Japan Pension Basics

Posted on 20th October 2015 by Trevor Reynolds in Blog |Finance in Focus

Japan Pension and who has agreements where you can transfer credits for the basic state pension.

According to http://www.nenkin.go.jp/n/www/english/detail.jsp?id=34  the list of countries with such agreements with Japan are Germany, United Kingdom, Korea, United States, Belgium, France, Canada, Australia, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Spain, Ireland, Brazil, Switzerland.

The Japanese National Pension System, which is the Japanese equivalent of Social Security. In order to get money from that you need to have paid for at least 25 years (might get decreased to 20 for foreigners, but not yet). Also, the amount you get is whopping 65,541 yen per month for 40 years of contributions. Less for under 40 years …
References to numbers are from here:

(1) Old-age Basic Pension

If you have paid the National Pension contributions for at least 25 years and satisfy the conditions, the following amount is paid when you become 65 years old. *1

★Benefit amount = Y786,500 (annual amount in Fiscal Year 2012 for those who have paid contributions for 40 years)  that is only 65,542 per month! 

When you go for the lump-sum payment, you are giving up any benefits, including credit under the agreement. Unless they make a mistake, they will simply delete you from their system after you refund request is processed.  This is based on the first bullet under “Important Notes” on page 5 of:


So depending on the system you are ending up in the credit may be more than the money you get back but that is assuming the system you end up in survives.

From the Japan Pension service website:


An article from the US Social Security Administration:


Everyone needs a private personal savings plan. 

Congress Proposes Fraudulent New Law To “Fix” Social Security

Posted on 30th July 2015 by Trevor Reynolds in Blog |Finance in Focus

On January 31, 1940, the very first Social Security check ever delivered went to Ms. Ida May Fuller, a former legal secretary who had recently retired.


Ms. Fuller had spent just three years paying into the system, contributing a total of $24.75 to Social Security. Yet her first check was for nearly that entire amount. Quite a return on investment.

She went on to live past 100, collecting a total of $22,888.92, over 900 times the amount she contributed to the program. Her story is quite the metaphor.


If you’re not familiar, Social Security is comprised of two primary trust funds: Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) and Disability Insurance (DI).

Essentially, all of the taxes paid in to Social Security end up in one of these two trust funds.

The trust funds then ‘manage’ the money to generate a rate of return, and then pay out distributions to program recipients.

Now, the funds are overseen by a Board of Trustees which is obliged to submit an annual report on the fiscal condition of the program. It ain’t pretty.

The Disability Insurance (DI) fund is particularly ugly. In fact, the trustees themselves wrote in the 2015 annual report that

“[T]he DI Trust Fund fails the Trustee’s short-range test of financial adequacy. . .”




“The DI Trust Fund reserves are expected to deplete in the fourth quarter of 2016…”

In other words, one of the two Social Security trust funds is just months away from insolvency.

When people think about Social Security, they think that all the problems are decades away.

Wrong. This is next year.

The other trust fund, OAS, is projected to “become depleted and unable to pay scheduled benefits in full on a timely basis in 2034.”

Which means that if you’re 47 or younger, you can kiss Social Security goodbye.

Bear in mind, these aren’t my calculations. Nor are they any wild assertions. They’re direct quotes from the trustees themselves.

And, just who are these trustees? The Secretary of the Treasury of the United States of America. The Labor Secretary. The Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Some of the most senior officials in the US government sign their name to an official report stating that these funds are nearly insolvency– one of them even NEXT YEAR.

Not to worry, though. Congress is on the case.

Late last week, several dozen members of Congress introduced the “One Social Security Act”, HR 3150, to solve this problem.

And let me tell you, their solution is bold. Fearless. And brilliant.

HR 3150 attacks the looming insolvency of Disability Insurance by eliminating the fund altogether.

So instead of having two separate funds for two distinct purposes of Social Security, the legislation aims to combine them into one unified fund.

That way, with just one fund, there won’t be any separate reporting about DI’s insolvency.

It’s genius! They make the problem go away by eliminating the requirement to report it.

There’s just one small issue. Legally, they have a word for this. It’s called fraud.

You and I would go to prison if we commingled funds like this. But in the hallowed halls of Congress, this is what passes as a solution.

This is so typical– solving problems by pretending that they don’t exist and destroying any element of transparency and accountability.

