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The Coming Generational Storm: What You Need to Know about America's Economic Future Hardcover – March 1, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0262112864 ISBN-10: 0262112868 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 274 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; 1st edition (March 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262112868
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262112864
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,365,624 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"The Coming Generational Storm lays out the problems in understandable language and compelling detail."
The Washington Post

"excellent and scary"
Nicholas Kristof, New York Times

"...Kotlikoff and Burns proffer plenty of evidence to back up their claims."
Anne Wagner, National Journal

"This is a book any serious investor should absorb and act upon."
Jonathan Chevreau, National Post

"... Filled with advice on protecting what you've got and making it grow before and during retirement."
Chris Tucker, Dallas Morning News

"This may be the year's most important book. Essential."
R. M. Whaples, CHOICE

"The policy solutions of Kotlikoff and Burns are specific and ingenious..."
Michael Mandel, Business Week

"...[A] serious attempt to look at a problem that most people are trying to ignore."
Alan Beattie, Financial Times

"Having painted a fiscal picture as awful as 'Guernica,' the authors unveil two bold plans....[An] engaging book."
Todd G. Buchholz, The Wall Street Journal

"This is a sobering look at an impending crisis with implications for all of us. Recommended for all collections."
Stacey Marien, Library Journal

"There's a lot of frivolous criticism of our politicians, but this book hits the mark, convincingly documenting their biggest sin: the failure to account for the magnitude of a huge government deficit crisis. The accounting scandals of Enron, WorldCom, and Parmalat pale by comparison. Read this book so you can start preparing for much higher taxes in the future for you and your children."
Robert J. Shiller, Yale University, author of Irrational Exuberance and The New Financial Order

"I lie awake nights worrying about the fiscal crisis described in The Coming Generational Storm. This is by far the single most important problem in U.S. economic policy. Every American should read this fabulous book."
George Akerlof, University of California, Berkeley, Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences (2001)

"Among academic experts, Larry Kotlikoff has earned the title 'Mr. Generational Accounting.' His unfuzzy arithmetic decisively rebuts the Bush tax cuts, which are based on the delusion that 5 - 4 = 6, not 1. Read and judge for yourself the specter of our future: too many retirees dependent on too few working-age people. Fiscal imprudence now mandates broken promises later."
Paul A. Samuelson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences (1970)

"Brilliant insights on the me generation versus the next generation. Better still, smart advice on equally vexing questions like whether to invest in a 401(k) or a second mortgage."
Sylvia Nasar, author of A Beautiful Mind

"Between a rock and a hard place. We must all too soon realize that we want to spend more on transfers (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid) than we are willing to pay in taxes. And the prospective $44 trillion shortfall is, almost literally, beyond ordinary comprehension. Documented diagnosis, along with suggested reforms, are first steps toward constructive dialogue."
James M. Buchanan, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, George Mason University and Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences (1986)

"No economist has thought more clearly or spoken more resolutely about our long-term fiscal challenges than Larry Kotlikoff. In plain talk backed by economic rigor and the powerful models that he and his colleagues have pioneered, Kotlikoff and coauthor Scott Burns expose the shoddy thinking and false premises that lie at the heart of U.S. fiscal policy and that risk the economic well-being of future generations. They show how reckless George W. Bush has been with our economic future, but also show that the evasions from fiscal honesty extend well beyond the irresponsibility of this administration. And they offer solutions that are clear, bold, and controversial. You may not accept them in full, but you will understand better than ever before the real choices that we face. This book is a must-read for a country adrift in fiscal shortsightedness and political spin."
Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute, Columbia University

"Kotlikoff has been one of the pioneers of the new economics of generational accounting. If anyone foresaw the deterioration of the U.S. government's fiscal health, he did. Now, with journalist Scott Burns, he has written a book that spells out, in crystal-clear layman's terms, the disturbing truth about the rising tide of red ink."
Niall Ferguson, Stern School of Business, New York University, and author of Empire and The Cash Nexus

"The Coming Generational Storm is a well written summary of an impressive and important body of carefully documented research. The book demonstrates clearly the folly of existing tax and transfer policies in the face of the impending retirement of the baby boom generation. Anyone interested in the future economic viability of American society and the economic problems we are bequeathing to our children should read this study."
James J. Heckman, The University of Chicago, Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences (2000)

