Hungary’s`Nightmare’ Pension-Fund Ultimatum

Posted By on November 25, 2010

From Bloomberg News

By Zoltan Simon  Nov 25, 2010

Hungary is giving its citizens an ultimatum: move your private-pension fund assets to the state or lose your state pension.

Economy Minister Gyorgy Matolcsy announced the policy yesterday, escalating a government drive to bring 3 trillion forint ($14.6 billion) of privately managed pension assets under state control to reduce the budget deficit and public debt. Workers who opt against returning to the state system stand to lose 70 percent of their pension claim.

“This is effectively a nationalization of private pension funds, David Nemeth, an economist at ING Groep NV in Budapest, said in a phone interview. It’s the nightmare scenario.

Hungary is rolling back pension changes implemented more than a decade ago as countries from Poland to Lithuania find themselves squeezed by policies designed to limit long-term liabilities by shifting workers into private funds. Now the cost is swelling debt and deficit levels at a time when the European Union is demanding greater fiscal discipline.

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