend has been to more and more centralization of decision making which leads to a one size fits all approach that leaves many of us shaking our heads at stupid decisions that don't fit the local situation.

Union membership is voluntary, so the union has a vested interest in making management out as the universal bad guy. Hey, if everybody got along and was all one big happy family, who would need a union? Not blaming them, that's just the facts. Management, in turn, does their part to be idiots and jerks, so it ends up being a very adversarial environment. Don't really see any way to change that, human nature being what it is.

Yes, there are things that could be improved, but most of us are quite proud of the job we do and the service we provice and actually do care about giving our customers good service.

Don't claim to have any answers, just a view from the trenches. Thanks for listening!

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 21:59 | 736524 FOC 1183
FOC 1183's picture


As the author of this study, I would first like to apologize to all of the hard working postal employees (of which, I am certain there are many).  Many of us are angry with the "system" as it has evolved.  This includes the government, the central bank, investment banks, etc., but it is not directed at any individual.  Our (TD included) attempts to vent this frustration inevitably end up being taken personally by the "individuals" involved with the target within the "system".  Goldman has been one of my biggest enemies since my 3rd day in the business (30+ years ago), yet some of my best friends have worked there (I myself interviewed with and turned down a job offer from them).

As it relates to the CSRS issue, I agree completely (though am not sure the estimated overpayment is as high - I think it's overstated; but in any case, your point is valid - a refund of whatever overpayment has been made would buy more time for the USPS to restructure and adjust to a lower volume of snail mail).

Regarding management vs. unions, particularly in the case of the USPS, you are dead right.  In fact, I considered/am considering a completely different analysis for submission to ZH that points out (what appears to me) to be staff reductions and pay cuts at lower levels (read union levels) and increases (or at a minimum, stability) at the management/non-union level.  It seemed apparent to me from breaking down the annual report, that management has lined its own pockets at the expense of the union and the profitability of the USPS as a whole. 

I have a family member who is a union member in an industry that has been declining for 30 years.  Trust me when I say that the extremes of my frustration are targeted at the 'Jack Welches, Warren Buffetts, Lloyd Blankfeins of the world.  The unregulated compensation and control that has eminated from the ivy league is the primary source of cancer that has destroyed our system.  The rest of us, myself, you, tyler, union member, non-union member, we're just innocent bystanders/Oswald patsies.

Again, I apologize to all of the hard working postal workers out there.  This is not personal, though it is unfortunately antagonistic.

But, we need to hit the reset button and start over.


Thu, 11/18/2010 - 05:36 | 737176 DukkButt
DukkButt's picture

No apology needed. I didn't see it as a personal attack in any way, just wanted to add some "inside" info. It is frustrating to be on the inside, working hard and seeing your future being mismanaged into oblivion. My thirty year retirement should amout to about $1300 per month, which I don't think anyone could really call excessive. My only hope is that since the Post Office actually has revenue that they can get their act together and at least provide that modest retirement. The rest of the government employees out there are going to be totally hosed when Uncle Sam finally has to admit he is totally broke because their retirement is paid out of current tax receipts and borrowing, rather than income from providing a service. I have no answers because I think there aren't any, except for the coming collapse and reset.

Thu, 11/18/2010 - 10:54 | 737518 RKDS
RKDS's picture

Sounds alot like working for state government.  The "leadership" creates high-paid (six-figure minimum) no-work positions for its cronies all the time.  Then the public howls about people making $25K-$50K.  I don't have health insurance, take theirs, I don't have a small pension, take theirs, and so on.  It's never "why did my company move everything overseas?" or "how come I lost my insurance while the executives pocketed million dollar bonuses?" or "why is government bailing out this failure with my taxes?", just lashing out with "if I can't have X, then no one can."

So then they try to appease this lynch mob by laying people off, only to ultimately waste the money on new cronies.  It works out to a ratio of about 4 workers to 1 crony.  But then the workforce reduction takes its toll, as does the addition of these boobs who have to feel important and make arbirtrary changes that serve no other purpose than to slow down workflow.

