Saturday, August 27, 2011

SF Fed Warns Baby Boomers May Wound Stock Market

Interesting. I was asking about this years ago, and people didn't want to admit it. The "experts" were saying people should buy stock for financial security in retirement. Of course, it was to the benefit of the those in the financial industry that people believe that.

Similar to global warming/climate change, ignoring a problem for the sake of short-term profits and convenience.

August 22, 2011, 1:50 PM ET

By Michael S. Derby

The next quarter century or so could be a tough one for the stock market, researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco warn.

In a paper released by the institution Monday, two of its staffers said the retirement of the Baby Boom generation stands to strip away from equities a key source of support. The ongoing wave of retirees won’t crater the market, but they may well be “a factor holding down equity valuations over the next two decades,” writes Zheng Liu and Mark Spiegel write.

As they see it, what the Baby Boomers have given to the market is something like what they will be taking away. Allowing for the “theoretical ambiguities,” the economists noted “U.S. equity values have been closely related to demographic trends in the past half century” across several key metrics. “In the context of the impending retirement of baby boomers over the next two decades, this correlation portends poorly for equity values,” Liu and Spiegel write.

As much as it is a problem for the market over the long haul, as retirees sell stocks to try to maintain their lifestyles, the “well known” nature of the troubles is also a problem for markets now. Indeed, if current investors now start pricing in the coming Baby Boomer headwind, they may “depress” stock prices.

“These demographic shifts may present headwinds today for the stock market’s recovery from the financial crisis,” the paper said.

Liu and Siegel allow that considerable uncertainty surrounds their work. Other important influences on the outlook for stocks are the performance of the bond market, as well as the appetites of foreign buyers. They cited China as one potential wild card, saying that nation and other emerging economies “may relax capital controls, which would allow their nationals to invest in U.S. equity markets.” That could counter some of the drag generated by U.S. retirees.

There are, of course, even more risks that surround the stock market beyond what the paper flags. Equity prices have undergone considerable volatility of late after enjoying a sharp Federal-Reserve-engineered rally starting nearly a year ago. Equity investors are confronting a protracted period of economic weakness, and a central bank that appears to have few good options to restart growth. Should weakness prove longer-lasting than some expect, that itself may influence Baby Boomers’ retirement plans, and thus change the outlook for the market.


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