I just got back from Ireland, discussing my book “When I’m Sixty-Four: The Plot Against Pensions and the Plan to Save Them”. In Ireland, pension security and the financial crisis is on everyone’s mind.
I spoke twice—first at the business school at Trinity College, at an event sponsored by their superb Pension Policy Research Group Trinity College Business School and Trinity College Pension Policy Research Group funded by the American based Atlantic Philanthropies. The second venue was the Kilkenny Arts Festival (fellow economists, eat your heart out – my badge said “Kilkenny Artist!). Fintan O’Toole of the Irish Times, whose latest book is Ship Of Fools, How Stupidity And Corruption Sank The Celtic Tiger, 2009, moderated the panel. The audience included union officials, artists, and advocates, including a representative of the wonderfully named group “Older and Bolder.”
The Irish government is proposing a scheme of 401(k) type retirement accounts. This would help bank profits, but not pensioners or the economy. It is astonishing that the Irish government, in an era where we see so clearly the disastrous results of unregulated financial engineering, would hand the retirement future of their people to the very banks that have dragged them into this crisis.