This pretty much tells you everything you need to know about government.

Look, it’s a hard reality to swallow. But the government’s own data show that these programs are not going to be there for you.

And the story smacking us in the face right now demonstrates precisely how politicians intend on ‘solving’ the problems.

These people aren’t the solution. They’re the problem.

And don’t think that ‘voting the bums out’ will affect anything. Elections merely change the players, not the game.

The only way forward is to invest in yourself, particularly in your business and financial education. Make plans based on the assumption that Social Security doesn’t exist.

And if, by some miracle, it’s still there by the time you retire, you won’t be worse off for having built a larger nest egg thanks to the financial acumen you developed.



Pension Problem….

Posted on 15th July 2015 by Trevor Reynolds in Blog |Finance in Focus

According to a new report from Pew Charitable Trusts. States are short $968 billion for their pension systems, an increase of $54 billion over the year before. When debts from local programs are taken into account, the total shortfall tops $1 trillion, according to the report.



State of the markets

Posted on 20th May 2015 by Trevor Reynolds in Blog |Finance in Focus

You are in a bull market until proven otherwise. We are in a bull market and the question is when is the change coming?

This USA bull run started way back in 2009.

However, on a more current look the last attempt to decline was in Oct. 2014 when the S&P lost about 200 points over about 3 weeks. Then a slight wobble of 100 points in Dec and it has been a slow choppy rise to where we are today at all-time highs.  Will we go higher?  As you can see in the graph below the S&P is in a rising wedge which over time will resolve itself one way other the other.  There is a stronger probability that it will test the October 2014 lows (at worst) and then head back up, we will review if that comes. So, we would wait until this unfolds before entering or adding more to equities.

May 2015 Markets


Japan….the economy is in an untenable position. Unless Japan open their borders and embrace change, both unlikely, their hopes to end 25 years of economic malaise rest with Abe-no-mics and massive money printing.  Abe’s three policy arrows have been largely rhetoric and designed to keep the status quo… strange as Abe did campaign on change and the future.  But, bearing in mind 40% of the voters are over the age of 60 why would they want any change quickly? Abe clearly has this in mind and not the future of Japan.  Difficult and costly choices need to be made by the Japanese people as the leaders will not do it.


May2015 japan















As you can see in the chart above the Nikkei has taken 25 years to reach the top of its Bollinger band. (This is one of the more popular technical analysis techniques. The closer the prices move to the upper band, the more overbought the market, and the closer the prices move to the lower band, the more oversold the market.)

The real problem in Japan is the containment of the human spirt –  Japan needs to unleash this innovation once again — an example is as Richard Katz says “brands like Sony, Panasonic and Sharp continue to dominate in Japan – where not a single new market entrant of any significance has emerged since 1946. In the US by comparison, 8 of the top 21 consumer electronics hardware firms, including Cisco, did not even exist in 1970. In Japan, incumbents keep holding on.”  We believe the bureaucracy of Japan has a huge role in stifling this wonderful country.

A current example of the human spirt alive and well in Japan is the food and restaurant scene now available. Back in 1990 the only foreign food was a limited McDonald’s menu – today Tokyo has more Michelin stars than France. Good thing food bureaucracy is relatively low.

The Japanese market continues to rise but the gains now are very correlated with the direction of the Yen and that “easy rise” in the stock market has happened.  Going forward can companies in Japan make real profits that are not directly linked to the weakening Yen?

May 2015 japan CE


As a contrast; Australia

May 2015 Aus CE

Source http://www.tradingeconomics.com/japan/corporate-profits

So what other markets are lined up for a correction?   Seems all are at or not far from mulit-year highs and my guess is the US market will lead, as whatever it does the rest of the worlds markets will follow — some more violently than others.


State of the currency markets

Posted on 19th May 2015 by Trevor Reynolds in Blog |Finance in Focus

may 2015

























The chart above shows the US$ index, which is a measure of the value of the U.S. dollar relative to majority of its most significant trading partners.

