Barron's Recap: The Baby Boom Budget Bomb
This weekend in Barron's online: the looming economic calamity if entitlement spending is not reined in, as well as the prospects for AMC Networks, Prem Watsa and more.
"What, Me Worry?" by Gene Epstein.
Unless Washington stops dithering, says this week's cover story in Barron's, the nation's aging population will destroy the economy within 25 years. The cost of Obamacare, Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security will mushroom as tens of millions of baby boomers reach retirement age, according to a report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
The CBO's new 25-year projections show that the next decade will be the relative calm before the coming storm. One scenario has the debt-to-economic-output ratio modest over the next 10 years, and then exploding by 2033. American politicians rarely look beyond the next election, so fiscal planning has devolved into a series of standoffs verging on defaults and shutdowns.
Barron's takes a look at the demographics that make this tragedy inevitable, including a graphic showing the plunging "dependency ratio." And the article examines both the baseline scenario, and the so-called alternative fiscal scenario, which is much more realistic and sees a much greater looming disaster.
See how the media has helped stoke complacency about the budget. See why any short-term improvement in the budget during the recent upswing in the business cycle is negligible when measured against the long term. See how President Obama seems to be ignoring the issue, as well as what Bill Clinton, Alan Greenspan and Paul Krugman have said about the problem.
"AMC Networks: Looking Good After Breaking Bad" by Jack Hough points out that even as its much-discussed hit show comes to a conclusion, AMC Networks (NASDAQ: AMCX) has plans to expand its programming dramatically.
Andrew Bary's "The Man Who Would Buy BlackBerry" asks whether Fairfax Financial's Prem Watsa, who is often compared with Warren Buffett, can score big with troubled smartphone maker BlackBerry (NASDAQ: BBRY).
In "Hands-On Investor," Michael Shari profiles former Wall Street analyst and business owner Daniel Khoshaba, who has an impressive record as a long-short fund manager. Khoshaba shares why he likes Owens-Illinois (NYSE: OI) but does not care for Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT).
Two analysts for a hedge fund were arrested in China for their research into a mining outfit with a powerful local presence, according to "The High Price of Digging Up Dirt in China" by Bill Alpert and Leslie P. Norton. See how their tale casts doubt on just who is guilty.
"Where to Find Value in Today's Bond" by Lawrence C. Strauss features an interview with PIMCO CEO Mohamed El-Erian. He advises fixed-income investors to focus on shorter-maturity bonds, especially those of five years or less.
In Ellie Winninghoff's Penta article "Modern Money Trees," see how Ecotrust Forest Management profits from both the harvesting and preservation of its woodlands, and see how it is boosting returns via federal subsidies and conservation easements.
Steve Garmhausen's "Steady as He Goes" offers best advice from independent financial advisor Kevin Myeroff of Cleveland. Myeroff believes greed and fear are running high among investors, and his prescription is a solid dose of stocks.
All the talk about the debt ceiling and budget deadlines has unnerved investors, says Vito J. Racanelli in "Washington Wrangling Knocks Stocks." And then there are the worries about Fed policy.
"The Sound of His Wings" is an editorial commentary by Thomas G. Donlan suggesting that Washington lawmakers play devilish political games.
Columns in this weekend's Barron's discuss:
- What Wall Street can do to stop the government shutdown
- The view on Singapore at the SALT Asia conference
- Whether new cloud firms face storms amid high valuations
- Hedge funds unsure how to market themselves
- The outlook for frontier exchange traded funds (ETFs) in 2014
- Restoring trust and confidence in the financial-advice industry
- What could propel Brink's (NYSE: BCO) shares by 20 percent
- Dividend hikes from Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) and Campbell Soup (NYSE: CPB)
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