Sold at the bottom

Clifford Ball, an economist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, said investors who have time to let the market turn around should just sit tight and wait it out. People who are in or near retirement and whose money wasn’t already in safe investments before the downturn don’t have the luxury of time though.

“If you were, say, 65 and looking at your retirement and it’s dropped 40 percent now, here’s the problem: If you sell, if you move it into Treasury securities right now, it’s gone,” he said. “And then suppose after a year or so the market comes back and you’re not in it, then you’ve done exactly the worst thing: You’ve sold at the bottom. …

“The problem is for people who are older and don’t have time to wait for the market to come back and are holding too much in stock for their age and risk aversion. I don’t see how they can fix that.”

(Fred: That’s exactly right. It depends on how much time left you have and how dependable you are on that locked money right now.)