RPT-COLUMN-Low-interest locusts: David Cay Johnston
Another financial crisis looms for U.S. taxpayers, a disaster likely to create even worse human misery than the mortgage fiasco that some of us warned about years before the Wall Street meltdown in 2008.
The crisis next time: collapsing investment incomes for older Americans as artificially reduced interest rates force them to use up their savings and drive more pension plans into failure.
Eviscerating the interest income of savers is the undeniable result of a long-running Federal Reserve policy to reduce interest rates, especially since December 2008. The Fed reiterated on Aug. 1 that it plans to keep interest rates low through late 2014. It says this helps to promote stronger economic growth and bring down the jobless rate.
As in the mortgage crisis, you can see this disaster building by examining the official data.
At the broadest level, 53 percent of taxpayers earned interest in 2000. But by 2010 just 39 percent did, my analysis of Internal Revenue Service data shows, while high-interest debt has become ubiquitous.
From 2000 to 2010 total interest earned by savers fell 53 percent in real terms, a decline of $134 billion. Average interest earned per taxpayer, measured in 2010 dollars, plummeted from $1,950 to $825....MORE