Investing in retirement

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  • SG in SLC Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 9, 2012 9:44 a.m.

    It would be unconscionable to "invest" the funds of the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance program (OASDI, more commonly referred to as "Social Security") in the stock market, or in anything that puts the principal at risk, even if doing so results in lower yields. The priorities (in order of importance) that should govern the management of these funds should be first safety, then liquidity, then yield.

    Treasury securities are AA+ rated (they would still be AAA rated, if not for the kamikaze brinkmanship instigated by the "Let-It-Burn" faction of the Republicans in Congress), extremely liquid, but do not offer great yields (about 0.1% for 3 month T-bills to about 2.85% for 30 year T-bonds). Other money market and top-tier longer term debt instruments are very safe, very liquid, and offer a little bit better yields, and so would be viable options for OASDI fund investment.

    Any politician who wants to invest these funds in the stock market is just trying to help the rich get richer and keep the poor in their place. Anyone who tells you different is selling something.

  • Grover Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 8, 2012 7:52 p.m.

    Read the small print in the articles. The main reason the ratings agencies are nervous is not the amount of the debt, but that we have a government that cannot agree on anything even when doom is near. Congress has the power of the purse, but it is pretty meaningless unless people are willing to make concessions to get the job done. By every measure, we are just one of every western country heavily in debt. If we all decided to a debt write down only China, Germany and the bond holders would be left holding the bag. Better we grow up and fix it.

  • killpack Sandy, UT
    Oct. 8, 2012 4:58 p.m.

    The full faith and credit of the USA is becoming more and more meaningless. That credit has been downgraded by some agencies. Almost all agencies give us a negative outlook. And it's pretty obvious why. $15 trillion in debt now. Perhaps $20 trillion in debt if Obama completes a second term in the White House. That's what some are predicting. I'm not asking for zero debt. I'm asking for small debt relative to GDP. 15-20 trillion dollars exceeds our national product by a significant amount. Totally unsustainable.

  • Grover Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 8, 2012 4:21 p.m.


    The difference between an IOU and a US Treasury bond is that the bond is backed by the full faith and credit of the USA. That would be nothing but a bunch of words except that in this case the credit is supported by the taxing power of the Congress we elect. Who gets taxed? We do of course. There is no question that we are in a soup of our own making but sooner (maybe by the end of the year) someone will forge a compromise that will begin to turn the ship. How many countries in the world have no debt? None.

  • killpack Sandy, UT
    Oct. 8, 2012 2:54 p.m.


    The bailouts of the banks and General Motors were done so with money from the US Treasury. The US Treasury owes the Social Security fund nearly $3 trillion. The federal government is $15 trillion in debt overall. I find it very hard to believe the SS fund is nothing but increasingly worthless IOUs from the federal government.

  • Grover Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 8, 2012 2:02 p.m.

    KillP: Would you rather have China holding the paper? In a sense, we owe the majority of the debt to ourselves. Please read something about the Social Security trust fund before you confuse it with the general fund. Wall Street and Auto bailouts were bills passed by Congress and signed by the President. The money came from the General fund (and 30% was borrowed).

    Listen carefully: The government borrows money daily and Social Security redeems bonds daily to meet expenses. "Don't ask me how social security is ever going to get its money back." Thankfully no one asked you since you clearly don't understand how the system works on an ongoing basis.

  • killpack Sandy, UT
    Oct. 8, 2012 1:14 p.m.

    Wanda B. Rich,

    I hope you realize that SS money is already being invested in the stock market. The Social Security fund is nothing but IOU paper, because every dollar that comes out of a worker's paycheck is immediately borrowed by the US Treasury to, among other scams, bail out Wall Street firms like AIG and General Motors. Now the federal government is $15 trillion in debt so don't ask me how social security is ever going to get its money back.

  • Grover Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 8, 2012 1:10 p.m.

    The letter writer and many of the comments show a lack of any understanding of financial management. Hopefully everyone has a checking and savings account and a 401 K as well as social security, right. Do you expect the same returns from these accounts? No. Why because they are accounts used for different things. Everyone needs to be in the stock and bond market since in the long run it is the only chance for substantial growth. The problem is that the growth is unpredictable, but retirement is not. What if you need to retire when the market is in the tank? The answer is not a pleasing one.

    Message to all right wing folk posting here: The government doesn't "manage" social security except in an accounting sense. They take in payroll tax funds and pay out benefits. The leftover amount goes into interest bearing Treasury bonds, the lowest risk investment on the planet. Several comments miss the real point of the SS guarantee (and it is not the ability to print money): the taxing power of the government to make good on promises.

