Retirement Heist: How Companies Plunder and Profit from the Nest Eggs of American Workers

    By Ellen E Schultz
"'As far as I can determine there is only one solution [to the CEO's demand to save more money]', the HR representative wrote to her superiors. 'That would be the death of all existing retirees.'"

It's no secret that hundreds of companies have been slashing pensions and health coverage earned by millions of retirees. Employers blame an aging workforce, stock market losses, and spiraling costs- what they call "a perfect storm" of external forces that has forced them to take drastic measures.

But this so-called retirement crisis is no accident. Ellen E. Schultz, award-winning investigative reporter for the Wall Street Journal, reveals how large companies and the retirement industry-benefits consultants, insurance companies, and banks-have all played a huge and hidden role in the death spiral of American pensions and benefits.
A little over a decade ago, most companies had more than enough set aside to pay the benefits earned by two generations of workers, no matter how long they lived. But by exploiting loopholes, ambiguous regulations, and new accounting rules, companies essentially turned their pension plans into piggy banks, tax shelters, and profit centers.

Drawing on original analysis of company data, government filings, internal corporate documents, and confidential memos, Schultz uncovers decades of widespread deception during which employers have exaggerated their retiree burdens while lobbying for government handouts, secretly cutting pensions, tricking employees, and misleading shareholders. She reveals how companies: Siphon billions of dollars from their pension plans to finance downsizings and sell the assets in merger deals Overstate the burden of rank-and-file retiree obligations to justify benefits cuts while simultaneously using the savings to inflate executive pay and pensions Hide their growing executive pension liabilities, which at some companies now exceed the liabilities for the regular pension plans Purchase billions of dollars of life insurance on workers and use the policies as informal executive pension funds. When the insured workers and retirees die, the company collects tax-free death benefits Preemptively sue retirees after cutting retiree health benefits and use other legal strategies to erode their legal protections.

Though the focus is on large companies-which drive the legislative agenda-the same games are being played at smaller companies, non-profits, public pensions plans and retirement systems overseas. Nor is this a partisan issue: employees of all political persuasions and income levels-from managers to miners, pro- football players to pilots-have been slammed.

"Retirement Heist" is a scathing and urgent expose of one of the most critical and least understood crises of our time.


EXCERPTS: An Excerpt from The Fine Print

Posted September 19, 2012, 6:41 PM with category of Finance & Economics
Since Michael did such a fine job in his review of Steven Johnson's Future Perfect on Monday of describing how the future may well be, well. . . Read more

NEWS: 2011 Business Book Awards: The Short List

Posted January 4, 2012, 7:40 PM with category of General Business
What was the Best Business Book written in 2011? Watch this 90 second video and find out more. Ok, so we didn't tell you what the best book was. Read more

NEWS: Introducing the Candidates: Entrepreneurship & Finance

Posted December 21, 2011, 2:07 PM with category of General Business
Over the course of this week, we will be introducing, by category, the candidates for the 2011 800-CEO-READ Business Book Awards. Even though only one of the candidates can win the big prize, good business books deserve an audience, and perhaps one on this list will be the winning book. . Read more

STAFF PICKS: Retirement Heist

Posted September 12, 2011, 10:21 PM with category of General Business
Pabst Blue Ribbon has become a trendy beverage across the country. It has developed a blue collar, sub-culture friendly image. But while Pabst has been a huge part of Milwaukee's history, its connections to the city today are limited to its branding, and there are still plenty of working class folks here who won't touch it. Read more


  Choose a format
  •   For use in United States   United-states-16

Your price: $12.99/ea

App required iOS or Google Play
ISBN 9781101446072
Language English
Publish Date 09/14/2011
Publisher Portfolio

Interested in eBooks?Please read our brief introduction before purchasing.

Look for similar items