America’s Retirement Crisis: Public Pensions

America’s public pensions are in big trouble, facing a shortfall of $5.6 trillion . The enormous pension debt figure is growing larger because public pensions overestimate their expected returns on investments, and fail to collect necessary funds from the cities, towns and states that employ civil servants.

Joe Nation, a project director at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, is on the front lines of the nation’s retirement crisis. His home state, California, has the largest public pension system in the country, The California Public Employees Retirement System or CalPERS. CalPERS, with $299 billion in assets, is underfunded by $164 billion, and the debt is going to grow larger.

In this episode of Talkenomics, Nation explains why California is just one of many states and cities with apending public pension crises that will test taxpayers and retirees.

Further reading: Adam Shapiro’s report on CalPERS cutting benefits for the first time.