Angst in America, Part 5: The Crisis We Can’t Muddle Through

from Maudlin Economics,

It is your concern when your neighbor’s wall is on fire.” – Horace

Yet there is one problem that is very definitely coming our way that I really don’t think we can Muddle Through and where even the middle-of-the-road scenarios are terrible, and that’s the public pension crisis. I really see no way it can end well. It’s going to hurt just about everyone. “But wait,” my Canadian and German friends will say, “that’s an American problem. Leave us out of it.” I wish I could. The sad fact is that the US is the big fish in the global economic pond. One way or another, our problems affect everyone. You catch cold when we sneeze. The “Disappearing Pensions” crisis I described last week will hurt you, too. The only question is which transmission mechanism will bring it to you. Further, most developed countries have their own version of the pension crisis in the form of government promises that can’t be kept. Same song, different verse. Today I want to delve a little deeper and explain why pension angst is completely reasonable and not at all overblown. If anything, it has been understated.

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