Mapping America's Underfunded State Pension And Healthcare Liability Debacle

Tyler Durden's picture

The map below, which shows the gravity of America's pervasive pension and healthcare liability underfunding problem, should certainly raise a few eyebrows. Sourced from the IMF's Article IV presentation which in turn sources the data from the Pew Center, the map shows that even despite the near doubling in the S&P since the March 2009 lows, there are still at least 9 states that have a minimum 35% underfunding in their pension and liability obligations. As a result, we expect that just like in the case of Illinois recently, many more states will be forced to issue debt to fund various entitlement plans on a "paycheck to paycheck basis." It also means that ever more states will begin scrambling after high beta, low quality, and very high risk stocks (in many cases selling CDS), in order to refill their coffers. We can only hope that the biggest dip buyer of NFLX stock today is not the Louisiana Retirement Fund system (for example), but we have a feeling we would be quite wrong.

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TumblingDice's picture

Poor pension funds. They're always the ones that get fucked.

slaughterer's picture

Aaaah, I love the US retirement system: If NFLX goes to $600, then Lousianians will retire in comfort!  The fate of millions of future geriatrics completely wagered on an existential lottery.   And if NFLX goes bankrupt in the meantime? 

sun tzu's picture

Looks like Shitcago needs their chief village idiot Obongo back to work on their pension problems. We'll put a teleprompter in the Oval Office to take his place while he's away. The teleprompter can't do much worse.

Obamanation's picture

if anyone f*cked the pensions, it was themselves.  stop making promises (a la SS) of a certain rate of return.  what fund/hf/investment out there does that nowadays?  


101 years and counting's picture

those light blue and solid blue states need to learn how to steal from their pensions to fund all other short falls.

XenoFrog's picture

They learned how to cut education instead. We'll worry about a totally inept generation of workers when we get there.

fuu's picture

How do you fill a hole in the Minnesota budget? Steal from next years school funding!

sun tzu's picture

The government is the only place where failure means you get more money. The Washington DC school district spends the most money per student, has the highest paid teachers and administrators, yet they consistently rank in the bottom 5 of all school districts in the country. Who's doing the stealing?

fuu's picture

I was only commenting that the re-opening of the Minnesota State Government was cemented by moving funds from one spend to another and calling it savings. I was not making a value judgement on the school system in general.

sschu's picture

School funding is not the problem, there is limited correlation between funding levels and student performance.  The US spends more than any country on K-12 education.

 The problems are teacher unions, education bureaucracies and dysfunctional families, these are at the root of the education mess.  The other problem is funding follows the school and not the student. 

All this is unsurprising given that education is essentially a government monopoly.



Buckaroo Banzai's picture

Yes, if you want to really, truly fuck something up, you have to get the government involved. Our public education system is a sterling example of that unavoidable truth.

Terminus C's picture

The problem with your education system is not lack of money, but rather poor curriculum.  Governments can run education effectively and relatively efficiently.  Teachers unions can exist and not destroy said system.  With a solid curriculum that emphasizes critical thinking and independent inquiry will develop quality students.

U.S. curriculum is focused on rote learning and mindless testing, it is small wonder that the average American student knows little.

Look to Alberta for an effective education system, sure it has much room for improvement but it is certainly moving in the correct direction.

sschu's picture

Governments can run education effectively and relatively efficiently.  Teachers unions can exist and not destroy said system. 


Sorry, in the US this has proven NOT to be the case in the US. 


Curriculum changes are fine, but education is undergoing a fundamental shift and the changes will be dramatic and disruptive.  The idea that we need these massive facilities and the enormous overhead of traditional K-12 education delivery system is absurd.  The “education” of everyone can be administered much more efficiently and effectively using currently available technologies delivered via the Internet. 


Just like post offices, this investment in education infrastructure is the classic Von Mises mal-investment and needs to be liquidated.  


The money does not exist to pay $8,000 / year / student to get a HS diploma.  The statists will fight to the end, but the economic and practical aspects will take the day.  There is no other option.



sun tzu's picture

Of course, because we all know that

money = education

How will the children learn if the school administrators aren't making $200K/yr and the teachers don't have their pensions and healthcare 100% funded by taxpayers? How will the children learn without Ipads and 50-inch LED televisions in each room?

caconhma's picture

There is no any useful public education in the USA. Instead, it is all indoctrination and propaganda.

Why should ruling oligarchs care about the public education in America? There is no reason for it. All jobs requiring any knowladge of science and engineering are now done outside of the USA. It is that simple.

StychoKiller's picture

The purpose of a system is what it does:

Check out: "Some Lessons from the Underground History of American Education"
by John Taylor Gatto, found in "Everything You Know is Wrong",
ISBN 978-1-56731-637-7, pgs 274-287

Let them all fail's picture

And this is AFTER the ridiculous Bernank-induced market surge -  not good - about time these guys got realistic with themselves...If I had a pension managed by these guys I would be complaining like crazy

Sudden Debt's picture

Nobody cares about that. Even those who are retired. As long as their cheques come in all is well.

What happens in 1 decade isn't their problem.