    PS. Go to and search "internet myths about social security".

  • Wanda B. Rich Provo, UT
    Oct. 8, 2012 12:01 p.m.

    "he doesn't understand how the free market economy works"

    Maybe he does understand, and that's why he would never risk SS funds in the stock market. Go ahead, Jack, put your money in the stock market, but don't take mine. Yes, I'd like to see some means testing and perhaps an increase in the retirement age, given that people are living longer, but I don't trust Wall Street at all. If speculating with SS funds is what Mia Love wants to do, we should be wary about sending her to Washington where she could do some real damage.

    My real question, however, is this: Is anyone running for the House in the third district? Haven't seen a TV commercial or even an annoying lawn sign. For all I can tell, Mia and Jim are running for the only seat in the state. How did Utah lose those other three seats?

  • killpack Sandy, UT
    Oct. 8, 2012 11:50 a.m.

    Agreed, author. The real gamble is allowing incompetent and corrupt government administrators 'borrow' from social security to pay off the special interests keeping them in power, like AIG, GM and Solyndra. Now we are $15 trillion in debt so the gamble obviously didn't work. Matheson, and all of the other failures in Wasington who have squandered so much of the American people's hard earned money, need to be sent home.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Oct. 8, 2012 10:59 a.m.

    A system like social security should always be conservatively invested and never be willing to risk much in the stock market. Of course your own investments should do better. But they should also be able to do much worse.

  • Mike in Cedar City Cedar City, Utah
    Oct. 8, 2012 10:01 a.m.

    During the decade of the 2000's I avoided a crash in my 401(k) only by getting out of the Market. I could not have retired if I had not done that. Social Security is really a pre paid retirement annuity. We don't need to risk it in the market to the certain benefit of Wall Street.

  • Whatever Springville, UT
    Oct. 8, 2012 9:54 a.m.

    Yeah Jack why don't you ask anyone how their 401k plans are doing. Ask anyone who wanted to use their 401k to retire in 2006 how that went for them, oh wait, they couldn't retire because Wall Street ruined the global economy...

    Seriously Des News do you have a rule that there must be at least one "Obama bad, government bad" Rush Limbaugh/Faux News regurgitation letter per day?

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Oct. 8, 2012 9:41 a.m.

    Social Security isn't an investment program, its an insurance program.

    Privatization has been tried in Galveston TX. Both the G.A.O. and Social Security studies of the Galveston plan concluded that lower-wage workers, particularly those with many dependents, would fare better under Social Security, while middle- and higher-wage workers were likely to fare better, at least initially, under the "Alternate Plan."

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    Oct. 8, 2012 9:34 a.m.

    I've been investing with my employer's 401(k) since 1990. Despite market drops in 1994, the dotcom burst, and the barney frank housing collapse induced recession of 3 years ago (NOT GWB, Furry), my retirement account has NEVER dropped below the combined employer/employee contributions, let alone getting anywhere near what I alone have put into it. I am MILES ahead by investing in the markets. Any fluctuation in 94, from the dotcom burst, or the barney frank induced housing collapse, has been solely in the GAINS in my account. I have accumulated nearly 4 times what I have invested. I cannot say that for my contributions to SS.

    Maverick, don't take offense, but for once I agree with you.

  • JoeCapitalist2 Orem, UT
    Oct. 8, 2012 8:44 a.m.

    Furry1993: I am amazed that you think the federal government is a less risky investment than Wall Street. Even during the worst part of the economic collapse, all the Lehman Brothers, AIG, CountryWide and other risky ventures added together did not even come close to the $trillion dollar a year deficits our government runs up.

    If it could not print its own money, the federal government would have gone bankrupt way faster than Lehman Brothers did. Even Bernie Madoff couldn't come close to the kind of financial mismanagement we see every day in Washington D.C.

  • Furry1993 Ogden, UT
    Oct. 8, 2012 8:17 a.m.

    To Jack Emery:

    Given what the stock market did when GWBush tanked the economy, investing in the economy is vrey risky. Granted it is not as risky since the President has been able to clean up some of the mess but, if Romney gets in the White House, it will once again become a very risky invstment (unless, of course, she invests in Bain). The people of the United States are safer with Matheson in office.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    Oct. 8, 2012 8:12 a.m.

    "The market goes up, and the market goes down, but I'll take the market any day over the government managing my retirement."

    This is your first problem. SS isn't your retirement. If it is then you're in big trouble.

    SS is a safety net. For folks who need it they cannot wait for the market to recover.

    Let your retirement go up and down.

    Do not allow the safety net to go up and down. Let it stay consistent.