Is your 401K about to be nationalized?

Personal retirement accounts may soon have a new account manager. Photo: Associated Press

WASHINGTON, February 3, 2013 ― The $19.4 trillion sitting in personal retirement accounts like the 401K may be too tempting an apple for a government that is quite broke, both monetarily and morally.  The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director Richard Cordray recently mentioned these accounts in a recent interview, stating “That’s one of the things we’ve been exploring and are interested in, in terms of whether and what authority we have.”

This agency, created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank-Act, is very concerned about how safe your retirement savings are. They are apparently concerned that retiring baby boomers may become victims of financial scams.

If the government takes control of retirement accounts, it will not be called “nationalization.” There will most likely be an indecipherable document that provides an opt-out option (initially), but why would you want to do that? The US government only wants to ensure the safety of your retirement funds; they did after all create a new bureaucracy for that specific purpose.  And what could be a safer investment than US bonds?

China’s premier Wen Jiabao recently made a very polite, but very pointed statement to the US concerning its continued policy of debt monetization (printing money to pay the bills).

“We have made a huge amount of loans to the United States. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I’m a little bit worried. I would like to call on the United States to honor its words, stay a credible nation and ensure the safety of Chinese assets.”

It is estimated that of the roughly $2 trillion China holds in currency reserves, about half is in U.S. Treasuries. While that may not seem significant, you would not want to know what would happen should they put even half of those treasuries on the open market. While that is certainly not expected, an escalation of Japan-China tensions in their ongoing (and worsening) argument over East and South China Sea islands, with the U.S. firmly behind Japan, means anything is possible.

Assuming that the island dispute does not turn into open warfare, there is still the matter of addressing the very serious concerns that China has voiced, and many other countries echo: We are devaluing our currency, which they are heavily invested in, at a rapid pace and with no indication of ever stopping.

This brings us back to that juicy apple hanging from the tree of our life’s work. Nationalizing the personal retirement accounts would allow our government to borrow even more from its largest debtor (U.S. citizens) without further devaluing the currency. While this may seem far-fetched, as international pressure mounts to maintain the value of the dollar, you will hear more about this.

If at some date we find ourselves at a tipping point in international relations, it may very well come down to nationalizing our 401K’s or going to war. Many Americans are choosing to take their penalties and withdraw their 401K funds while they still can.

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Mike Shortridge

Mike is a former Marine who served in the Middle East. He is disgusted with both the Republican and Democratic parties, seeing them as two heads of the same beast. He writes from the conservative perspective, with a focus on making complex subjects easy to understand.


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