As you can see from the chart the US$ is correcting downwards but this is a normal correction based on the fact the US has been posting some poor economic numbers but the chart is indicating the US$ index may fall to around 90 then turn back up as the US growth numbers, even poor, look better than the rest of the world.


may 2015 2












Recently we have seen 122 as a high (March 2015) and we have seen 118 (April 2015) as the low. The pair have been stuck in trading range. This reminds me of Jan 2014 to August 2014 when the pair was stuck in a range of 105 to 100.  The BOJ continues to do QQE: the Bank will purchase JGBs so that their amount outstanding will increase at an annual pace of about 50 trillion yen and the BOJ will increase the monetary base at an annual pace of about 60-70 trillion yen. In Addition the Bank will purchase ETFs and Japan real estate investment trusts (J-REITs) so that their amounts outstanding will increase at an annual pace of 1 trillion yen and 30 billion yen respectively. So again we believe the Yen is stair stepping itself higher .. once 125 vs 1$ goes there is little resistance until 147. One should not hold Yen, unless there is a material change in BOJ policy. (Remember a ‘rising’ Yen is a weakening Yen.)


may 2015 3
















The fall of the Euro over the last several years from 160 in 2008 to a low of 104 in 2015 — it is only natural to see a bounce but the question is how high can that bounce be 115 or 120?  We doubt anything more than 120 if it can get there — Greece is still a huge issue which leads to Portugal, Spain, Italy and the rest of Europe. These issue have not been resolved and judging by the progress in Greece things can likely only get worse.


May 2015 4












The Election in the UK produced a small Conservative majority win – this has given the Pound wind in its sails for now. The question is can Sterling keep these gains longer term.



may 2015 aus













Australia can still cut interest rates. Many believe this will happen especially in the face of falling commodity prices.  However the last rate cut was highly anticipated and factored in as the AUS$ rose after the cut. Australia can take on more debt as the government has low debt levels compared to its peers.  The other wild card for the Aussie is China as any stimulus China does has a direct effect on the Aussie economy of just about 24 million people — about the same as the Shanghai municipality.

Sign posts for 2015

Posted on 16th December 2014 by Trevor Reynolds in Blog |Finance in Focus

The US$ is beginning a long term bull run. Why? Several reasons first the US economy is the only country performing and trying to hold up the world economy. Second, fear in Europe and possibly Japan on higher taxes and possible confiscation of wealth. Third, there has been about US$ 3 trillion borrowed around the world and as the USA stopped QE there are now less US$ being put out there and therefore all the borrows are in effect short US$. This is massive. This is what leads to currency crisis, but NOT in US$  but in emerging market currencies as they borrowed US$.  The capital flows are showing massive movement to US$ and this is also propping up the US equity markets – we suspect a pullback in the US markets – that will provide a buying opportunity and the US markets will go higher into 2015.

Commodities will struggle with the strong US$ but as the Sovereign debt crisis grows there will be a point when commodities rise with the US$ we suspect this to begin in 2016 with the full resumption of the sovereign debt crisis.

Gold: It has been a difficult 3 years for gold as it has dropped further than we had thought it would. Does this bother us? No not really, as we still believe the sovereign debt crisis is just beginning. People will start to notice when the US economy starts to turn down in 2015. This will be the kick off for precious metals – we have said to patiently accumulate – many of you have and it will pay off into 2016~20.  But before that we may see gold actually fall to $1,000 or perhaps a bit under, the tree needs to be shaken and the talking heads on TV need to say gold is dead, we are not far now.  That time will come as the Sovereign Debt Crisis hits the USA and that seems likely around the autumn of 2015 when the US economy starts to turn down. We stand by what we said 3 years ago accumulate gold on a regular basis, the longer term strategy will work gold will rise into 2016~2020.

Bonds, especially government bonds, are DEAD, avoid completely, as they have finished their bull run from way back in 1980!

Europe – avoid as there will be structural changes which can’t be predicted- many now seem to think buying or holding money in Germany will protect them if there is a breakup of the EU assuming they will get Deutschmarks. Too much risk go to US$.

The UK economy is tracking the US far closer than the EU. However the GBP is weak and we expect this to range trade 1.50 -1.70 depending on electoral outcomes.

Asia – China is it an enormous mess? No one really knows the extent and Chinese growth is slowing perhaps more than most people think.

