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Deer in the Headlights: IRA Asset Allocations, 2008

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A new analysis of 2008 individual retirement account (IRA) asset allocations shows that older workers and retirees were not much better prepared for market downturns than younger workers.

Investment experts traditionally have argued that older retirement savers should have a higher percentage of their assets in cash and in investment instruments offering a fixed return because they have less time to compensate for the investment losses that might occur during market downturns.

Craig Copeland, an analyst at the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), Washington, has analyzed IRA asset allocations and found that the allocations were only somewhat more conservative than the allocations of younger retirement savers.

Savers younger than 25 had about 21% of their assets in money market mutual funds, certificates of deposits or similar instruments, and they had 5.1% of their assets in bonds.

Savers ages 70 and older had about 18% of their assets in bonds and about 22% in cash.

Savers ages 70 and older still had about 33% of their assets in stocks or stock funds; savers younger than 25 had about 49% of their assets in stocks or stock funds.

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