Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Goal For The Millennium Is Staying Alive

Although Spanish prime minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is formally in the US for the UN meeting on the millennium development goals, it seems he has some other business there too. Apart from having a meeting with the King of Morocco, Zapatero had what was described in El País today as a frugal breakfast with a group of important financiers. Unconfirmed rumours reaching South of Watford have suggested that the star dish in the breakfast consisted of slices of Spain's successful state pension scheme drizzled with a good olive oil and topped with grated mileurista. The pending pension "reform" of course is the missing piece in the package to try and keep the markets off Spain's back, even though the country's pensions have absolutely nothing to do with what is alleged to be the root of the current crisis; the budget deficit. On the contrary, Spanish state pensions currently boast a healthy surplus.

The same cannot be said for private pension schemes in Spain, which so many of these financiers woud love to see as our only option available for retirement. After all, funds are needed badly these days to keep the casino running. Anyone thinking of investing their savings in a private pension here might be well advised to get hold of a copy of the report on their performance cited in this article from Público. The full report can be downloaded here. It seems that savers would have been better off in recent years investing their funds in, oh yes, treasury bonds! Which is where a lot of these funds end up investing anyway. As with the great private pension scam in the UK, a large part of any earnings that your pension fund gains soon disappear in commissions. So the solution for the industry is to slash public provision or spend public money to the point where the private pension becomes more attractive. As for the millennium development goals, I don't think anybody ever promised that they would be met in THIS millennium did they? After all, this stuff about clean drinking water, low infant mortality and basic education for all just doesn't seem to fit with the zeitgeist of the times we live in.

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