Reimagining Retirement and “Risk-Free” Assets

Published on
February 19th, 2020
29 minutes

Reimagining Retirement and “Risk-Free” Assets

The Interview ·
Featuring Allison Schrager and Ramsey Smith

Published on: February 19th, 2020 • Duration: 29 minutes

Allison Schrager, senior fellow at The Manhattan Institute and author of "An Economist Walks Into A Brothel," sits down with Ramsey Smith of to discuss potential solutions to the global retirement crisis. Schrager argues that retirees are taking on too much risk with their portfolios by over-allocating to risky assets. She also explains why retirees are under-allocating to long-duration bonds. Smith and Schrager muse whether the idea of "retirement" should itself be reimagined and shed light on the current pension-related political conflagrations in France and Chile. Filmed on February 5, 2020, in New York.



  • KT
    Kai T.
    8 March 2020 @ 04:24
    Check out Allison Schrager's articles - she writes well and I learn from each I read.
  • SP
    Steve P.
    2 March 2020 @ 21:58
    Predictability of income is so important - I agree with her on that. CA’s major contractor to employee law is gonna cause mass cash flow disruptions as companies begin firing at will. Many private firms are “incorporating” simply filing an S1 for the legal framework to A) Avoid paying employees healthcare B) use the S1 legal registration as a “holding company” which I suspect will C.) accumulate revenues through multiple companies but report the revenues as something else. Issue is, if you’re not on bored you’re FIRED! If you don’t consent to the behaviors which follow the financial fraud engineering you’re defamed or slandered. It happens in cycles, issue with this cycle vs working in a city of psychopaths in ‘08 was no one used software and tech to inherently damage your rep and spread it digitally. Now, in CA for example employers are firing workers then having a co worker sue them for something as a “threat” to “teach a lesson” - expect unemployment and retirement issues coming out of California as a structural wave.
  • JH
    Jess H.
    28 February 2020 @ 04:38
    Topic is of high importance to retirees and those preparing for retirement as we contemplate the duration of this extended low-interest rate regime. Could serve as an introduction, or perhaps a reminder, of some of the complexities and trade-offs to those who may not be completely informed on all of these. However, don't expect specific guidance or insights from this interview. Schrager and interviewer Smith "muse" and "reimagine," in a way that probably felt good to both of them, but was disappointing overall. Alison sets up straw men that are just too easy to topple. For example, "this idea that at 65, people are just going to retire and have this super high income for the rest of their life. It has never been that way." Really? Who knew?
  • BS
    Bevyn S.
    20 February 2020 @ 00:32
    Ramsey is a great communicator and interviewer...! Great video.
    • WM
      Will M.
      27 February 2020 @ 01:35
      Sorry disagree. I thought he was pretty average.
  • WM
    Will M.
    27 February 2020 @ 01:34
    Not impressed "I'm too much of an efficient markets person..." What nonsense the belief that markets are efficient when they are partially fixed. I can get an annuity which initially provides 6% based off a capital sum but there is no inflation protection so even an 2.5% inflation rate will wipe out 50% of the value of the annuity in less than 18 years. Annuities are insurance company profit machines.... This had the potential for some great discussion but Ms Schrager was full of cliches and blithe economic statements. This was one of less than 10 videos I have ever down voted over the whole RVT archive.
  • CM
    Chad M.
    24 February 2020 @ 20:43
    What was the awful banging noise in the background? I started checking my computer and office until I figured out it was coming from the video...
  • JR
    Jenna R.
    24 February 2020 @ 00:49
    I would think the majority of workers about to retire are not industry professionals that can go to their boss and negotiate part-time, nor would they want to if its a menial labor job. They put in their hours and want their long-overdue vacation.
  • AW
    Andrew W.
    23 February 2020 @ 20:04
    Isn’t your annuity assets someone else’s liability? Returns are low because they are “risk free”. But are they? Some might have said Social Security is risk free. Today many would disagree. Guaranteed low returns for a promise that can be broken. Just ask Detroit’s pensioners how much their promise cost them. Finally, if it’s such a great deal, why are they offering it? Sounds like a sucker’s bet.
  • BT
    Benoit T.
    22 February 2020 @ 00:53
  • BB
    Bob B.
    21 February 2020 @ 05:20
    99.9% (INCLUDING ME) do not know how to trade short, medium or long term, A 'split' ratio is trading for dummies like me. Value investing and price discovery died with financial innovation. QE blew reality of equities and bonds out of the park. So the question for retirement is how to survive until death in a market casino. Remember the odds are stacked slightly in favour of the house and you are up against professional gamblers. No wonder people spend huge amounts on lottery tickets! Even given the odds at least we understand the process.
  • SC
    Shawn C.
    21 February 2020 @ 04:32
    A bit off topic, but thank you to everyone at RV that works to put out great content so consistently. I'm getting an amazing education that I couldn't get anywhere else. As an average joe, most topics are within or just beyond my reach in the best kind of way. Thank you and keep it up!
  • MH
    Martin H.
    21 February 2020 @ 00:58
    After trading for a living since the late 90's I can categorically state that "efficient markets" are an economists fantasy! Terms like that and "risk free" should be consigned to the garbage can of history along with many other academic fantasy's. They really need to visit a brothel to see how efficient and risk free things are in the real world. LOL
