While America Aged: How Pension Debts Ruined General Motors, Stopped the NYC Subways, Bankrupted San Diego, and Loom as the Next Financial Crisis
The retirement crisis facing America-and the road map for a way out-from The New York Times bestselling author of Origins of the Crash
In the last several decades, corporations and local governments made ruinous pension and healthcare promises to American workers. With these now coming due, they threaten to destroy twenty-first- century America's hopes for a comfortable retirement. With his trademark narrative panache, bestselling author Roger Lowenstein analyzes three fascinating case studies-General Motors, the New York City subway system, and the city of San Diego-each an object lesson and a compelling historical saga that illuminates how the pension crisis developed. Cumulative retirement deficits are approaching $1 trillion, and Lowenstein warns that these are only the first. Retirement pensions will continue to be a critical issue as the country ages, and While America Aged is the urgent call to action and prescription for reform.
Economic and political history
By Maxim Masiutin - May 16, 2008
Roger Lowenstein is the author of my favorite books "Buffett" and "When Genius Failed". His ability to collect the historical facts is amazing: the author gives 575 references to other sources throughout the book. I like this approach very much. This book is also timely and accurate: it is not only a spell-binding economic and political history, the origin and the problems of IRAs, 401(k) and other mechanisms - it is an urgent call to action and a prescription for reform. You will also find what do the precedential candidates of 2008 campaign think about this issue. Besides that, Lowenstein, a regular contributor to many financial periodicals, proposes his own solution. The author recognizes that the workers are entitled to decent security in their retirement - a critical issue as the country ages. He warns that the pension wars that erupted in Detroit, New York and San Diego are only the first. Government and corporations across the country used pensions as a seemingly easy way to... read more
Three Good Anecdotes Don't Tell a Complete Story
By American Bandersnatch - June 16, 2008
Although Lowenstein is a talented writer and the topic of retirement in America is an important one, the narrow focus of this book makes it hard to recommend. Lowenstein skillfully recounts in detail the pension plan difficulties faced by General Motors, the New York City subway system and San Diego.
However, these three stories seem to exist in isolation. He doesn't spend enough time putting them in the context of other government and private pension and 401(k) plans. Lowenstein seems to have focused on making sure the three stories are easy to read and in this he has succeeded. But in doing so, he has not provided the hard data that a reader needs to really understand the issue. There is not a single chart of table in the book. There are virtually no benchmarks in the book - it's hard to judge the appropriateness of the pay and pensions described in the book without details of the payroll and benefit costs of other American workers.
Very interesting and informative book, enjoyed it immensely. However I part company with the author when it comes to solutions. His only idea seems to be tax increases so the public can pay for the rapacious antics of the public sector unions in particular or so the government can bail out the private sector companys that have caved into unions. And heaven forbid that people actually be allowed to control their own retirement funds and investements, the nanny state uber alles.
The best financial planner Michelle Singletary ever knew was Big Mama, her grandmother. Big Mama raised Michelle and her four brothers and sisters on a salary that never reached more than $13,000 a ...