Long-John-Silver's picture

The government should confiscate all private retirement accounts such as 401(k) and IRA accounts and fold them into Social Security. America needs a single payer retirement system so the injustices of losing a pension because of poor investments are eliminated. This would also guarantee Social Security solvency forever. /sarc

dbach's picture

Such a future is what concerns me about opening a roth IRA. I'll pay my taxes now, but fear I will have to pay them again later or maybe the gov will just take the whole thing.

On a related note, in my graduate accounting class last night our prof mentioned a proposed part of DoddFrank (which didn't get included) that would require people to max out their 401k if the employer matched, or something to that effect. I was the only one in the room, besides my prof, who thought it was an insane idea. Everyone else thought, oh saving for retirement is good, must be a good plan... and these are graduate students in business! ahhhh!

Transformer's picture

"The government should confiscate all private retirement accounts such as 401(k) and IRA accounts and fold them into Social Security."


What a great idea.  I have another great one.  Why not have all our pay checks sent directly to the IRS?  They would deduct the proper amounts, send you the remainder, and keep track of it throughout the year, and then do your tax return when it's done.  If you had anything coming back, they would send it to you.   Just think of all the money we would save on accountants and tax preparers. 

TexasAggie's picture

In the 70s we lived in southern CA, and the editorial cartoonist for the LA Slimes had the same cartoon every Apr 15th:

Line A:  how much did You make___

Line B:  How much did you spend: ____

Line C:  difference

Line D: Send in Line A to the IRS.

Agent P's picture

When I was a young lad in 1999, I opened a Roth IRA.  I remember telling my dad what a great deal it was, I could pay the taxes now while I was earning peanuts in a low tax bracket, and I could withdraw the principal and earnings later in life tax-free, presumably when I was rich and would be in a much higher tax bracket if I were pulling money from a traditional IRA.

I'll never forget what my dad said to me. "Sounds like a good idea son...just remember one thing: What the government giveth, the government can taketh away." 

Bicycle Repairman's picture

All it is going to take is a national consumption tax and all Roth IRA holders will be screwed.  The idea that you trust the political class not to change the rules sometime the the distant future regarding Roth IRAs is a loser IMHO.

Bobbyrib's picture

What I was told (not a business major) is that you are giving up free money if you don't contribute enough to receive the employer's match. They should examine investment opportunity to see if that is completely true. The mutual funds they offer in 401K accounts are known to be absolutely atrocius. 

V in PA's picture

That kind of talk Sir, just might get you elected!! Viva la sheeple!

BandGap's picture

I READ SOMETHING REGARDING THE GOVERNEMENT TAKEOVER OF 401Ks BACK IN.....1991.  This has been submitted for votes, in some form, every year since. 



Payable on Death's picture

First I heard of it was with HillaryCare. I recall my accountant telling me she wanted to take 25% of all tax advantaged retirement accounts (one time surtax) in exchange for assuming liability for all of your future health costs.

sun tzu's picture

Until they take the next 25%

andybev01's picture

There are at least 11 subscribers who don't understand what

'/sarc' means...

caconhma's picture

Long-John-Silver ,

You are fking idiot. So, we confiscate money from hard-working American who saved and contributed to their retirement and give to people who did not work and did not contribute?

This Jewish Bolsheviks have done in Russia and 25 millions people have died from starvation.

Next time, before stealing somebody else money, be very careful since somebody might kill you.

HamyWanger's picture

So much DOOM...

You may be right, but I prefer to ignore all this and be happy. 

SheepDog-One's picture

Why not? Tomorrow we die, but tonite we dine on Ramen!! Hazzahh!!!

TumblingDice's picture

You sir, are a masterful troll.

Satire is a powerful tool.

sbenard's picture

Isn't that just another way to say that, "ignorance is bliss"?

downrodeo's picture

attaboy, hamy!


"paycheck to paycheck basis."

welcome to my world, bitchez!

Jim in MN's picture

By the way, Congressional websites and phone lines have been crashed by the public (remember them?) following President's call to contact Congress:


sun tzu's picture

Now if they could crash the White House phones, fax, and website, then we'll have a little less to worry about

Crisismode's picture

Yes, but what are they saying to their congressperson once they pick up the phone?

Commander Cody's picture

The pension system (public and private) is one huge reason that the PPT will never let equities tank again.

Burgess Shale's picture

Coming soon: haircuts for the bald.

SheepDog-One's picture

Doesnt that involve a guillotine?

Global Hunter's picture

There is 12 blue states out of 50 or "240" not a great average in baseball but OK.

V in PA's picture

What? Light blue isn't blue. RACIST!

Boonie's picture

And of those 12, 6 (FL, SD, TN, TX, WA, WY) have no personal income tax.  Not that there's any direct correlation between public pension funding and state tax regime - see AK and NV.  Plus, I can't believe FL isn't red (plus NY, PA, MI).

buzzsaw99's picture

This is insanely bullish. The stupid ass pension funds will keep pouring money into worthless stocks and an even faster rate.

baby_BLYTHE's picture

the pension system is so broke in this state (I know because I work in the financial office here on campus), they had to go to Goldman Sachs because they need a return greater than 6% to keep the pensions afloat.

I told them to buy Gold and they laughed at me. Calling it a "hunk of junk".

I had to put every ounce of energy into restraining myself from wrapping my hands around his throat (my boss), jobs are hard to find and all...