Presidential elections are often frightening — and depressing.
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are just the latest candidates to reach Election Day with many voters, and columnists, complaining about the options on the ballot.
But I think the campaign season has been striking for how much talk there has been about past behavior, and current character traits, and how little talk there has been about the future.
During the presidential debates, for example, the candidates, and even the moderators, seemed to spend about as little time on talking about the future of Medicare as decency allowed.
Mike Pence, Trump’s running mate, and Tim Kaine, Clinton’s both played a visible role in setting up their states’ long-term care insurance partnership programs, and both have run states that are home to major long-term care insurance issuers. But neither campaign ever got heavily into talking about how America will handle the baby boomers’ future long-term care needs, let alone about to shore up, or replace, the current private long-term care insurance market.
Clinton offered caregiver proposals. Trump offered leave and health account proposals that could help families with long-term care costs. But both candidates seemed to have an important area of agreement: Post-retirement costs of all kinds are too frightening, and too far from voters’ thoughts, to be worth spending much time or political capital talking about them.
The world’s central bankers have played a role in this policymaker inability to talk openly and seriously about the future by doing their part to hold interest rates to near-zero levels for so many years.
Central bankers have given consumers the message that the future is so distant, and so unimportant, that putting money in a saving account, an annuity, a life insurance policy or a long-term care insurance policy is foolish. The message is that consumers should blow whatever cash they have today on goods and services they can enjoy today, such as restaurant meals, mobile phone apps and balsa-wood houses built in flood zones.