"The Coming Generational Storm is one of the most important (and refreshingly irreverent) policy analyses of recent years. Laurence Kotlikoff and Scott Burns ask what will happen to our economy and way of life when the baby boomers meet the current Medicare and Social Security systems. Their answers, using the innovative techniques of 'generational accounting' developed by Kotlikoff and others, demonstrate how close we are to a genuine fiscal precipice and the hard landing that awaits us. For our current presidential aspirants, the authors also provide some provocative ideas for how to ameliorate the damage this storm will certainly leave in its wake."
Robert J. Shapiro, Senior Fellow of the Brookings Institution and the Progressive Policy Institute, and former Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs

"The Coming Generational Storm documents in frightening detail America's reckless fiscal trajectory as it barrels toward bankruptcy. The need to revamp Medicare and Social Security is urgent. This book is a must-read for anyone who cares about our nation's future."
Janet Yellen, University of California, Berkeley, Member, Federal Reserve Board (1994-1997), and Chair, Council of Economic Advisers (1997-1999)

"If Stephen King wrote about economics it would look like this. Kotlikoff and Burns have gazed into our future and seen a nightmare. The authors describe that nighmare vividly and identify why our elected officials on both sides of the political aisle are too cowardly to save us. Every U.S. citizen should read and digest this book before it is too late."
Kevin A. Hassett, Director of Economic Policy Studies, American Enterprise Institute, and co-author of Dow 36,000

From the Inside Flap

"*The Coming Generational Storm* is one of the most important (and refreshingly irreverent) policy analyses of recent years. Laurence Kotlikoff and Scott Burns ask what will happen to our economy and way of life when the baby boomers meet the current Medicare and Social Security systems. Their answers, using the innovative techniques of 'generational accounting' developed by Kotlikoff and others, demonstrate how close we are to a genuine fiscal precipice and the hard landing that awaits us. For our current presidential aspirants, the authors also provide some provocative ideas for how to ameliorate the damage this storm will certainly leave in its wake."
--Robert J. Shapiro, Managing Director and Founding Partner, Sonecon, LLC, Senior Fellow of the Brookings Institution and the Progressive Policy Institute, and former Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs

"Among academic experts, Larry Kotlikoff has earned the title 'Mr. Generational Accounting.' His unfuzzy arithmetic decisively rebuts the Bush tax cuts, which are based on the delusion that 5 - 4 = 6, not 1. Read and judge for yourself the specter of our future: too many retirees dependent on too few working-age people. Fiscal imprudence now mandates broken promises later."
--Paul A. Samuelson, Institute Professor Emeritus, MIT, Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences (1970)

"Kotlikoff has been one of the pioneers of the new economics of generational accounting. If anyone foresaw the deterioration of the U.S. government's fiscal health, he did. Now, with journalist Scott Burns, he has written a book that spells out, in crystal-clear layman's terms, the disturbing truth about the rising tide of red ink."
--Niall Ferguson, Stern School of Business, New York University, and author of *Empire* and *The Cash Nexus*

"I lie awake nights worrying about the fiscal crisis described in *The Coming Generational Storm*. This is by far the single most important problem in US economic policy. Every American should read this fabulous book."
--George Akerlof, Koshland Professor of Economics, University of California, Berkeley, Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences (2001)

"*The Coming Generational Storm* is a well written summary of an impressive and important body of carefully documented research. The book demonstrates clearly the folly of existing tax and transfer policies in the face of the impending retirement of the baby boom generation. Anyone interested in the future economic viability of American society and the economic problems we are bequeathing to our children should read this study."
--James J. Heckman, Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor of Economics, The University of Chicago, Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences (2000)

"*The Coming Generational Storm* documents in frightening detail America's reckless fiscal trajectory as it barrels toward bankruptcy. The need to revamp Medicare and Social Security is urgent. This book is a must-read for anyone who cares about our nation's future."
--Janet Yellen, Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley, Member, Federal Reserve Board (1994-1997), and Chair, Council of Economic Advisers (1997-1999)

"As someone who has written extensively on global aging and its profound implications, I was delighted to read *The Coming Generational Storm*. It is an extremely important and original contribution."
--Peter G. Peterson, Chairman, The Blackstone Group, and author of *Gray Dawn: How the Coming Age Wave Will Transform America--And The World*

"Kotlikoff and Burns document and analyze the most serious issue facing the American government today: the looming intergenerational conflict created by its gross failure to develop a consistent plan to fund and manage entitlements for the elderly, the cost of which will explode when the baby boom generation retires. This book is essential reading for those concerned about their own future and their childrens'."
--Daniel McFadden, Cox Professor of Economics , University of California, Berkeley, Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences (2000)

