Sunday, December 29, 2013

Half of U.S. Households 'At Risk' 
in Retirement

Half of American households are considered to be "at risk" of being unable to maintain their current standard of living once they enter retirement.

The National Retirement Risk Index (NRRI) is calculated by comparing retirement income as a percent of pre-retirement income with target rates that would allow retirees to maintain their pre-retirement standard of living.

The NRRI shows that in 2013, 50 percent of households were at risk of lowering their standard of living once they retire.

That is up from 44 percent in 2007, and down only modestly from 53 percent in 2010, despite huge gains in the stock market and a rebound in housing values since 2010, according to a report from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

The reason the improvement has been modest is that most of the gains have occurred in the stock market rather than the housing market. Since the third quarter of 2010, equity prices have increased by 45 percent after adjusting for inflation, while house prices have increased only about 6 percent.

"The house is a much more significant asset than stock holdings for most households, making trends in house prices a major influence on the NRRI results," the report states.

For low-income households, equities comprise only 2 percent of total wealth. For middle-income households, the figure is 6 percent. But high-income households have 17 percent of their total wealth in stocks.

As a result, 60 percent of low income households are considered to be at risk, as are 52 percent of middle-income households. But just 40 percent of high-income households are at risk.

"The fundamental message [is] that half of today's working-age households are unlikely to have enough resources to maintain their standard of living once they retire," according to the report. "The only way out of this box is for people to save more and/or work longer."

Muslim Brotherhood signs pact with al-Qaeda

From Jihad Watch / Posted by Robert Spencer


This will do nothing to stop those who insist that the Muslim Brotherhood is "moderate." But open Brotherhood supporters in the U.S. such as DHS adviser Mohamed Elibiary should be asked about it.

They won't be, however. "Report: Muslim Brotherhood signs pact with al-Qaeda," by Roi Kais for Ynet News, December 26 (thanks to Jerk Chicken):
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood movement has signed a pact with the al-Qaeda-affiliated radical Salafi organization Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which claimed responsibility last week for a terror attack in the city of Mansoura, security sources told the London-based Arabic-language al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper. 
According to the sources, the Muslim Brotherhood has an alliance with another al-Qaeda-affiliated organization. Meanwhile, senior Muslim Brotherhood member Ibrahim Al-Sayed said the Egyptian government's decision to declare the movement a terror organization was meaningless and would not harm the movement. (Roi Kais)
Night Watch
North Korea: North Korea's cabinet will tighten its grip on the economy in the aftermath of Chang Sung-taek's execution, a senior official said Friday. He said that Chang's control of certain sectors of the economy weakened the country's finances.

Comment: The statement sounds disingenuous because the North Korean economy has never been under the control of the cabinet, which is a government, not a Party, organization. It is not clear just what this announcement signifies in practice, if anything because Party decisions govern North Korean economics.

This announcement looks like it is for international consumption, reinforcing the theme of a return to apparent normality. However, Readers should understand that cabinet control of anything is abnormal in North Korea because the cabinet's job is to execute party decisions and keep things working.

Concerning economics, without private side deals arranged by old boy networks and slush funds, the Kim family and its retainers could not enjoy their self-indulgent, extravagant life style.

Thailand: The Royal Thai Army chief, General Prayuth, on Friday issued his strongest call yet for the nation's political rivals to overcome their divisions and restore calm. He also refused to rule out the possibility of a military coup as long as the political conflict threatens to tear the country apart.

General Prayuth made the comments one day after protesters tried to stop February elections and clashed with police in Bangkok, resulting in two dead and more than 140 injured.

Comment: The practical rule of thumb is that the army does not mention the word coup without the backing of the King. That means the King or his delegate has reached the limits of tolerance for the political violence and demonstrations. That is the message behind the general's statement.

The curious aspect of this is that the Royal family pretty much despises the family of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and is suspicious of their populist support. If there is a military intervention, Prime Minister Yingluck would be the second Shinawatra prime minster to be overthrown. Her brother Thaksin Shinawatra was overthrown by a military coup in 2006.

