Cover image for The coming generational storm : what you need to know about America's economic future
The coming generational storm : what you need to know about America's economic future
Kotlikoff, Laurence J.
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Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
xix, 274 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
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HB3505 .K68 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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One of Library Journal's Best Business Books of 2004, Winner in the category of Economics in the 2004 Professional/Scholarly Publishing Annual Awards Competition presented by the Association of American Publishers, Inc. and CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title for 2004 In 2030, as 77 million baby boomers hobble into old age, walkers will outnumber strollers; there will be twice as many retirees as there are today but only 18 percent more workers. How will America handle this demographic overload? How will Social Security and Medicare function with fewer working taxpayers to support these programs? According to Laurence Kotlikoff and Scott Burns, if our government continues on the course it has set, we'll see skyrocketing tax rates, drastically lower retirement and health benefits, high inflation, a rapidly depreciating dollar, unemployment, and political instability. The government has lost its compass, say Kotlikoff and Burns, and the current administration is heading straight into the coming generational storm. But don't panic. To solve a problem you must first understand it. Kotlikoff and Burns take us on a guided tour of our generational imbalance, first introducing us to the baby boomers-- their long retirement years and "the protracted delay in their departure to the next world." Then there's the "fiscal child abuse" that will double the taxes paid by the next generation. There's also the "deficit delusion" of the under-reported national debt. And none of this, they say, will be solved by any of the popularly touted remedies: cutting taxes, technological progress, immigration, foreign investment, or the elimination of wasteful government spending. So how can the United States avoid this demographic/fiscal collision? Kotlikoff and Burns propose bold new policies, including meaningful reforms of Social Security, and Medicare. Their proposals are simple, straightforward, and geared to attract support from both political parties. But just in case politicians won't take the political risk to chart a new direction, Kotlikoff and Burns also offer a "life jacket"-- guidelines for individuals to protect their financial health and retirement.

Author Notes

Laurence J. Kotlikoff is a professor of economics at Boston University and president of Economic Security Planning, Inc. He is the author or co-author of several books including Jimmy Stewart Is Dead: Ending the World's Ongoing Financial Plague with Limited Purpose Banking, The Clash of Generations: Saving Ourselves, Our Kids, and Our Economy, and Get What's Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Kotlikoff (economics, Boston Univ.) and personal finance writer Burns paint a bleak picture of the future U.S. economy. They claim that a "generational storm" will occur when baby boomers start to retire, leaving fewer people in the workforce to support the massive programs on which the boomers will be depending. Focusing on three programs that they feel are ailing-Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid-the authors argue that administrations past and present have misled the public on the health of the economy and that our children will be left with a huge financial burden if the government continues on its course of fiscal irresponsibility. The first chapter details the aging population, and the entire text is heavy on statistics and calculated financial scenarios. The authors end by outlining their own solutions to the troubled economy. This is a sobering look at an impending crisis with implications for all of us. Recommended for all collections.-Stacey Marien, American Univ. Lib., Washington, DC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Economist Kotlikoff (Boston Univ.) and journalist Burns warn readers not to expect the US economy to continue systematically translating technological progress into rising standards of living. They explain that in recent generations politicians have made unsustainable promises about government spending on retirement programs and medical care--creating a gap between spending and revenue of a mind-numbing $45 trillion (not a typo)--and that the looming retirement of baby boomers means the next generation will face a doubling of lifetime net tax rates unless citizens make very large sacrifices very soon. They relentlessly explain why standard remedies will not fix the problem, why their own innovative, yet sensible, proposal is not likely to be adopted by selfish voters, and why continuing along the current path could easily drag the economy into a torpor replete with stultifying taxes, resurgent inflation, and capital flight. The authors close with investment advice to help individuals weather the storm. Kotlikoff's talents as a pioneer of generational accounting are joined with Burns's engaging (though occasionally flippant) prose to make the book accessible to almost any reader. This may be the year's most important book. ^BSumming Up: Essential. All library collections. R. M. Whaples Wake Forest University

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Prologuep. xi
1 From Strollers to Walkersp. 1
2 Truth Is Worse Than Fictionp. 41
3 Driving in LA with a Map of New Yorkp. 73
4 Popular Tonics, Snake Oils, and Other Easy Fixesp. 87
5 Going Criticalp. 121
6 Changing Coursep. 143
7 Grab Your Life Jacketp. 173
8 Securing Your Futurep. 193
Epiloguep. 243
Notesp. 249
Indexp. 261