"Brilliant insights on the me generation vs.the next generation. Better still, smart advice on equally vexing questions like whether to invest in a 401(k) or a second mortgage."
--Sylvia Nasar, John S. and James L. Knight Professor of Business Journalism, Columbia University, author of *A Beautiful Mind*

"No economist has thought more clearly or spoken more resolutely about our long-term fiscal challenges than Larry Kotlikoff. In plain talk backed by economic rigor and the powerful models that he and his colleagues have pioneered, Kotlikoff and co-author Scott Burns expose the shoddy thinking and false premises that lie at the heart of U.S. fiscal policy and that risk the economic well-being of future generations. They show how reckless George W. Bush has been with our economic future, but also show that the evasions from fiscal honesty extend well beyond the irresponsibility of this Administration. And they offer solutions that are clear, bold, and controversial. You may not accept them in full, but you will understand better than ever before the real choices that we face. This book is a must-read for a country adrift in fiscal shortsightedness and political spin."
--Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute, Columbia University

"If Stephen King wrote about economics it would look like this. Kotlikoff and Burns have gazed into our future and seen a nightmare. The authors describe that nighmare vividly and identify why our elected officials on both sides of the political aisle are too cowardly to save us. Every U.S. citizen should read and digest this book before it is too late."
--Kevin A. Hassett, Director of Economic Policy Studies, American Enterprise Institute, and co-author of *Dow 36,000*

"Between a rock and a hard place. We must all too soon realize that we want to spend more on transfers (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid) than we are willing to pay in taxes. And the prospective $44 trillion shortfall is, almost literally, beyond ordinary comprehension. Documented diagnosis, along with suggested reforms, are first steps toward constructive dialogue."
--James M. Buchanan, Buchanan Center for Political Economy, George Mason University, Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences (1986)

"There's a lot of frivolous criticism of our politicians, but this book hits the mark, convincingly documenting their biggest sin: the failure to account for the magnitude of a huge government deficit crisis. The accounting scandals of Enron, WorldCom, and Parmalat pale by comparison. Read this book so you can start preparing for much higher taxes in the future for you and your children."
--Robert J. Shiller, Stanley B. Resor Professor of Economics, Yale University, author of *Irrational Exuberance* and *The New Financial Order*


More About the Author

Laurence J. Kotlikoff is a William Fairfield Warren Professor at Boston University, a Professor of Economics at Boston University, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Fellow of the Econometric Society, a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, and President of Economic Security Planning, Inc., a company specializing in financial planning software. Professor Kotlikoff received his B.A. in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1973 and his Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University in 1977.
From 1977 through 1983 he served on the faculties of economics of the University of California, Los Angeles and Yale University. In 1981-82 Professor Kotlikoff was a Senior Economist with the President's Council of Economic Advisers.
Professor Kotlikoff is author or co-author of14 books and hundreds of professional journal articles. His most recent books are Jimmy Stewart Is Dead (forthcoming February 22, 2010, John Wiley and Sons, Spend 'Til the End, co-authored with Scott Burns, Simon & Schuster, The Healthcare Fix (MIT Press), and The Coming Generational Storm (co-authored with Scott Burns, MIT Press).
Professor Kotlikoff publishes extensively in newspapers, and magazines on issues of financial reform, personal finance, taxes, Social Security, healthcare, deficits, generational accounting, pensions, saving, and insurance.
Professor Kotlikoff has served as a consultant to the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Harvard Institute for International Development, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Swedish Ministry of Finance, the Norwegian Ministry of Finance, the Bank of Italy, the Bank of Japan, the Bank of England, the Government of Russia, the Government of Ukraine, the Government of Bolivia, the Government of Bulgaria, the Treasury of New Zealand, the Office of Management and Budget, the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Labor, the Joint Committee on Taxation, The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, The American Council of Life Insurance, Merrill Lynch, Fidelity Investments, AT&T, AON Corp., and other major U.S. corporations.
He has provided expert testimony on numerous occasions to committees of Congress including the Senate Finance Committee, the House Ways and Means Committee, and the Joint Economic Committee.

