November 9, 2018

A rare interview on solving the retirement crisis with Blackstone’s Executive Vice Chairman, Tony James.

WEALTHTRACK Episode #1521; Originally Broadcast on November 09, 2018

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[learn_more caption=”Click Here to Learn More…“] The retirement crisis is real. Is there a workable solution? The authors of Rescuing Retirement say yes. It’s the Guaranteed Retirement Account. Find out more on the Rescuing Retirement website.


Consuelo MackUnlike the 2016 presidential election, this year’s midterm elections went pretty much as pollsters had predicted. Republicans won the Senate and after eight years in the minority, Democrats won a majority in the House of Representatives. Legislative gridlock maintains the status quo, thus Wednesday saw one of the stock market’s largest postelection gains ever and the biggest since 1982 when Ronald Reagan’s first midterm election also resulted in a Republican Senate and Democratic House.

WEALTHTRACK’s mission is to help you our audience, and ourselves, build financial security to last a lifetime. That goal has become more challenging for a number of reasons. Some positive, some not.

First the positive: we are living longer. Exciting but problematical! The number of Americans reaching 90 and older has tripled since 1980. The problem: while only about half of private sector workers ever had a traditional pension plan far fewer do today and their defined contribution plan replacements, 401(k)s and IRAs have not come close to making up the gap.

One stunning statistic, among Americans between 40 and 55, the median retirement account balance is $14,500 – less than 4% of the estimated $375,000 the median- income worker will need in savings.

Retirement expert Alicia Munnell told the Wall Street Journal, “For households nearing retirement that have a 401(k) but not necessarily IRAs, the typical total balance in their retirement savings is only $111,000.”  She says, “Even worse, only about half of private sector workers participate in any kind of employer plan at their current job… and outside of workplace plans – Americans save virtually nothing.”

Her widely shared conclusion is that about half of today’s working age households won’t be able to maintain their pre-retirement standard of living in retirement. There are more dire predictions. Social security trust funds, the only savings plan for many Americans are expected to be depleted by 2034 and nearly 20 million retirees are projected to be living in poverty or near- poverty by then.

Is there a solution to the fast approaching retirement crisis?

This week’s guest says there is one and he has written a book about it. He is Tony James, co-author of Rescuing Retirement: A Plan to Guarantee Retirement Security for All Americans. His co-author is professor Teresa Ghilarducci, a leading expert in retirement economics. Their book is now in its second edition.

Tony James is a financial thought leader, highly respected in global financial circles as Executive Vice Chairman of Blackstone, a premier investment firm with nearly $440 billion under management, largely in alternative investments including private equity, real estate, hedge funds, venture capital and credit funds. From 2002 until March of this year he was Blackstone’s President and Chief Operating Officer.

We will discuss Rescuing Retirement’s proposal to create a Guaranteed Retirement Account for every working American. It’s a simple, straightforward solution to help Americans maintain their lifestyles in retirement.

In his fully utilized spare time James has served on numerous corporate boards, currently as Chairman of the Board of Costco Wholesale Corporation and has been involved in numerous philanthropies including presently as trustee of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Mount Sinai Health System.

A book on retirement does not jump out of his CV. I began the interview by asking him how he got so involved in this critical issue.

If you’d like to watch the show before it airs, it is available to our PREMIUM viewers on our websiteright now.  You’ll also find my weekly Action Pointsthere, plus our guests’ “One Investment” ideas.

Plus, a reminder that if you would like to take WEALTHTRACK with you on your commute or travels, you can now find the WEALTHTRACKpodcast on   TuneInStitcher, and SoundCloud, as well as iTunes. Find out more on the WEALTHTRACK Podcast page

Thank you for watching.  As the nation observes Veteran’s Day on Monday take time to appreciate the great sacrifice and service our veterans have made to keep our country safe and free. As always, make the week ahead a profitable and productive one.

Best regards,

Mathews Asia


  • The retirement crisis is real
  • Americans not saving enough or investing successfully enough to fund long retirements
  • Guaranteed Retirement Account:
  • – Funded by workers and employers
  • – Largely managed by state public pension funds
  • – Annuitized upon retirement
  • -Supplements social security

Rescuing Retirement: A Plan to Guarantee Retirement Security for All Americans (Columbia Business School Publishing)


  • Doesn’t trade every day
  • Good deals available
  • Huge market
  • Prefers private real estate in value-add situations

No stock mentions in this episode.
This transcript is available here. More information regarding WEALTHTRACK transcripts can be found here

This is Hamilton “Tony” James first appearance on WEALTHTRACK.

No WEB EXTRA this week.

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