  • BK
    Brett K.
    20 February 2020 @ 16:25
    She lost me after the third "risk free asset" assertion.
  • FA
    Frank A.
    20 February 2020 @ 13:25
    Manhattan Institute is completely biased against DB plans........
  • DH
    David H.
    20 February 2020 @ 05:03
    All financial product is a form of an annuity. You give the present value of money for a future installment of payments. The annuity used for typical retirement is for people that don't want to learn how to generate cash flow and are happy to pay someone to do it. Buying a three bed and two baths rental property is similar to an annuity. You are making a financial payment for a future set of income. Of course, all the gurus that sells annuity will say "but your annuity doesn't call you 2 in the morning for a broken toilet." You should also ask them "What is the surrendering charge the minute after I buy an annuity?" The answer an excess of 10%+. That is capital that is not working for you when you buy that annuity.
  • NI
    Nate I.
    20 February 2020 @ 04:56
    "An annuity is the price of a risk free retirement". Really? Isn't social security is an annuity? Ask any SS participant trying to make ends meet solely on the payout how that's working out for them. That should put to rest once and for all whether or not an annuity is "risk free". The solution I heard from this interview was to plan on working all the way to the grave. I wish I could disagree, but that's probably the reality of the current "system", especially for the people who lack a deep understanding of money. That system is what needs to be overhauled and that overhaul would certainly begin with a return to sound money.
  • DW
    Daniel W.
    20 February 2020 @ 02:33
    Did I pay for this or is this free? Pretty bad on everything here. Cant think I learned of anything with the exception of the word waterfiniance
  • DD
    Dwayne D.
    19 February 2020 @ 15:22
    RV should light up the studio more, some of these videos are so dark I keep thinking.... sleep (and I've not elderly).
    • AW
      Aaron W.
      20 February 2020 @ 00:55
      Huh? Their productions are always very handsome and professional.
  • AW
    Aaron W.
    20 February 2020 @ 00:49
    Why do they start with plugging their sites and books. If we're going to have ads and sponsored content, can't we just label it clearly instead of disguising it?
  • AH
    Allan H.
    19 February 2020 @ 16:08
    60-40 will be fine, until it isn’t, just like risk parity. Buying very expensive bonds is not a solution. The best solution is to buy City center blue collar/millennial rental housing in the sunbelt. This gives tax advantaged bond like return with inflation protection. It is important to do this sensibly and not on the back of infomercials or the internet. Just do the math. REITs do not do the job, if equities sell off, so will REITs. Also REITs, have to constantly raise money and executives all want to get paid >$5mio per year on the back of investors capital.
    • MK
      Michael K.
      20 February 2020 @ 00:19
      Shhh don’t tell them
  • js
    j s.
    19 February 2020 @ 22:58
    I watched the entire thing and don't understand her point.
  • RC
    Ronald C.
    19 February 2020 @ 20:27
    How does encouraging seniors to remain in the workforce work in a low unemployment environment? Perhaps it only applies to self employed seniors.
  • GC
    George C.
    19 February 2020 @ 12:42
    An efficient market devotee. Hence, not sure she believes in bubbles. Hard to believe there are people who still believe in that paradigm.
    • WG
      Wade G.
      19 February 2020 @ 18:22
      I was enjoying the back and forth, as food for thought, and reasonable stuff until that came up.. she lost me completely between 12:30 and 11:30... I know these related issues are complex and perhaps what she chose to say was somewhat arbitrary... a detailed debate might reveal insights, etc... , but good grief, I'm honestly repelled by her remarks on "safe assets"... can there even be bubbles in them... Please.
  • DD
    Dwayne D.
    19 February 2020 @ 15:20
    Great interview, but I'm never going to stop hating annuities.
  • MJ
    Max J.
    19 February 2020 @ 13:37
    Refreshingly honest and real world view on retirement funding,
  • JB
    Jon B.
    19 February 2020 @ 12:47
    Again. great insight. I learnt a lot . Helicopter view good for me.
  • SM
    Stephan M.
    19 February 2020 @ 11:13
    She don't get into the details ("helicopter view") but she mentioned REITS as a part of a (risky?) retirenment portfolio. Last year I upgraded to 30% US REITs of my equity portfolio - especially US healthcare REITs, some real estate REITs and realty income inc as a retail REIT. My idea: They doing fine in a low interest rate environment and due to the fact that a lot of US people will retire soon and need more care. But if the interest rate trend changes the situation may change with some degree.
  • SR
    Suds R.
    19 February 2020 @ 09:20
    I am really enjoying my subscription to Real Vision, as someone who is quite new to all of this. But while I feel the questions are really good and the production values are top notch, to be honest I don't feel this interview game me any more information than the many (free) podcasts Alison has been on. I would really love to see some sort of Real Vision insight or commentary on these interviews around how we can use this information in the real world.
  • BD
    Ben D.
    19 February 2020 @ 09:03
    well done initial explanation of Allison's topic and good overall thesis but Allison never really went into detail about the effects of having older employees stay in the workplace and how that will affect the newer generation coming into the workforce. overall it was a good and gave well rounded surface level explanations but didn't really delve deeply into any one topic. would be great to have both Allison and Ramsey on RV again