The Yen and the Nikkei: The Yen has almost reached 122 now it is 117.80. The Nikkei came to life in December 2012 and again in October 2014 as the BOJ implemented aggressive monetary stimulus. The initial strength into May 2013 was a ‘true’ increase when measured in any currency.  However, since then any increase has been a reflection of the weakness in the Yen. The Yen is at an important juncture, we see the 50 week moving average is coming into play — perhaps a test of 115?  Before we have a much larger leg down for the Yen, perhaps 140?  Abe walked away with the election as the voters really do not understand what is happening (Abenomics better work, or the Japanese Pensions are toast).  The Bank of Japan now owns bonds worth 60% of the value of the Japans’ GDP and is buying 17% more each year in just over two years they will own more than the annual GDP of Japan — that can’t be good.

Currently there is exhaustion in the Nikkei — all weak Yen driven — a monthly close of under 16,300 would imply more downside in 2015.

So in 2015 continue to accumulate Gold, Commodities and the US Equity markets. Please get it touch if we can assist with your investments.

The Coming Pension Crisis

Posted on 22nd October 2014 by Trevor Reynolds in Blog |Finance in Focus

There are very few government exceptions within Western Society that are without serious trouble with their pensions. While politicians conveniently focus on tax compliance and cross border information exchange, and create yet more bureaucracy to shore up tax revenue, they have done an incredible job of distracting from their mismanagement of tax payers’ funds at best, and committing massive fraud at worst. They need to focus on Spending and come to terms with the fact the problem is politicians and government spending. Not a revenue problem like they are trying to tell us. Public unions are simply demanding that governments raise taxes and extort money from other sectors to hand to them.

Government pension funds are a joke. Even in Britain, pensions will run out of cash next year: Amount handed out to future generations will be disastrous. Those under 35 should not expect anything for their taxes.

The 25 largest U.S. public pensions face about $2 trillion in unfunded liabilities, showing that investment returns can’t keep up with ballooning obligations, according to Moody’s Investors Service.

The Times noted that one major pension plan, the Teamsters’ Central States plan, pays out $2.8 billion per year in retirement funds, but only takes in about $700 million from corporations. The plan’s director said he expects the plan to run out of money in 10 to 15 years.

Last year, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation posted a record deficit of $35.7 billion. “Within the next 10 years, more and more plans are going to run out of money,” said Joshua Gotbaum, director of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp, in a November report.

On average, the top-20 pension funds in the world invested on average 40.6 percent of their assets in fixed income securities and 42.7 percent in equities.  The average return on Fixed income with the benchmark ten-year Treasury bond paying under 2.9%. The bull run that started in the 1980’s is over, bonds are the bubble and will become toxic.

In New York City, over the past 12 years our pension costs have gone from $1.5 billion to $8.2 billion. That’s almost a 500 percent increase — when inflation totaled only 35 percent. The $7 billion additional that taxpayers are forced to spend on pensions every year is $7 billion more that cannot be invested in our schools and our parks and our social safety net, or our mass transit system, or our climate resiliency work, or our affordable housing efforts, or our tax-relief for working families.

Think about it this way: During our administration’s time in office, we’ve spent $68 billion in taxpayer money on pensions, compared to $5.3 billion on affordable housing. So taxpayers spent about 13 dollars on pensions for every one dollar that they invest in affordable housing.

Pension consultant Girard Miller recently told California’s Little Hoover Commission that state and local government bodies in the state of California have $325 billion in combined unfunded pension liabilities.  When you break that down, it comes to $22,000 for every single working adult in California.


State pension liabilities












Despite the UK’s looming pensions crisis, over a third of Britons says they will never save or invest for their retirement.
So how is your planning going?   Do you have a private personal portable pension?

Talk to Banner and we can help you start or review and enhance what you have – get in touch today on the various options. info@bannerjapan.com  03 5724 5100

InterGlobal and Aetna Healthcare Insurance

Posted on 11th September 2014 by Trevor Reynolds in Finance in Focus

UK based InterGlobal have over 65,000 medical members worldwide and specialize in international private medical insurance for groups and individuals in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific. They insure individuals and families, corporate and affinity groups, diplomatic staff, and teachers of international schools. The company has approx. 300 employees primarily based in its operation centers in the UK, Dubai and Singapore. They also have a support office in Japan, located in Osaka, with many years of experience in assisting Japan and overseas based members in Japanese and English.

In April this year, InterGlobal became part of Aetna. Please find a link to the press release of 23rd April 2014 here:


We believe this acquisition will combine two worlds, i.e. the strength of a US$30bn company with a variety of networks, especially in the US, with the highly personal and flexible approach of an innovative company that tailors its products and services to accommodate clients and their specific geographical and cultural needs wherever they may be.