Iran: The head of Iran's atomic energy agency said Iran is building a new generation of centrifuges for uranium enrichment, but needs further tests before they can be mass-produced.

Comment: Iran understands that US policy has shifted from a total ban on nuclear development to containment. The US has accepted Iran's right to enrich uranium, which Iran consistently has said is not negotiable. The disagreements are not about the right, but about the extent of enrichment.

The significance of today's statement is that it betrays Iran's intention to resume enrichment after the six month temporary suspension agreement expires.

Turkey: For the record. An Istanbul prosecutor who was overseeing the extensive corruption investigation of Prime Minister Erdogan's inner circle was removed from the case on Thursday. The prosecutor, Muammer Akkas, issued a condemnation of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government, accusing it of interfering with the judiciary and preventing him from carrying out his work.

"Court orders have not been carried out and there has been open pressure on the judicial process from both the chief prosecutor's office and from the police force, which is supposed to carry out the decisions of the courts," Muammer Akkas said in a Thursday statement.

Comment: Prosecutors are trained attorneys who are full time employees of the Ministry of Justice. They function as investigating magistrates as well as prosecutors at trial and are not allowed to be members of bar associations or other legal professional organizations. Thus the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors in the Ministry of Justice can transfer, promote or reassign a prosecutor.

Akkas was reassigned for improper leaks to the press and mishandling the investigation. The facts are that Akkas' investigation embarrassed Erdogan and resulted in his dismissal. Powers are never fully separated in any system.

Syria: The head of Russia's National Security Council said, "We will not be able to hold the conference within the initially given time frame." National Security Council chief Nikolai Patrushev made the statement in an interview with the press in reference to the Syrian peace conference, called Geneva 2. He said, "Progress is slow."

On November 25, the UN set 22 January 2014, as the date for the Geneva 2 talks.

Comment: Patrushev is the first and only senior official from any state to suggest the conference on Syria might need to be postponed. His mention of slow progress refers to the inability of the West to organize a unified delegation that can speak authoritatively for the opposition. Patrushev appears to be taunting the West rather than expressing Russian policy, at least for now.

Egypt: Update. The Interior Ministry said in a statement that security forces arrested on 27 December 265 members of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in some Egyptian governorates. The ministry stressed all legal procedures will be taken against the arrested.

Three people were killed during clashes in Cairo, Al-Minya (south of Cairo) and Damietta (north of Cairo) governorates. Separately, three security officials, including a deputy police chief, were shot during Friday clashes.

Comment: This is just another phase in the suppression of the Brotherhood.

South Sudan: Update. South Sudan's government agreed Friday at a meeting of East African leaders to end hostilities against rebels accused of trying to overthrow the young country, but the cease-fire was quickly thrown into doubt because Machar, the head of the rebellion, was not invited.

Comment: An army spokesman suggested the fighting could go on "despite the announcement by politicians in a faraway capital." Government forces continued their offensive on the 27th to rout the rebels in the oil-rich state of Unity and in other nearby areas.

Central African Republic: Update. Two more African Union peacekeepers were killed overnight in the Central African Republic, officials said on 27 December, bringing to 11 the number of peacekeepers killed in less than a month. The two officers from the Republic of Congo were killed by unidentified assailants, African Union mission spokesman Eloi Yao told press.

Comment: The French do not appear to be leading the peacekeeping effort. There have been no reports in mainstream reporting about French operations, except to keep the airport open and functioning. As a result the peacekeeping operation looks undisciplined and ineffective.

End of NightWatch ###
Jonsey wrote: John, Merry Christmas (God forbid, I should say Happy Holidays or Sarah P might have a heart attack). In your article, you forgot one thing: Paul Krugman won a Nobel prize for economics and you didn't. He is one smart gentleman. Do have a glorious Christmas and may your heart be softened may you speak of and about the President. Happy Christmas Eve. Maybe I'll say a prayer for you at Midnight Mass. Who Made Krugman the Expert? Cronies Did
Dear Comrade Jones,

I don’t forget that Krugman has a Nobel prize. I discount the award to present value:
The sum of which equals BS.
You’re talking about the same anti-Semites who only awarded only ONE Nobel prize to Albert Einstein the greatest physicist ever; who gave Yasser Arafat, Jimmy Carter and Al Gore a Nobel prize and... a Nobel prize to Barack Obama?

