Will the Chinese Stock Market Crash Affect your Retirement Savings?

Early in the morning on Monday, August 24, 2015, the world waited to see how the DOW would cope with rising panic in Chinese markets. That the U.S. stock market would take a major hit was a given.

Minutes after the opening bell, many investors’ worst fears were confirmed. Depending on which financial publication you follow, the DOW either “plummeted,” “dived,” “crashed,” or “plunged” by more than 1,000 points in minutes. By any other name, it was still the biggest point loss ever seen in a single trading day.

Fortunately, after being “hammered” by global markets, the DOW experienced a “roller-coaster” of ups and downs, ending the day down by a mere 588 points. A big hit, to be sure, but not the catastrophic loss many expected. Even so, rising uncertainty over the stability of the global financial system has many U.S. investors rightfully afraid for their retirement savings.

Even though the wealthiest 10% of Americans own 80% of the wealth, many middle and working class Americans save for retirement in part by investing in the stock market. About 55% of U.S. adults who earn between $30,000 and $75,000 a year are invested in some form of stocks. And after the anxiety-ridden years of the Great Recession, many U.S. workers nearing retirement scare easy.

David Kotok is the chief investment officer for Cumberland Advisers, and he told NPR that his clients are full of questions and doubt.

“Why is this happening?” Kotok said his clients have asked. “Is this going to start a bear market? How serious is it? What’s the Federal Reserve going to do? Could China be the reason behind this? Lots of questions.”

Most importantly, Kotok has one simple piece of advice for nervous investors: Don’t panic! Because even though the stock market might be down, that doesn’t mean it’s a good time to sell.

In fact, the opposite is often true. Kotok echoed what many financial analysts have said about the mini-crash, calling it a “corrective action” that’s not necessarily abnormal.

“I had two clients today, early this morning, direct us to liquidate their accounts, and they were panicked,” Kotok said. “And they ended up selling early this morning when the stock market was off a thousand points on the Dow Jones. I think it was a mistake.”

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