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  • Is Social Security a Ponzi Scheme?

    While some of the press stories might make one think that Bernie Madoff ran Social Security, the reality is quite different. Although Social Security does bear a resemblance to a Ponzi scheme in that it has promised much more in benefits to younger Americans than it can possibly pay, these … More

    FHFA Sues Banks to Recover Housing Bond Losses: Less Than Meets the Eye?

    News reports say that the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) will sue about 12 major banks in order to recover some of the losses that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac sustained on mortgage-backed securities the banks issued. The suits will seek to make the banks repay a share of about … More

    Social Security's Disability Program Faces an Empty Trust Fund

    With continuing unemployment problems driving more and more Americans to seek Social Security disability benefits, that program’s already weakened trust fund faces a bleak future. Just as unemployed older workers have been forced to apply for Social Security retirement benefits much earlier than they expected, thousands of other unemployed people … More

    A New Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? Even Former Obama Advisers Say No!

    The Washington Post reports that President Obama wants the federal government to continue to have a major role in housing finance, perhaps by creating a new version of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Despite an almost immediate denial of the story by Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wollin, the Post’s account … More

    Social Security's COLA Needs to Be More Accurate

    Any budget agreement should include an improvement of the accuracy of Social Security’s annual cost-of-living allowance (COLA) payments. Press reports say this is now on the table. COLAs are designed to protect retirees against inflation eroding the value of their benefits, but the index used to calculate those payments is … More

    Consumers Lose, No One Happy, with Final Fed Swipe Fee Regulations

    Splitting the difference does not improve bad policy. The final regulations adopted this week by the Federal Reserve Board to impose price caps on “swipe fees” paid by merchants when customers use debit cards to pay for purchases will still hurt consumers. The Fed did increase the fee cap from … More

    Trustees Show Permanent Deficits for Social Security

    How Will This Report Affect the Social Security Debate? The debate about whether Social Security faces a problem and needs to be fixed is over. The 2011 trustees report, which was released this afternoon, shows that the program already faces massive permanent annual deficits. In 2010, Social Security spent $49 … More

    Two Promising Starts towards Ending Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

    After more than a year of delay, the House Financial Services Committee is finally starting work on legislation that will hopefully end Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two housing finance giants that helped to make the housing crisis worse. Both essentially failed in September 2008 and have been in … More

    Obama’s Plan: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Go, but What Replaces Them?

    Given the task of producing a plan to develop a new housing finance system after the crisis of 2008 and the failure of both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—a task that everyone agrees will be extremely complex—the Obama Administration decided to punt. Rather than one detailed plan, it produced brief … More

    Social Security’s Bleak Future Has Arrived

    For the last couple of decades, Social Security analysts, public trustees, and even both Republican and Democratic Presidents have warned that unless the program is fixed, it faces perpetual cash-flow deficits. And now, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says that those perpetual deficits have arrived. As a result, it is … More