Skip to Content

Wall Street Is Not (Primarily) to Blame for America's Retirement Mess

You can blame Wall Street for a lot of things, but being the main cause of America's inadequate retirement savings is not one of them.

Upon reading criticisms of their business practices, people on Wall Street might recall the words of the Greek Stoic Epictetus, who said of a critic, "He obviously does not know me very well, since there are so many other faults he could have mentioned." Indeed, from giving bad advice on mergers to misstating the quality of loans sold to investors prior to the global financial crisis, there is no shortage of allegations of faulty Wall Street ethical practices.

Still, the criticisms of Wall Street can go too far. A case in point is a recent article in The New York Times that acknowledges that Americans are not saving enough for retirement but states that "Wall Street is bleeding savers dry." In fact, in the article industry legend and Vanguard founder Jack Bogle says: "Everybody's big focus is that we have to save more. A greater part of the problem is the failure of investors to earn their fair share of market returns" because of excessive costs.