Friday, April 11, 2008

Don't Retire Yet

If you're in line for a pension issued by the City of New York, could you postpone your retirement for a bit longer?

New York City Pension Funds has dumped $150 million of your hard earned dollars into the North of Ireland, in the hope that they'll reap more than they sowed. If it's a bumper crop, the fund could increase its investment to as much as $750 million.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is all for investing in the Six Counties, with a mind to stabilizing the shaky coalition of unionists and nationalists. He'll be present in Belfast next month, representing President Bush at a trade conference that is designed to suck in lots of U.S. dollars.

The economy in Northern Ireland is dependent on a private economy, one that revolves around government jobs paid by government funds. There's really no private sector to speak of, not when the majority of private firms are small, with less than ten employees. It will take foreign investment to build a private sector and get the economy in the north to boom like the one to the south.

The continuing problem that ministers Martin McGuinness and Ian Paisley face is not of their making, and even the devolution of powers to Stormont has not helped. Corporate tax rates in the U.K. are high, far higher than the rates in the Irish Republic. How can Northern Ireland hope to compete when a company could locate just across the border, employ the very same people, and save a bundle on taxes?

As for your pension, it looks like a long road ahead before the investment will pay off. You'd best keep at it, working every day, until the rate of return turns positive.

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