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Retirement Dilemma

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

There's a new movement afoot to ditch 401K retirement plans and replace it with a government run- supervised program. The rationale is that the average fund has only $18,000 and it's been a bust. While I have an issue with that number, it’s not 401Ks that have failed Americans- Americans have failed themselves.


People keep dipping into these plans by using them as piggy banks; the same way they were once used for home equity loans and refinancing. In 2010, Americans had taken out $60 billion prematurely and in 2011, $57 billion.

The fact of the matter is, while there is a need for more discipline, the real losers are those who have not established a 401K.

According to the Empower Institute, we need 75% to 80% replacement of current income to live the retirement of our dreams.

However, holding too much cash is the biggest retirement mistake. In savings portfolios (that aren't qualified plans), cash levels on average is 35%, and within qualified retirement accounts, cash is at 55%. I get that people missed the bottom and now feel as though it’s best to wait and buy at the top. However, the focus has to be on the next 200% move, not the next 20% to 30% correction/bear market.

Last night, after the close, Kraft (KRFT) was put into play with news of a potential bid from the Brazilian investment firm 3G Capital. It is more than Mac & Cheese; however, the day before, some would argue the stock was fairly priced with a 17 price-earnings ratio (PE Ratio) or expensive changing hands with a 4.0 price-earnings to growth ratio (PEG Ratio). The point is, this is a company that will throw-off serious cash for centuries. Since borrowing is so cheap, it seemed like a hindsight.


The no-brainer part is that you have to be invested, which is different from trading as the (KRFT) above shows. There is no doubt a lot of people stopped out of short-term trade when the stock got under $63.00.

Today’s Session

Today’s durable goods order report from the Census Bureau provided something more than just disappointment. For the month of February, new orders declined by 1.4% month-over-month which is quite the reversal from a positive 2.0% gain in January and is also below the +0.7% consensus estimate. This is very frustrating. I just don’t believe businesses are going to pump up the volume, especially with Obama’s policies making it harder for them to operate and manufacture new equipment.

Though the major indices are indicating slightly higher, yesterday’s selloff into the close is still worrisome.

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