In this CBS MoneyWatch article
Allan Roth reports on his investigation of the claims that a Prudential variable annuity guarantees a 5% return:
The illusion being presented here is that Prudential doubles your value and then pays you out a cash stream at a captive rate far lower than you could buy in the open market.
The next time you are reading a 200-page document describing a financial product, ask yourself if you think the attorneys and actuaries wrote it to protect you or the insurance company? Don't ever play a game you don't fully understand.