Duck

 

Duck! No I don't mean a quack, quack. I meant get down, look out for a huge blob of brown stuff is heading your way.

This one is so large it is going to make Enron and Worldcom look like Boy Scouts stealing cookies at a picnic. As a result of these latest revelations we are going to have to find someone new to blame. So far the blame has been on the World Trade Center tragedy and dishonest executives at a few large corporations. These are a pittance when you see what is coming.

Does your company have a defined benefit pension plan? Did you know that 234 companies listed in the S&P500 index do? Did you also know that they owe their retirement plans $78 billion (yes, that's a B)? Wait a minute. I thought they were supposed to put funds into it every year. They are, but they haven't. How come these companies are showing big profits and not meeting their obligation to their employees?

It's all legal and has the blessing of the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission).

General Motors owes about $15.5 billion to its pension plan that is an amount equal to one half of the value of the entire company. Technically the employees own half the company, but my guess they will not see much, if any, of it. Do you think GM has the ability to make its current pension contribution plus another $1.5bil every year for the next 10 years? Quack, quack, quack. Not a chance. If the talking heads know about this they aren't quacking.

Once this becomes known not just about GM, but also the other 233 companies (and maybe yours) the stock market will be taking another dump. P/E ratios are now about 30 for the S&P500. When money is taken from their bottom lines it will result in pushing those ratios much higher which will further weaken the market.

Here are 3 questions for the owner, Treasurer or Controller of your company: What is the company's projected rate of return? Will there be funds paid into the plan this year? Does the company owe any money to the plan?

Don't let him give you a quack, quack.

Copyright 2005

 



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