A Called Shot: Mangiero Predicted the Public Pension Crisis 6 Years Ago

Last week, Thomas Clark was kind enough to point out in his FRA PlanTools blog that, in a series of posts and an article a few years back, I had guessed right on the future of excessive fee litigation in the courts. At the same time that he was writing that post, I was in the midst of what I have now come to call “public pensions week” on this blog, in which I put up a series of posts on that problem, which is on everyone’s front burner and the cover of media from the NY Times to Rolling Stone.

Now it is my turn to point out some very educated and well-informed prognosticating, this time by Susan Mangiero, who writes the Pension Risk Matters blog. Susan predicted the current spate of public pension problems, and the nature of the on-going debate over them, in a post six years ago. As she explained then, the question to be played out was whether, and how, governments – read taxpayers – would continue to fund public pensions at their prescribed benefit levels, or whether benefits would end up being cut. As she cleverly put it way back in 2006, “Is a modern Boston Tea Party soon to come? Will taxpayers say "enough" to what they perceive as generous municipal pensions while they struggle to save?”

This is, of course, in a nut shell exactly what the public pension crisis is today. The pensions are underfunded, and the question is whether the taxpayers will be forced to make up the difference or whether, instead, the participants will be forced to take a haircut. Susan was right on the money way back then in predicting the problem, so perhaps we should heed her thoughts then on what the outcome of this dilemma might be – as Susan said then about how this may play out, “How will politicians respond? After all, grumpy taxpayers tend to vote.”