Now, we're in a recession which naturally increases government workload.  More people applying for food stamps, more unemployment checks to mail out, more businesses appealing taxes, etc.  Yet the public is apparently totally surprised that the reduced and demoralized workforce is struggling to keep up with this increased demand for services and howls even louder.

It's very similar to the logic applied to pay cuts.  Nobody wants to pay anything, but expect the best and brightest to compete for these jobs.  You end up with a few dedicated people and a ton of unemployables.  So, of course, the solution is to lower wages so the dedicated folks can't afford to do anything but leave for greener pastures.

This country is seriously stuck on stupid.

Thu, 11/18/2010 - 11:06 | 737599 dussasr
dussasr's picture

Dukkbutt, I'm sure you're a nice guy and that you work hard.  However $26/hr for a clerk job sounds at least double what would be in the private sector.  Also, in the private sector a clerk job would come with few or no benefits.

Thu, 11/18/2010 - 19:58 | 739536 DukkButt
DukkButt's picture

I hear what you are saying. I know that my wage is above average, but what do I produce for that wage? The real question is, how do you value the labor of an individual?  I look at school/government administrators making $100,000+/year and am tempted to make the same judgement that they are not worth it, so I understand the sentiment.

So, here goes my explaination. Every night I and one other person run a machine that processes between 100,000 and 200,000 letter size pieces of mail that are sorted to 5 digit postal zones and shipped out. Even assuming an average of only 20 cents postage per item we run $20,000-40,000 worth of mail. That would mean my direct pay accounts for 1-2% of the cost of postage for each item (admittedly a very approximate number, but it should be in the ballpark, anyway).

That takes us back to the original question. Is this a reasonable compensation for the service that is being provided. FedEx pays their employees less, but does that mean it is the "right" amount? The Post Office is very competetive in its pricing. I think part of might be a size and infrastructure advantage, but I don't know. Should they reduce all wages by half, reduce all prices by half and drive FedEx out of business? That isn't meant to be a snarky comment, but a real question. Would that be a better result?

I do know that the Post Office has been self supporting for years and is one of the lowest priced mail services in the world, so that has to mean something.

Most of us at the Post Office recognize that we make above average wages and have a good deal. Would someone, somewhere do my job for minimum wage? Possibly. Even with our pay and benefits, some people get fed up/tired of working at the Post Office and quit. That tells you something about the job.

Does the amount you are paid correlate to how well you do your job? I don't know. Would a minimum wage worker look at envelopes with credit cards being sent out to customers be more likely to put one in their pocket? I don't know that, either but I suspect it might be. 

At one time, Postal workers made so little money that they qualified for food stamps. That, I think it's fair to say, would be too far in the other directon. The point I'm trying to make is that the answers aren't as simple as they seem when you are on the outside looking in.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 20:40 | 736371 Go4er
Go4er's picture

enough cannot be said for poor leadership in this country...

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 20:47 | 736377 HungrySeagull
HungrySeagull's picture

Oh god no. Let the goddamn post office sink.

We have been through wireless, telegraph, pony express, stage coach, railroading, air transport and now this.

Enough. Let it all implode and go away.

With everything going online including social security and banking, who needs junk mail anymore.


Send it by Brown UPS or dont send it at all.


Or really do the other way.


Ditch the pensions, ditch the benefits for those NOT currently working in the PO and just dump the liability. Dump it all. If a bunch of postal workers quit, that will be good news for the unemployment numbers as soon they replace em with sufficient people who are willing to work for a little more than minimum wage.




I have very little mail come to the PO box. It's only political crap, addressed to boxholder big box store news papers and crap that goes straight into the trash can on the way out the door.


Maybe twice a month we might recieve something useful, like a holster, gun part or a mail from uncle sam for something that needs taking care of.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 20:58 | 736400 Thanatos
Thanatos's picture

Even after the criminal level ignorance (generously) going on at the USPS, I still feel sorry for them.

They could have been so much more, just a little foresight in the management department might have gotten them out in front of the e-mail tsunami that pushed them over the edge. Somebody down there still hasn't made a connection between an e-mail address and a physical post office box!?!

