Millions of Americans lost their retirement savings in the recent financial crisis due to the current system’s susceptibility to market volatility, with 401(k) accounts proving particularly vulnerable. On November 10, I joined with Demos, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), and the Pension Rights center to release a research report that documents the failure of these 401(k)-type accounts to provide secure and equitable retirement—and make recommendations to create a truly reliable system.
I joined the Ric Edelman Show on November 6th to address the rampant misinformation about pension reform proposals and 401(k)s. A financial advisor, Ric is concerned about the resulting panic from these dangerous rumors. Listen to his clarification that there is no proposal to seize current 401(k) or IRA assests.
On June 29, 2010, I became a member of the Board of Directors of YRC Worldwide Inc., one of the largest transportation and logistics service providers in the world.
I joined the board as part of an agreement between the company and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters to prepare the company to resume payments to union pension plans. Payments were suspended last year while the company addressed larger solvency issues.
As a labor economist specializing in retirement security, I’m participating in this bellweather case to help one of the oldest and largest union companies maintain direct benefit pension plans while remaining competitive in an increasingly challenging marketplace.
SCEPA's proposal for a panel, "Pitfalls and Potentials of Obama's Pension Reform Plan," has been accepted to present three papers at the prestigious APPAM conference in November. Outside researchers and discussants will join with SCEPA faculty and researchers at the fall event, which will focus on the theme, "Making Fair and Effective Policy in Difficult Times." APPAM is a highly respected group of academic and policy scholars focusing on how to make government more effective. A preliminary program will be available in mid-August. For more information, visit the conference website.
I will be speaking on a retirement security panel at a conference sponsored by Demos, EPI, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and The Century Foundation. The conference, "Strengthening Our Fiscal Future: Meeting National Priorities and Achieving Prosperity," will be held on October 5, from 8:30am-4:30pm at the Newseum in Washington, DC.
In July, Bloomberg’s Businessweek issued a special report focused on financing retirement. They invited me to include a description of my proposal for Guaranteed Retirement Accounts.
Here’s an excerpt of the problem:
Over the past 30 years, workplace pensions have morphed from defined-benefit plans (in which the company pays retirees a set amount every month from retirement to death) into defined-contribution plans such as 401(k)s, which are primarily funded by deductions from salaries. In a perfect world, an average worker could amass something like $400,000 in a 401(k) by retirement. After nearly three decades of 401(k) contributions, though, the average account balance for people nearing retirement age is about $60,000, far less than what's needed. So it's no surprise that when a recent Gallup poll asked what Americans want most from government, more chose guaranteed pensions than guaranteed jobs or health care.