What might be most surprising about the myriad economic problems around the globe right now is how many major world economies seem to have been taken by surprise by the concept of debt. Maybe they should have been reading more Margaret Atwood.
After two years without an inflation adjustment, the Social Security Administration is expected to announce a 2012 cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) of more than 3 percent next week. That would be a sizable raise in this economy, and very welcome news to seniors hit hard by rising costs, slumping home equity and very low returns on fixed-income investments.
Once the debt ceiling rancor faded, financial gurus and observers had little reason to think debate on taxing the wealthy would ignite again before Nov. 23. That’s when the 12-member congressional super committee issues its recommendations on finding at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction.
Ratings agencies helped spark the financial meltdown of 2008-9, when they deemed that steaming piles of mortgage junk were brimming with triple-A goodness. They were wrong – and epically so.
The legislation to lift the debt ceiling gives the country a framework for more than $2 trillion in budget cuts over 10 years and avoids default. But it also puts off discussion of taxes for another day — and it’s unlikely that we’ll see any movement on tax reform or significant tax changes until 2012.
Rick Ashburn is a chartered financial analyst and the founding Principal Chief Investment Officer of Creekside Partners, based in Lafayette, California. The opinions expressed here are his own.
Reuters Money reached out to members of the financial community to see how they’re calming the folks they advise. An overwhelming majority expressed faith that lawmakers would broker a deal by the deadline, and markets would adjust regardless.
No matter what plan Washington concocts to reduce the deficit, it’s going to cost you something. “Shared sacrifice” is in vogue, but your pain will be bigger if you’re unfortunate enough to earn wages or need social benefits.
Social Security is a pawn in the negotiations to avoid a federal debt default, and that has stirred fear and confusion among current and future beneficiaries. President Obama has threatened not to make August benefit payments in the event of a default, and signaled that he is open to cutting Social Security if it helps him secure a big deficit-reduction deal with Republicans.