Ten U.S. states have public pension liabilities that are at least as big as their annual revenues, according to a Moody’s Investors Service report released on Thursday that found the Illinois pension bill was equal to 241 percent of its revenues. …
According to Moody’s, Illinois has the largest net pension liability in the country, $133 billion, equal to $10,340 per person in the state. The liability is equal to 19.8 percent of the state’s gross domestic product.
It’s worth nothing that the $133 billion owed for the pensions does NOT include the over $45B in state issued bonds or over $8B in unpaid bills sitting on the Treasurer’s desk. (Source.)
The reality is every man, woman, and child in Illinois owes the state at least $14,400.
Every man, woman, and child in the U.S. owes the G $53,400.
So if you live in Illinois add up your net worth and subtract $67,800. Of course, if your a taxpayer you actually owe about 2x this amount… but that’s another story.
[B]ut California too is now starting to hand it to bondholders. Cities in California are now testing the limits of bankruptcy law, and not paying the debt nor the payments for retirees to the state system. Thus this article describes how the state retirement system (CALPERS) is suing to demand payment, and saying that retiree obligations come AHEAD of creditors (municipal bond holders) in the queue.
“The issue is, do Calpers obligations supersede unsecured bondholders?” Fabian said in a telephone interview. “There’s an awful lot of unsecured bondholders in California. If you put pension obligations to Calpers as secured and senior to unsecured debt, in effect those bonds have been downgraded.”
In the Stockton and San Bernardino cases, Calpers is arguing that pension contributions must be made ahead of payments to other creditors because they are so-called statutory liens, or debts that state law requires to be paid. Bondholders and other creditors that oppose Calpers argue that pension debt is a contractual obligation like any other.
You’d have to be nuts to buy California municipal debt if Calpers has precedence and employee retirement benefits can’t be cut, since this is the MAIN THING that is driving these cities into insolvency. In the future likely these municipalities would just contract out everything to third parties that wouldn’t pay their employees those giant benefits, but the cities have to jettison these liabilities to put their fiscal house in order today.
via Chicago Boyz.
In case this is a little tough to follow, in bankruptcy debts are paid according to a priority. There’s a decent primer here.
The “Illinois” based pensions are probably ok. e.g. ITRS. There is no statute permitting a state to file for bankruptcy protection.
However cities are corporations; they can (and do) file for bankruptcy protection. CPS, CPD, CFD employees and retirees should watch these cases in California closely. They may be getting a real haircut if they have to defer to the bond holders to get their money.
It’s all very very sad.
The head of Illinois’ largest pension plan strongly suggested that cuts in cost-of-living benefits are inevitable for more than 360,000 teachers and retirees outside of Chicago.
In an interview with Crain’s editors and reporters, Richard Ingram, executive director of the underfunded Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System, said state politicians will have few other options if they want to make meaningful progress on closing the gap between promised pension benefits and the available funding.
via Crain’s Chicago Business.
What’s missing from this article is any analysis as to how much longer the pensions can survive should the state cut or reduce the COLA. Mark my words — cutting the COLA is NOT a FIX. It is a band-aid at best.