Your retirement savings have been significantly impacted by Bidenomics

Many Americans trying to retire today feel like Bob Cratchit, toiling away in Ebaneezer’s counting house, but unable to get ahead.

New research explains why: the modern-day Scrooge of Bidenomics has reduced the real value of the average 401(k) by a quarter in the last two and a half years.

The study, published with the Committee to Unleash Prosperity, examined individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and pension plans and found shocking losses under the Biden administration, enough to delay many Americans’ retirement plans for years.

How this happened is a painful lesson in government overspending and overregulating, the hallmarks of Bidenomics.

Immediately upon taking office, the Biden administration and their big-spender allies in Congress ran up multi-trillion-dollar tabs with no way to pay, so the Federal Reserve just created the money to finance it all.

That sparked 40-year-high inflation, which was followed by the fastest interest rate hikes in just as long.

This severely hampered equities but completely devastated bond markets, delivering a one-two punch to people’s retirement accounts.

In 2022, one of only a few years on record when both equities and bonds both had negative average returns, the bond market had its worst year since at least 1928.

These violent gyrations from government crowding out the private sector, along with oppressive regulations, helped drive down the average 401(k) plan by almost 13%, about $17,000, in the first two years of the Biden administration.

Across all plans, the net losses are an eye-watering $1 trillion.

But it gets worse.

The stratospheric inflation, brought on by government spending, borrowing, and printing too much money, has further eroded the value of 401(k) plans by $16,200 on average, for a real (inflation-adjusted) loss of around $33,200, or 24.8%.

While the study estimates that pension plans have fared better than many IRAs, their balances have also fallen in real terms.

Through the third quarter of this year, pension plans have lost $3.3 trillion, or 12.1%, of real value during the Biden administration.

For the teacher, operating engineer, electrician, or firefighter who is depending on their pensions being there when they retire, this is extremely troubling news.

Declines like this can threaten the solvency of pension funds, especially for defined benefit plans with inflation adjustments.

Sadly, none of this had to happen.

While the White House repeats its false narrative that the economy was “reeling” and “inflation was already here” when Biden took office, the administration’s own data exposes that as a humbug.

Biden inherited an economy growing at a $1.5 trillion annualized rate with a mere 1.4% inflation rate.

If Biden had simply allowed one-time COVID spending to expire, the federal deficit would’ve disappeared amidst soaring tax receipts while inflation remained low.

Instead, Biden led the way in championing more wasteful spending and multi-trillion-dollar deficits became institutionalized. The impact has been devastating.

Between lost purchasing power from inflation and higher borrowing costs from interest rate hikes, the typical American family has lost the equivalent of $7,300 in annual income under Biden.

To make ends meet, a record number of Americans are now working multiple jobs, but that’s still not enough to cover the $11,400 higher cost of living.

That’s why families have racked up a record $1.1 trillion in credit card debt while savings have plummeted.

Sadly, a record number of Americans are also using hardship withdrawals to tap their retirement savings because they can no longer afford necessities like rent and groceries.

Even those who are getting by have seen their savings crushed.

For Americans who were planning on retiring with $1 million in their IRA, those accounts have lost almost $250,000 in real value.

The typical would-be retiree must now work an additional decade to recoup those losses.

It’s reminiscent of when Scrooge admonished his clerk, Cratchit, to “be here all the earlier the next morning!” After all, you must do your part to pay for Bidenomics.

Unfortunately, things are unlikely to radically improve for retirement accounts as government expenditures have grown faster than consumer spending for the last five quarters, and that trend is poised to continue.

The federal debt just crossed $33.85 trillion and is on track to breach $34 trillion before year’s end. “That’s Bidenomics in action!” as the White House Press Secretary likes to say.

Here’s hoping Washington has a change of heart every bit as deep as Scrooge did. If not, you may never be able to retire.

E.J. Antoni is a public finance economist at the Heritage Foundation and a senior fellow at the Committee to Unleash Prosperity.

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