Remember that old ad slogan "When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen"?
Before the market crashed, the world of retirement planning was something like that. Planning for retirement and managing investment portfolios seemed synonymous. IRAs and 401(k) accounts were paramount in building a secure retirement. When the market talked, people listened.
But in 2008, the major stock indexes plunged by about 40 percent from their peak, and the value of equities in retirement accounts fell by almost $4 trillion. The losses in 401(k)s and IRAs accounted for about $2 trillion of those losses. The attentiveness of retirement savers was transformed into rage.
"Get the hell out of the market," one reader said in a comment posted on my blog at The Huffington Post. "It is nothing but manipulation by the hedge funders and big brokers.... They want everybody's money, down to the penny!" Wrote another: "This is what we worked all our lives for? Worked and saved ... tried to do everything 'responsible' to care for ourselves in retirement? Little did we expect our money to be spilled out by the billions to those thieves who tore the country's economy apart."
At the other end of the spectrum are market cheerleaders such as Jim Kramer of CNBC, who still thinks the world revolves around stocks. "The stock market is the country right now," Kramer said in a 2009 television interview. "This is where people's wealth is. This is their pension plans, their 401(k)s, their IRAs." ...