Catalogue

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Retirement heist : how companies plunder and profit from the nest eggs of American workers /
Ellen E. Schultz.
imprint
New York : Portfolio/Penguin, 2011.
description
vi, 245 p. ; 24 cm.
ISBN
1591843332 (Cloth), 9781591843337 (Cloth)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
New York : Portfolio/Penguin, 2011.
isbn
1591843332 (Cloth)
9781591843337 (Cloth)
contents note
Siphon : how companies plunder the pension piggy banks -- Heist : replenishing pension assets by cutting benefits -- Profit center : how pensions and retiree health plans boost earnings -- Health scare : inflating retiree health liabilities to boost profits -- Portfolio management : swapping populations of retirees for cash and profits -- Wealth transfer : the hidden burden of spiraling executive pensions and pay -- Death benefits : how dead peasants help finance executive pay -- Unfair shares : using employees' pensions to finance executive liabilities -- Project sunshine : a human resources plot to dissolve retiree benefits -- Twilight zone : how employers use pension law to thwart retirees -- In denial : incentives to withhold benefits -- Epitaph : the games continue.
abstract
"An expose of the ways corporations manipulate retirement plans at employee expense. It's no secret that hundreds of companies, from GM to IBM, have been slashing pensions and health coverage for millions of retirees. Employers blame an aging workforce, stock market losses, and spiraling costs. But the so-called retirement crisis is no demographic accident- and large corporations have played a significant and hidden role in creating it. Award-winning Wall Street Journal reporter Ellen E. Schultz draws back the curtain on one of the biggest and least understood scandals in decades. She shows how companies: created the pension crisis by plundering billions from their pension plans; cut pensions for millions of midlevel, middleaged workers, but used the savings to boost special executive pensions; purchase life insurance policies on employees and collect death benefits when they die- without telling them or their families This is a must read for all who are concerned about their financial future and that of the whole country" -- Provided by publisher.
catalogue key
7837165
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 221-233) and index.
A Look Inside
Awards
This item was nominated for the following awards:
Helen Bernstein Book Award, USA, 2012 : Won
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2011-07-04:
The retirement crisis is no accident, claims Wall Street Journal investigative reporter Schultz; large companies have played a significant role in its creation to protect the wealth of its top executives. When GE, IBM, Verizon, and others slashed pensions and medical benefits for millions of American retirees, they pointed fingers everywhere but at themselves-but who was really at fault? Pension funds were not bleeding the companies of cash. GE hadn't contributed a cent to the workers' pension plans since 1987, but still had enough money to cover all current and future retirees. Executive pensions at GE, with a $6 billion obligation, are a drag on earnings. These are largely hidden, however, lumped in with the figures for regular pensions. Schultz's methodical cataloguing of these abuses paints a highly unflattering picture of companies that cut benefits to boost earnings, lay off older workers who are entering the years in which their pensions will spike, inflate retiree health benefits to boost profits, lobby for laws that keep the system inequitable, hoard death benefits, and fire whistle-blowers. Heartbreaking stories of destitute seniors are juxtaposed with the obscene surpluses in pension funds for executives ($25 billion at GE; $24 billion at Verizon; $20 billion at AT&T)-and unless the global retirement industry is reined in, Schultz points out, it will continue to capture retirement wealth earned by many to enrich a relative few, and within our lifetimes, "retirement" will inevitably revert to what it was in the 1930s and before. A fascinating, troubling expose and a sobering call to arms. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Reviews
Review Quotes
"Americans have long been burdened by the overwhelming challenge of saving for retirement, as tax deductions for retirement savings favor the highest income earners and pension coverage erodes. But as an economist investigating the retirement crises I was shocked at Ellen Schultz''s exposure of outright lies, manipulations, and pure greed of the employers trusted with our retirement funds. Retirement Heist will help ordinary workers pressure Congress''s to enact serious pension reform."
"Americans have long been burdened by the overwhelming challenge of saving for retirement, as tax deductions for retirement savings favor the highest income earners and pension coverage erodes. But as an economist investigating the retirement crises I was shocked at Ellen Schultz's exposure of outright lies, manipulations, and pure greed of the employers trusted with our retirement funds. Retirement Heist will help ordinary workers pressure Congress's to enact serious pension reform." Teresa Ghilarducci, Director of the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analys
"Ellen Schultz documents the biggest heist in history, all the more horrifying because it is legal. Accounting tricks, perverse tax incentives, and bonus- hungry executives have taken the retirement money American workers have saved over decades. Meticulously researched and as gripping as a crime novel, this is essential reading for anyone who has, had, or hopes to have a job."
