U.S. Retirement Assets Declined by $1.4 Trillion

Reteriment AccountsThe total value of Americans' retirement assets stood at $17 trillion at the end of September -- a drop of 7.5% from the record high of $18.4 trillion recorded on June 30, 2011.

That's according to a report by the Investment Company Institute, a national association of asset managers. The $1.4 trillion decline can be attributed in part to the troubles of the stock market: The S&P 500 lost 13.9% during the third quarter. There was a slight silver lining to this threatening cloud: Retirement account balances took less of a hit than stock indexes, because of asset diversification and continuing contributions to retirement savings plans.

The nation's individual retirement accounts held $4.6 trillion at the end of the third quarter, which represents a decline of 8.5% from the end of the second quarter. Defined contribution plan assets dropped 7.5% during the same period, and government pension plans -- federal, state, and local -- fell 7.7%.

The total value of assets held in employer-based defined contribution plans was $4.3 trillion at the end of September. Of that, 401(k) plans contained $2.9 trillion. In the previous quarter, those figures were $4.7 trillion and $3.2 trillion, respectively.

"Retirement savings accounted for 36 percent of all household financial assets in the United States at the end of the third quarter of 2011," the ICI noted.

The report comes on the heels of a series of studies calling into question Americans' readiness for retirement. But ICI senior economist Peter Brady disputes the notion of a looming crisis. "We think that there's certainly variation within the population, but a good number of people are on track to have a secure retirement," Brady told DailyFinance. "But that's sort of a huge debate, and this data" -- which is aggregate, as opposed to household-by-household, and concerns short-term fluctuations in the market -- "doesn't really have a strong bearing on it."

"People are going to have different needs," Brady explained. "The biggest asset most people are going to have is Social Security, which uses a highly progressive benefit formula The amount you have to supplement will vary greatly, depending on your lifetime earnings. What people want to do is basically maintain their standard of living. For different people that will mean different things." But his own studies, as well as his reading of the relevant literature, have persuaded Brady that no retirement disaster is in the offing.

Click here to see the full report from ICI, including charts.

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A little at a time we are all going down the pipe. Housing, retirement, employment.
The ones that will win are the people on endless entitlements we can't fund.

December 29 2011 at 3:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Come on everyone obuma gave everyone there 20 bucks a week back now we will see a turn around for sure.... Oh I forgot its only for two months. Started to get excited for a second.

December 27 2011 at 6:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Wow ! I Want Just 1 Lac INR For Year With Interest Please Help Me. I Request. Contact +919328790587

December 27 2011 at 4:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Gee, I wounder where it all went!

December 26 2011 at 10:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to monroep40's comment

Wounder? huh?

December 26 2011 at 10:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

China where else.

December 26 2011 at 10:23 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Banksters stole 1.4 trillion of retirement money. Why? Because YOU let them! Take out your money, don't give the banksters or olama the chance to steel more, hello! Then RUN to your local coin dealer and exchange ALL of your fed res paper for gold/silver coin ( real money ). So far I have made over 500% on mine. Hows tha 1% bankster rate working for you? Stop complaining and act! Got gold?

December 26 2011 at 2:21 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Mike's comment

The 0% rate from the Federal Reserve isn't a factor?

January 01 2012 at 12:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Our economy had a major heart attack in 2008 after oil prices hit $150 a barrel. It still hasnt recovered yet we think that solar energy is uneconomical or unhealthy ..

December 26 2011 at 11:27 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Gumby's comment

economy is on death spiral

December 26 2011 at 1:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David Govett

I wonder if this value takes into consideration the devaluation of the dollar.

December 26 2011 at 12:56 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

'Twas the night before voting and the Senate and House
Couldn't agree and Obama just groused.
More liberal than Commies his cronies they came.
He whistled and shouted and called them by name.
On Biden, Pelosi, Soros and Reid.
If the rich won't pay more we'll just call it greed.
And I heard him say in a whispered hush,
"If all else fails we'll just blame Bush."

December 25 2011 at 8:31 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to savemycountry911's comment

OK, it needs a little work.

December 25 2011 at 9:39 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply

Fed res dollar printing has increased to keep up with US treasury's need for them as debt buyer of last resort. Euro is doing same for their debt but doesn't hold the luxury as world's res currency. Fed exports it's inflation to the world euro can't & WILL hypor inflate to ZERO. Europ will run to the dollar as others trade for gld/slvr. Even with small demand increase gld/slvr price rise outside the fed's ability to keep suprpressed & dollar will start its final fall, world WILL panic & gld/slvr will BE only reserve currency. World fiat monotary system is collapsing & we face deep depression. Got Gold? China & India does, why's that you figure?

December 25 2011 at 5:05 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

yep and soc sec is fading fast, got gold? I do and my retirement fund went up many times over.

December 25 2011 at 5:05 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Mike's comment

It's Fools Gold Mike. I thought you were dead.

December 25 2011 at 8:41 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to savemycountry911's comment

healthy and wealthy and geting richer daily!

December 26 2011 at 1:48 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down

My scenario:
People not paying FICA will cost the SS system about 177 billion this year and I am guessing the next since
no one wants to reinstate the tax in an election year. Already people think teh cut is an entitlement and of
Obama keeps calling the return a tax increase. As the fund shrinks the money will have to be made up by
increasing the FICA tax or taking from general revenues. That means an income tax increase or we just borrow it from the Chinese. Another 20 years and we'll be like Greece only where they evade taxes we'll be shaken down for everything we have. Have a nice life.

January 01 2012 at 12:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply