Thursday, January 1, 2009

I Guess It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time

Remember President Bush’s grand plan to “fix” Social Security with “private accounts"?

Remember when John McCain supported the idea?

Here’s a sobering thought:
Investors begin 2009 licking their wounds from the worst year on Wall Street since the Great Depression, one that left many portfolios devastated and their owners scrambling for safety.

• The Russell 3000, which covers 98 percent of investable equities, shed $6.7 trillion or 39.7 percent of its value during 2008.

• The S&P 500 was down 38.5 percent, its worst performance since 1937.

• The Dow Jones industrial average was off 33.8 percent — the worst return since 1931.

• The five worst-performing stocks in Silicon Valley all lost more than 90 percent of their value.

• Every single technology index fell this year. Biotech did the "best," with a 17.7 percent drop; Internet, computer, networking and semiconductor stocks all were down more than 40 percent, and disk-drive stocks were off nearly 61 percent.

Pension funds took a massive hit this year:

With the stock market shedding more than a third of its value this year, pension funds at big companies have been battered beyond recognition. What looked like safe stowaway spots where corporations securely tucked away assets for their employees' retirements now look like roller-coaster funds. In addition to sending shivers up the spines of employees who count on that income, the problem also threatens to haunt the bottom line at many major firms.

Can you imagine the effect on American society if not only pension funds but also the Social Security safety net were invested in the stock market right now?

Thank God we dodged that bullet.