BANK runs, with depositors queuing round the block to get their cash, are a familiar occurrence in history. A run on a pension fund is virtually unprecedented. But that is what is happening in Dallas, where policemen and firefighters are pulling money out of their city’s chronically underfunded plan, and Mike Rawlings, the mayor, is suing to stop them.
At the start of the year the fire and police pension fund had $2.8bn in assets. Since then nearly $600m has been withdrawn from the plan, of which almost $500m has been taken out since August 13th. That is an alarming acceleration; in 2015 total withdrawals were just $81m.
Even at the start of 2016, the plan was just 45% funded, and was expected to become insolvent within 15 years. When some workers take out their money, they get the full value of their benefits; leaving a smaller pot to be shared among the remaining members. (The city estimates that the funded ratio has fallen to 36% after the withdrawals.) As in a bank run, it seems rational to withdraw your money if you worry that all the benefits won’t be paid.
The crisis…Continue reading