Customer Reviews

And like any bill that doesn't get paid, this one will keep getting bigger.
Rolf Dobelli
Kotlikoff and Burns are careful to make the most generous assumptions possible about future economic growth and government revenue.
Paula L. Craig
This book explains the issue and all of its ramifications in a (mostly) very clear way, and makes it interesting and compelling.
Ron Cronovich

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

155 of 162 people found the following review helpful By Arthur Gould on July 23, 2004
Format: Hardcover
With luck and good living I might live to 2050. My children and their children will see the second half of the 21st century and maybe beyond. Laurence and Scott woke me up to the future that my progeny might have to live in.

A summary of the book is included below, but the important things about this book are:

- it is meticulously researched and well written

- it will make you think about government accounting in a new and fundamentally different way

- it will make you question whether you yourself are behaving farily toward your own children

- after scaring you (and rightfully so) Laurence and Scott will give you hope that the future is not yet written, and suggest practical strategies that you can adopt to improve your own financial future.

Book Summary:

Kotlikoff and Burns have constructed a new way of understanding (primarily U.S.) government economics and forecast a demographically driven economic collision between old and young.

The authors dedicate this work to their 10 grandchildren who are identified by name. They predict that their grandchildren - and ours - will encounter a country whose collective population is older than the current population of Florida. That this situation will be prevalent throughout much of the industrialized world, including China; that we will have a population age profile that reflects "the greatest demographic change in human history"; changing from forever young to forever old; that a new segment has emerged which is the fastest growing population segment; people over 85 years of age. They rely on Bureau of the Census figures that forecast growth of the 85+ segment - from 4,259,000 in year 2000 to 13,552,000. in year 2040.
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful By psychtobe on April 3, 2004
Format: Hardcover
For those who are not already familiar with the problem, this book is an outstanding explanation of this simple fact: the USA is effectively bankrupt. Massive economic upheaval will result from our leaders' inadequate planning, and given the manner in which our political system operates, you can be guaranteed there will be inadequate planning.
I found the authors' specific investment recommendations somewhat lacking in both effectiveness and creativity. For instance, they suggest that the best asset to hold is one's primary residence, because capital gains are excluded up to $500,000 (per couple) and therefore are free from the (much) higher tax rates that are to come. There are at least two major problems with this suggestion. First, $500,000 is an inadequate retirement nest egg for one couple; and in order to access that money, the residence would have to be sold (inconvenient, to say the least). Second, they don't deal adequately with the obvious drawback that "rules can be changed." There is nothing to prevent the government from reducing the cap. gains exclusion on primary residences to $250,000 or $0, or whatever the situation demands. For those who think such changes impossible, recall that private ownership of gold was outlawed during the Depression, so there is precedent for drastic measures in drastic times. Similarly, the authors canonize the Roth IRA because earnings and principal are always tax-free; but those rules could be changed as well. In addition, many moderately high income workers are not eligible for Roth IRAs.
The book could have devoted more space to international investing, physically sending assets overseas, or even moving to other countries.
Those small concerns not withstanding, the book was quite well-written, minimally partisan, and factually right on-the-mark. A must-read book, especially for Generations X and Y.
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64 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Gaetan Lion on May 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book covers an amazing amount of information related to the U.S. Government unfunded liabilities in just 8 chapters and 240 pages. The authors study in detail the demographics, economics, and fiscal policies that have lead to the current fiscal crisis. According to the authors the fiscal crisis has already occurred. If the U.S. Government's accounting reflected common standards applied to insurance companies, the U.S. Government would be deemed insolvent. This is because of our huge unfunded liabilities associated with mainly Medicare, but also Social Security.
The book covers several parts, including:
1) Diagnostic of the fiscal crisis (demographic study),
2) Why certain (pseudo) redeeming factors will not alleviate the problem,
3) Why the U.S. will turn in a Banana Republic with hyperinflation,
4) Proposals to fix Social Security and Medicare and resolve our fiscal crisis,
5) An investment guide to protect one self if the fiscal crisis is ongoing.
The authors' persuasiveness of their point of view is erratic from one topic to the next ranging from excellent to really bad.
Their treatment of the first two topics: diagnostic and pseudo redeeming factors are outstanding. The demographics of our aging population represent a tsunami of fiscal costs that have not been provisioned for. Additionally, wave of immigration, improvement in technology, increase in labor productivity will not alleviate these costs. Immigrants cost as much in benefits as they pay in taxes. Technology has actually increased the intensity and the cost of health care. Also, Social Security benefits are fully indexed to inflation and labor productivity index. I give this section a 5 rating.
The authors are convinced that the U.S.
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