"Ellen Schultz documents the biggest heist in history, all the more horrifying because it is legal. Accounting tricks, perverse tax incentives, and bonus- hungry executives have taken the retirement money American workers have saved over decades. Meticulously researched and as gripping as a crime novel, this is essential reading for anyone who has, had, or hopes to have a job." Nell Minow, cofounder of The Corporate Library and author of Watching the
"Ellen Schultz documents the biggest heist in history, all the more horrifying because it is legal. Accounting tricks, perverse tax incentives, and bonus- hungry executives have taken the retirement money American workers have saved over decades. Meticulously researched and as gripping as a crime novel, this is essential reading for anyone who has, had, or hopes to have a job." -Nell Minow, co-founder of The Corporate Library and author of Watching the Watchers: Corporate Governance for the 21st Century "Americans have long been burdened by the overwhelming challenge of saving for retirement, as tax deductions for retirement savings favor the highest income earners and pension coverage erodes. But as an economist investigating the retirement crises I was shocked at Ellen Schultz's exposure of outright lies, manipulations, and pure greed of the employers trusted with our retirement funds. Retirement Heist will help ordinary workers pressure Congress's to enact serious pension reform." -Teresa Ghilarducci, Director of the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis and author of When I'm Sixty-Four: The Plot Against Pensions and the Plan to Save Them " Retirement Heist takes a provocative look at the unseen corporate forces that have weakened our nation's employer provided retirement benefits. Ellen E. Schultz documents an emerging corporate culture - spurred on by benefit consultants - that places shareholder value and executive compensation above employee retirement security. Retirement Heist shows how the growing retirement insecurity of today is a direct outgrowth of the hidden manipulation of plan benefits for other corporate purposes." -David Certner, Legislative Policy Director for AARP " Retirement Heist uncovers one of the most significant threats to the American worker of our time. Ellen Schultz's reporting is expansive, smart, and will have you shouting for someone to be held accountable. Anybody who works and is worried about their future should read this book." -Lewis Maltby, president of the National Workrights Institute and author of Can They Do That? Retaking Our Fundamental Rights in the Workplace "The retirement security of millions of Americans hasn't been lost to the recession or the demographics of an aging workforce, it's been stolen-by corporate executives and their consultants, lobbyists, accountants, and lawyers. Retirement Heist is an important book for workers and policymakers that documents how corporate profits and executives' salaries have been inflated at the expense of the middle class." -Jay Feinman, Distinguished Professor, Rutgers University School of Law, Camden and author of Delay, Deny, Defend: Why Insurance Companies Don't Pay Claims and What You Can Do About It
" Retirement Heist takes a provocative look at the unseen corporate forces that have weakened our nation''s employer provided retirement benefits. Ellen E. Schultz documents an emerging corporate culture - spurred on by benefit consultants - that places shareholder value and executive compensation above employee retirement security. Retirement Heist shows how the growing retirement insecurity of today is a direct outgrowth of the hidden manipulation of plan benefits for other corporate purposes."
" Retirement Heist takes a provocative look at the unseen corporate forces that have weakened our nation's employer provided retirement benefits. Ellen E. Schultz documents an emerging corporate culture - spurred on by benefit consultants - that places shareholder value and executive compensation above employee retirement security. Retirement Heist shows how the growing retirement insecurity of today is a direct outgrowth of the hidden manipulation of plan benefits for other corporate purposes." David Certner, Legislative Policy Director for AARP
" Retirement Heist uncovers one of the most significant threats to the American worker of our time. Ellen Schultz''s reporting is expansive, smart, and will have you shouting for someone to be held accountable. Anybody who works and is worried about their future should read this book."
