In October 2008, the Congressional Budget Office reported that stock market turmoil wiped out roughly $2 trillion of Americans' retirement savings over just 15 months. Since then, the stock market has continued to shudder and retirement savers have lost even more.
A new estimate found that retirement accounts, including 401(k)s and IRAs, have lost $3.4 trillion between September 30, 2007 and March 6, 2009. Assets in retirement accounts were valued at approximately $8.5 trillion on September 30, 2007 (expressed in constant 2009 dollars), according to calculations by Mauricio Soto, a research associate at the Urban Institute, but have since plunged 40 percent to $5.1 trillion. About 70 percent of these assets were invested in stocks. During the same period the stock market overall lost 56 percent of its value, a decline of about $13 trillion.