About a year ago, we discussed the very troubling moves by insolvent countries such as Ireland and Hungary to "raid" their pensions funds for various fungible purposes, a move which in virtually every way a was a progenitor to the MF Global capital commingling, if not outright bankruptcy, and was explained as reflecting "a willingness by governments to use long-term assets to fill short-term deficits, including Ireland’s announcement last week that it would use the country’s €24bn National Pensions Reserve Fund “to support the exchequer’s funding programme” and Hungary’s bid to claw $15bn of private pension funds back to the state system." While it was unclear precisely what the use of funds was, back then FN speculated that it pension funds were being tapped to boost sovereign debt bids. Which if true means that Europe's peripheral pensioners have seen about a 20% drop in the NPV of their retirement assets. Today we add Portugal to the list of countries committing an MF Global type crime on a global scale: the Telegraph writes: "Portugal has raided €5.6bn (£4.8bn) of pension fund assets in a controversial scramble to meet its deficit targets." And since the money is once again implicitly and explicitly used to patch broken fiscal models, it is as good as gone. Which in a paradoxical way is almost welcome, as the true Arab Spring will not come to Europe (and America) until the citizens don't read, in clear writing, that their welfare state entitlement benefits are gone.... They are all gone. And at that point there will be truly nothing left to lose.
The cabinet agreed to transfer the assets from four of Portugal’s biggest banks to the state balance sheet.
The assets will be used to bridge a gap needed to meet the fiscal deficit target of 5.9pc of GDP set by the terms of the country’s €78bn bail-out from around 10pc in 2010.
"This measure is more than sufficient to meet the budget deficit goal in 2011," said Helder Rosalino, secretary of state for central administration, on Friday.
Portugal said it had informed the EU and IMF and assured them it would be a “one-off”. However the 2010 budget was met by shifting three pension plans from Portugal Telecom on to the public social security system. The liabilities don’t count, yet.
There have been no complaints from Eurostat but Raoul Ruperal from Open Europe said: “This can’t be seen as a future revenue stream in any way.”
We wonder if "one-off" in this case is the same "one-off" that was supposed to happen when the Fed bailed out the world's banks in a "one-off" event... over and over and over.