Olden Days

Will the stock market suffer as boomers use investments to live on in retirement?
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This story appears in the November 2001 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Picture this: In 10 years, at least 3.4 million Americans will be eligible for retirement, and every year after that, close to 4 million more will reach the magical age 65. Because baby boomers have invested so heavily in the stock market, some experts say their retirement will have a profound impact. Is this just hype, or do investors really have reason to panic?

Andrew B. Abel, a Wharton finance and economics professor, believes the stock market can't help but take a tumble without the increase in the physical supply of capital that boomers' investments have caused. But Dallas Salisbury, president and CEO of the Employee Benefit Research Institute, believes Gen Xers and Echo Boomers (boomers' children) will fill the void. "Many analyses assume everybody will suddenly take all their money out," says Salisbury, "but they don't necessarily [consider] all the new people coming in."

J. Kevin Hand, president and CEO of Los Angeles consulting firm Hand & Associates, believes another factor has been overlooked: immigrants' children-"new" Americans who will invest in pursuit of the American dream. But, counters Fred Siegel, owner of a New Orleans investment management firm, all these new investors aren't enough to stem a gradual but anticipated drop in the amount of stock market investments, as boomers shift from growth to income-producing stocks.

So who do you believe when both sides sport valid arguments? What may actually happen will likely fall somewhere in between-a drop, but not as big as doomsayers predict.

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Edition: July 2017

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