" Retirement Heist uncovers one of the most significant threats to the American worker of our time. Ellen Schultz's reporting is expansive, smart, and will have you shouting for someone to be held accountable. Anybody who works and is worried about their future should read this book." Lewis Maltby, president of the National Workrights Institute and author of
"The retirement security of millions of Americans hasn''t been lost to the recession or the demographics of an aging workforce, it''s been stolen-by corporate executives and their consultants, lobbyists, accountants, and lawyers. Retirement Heist is an important book for workers and policymakers that documents how corporate profits and executives'' salaries have been inflated at the expense of the middle class."
"The retirement security of millions of Americans hasn't been lost to the recession or the demographics of an aging workforce, it's been stolen-by corporate executives and their consultants, lobbyists, accountants, and lawyers. Retirement Heist is an important book for workers and policymakers that documents how corporate profits and executives' salaries have been inflated at the expense of the middle class." Jay Feinman, Distinguished Professor, Rutgers University School of Law, Camden
This item was reviewed in:
Publishers Weekly, July 2011
Kirkus Reviews, November 2011
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
An award-winning journalist exposes how corporations manipulate retirement plans for their benefit It's no secret that hundreds of companies, from GM to IBM, have been slashing pensions and health coverage for millions of retirees. Employers blame an aging workforce, global competition, and spiraling costs. But the so-called retirement crisis is no demographic accident- corporations have played a significant and hidden role in the death spiral of pensions and benefits. Award-winning Wall Street Journalreporter Ellen E. Schultz draws back the curtain on one of the biggest yet least understood scandals in decades, one that affects millions of workers and retirees and will leave its mark for generations to come. She shows how com­panies plundered billions from their pension plans, then exaggerated costs to justify cutting benefits. The maneuvers essentially shifted billions of dollars from workers and retirees to executives and stockholders. Schultz's findings will astound-and anger-readers. This is a must-read for everyone concerned about their financial future and sick of the greed and mismanagement that hurt every American.
Main Description
An award-winning "Wall Street Journal" reporter draws back the curtain on one of the biggest yet least understood scandals in decades and exposes how corporations manipulate retirement plans for their benefit.
Main Description
An expose of the ways corporations manipulate retirement plans at employee expense. It's no secret that hundreds of companies, from GM to IBM, have been slashing pensions and health coverage for millions of retirees. Employers blame an aging workforce, stock market losses, and spiraling costs. But the so-called retirement crisis is no demographic accident- and large corporations have played a significant and hidden role in creating it. Award-winning Wall Street Journal reporter Ellen E. Schultz draws back the curtain from one of the biggest and least understood scandals in decades. She shows how companies: " created the pension crisis by plundering billions from their pension plans " cut pensions for millions of midlevel, middle-aged workers, but used the savings to boost special executive pensions " purchase life insurance policies on employees and collect death benefits when they die-without telling them or their families This is a must read for all who are concerned about their financial future and that of the whole country.
Main Description
An expose of the ways corporations manipulate retirement plans at employee expense. It's no secret that hundreds of companies, from GM to IBM, have been slashing pensions and health coverage for millions of retirees. Employers blame an aging workforce, stock market losses, and spiraling costs. But the so-called retirement crisis is no demographic accident- and large corporations have played a significant and hidden role in creating it. Award-winning Wall Street Journal reporter Ellen E. Schultz draws back the curtain on one of the biggest and least understood scandals in decades. She shows how companies: " created the pension crisis by plundering billions from their pension plans " cut pensions for millions of midlevel, middleaged workers, but used the savings to boost special executive pensions " purchase life insurance policies on employees and collect death benefits when they die- without telling them or their families This is a must read for all who are concerned about their financial future and that of the whole country.
Main Description
An expose of the ways corporations manipulate retirement plans at employee expense. It's no secret that hundreds of companies, from GM to IBM, have been slashing pensions and health coverage for millions of retirees. Employers blame an aging workforce, stock market losses, and spiraling costs. But the so-called retirement crisis is no demographic accident- and large corporations have played a significant and hidden role in creating it. Award-winning Wall Street Journalreporter Ellen E. Schultz draws back the curtain on one of the biggest and least understood scandals in decades. She shows how companies: • created the pension crisis by plundering billions from their pension plans • cut pensions for millions of midlevel, middleaged workers, but used the savings to boost special executive pensions • purchase life insurance policies on employees and collect death benefits when they die- without telling them or their families This is a must read for all who are concerned about their financial future and that of the whole country.
