First the good news: As you know, the stock market has surged for more than a decade. Since the recession low of March 9, 2009, the S&P 500 has rocketed from a devilish 666 to over 3,000 today. That’s a gain of 350% in 10 years. Talk about building wealth.
Now the bad news: This incredible period of wealth creation has bypassed tens of millions of older Americans – perhaps including you. That’s because – get this – the wealthiest 10% of households own 84% of all stocks – and that includes pension plans, 401(k) accounts and individual retirement accounts (IRAs) as well as trust funds, mutual funds and college savings programs like 529 plans. That means 90% of American households own the remaining 16% of all stock.
These sobering stats come courtesy of Edward N. Wolff, an economist at New York University, who tells the New York Times “For the vast majority of Americans, fluctuations in the stock market have relatively little effect on their wealth, or well-being, for that matter.”