Financial repression arrives not with a bang but with a whisper. “It is a very stealthy tax,” says economist Carmen Reinhart of the Peterson Institute for International Economics.Reinhart is the toast of economic circles these days for speaking out about the newest way Western governments are using financial repression to liquidate their debts, particularly after a financial crisis. They’re doing this on the backs of savers, including pension funds, according to economists. In practice, financial repression can lead to “the rape and plunder of pension funds,” Reinhart tells Institutional Investor. Financial repression consists of very low nominal interest rates combined with captive lending by large banks or pension funds to a government. The low, stable interest rate facilitates the servicing costs of large public debts. Sometimes modest inflation is added to the mix. This results in zero to negative real interest rates that reduce government debt. Hence, broadly defined, financial repression is a wealth transferfrom savers to debtors using negative real interest rates — with the government as one of the key debtors.
As investors in your 401(k) plan you have to invest your money as you choose without government pressure.
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- States including California, Connecticut and Illinois have been borrowing to pay, or even deferring, their pension bills (thebankwatch.com)
- Today it pays to owe money, while savers suffer (business.financialpost.com)
- Carmen Reinhart and financial repression (economist.com)