Federal Employee Retirement Funds Tank in August

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As might be expected given the recent turmoil in the stock market, August was a bad month for the retirement funds in the federal employee Thrift Savings Plan.

The government securities (G) fund was the only option that ended the month in the black, scraping by with 0.18 percent growth for August. That fund – one of TSP’s most stable offerings – was up 1.33 percent for the year to date.

TSP officials noted last week when the stock market began to falter amid perceived weakness in China that the fixed income bonds in the F Fund were performing particularly well. The F Fund, however, still ended the month with a loss of 0.11 percent. It was up 0.68 percent for 2015 so far.

The F Fund’s loss was minor compared to those of the stock-based investment options. International stocks represented in the I Fund fell 7.36 percent for August, while the common stocks in the C Fund lost 6.03 percent and the small- and midsize companies in the S Fund fell 5.8 percent.

The I Fund was still in the black for the year to date, but barely, at 0.73 percent. The C Fund had lost 2.84 percent for 2015 and the S Fund, 1.24 percent.

The lifecycle (L) funds, which shift investors to safer portfolios as they near retirement, all lost ground in August. L Income, for those who have already started withdrawing money, lost 1.1 percent for the month; L 2020 was down 3.06 percent; L 2030 fell 4.04 percent; L 2040, 4.69 percent; and L 2050, 5.37 percent.

L Income was still up 0.83 percent for the year to date, and L 2020 had gained 0.13 percent. The others were down for 2015 so far, with L 2030 losing 0.31 percent; L 2040, 0.61 percent; and L 2050, 0.89 percent.

The bad news comes as TSP is getting ready to change the default fund for new federal employees who fail to designate where they want their money invested. Starting Sept. 5, new employees who do not proactively opt into another plan will see their funds invested in the age-appropriate lifecycle option, which is considered riskier but ultimately higher yielding than the former default choice of the G Fund. 

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