Putting retirement income issues into a larger context was a theme of the Retirement Income Industry Association’s fall conference, held in Boston Thursday and Friday.
Ex-intelligence official Herb Meyer predicted a “supersonic boom” in the world economy in coming decades, resulting from heightened consumer demand from a “global middle class” including potentially billions of people recently emerged from poverty.
Meyer, who was vice chairman of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council during the Reagan administration, described the intelligence community’s role as “serving as the president’s radar” in providing early notification of developments not yet visible.
Meyer’s keynote address on Thursday was aimed at providing a similar “radar” for the assembled retirement advisors and executives at the RIIA Conference, which was held alongside the Retirement Income Symposium sponsored by AdvisorOne. The two events were timed to allow networking by their respective attendees during breaks.
In introducing Meyer, consultant Clint Watts noted that the keynote speaker had predicted that the Cold War was nearing an end back in 1983, contrary to widespread opinion among analysts at that time. Watts, a former Army officer, recalled that in attending West Point in 1991 he entered the post-Cold War era Meyer had predicted.
The emergence of a global middle class also means reduced international tensions, Meyer told the RIIA conferees. “People like us don’t go to war with people like us,” he said. “We send nasty emails. If it’s really bad, we call the lawyer.”
Meyer’s generally upbeat picture of world developments included an acknowledgement of turmoil in the Middle East. He described the Islamic world as beginning a painful transition into modernity similar to that undertaken by Western countries with the industrial revolution.