Americans will soon be able to take penalty-free withdrawals from their 401(k)s, but experts say think twice about using retirement savings

New CARES Act lets Americans take penalty-free withdrawals from their retirement savings, but many have no retirement accounts, while those who do cash out could face future shortfalls, Wharton Prof. Olivia S. Mitchell explains to CNBC Make It.Read More

What ‘Rothifying’ 401(k)s Would Mean for Retirees

Taxing contributions to retirement accounts, or “Rothification,” boosts tax revenue in the short term. However, it would harm workers in the longer term, particularly the lower-paid, report Profs. Olivia S. Mitchell of Wharton and Raimond Maurer of Goethe University Frankfurt in the Wall Street Journal, citing their study.Read More

Economists say a recession is coming: How can 401(k) investors prepare?

Borrowing against your retirement savings can be tempting but counterproductive in a recession, says Nick Strain at MarketWatch, citing “Borrowing from the Future: 401(k) Plan Loans and Loan Defaults,” the Pension Research Council study by Timothy Jun Lu, Olivia S. Mitchell, Stephen P. Utkus and Jean A. Young.Read More

Alpha Opportunities In A Sluggish Return Environment

The global economic environment presents new challenges for investors across the board. Public and private pension plans, consultants, Wall Street strategists, and money managers have all ratcheted down their forward-looking views on asset returns, meaning that defined contribution plan participants will be hurting if the financial community’s morose predictions bear fruit.Read More

How Financial Ignorance Can Ruin Retirement

There are compelling reasons to be worried about retirement preparedness. My work with Olivia S. Mitchell of Wharton’s Pension Research Council has found that only a minority of individuals gives any thought to retirement, even when people are only 10 to 15 years away from it. Planning can make the difference between security versus fragility in retirement. Our research shows that those who plan end up with double or triple the wealth of those who do not.Read More

How To Get More Guaranteed Retirement Income In The 401(k) Age

In the old days, many Americans had a defined benefit (DB) pension that paid them a steady guaranteed income in retirement. But the pension landscape has shifted dramatically: now more than half of all US retirement assets are in self-directed defined contribution (DC) plans, such as 401(k)s and individual retirement accounts (IRAs) – and the figures are rising. These DC plans and IRAs do offer millions the chance to build up and control their own nest eggs, but what they don’t offer is a guaranteed income in retirement. Instead, retirees must manage their nest eggs themselves and hope that their decisions – how much to save, where to invest, and how much to take out each year – and the ups and downs of the market, will permit their money to last as long as they do.Read More