Sunday, October 28, 2012

Robert Pozen Interview: Is Social Security a Ponzi Scheme?

This Week's Guest is Robert Pozen:
Robert Pozen

Robert Pozen is the former vice-chairman of Fidelity Investments, former chairman of MFS Investment Management, the oldest mutual fund company in the U.S., with $250 billion in assets. He is also a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

In 2001 and 2002, he served as a member of President George W. Bush's Commission to Strengthen Social Security. At the state level, Pozen served as Secretary of Economic Affairs in 2003 under then-Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. In 2007, Pozen served as chairman of the SEC's Committee to Improve Financial Reporting.

In this interview, Bob discusses Pozen's new book "Extreme Productivity," as well as Pozen's view on Social Security. Is Social Security a Ponzi scheme? Find out below:

Direct download link.

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  1. You did good extracting the fact he is a central planner. You just ask questions which is great.

    Pretty frustrating for me to listen to this guy though as I woke up at 4 AM to work this morning. Did I wake up early to get extra work in so I can provide a good life for the baby I'm 8 months pregnant with? Or, did I wake up at 4 am to guarantee some person who is too irresponsible to save for their own future has a social security check?

  2. Great interview! Dr. Pozen well represents the rich elite. Dr. Pozen doesn't feel that the lower economic class can take care of themselves, therefore it's up to people putting their savings into 401Ks and IRAs to take care of them. Interesting that Dr Pozen believes that if a wage earner saves for retirement using a 401K or IRA that they are receiving a benefit from the government because they get a tax break. However, a retired person receiving income from his 401K or IRA, will pay taxes on his social security income, even though it initially taxed when it was payed into the system.

    Thanks Bob for not letting this parasite-enabling individual off the hook.

  3. Let me see if I understand this correctly. Social Security payroll tax was higher than the cash flow need. The social security “trust fund” loaned the excess amount to the government. These “assets” for the social security are future liabilities for the government. No doubt the justification for the higher payroll tax above the cash flow need was to prevent the necessity to raise the payroll taxes later on. Now that the system is cash flow negative, we must redeem the “assets” –the government’s liabilities—which is now causing a drain on government funding and moving the liabilities onto the government balance sheet. The solution is to raise taxes? It was higher payroll taxes that created the liabilities! This is worse than a Ponzi scheme. To paraphrase, we raised tax earlier in order that we would have to raise taxes later!!

  4. SS is not a Ponzi scheme. A Ponzi scheme is voluntary and there is nothing voluntary about SS.

  5. I look forward to these weekly interviews, Mr. Wenzel. When you scheduled Mr. Pozen did you inform him that you also wanted to ask questions about topics not covered in his latest book?

    You were very successful getting Mr. Pozen to concede that the SS Admin is holding nothing more than IOU's from the general government, and that some form of means testing will be government's way of defaulting (my definition) on its promise to a growing proportion of senior citizens.

    However, I see no value in trying to get a member of the ruling class to agree with you that SS is a Ponzi scheme. First, you'll never convince him; he's a member of the power elite! Second, you lost your chance to get him to unwittingly admit to other foolishness government does.

    That said, you do a great job and I enjoy the interviews.


  6. I totally agree with Pozen's suggestion to read the introduction and conclusion to articles first. It makes it easy to determine if an article is worthwhile. I find it especially true with Wenzel's posts since he often has a "bottom line:" segment at the end.

  7. Pozen was PWNED, as the kids say. He was too stupid to even realize how stupid his arguments sound to economically literate people. Good one!

  8. Robert, your show is so great! It needs to be in Podcast form!