TED Conversations

Closing Statement from Christine C. Marcks, Prudential Retirement

Thank you all for a dynamic conversation over the past three weeks around how we -- as individuals, as financial services providers and as a society -- can help address the challenge of retirement as people live longer. TED Conversations is a new forum for us, and we found your comments and this experience very insightful.

I believe there are concrete steps people can take to better prepare for their retirement. For starters, workers can improve their savings and investing behavior. Secondly, participants in workplace plans such as 401(k)'s should try to include some sort of guaranteed income component in their retirement planning.

We will also continue this conversation in other forums, and will add to the national debate through white papers on our company's Research & Perspectives site, http://research.prudential.com/view/page/rp .

Sincerely

Christine C. Marcks
President,
Prudential Retirement

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  • Apr 18 2012: As an engineer, this talk about the lack of financial stability, and the risk with investment portfolios is somewhat unreal to me.

    We are in dire need of real investment into real infrastructure projects that are larger and take longer than ever before. Just have a glance at Exxon's investment plan for the next 5 years, which tops $100 billion, and includes many single facility construction projects that run >$5 billion. For energy in particular, we need major investment into new technologies at scale as well replacement of our existing infrastructure reaching the end of its life. Many of these projects have very good prospects of return, and taken as a whole, will certainly produce a good revenue stream. But as an individual we don't have access to these. Buying the Exxon stock is to pay far more for this capital than what it actually cost to build. At the same time, projects like new nuclear plants that we desperately need and produce one of the most stably priced commodities out there (electricity) can't get funded.

    Do we really live in uncertain times? If we do, we have ourselves to blame for it. It is actually very baffling to me that we have not managed to solve the problem of reliably saving for retirement. If you think about it, since capital is needed to produce so much of our consumption, one would think that the physical means to produce everything we need for retirement years could by and large be produced in our working years. It's such a simple concept, it seems baffling that we talk about it as if it's so hard.
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      Apr 18 2012: as a fellow engineer, i understand your shock regarding the mess in the financial and investment sector. but believe or not, this shock is quite capable to get much much bigger if you actually learn what governments tried to do all around the globe to fix the problems. it boggles the mind how did they hope it would work on any level.

      i was in your shoes in 2009. i was eager to understand the meltdown. but i wanted to understand it as we, engineers mean understand, and not like economists. so i wanted clear terms, clear statements, backed up claims, and such. i was unable to find for a long time. then i came across a 100 years old theory of economics that actually can explain what's going on in the world, why investments failing on large scale these days, why investors afraid to invest, why we built thousands of houses that are empty, why we don't save, how the efforts to "tune" the economy actually destroyed it, why we have inflation and so on.

      for an engineer, understanding is always good. but that understanding certainly does not relieve the shock. it deepens it.

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