Come on. Explain to me why Obama deserved a Nobel prize?

I still haven’t heard a credible explanation about how he earned that prize.

It seems more like he got one for making a cameo appearance as a black man in the government of the United States. Liberals have no shame that way.

If you told me he got an Academy award for best supporting actor, I’d believe it. But Nobel prize? Come on.

The Nobel prize thus has no meaning for me.

So, if you want to remind people that Krugman has a Nobel then go ahead.

This is what I know: Despite following Krugman’s recipe for economic success – more money, more money, more money—Obama’s produced an economy that is sending corporate profits up and job creation down.

There has never, ever been more money than there is today. Ever. The rate at which money travels through the system has never, ever been as slow. Ever.

Both the money supply and the money velocity is something that can be helped or hurt by government policy.

And despite this unprecedented money supply, regular folks aren’t benefiting.Rather the government is benefiting big time. Being located near enough to D.C. to know how much the city has swelled since the 1970s, it should be obvious to you who has benefited the most from increased government spending.

Assuming our GDP is somewhere around $16.5 trillion this year, government spending-to-GDP will come out at about 39 percent of GDP. From 1938 through 1944, the height of the New Deal AND the war effort, federal government spending was only 26.5 percent of GDP.

And what do we have for it?

“As of 2012, according to the most recent figures reported by the Census Bureau, median (midpoint) income for all U.S. households was $51,017,” writes Obama’s friends at, “which was 4.9 percent lower (in inflation-adjusted dollars) than it was in 2008, the year before Obama took office…The number of persons living in poverty also worsened again in 2012, according to the most recent Census figures. As of last year, 46,496,000 persons lived in households with income below the official poverty line, an increase of nearly 6.7 million since 2008 and 249,000 since 2011. The total poverty rate remained unchanged in 2012 at 15 percent of the total U.S. population. So for the second straight year, the poverty rate was 1.8 points higher than it was in 2008.”

According to a report by, there is only one major city where the average household income is sufficient to buy a new car.


You guessed it: Washington, DC.

“According to the 2013 Car Affordability Study by,” says CNBC via Yahoo Finance, “only in Washington could the typical household swing the payments, the median income there running $86,680 a year. At the other extreme, Tampa, Fla., was at the bottom of the 25 large cities included in the study, with a median household income of $43,832.”

Only the countries of Lichtenstein and Qatar enjoy higher per capita income than DC’s median income of $86,680 a year.

Thank goodness. All this time, I thought that the runaway federal spending was just fueling a sense of entitlement, privilege and contempt for us commoners amongst the people who run our government.

So whatever else Krugman knows about, he doesn’t know nothing about how an actual economy works.

Even he admits as much, although he doesn’t even realize it:

“On both the healthcare and inflation fronts,” Krugman wrote in early December “what you have to conclude is that there are a large number of people who find reality — the reality that governments are actually pretty good at providing health insurance, that fiat money can be a useful tool of economic management rather than the road to socialist disaster — just unacceptable. I think that in both cases it has to do with the underlying desire to see market outcomes as moral imperatives.”

If that’s the kind of result that wins you a Nobel prize, then I would discourage Nobel prizes.

I see it as the economic equivalent of peeing in the well from which you drink.

That said: I wouldn’t worry about Sarah Palin if I were you. She seems to be doing OK, without interfering at all in your life.

When you’re at church you can thank Jesus for being the reason for the season, and while you’re at it you can explain to him why you tell people happy holidays instead of Merry Christmas.

And since you’re a hypocritical Catholic, who thinks that he can preach to me about how Jesus was a socialist, let me tell you that I ALWAYS pray for you.

Every night I do.Every night.

There is no “maybe” for me.