MacroScope

from Route to Recovery:

Arizona town feels a double blow after the boom

ROUTE-RECOVERY/

BULLHEAD CITY, Arizona – Not so long ago this town on the Nevada border was in full boom mode.

It was a magnet for people coming to work in the casinos across the Colorado River in Laughlin, plus Californians looking to retire here or have a second home at a fraction of the cost in their own state. Construction workers flocked here to build homes and roads.

All told, successive booms turned Bullhead City from a fishing village just a few decades ago to being a city of more than 40,000 people.

But America’s housing crisis and the most severe downturn since the 1930s stopped the city’s boom dead in its tracks.

“We had booms in the 1980s and the 1990s, but in 2005 and 2006 things went absolutely nuts,” said John “Mac” McCollum. “Then in 2007 all of a sudden the lights went out.”

Death not an option for German pension debate

It may not be legislation, but a recently passed “pension guarantee” has re-kindled debate over a pillar of Germany’s welfare state – the notion of “inter-generational justice”.

The agreement, which basically calls for nationally funded retirement benefits to be locked in at current levels for all eternity, has not gone down as smoothly as its sponsors would have liked, since many nowadays see the country’s sagging birth rate as a sign coming generations will struggle to support their predecessors in old age. Two years ago when elections were far off, the government headed in a different direction, deciding to gradually expand the retirement age to 67 from 65 in order to offset both the birth rate and rising life expectancy.

While the agreement had already been supported by both parties in the awkward left/right governing coalition, some policymakers cried hypocrisy last week when it passed a final hurdle in parliament.

More Americans expect to work until they die

If you were wondering what two years of wealth destruction have done to the American psyche, the Employee Benefit Research Institute has your answer.

They have conducted surveys asking (among other things) when people expect to retire. Back in 1991, a full 19 percent thought they’d be in full-time relaxation mode before age 60. The latest survey? Only 9 percent think they’ll be that lucky.

Just 17 percent now say they expect to retire at age 60 to 64, down from 31 percent in the 1991 poll. Nearly a third think they’ll be older than 66 before they stop working, up from 11 percent in 1991.