Recent research shows IRAs and 401(k) plans lost a combined $2.8 trillion, or 47% of their value, between September 2007 and December 2008. Retirement experts say these plans have high operation costs and low investment returns. But the biggest problem with defined contribution plans may be that they do not provide guaranteed retirement income. Planning and managing retirement savings continues to shift to workers who have to learn what professional money managers are trained and paid to do every day. There is legislation in California to allow private-sector workers to enroll in a state-operated retirement program. A similar proposal in New York City would pool employee and employer contributions into a professionally managed, citywide retirement fund. The future of these proposals is uncertain, but some think they are a step in the right direction.
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