How creative do you have to be to see tons of marketable opportunities here?

That is freaking incredible to me...

I also view USPS as a productive semi-retirement for many of our Veterans. In that sense, I am very sad to see them in this kind of shape.

Lots of good things are heading down the tubes along with the turds... Not our ZH Turd though...

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 23:20 | 736727 Eureka Springs
Eureka Springs's picture

i don't think official email should be possible/ expected before every home in the country has the equivalent of a road to a mailbox - meaning high speed very affordable internet service. And i think the abuse of our privacy by uncle sam online would have to be seriously curtailed (a huge waste of money there as well).

Thu, 11/18/2010 - 00:07 | 736805 Madhouse
Madhouse's picture

Goin, goin, gone Postal...

Thu, 11/18/2010 - 01:37 | 736907 honestann
honestann's picture

I have a simple solution to debt and inefficiency at USPS.

Dynamically adjust every USPS paycheck to match expenses to revenues.

!!! poof !!!

Thu, 11/18/2010 - 11:29 | 737677 RockyRacoon
RockyRacoon's picture

And I suppose you'd like to end the Fed as well.

Any more pie-in-the-sky ideas?

Fri, 11/19/2010 - 05:35 | 740540 honestann
honestann's picture

Of course.  And yes, I agree... the predators-that-be will never [voluntarily] do anything that is necessary.

Which leads to an inference that I see ever growing support for.  That inference is, the predators-that-be will never change their modus-operandi, no matter how clear it becomes utterly untenable and unsupportable.  Eventually, the system will crash and burn... it has too many massively insane, massively out-of-balance aspects that will reach a point where collapse is certain.

Therefore, I do in fact believe it is both wise and appropriate to consider reality philosophically, pay attention to fundamentals, and figure out what is valid and what is not.  Because someday the collapse will happen, and the better we've identified the fundamentals and appropriate behavior, the better prepared we are to replace the insanity that has finally collapsed.

Meanwhile, you are certainly correct to say that my utter distain for fiat, fake, fraud, fiction, fantasy and outright corruption does not change it.  And yes, we also must live day to day and live within the system-that-be while that system still exists.  Or, in my case, it is more accurate to say that I avoid, evade and live outside that system to the extent that is practical.

I absolutely do believe that we are wise to keep our eyes and minds on fundamentals.  To me, it is a terrible mental disease to simply accept whatever pile of crap exists in the world at any given time.  That would sanction and support every horrific systemic travesty that has ever existed... of which there are limitless examples.  I absolutely refuse to sanction and support dishonest, fraudulent, destructive, predatory behavior, no matter how well established it is.  I keep my focus on what can be, and where I intend to go.  Otherwise, I would simply be a slave to the schemes of others, and have no real life or identity of my own.

Having said all the above, I understand your reaction, and I take no offense.  Often it seems futile to look outside the box we live in, and the desire to identify and do something practical now makes so many good and right things seem like "pie-in-the-sky".  I get it.  But I won't give in, and I won't give up.

And to answer your question directly:  Yes, I have hundreds of "pie-in-the-sky" ideas, many of which I've been perfecting over the decades.  And one of them, if I finish my re-implementation soon enough, will "change everything", and make most of my other "pie-in-the-sky" ideas capable of real, practical implementation.

Thu, 11/18/2010 - 14:19 | 738250 ZeroConfidence
ZeroConfidence's picture

They need to examine where they fit into the business-scape now and going forward and then start cutting off gobs of blubber until they fit their niche.

Hang on... someone else will have to do it & force it on them, they'll never do it themselves.

Thu, 11/18/2010 - 17:37 | 739093 PrinceDraxx
PrinceDraxx's picture

The postal service employees need a 25% wage and benefit package cut and they should reduce the number of employees by 50% and the remainder need to start working instead of screwing off all day.

Thu, 11/18/2010 - 17:51 | 739149 ChoirBoy
ChoirBoy's picture

Aw come Rocky, the poor kids genetic material is all screwed up because of all that pot his parents smoked by in the 60's.

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ownself's picture

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