September 23rd, 2009 | Market Watch
Retirements in peril: U.S. system is full of holes
By: Andrea Coombes
SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — The destructive effects of the financial crisis may be waning, but your retirement account won’t soon forget. Savers lost 40% or more in the downturn — a collective $2.1 trillion disappeared from 401(k) and IRA assets in 2008 alone — and while the recent stock-market recovery may feel good, it’s done little to stem a mounting crisis in the retirement system in the United States.
It’s not just investments that are the problem: Social Security needs financial resuscitation, and the bursting of the housing bubble that helped spark the financial crisis vaporized the home equity many people were counting on to fund their golden years. Corporations are curtailing traditional pensions and older Americans are being forced to work longer to make up the difference.
Where does this leave our retirement plans? Ask a middle-class American when he plans to retire, and more often than not you’ll get a wry chuckle and “I’ll be working until I die.” The attempt at humor masks what may be close to reality for some people.
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