There are 3 levels of cover for the Teachers School Plans, the Gold plan offering the highest & most comprehensive level of cover. For other professions there are 4 UltraCare plans, the Elite plan offering the highest & most comprehensive level of cover. 

It is noteworthy that all plans offer full cancer care, please find a leaflet for this benefit below. There are also add-on plans available for Maternity, Travel and Personal Accident, plus the exclusive service of red24, a leading specialist provider of international crisis management assistance services.

Group policies are tailor made, they take into consideration the group’s specific requirements. For group quotations InterGlobal require the full member census, including dates of birth, number of employees and dependents to be covered, the level of cover, including any additional requirements, e.g. MHD (Medical History Disregarded), Area of cover, increased dental benefit, optical, etc.

Please don’t hesitate to let us know if you need further details or have any questions, we will be happy to assist and look forward to hearing from you.

InFocus_Cancer care benefit explained 2014

2014 TOB_UltraCare_USD

2014 TOB_International Schools_USD

More details — http://www.bannerjapan.com/insurance/


Interesting fact

Posted on 26th March 2014 by Trevor Reynolds in Finance in Focus

Did you know the total US interest payments in Fiscal Year 2013 were a whopping $415 billion, roughly 17% of total tax revenue.  

Here’s the thing, though– it’s inappropriate to look at total tax revenue when we’re talking about making interest payments.

The IRS collected $2.49 trillion in taxes last year (net of refunds). But of this amount, $891 billion was from payroll tax.

According to FICA and the Social Security Act of 1935, however, this amount is tied directly to funding Social Security and Medicare. It is not to be used for interest payments.

Based on this data, the amount of tax revenue that the US government had available to pay for its operations was $1.599 trillion in FY2013.

This means they actually spent approximately 26% of their available tax revenue just to pay interest last year… a much higher number than 17%.

This is an unbelievable figure. The only thing more unbelievable is how masterfully they understate reality… and the level of deception they employ to conceal the truth.

One should always keep money outside their home country….. and in various currencies

Feb 2014: Finance in Focus

Posted on 7th February 2014 by Trevor Reynolds in Finance in Focus


Well a lot has happened in the last month.  The Yen stopped depreciating and guess what the Nikkei lost about 2,000 points and it has seen Foreigners selling the most Japanese stocks last week since 2010 and before that since the credit crisis started to implode…

n 225 feb 2014









So what is next?  As said before whatever happens Japan is unlikely the place to be longer term due to the debt, demographic and political sinkhole that the “powers at be” have placed themselves into. Money invested outside Japan is likely to be more dependable than money invested inside Japan.

General corruption is causing places like Turkey, Thailand and the Ukraine to erupt into protests and riots. It will be interesting to see if these develop in to greater conflicts.  One question concerning the Ukraine is what will Russia do?  As they have been very quiet mainly due to the Sochi winter Olympics, I believe. Once this end (hopefully terror free) will President Putin is more perhaps much more forceful?  Bearing in mind about half of the Ukraine speaks Russian as the Eastern part of Ukraine was historically once Russia. We will have to wait and see what happens here.

Gold; stable but disappointing it has not been able to rise above $1,300 – my worry here is if we do not see a rise above it soon we may very well have to go back and test the lows once again …A month or two will give us the answer here. So far we have a double bottom at 1,140 and wait to see if that holds should gold dip lower.

The Dollar index has been flat but what this is really telling us is  base is being formed and the Dollar is about to show us strength.  The emerging markets are beginning to stress and this could cause more stress on the European banking system as they have over 3 Trillion loaned out to yes you guessed it, Emerging markets….if there is a European liquidity crunch like 2008 that will bring everything down (gold too) in the short term.  Just like in 2008-9 the dollar was the go to place.  One difference this time is the Yen is not so we should see much greater dollar strength going forward.

n dx feb 2014











Gold as stated earlier will find its bottom in 2014 and we believe it will rally to $3,000 or more in the next 5 years.

US markets — yes they too are falling but I believe they will stop, just have a look the S&P chart and note the channel it has popped out of unless the S&P falls below 1550 this is just a normal correction. We are watching for a sign to enter back into the Major US markets.

n sp feb 2014





















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