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Are Variable Annuities a Good Investment? (Wall Street Journal)

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The challenge for investors is to balance their desire for the highest possible returns against preventing big losses. Recent swings and downturns in the markets have kept investors on their toes, to say the least, and more cautious as a result. This caution has led to interest in putting some retirement savings in variable annuities. Critics say annuity investors can pay a significant amount in fees over the long term, and can be better spent on other investments with more-favorable tax treatments. Proponents say annuities are worth the price for the security they offer, and provide a chance to earn more than a nominal return on the investment.