Main Description
"'As far as I can determine there is only one solution [to the CEO's demand to save more money]', the HR representative wrote to her superiors. 'That would be the death of all existing retirees.'" It's no secret that hundreds of companies have been slashing pensions and health coverage earned by millions of retirees. Employers blame an aging workforce, stock market losses, and spiraling costs- what they call "a perfect storm" of external forces that has forced them to take drastic measures. But this so-called retirement crisis is no accident. Ellen E. Schultz, award-winning investigative reporter for the Wall Street Journal, reveals how large companies and the retirement industry-benefits consultants, insurance companies, and banks-have all played a huge and hidden role in the death spiral of American pensions and benefits. A little over a decade ago, most companies had more than enough set aside to pay the benefits earned by two generations of workers, no matter how long they lived. But by exploiting loopholes, ambiguous regulations, and new accounting rules, companies essentially turned their pension plans into piggy banks, tax shelters, and profit centers. Drawing on original analysis of company data, government filings, internal corporate documents, and confidential memos, Schultz uncovers decades of widespread deception during which employers have exaggerated their retiree burdens while lobbying for government handouts, secretly cutting pensions, tricking employees, and misleading shareholders. She reveals how companies: * Siphon billions of dollars from their pension plans to finance downsizings and sell the assets in merger deals * Overstate the burden of rank-and-file retiree obligations to justify benefits cuts while simultaneously using the savings to inflate executive pay and pensions * Hide their growing executive pension liabilities, which at some companies now exceed the liabilities for the regular pension plans * Purchase billions of dollars of life insurance on workers and use the policies as informal executive pension funds. When the insured workers and retirees die, the company collects tax-free death benefits *Preemptively sue retirees after cutting retiree health benefits and use other legal strategies to erode their legal protections. Though the focus is on large companies-which drive the legislative agenda-the same games are being played at smaller companies, non-profits, public pensions plans and retirement systems overseas. Nor is this a partisan issue: employees of all political persuasions and income levels-from managers to miners, pro- football players to pilots-have been slammed. Retirement Heist is a scathing and urgent expose of one of the most critical and least understood crises of our time.
Main Description
"'As far as I can determine there is only one solution [to the CEO's demand to save more money]', the HR representative wrote to her superiors. 'That would be the death of all existing retirees.'" It's no secret that hundreds of companies have been slashing pensions and health coverage earned by millions of retirees. Employers blame an aging workforce, stock market losses, and spiraling costs- what they call "a perfect storm" of external forces that has forced them to take drastic measures. But this so-called retirement crisis is no accident. Ellen E. Schultz, award-winning investigative reporter for the Wall Street Journal, reveals how large companies and the retirement industry-benefits consultants, insurance companies, and banks-have all played a huge and hidden role in the death spiral of American pensions and benefits. A little over a decade ago, most companies had more than enough set aside to pay the benefits earned by two generations of workers, no matter how long they lived. But by exploiting loopholes, ambiguous regulations, and new accounting rules, companies essentially turned their pension plans into piggy banks, tax shelters, and profit centers. Drawing on original analysis of company data, government filings, internal corporate documents, and confidential memos, Schultz uncovers decades of widespread deception during which employers have exaggerated their retiree burdens while lobbying for government handouts, secretly cutting pensions, tricking employees, and misleading shareholders. She reveals how companies: Siphon billions of dollars from their pension plans to finance downsizings and sell the assets in merger deals Overstate the burden of rank-and-file retiree obligations to justify benefits cuts while simultaneously using the savings to inflate executive pay and pensions Hide their growing executive pension liabilities, which at some companies now exceed the liabilities for the regular pension plans Purchase billions of dollars of life insurance on workers and use the policies as informal executive pension funds. When the insured workers and retirees die, the company collects tax-free death benefits Preemptively sue retirees after cutting retiree health benefits and use other legal strategies to erode their legal protections. Though the focus is on large companies-which drive the legislative agenda-the same games are being played at smaller companies, non-profits, public pensions plans and retirement systems overseas. Nor is this a partisan issue: employees of all political persuasions and income levels-from managers to miners, pro- football players to pilots-have been slammed. Retirement Heist is a scathing and urgent expose of one of the most critical and least understood crises of our time.

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