TSP’s T Fund tanks, loses $100B — if it had one

Imagine the financial and emotional hangover you would have today if some, most or all of your retirement nest egg had been invested in the Thrift Savings Plan’s T Fund? That’s “T” for technical stocks.

Given the upheaval in tech sector stocks that could be a problem, except for one big thing — there is no tech sector T Fund or anything close.

The TSP, Uncle Sam’s in-house 401(k) plan for federal and military personnel, does not offer an all-tech fund or a dot-com fund — until the bubble burst earlier this century — or a socially-conscious fund.

That’s despite decades of pressure from some members of Congress, Wall Street and many federal investors themselves who would love to see some of the billions of dollars feds kick into the TSP each year go into their funds. They might also say it gives them more choices and more options. Champions of those narrow sector funds argued that the overlords of the TSP were denying federal investors a chance to make big bucks on outfits such as, say, Facebook or Amazon.

For decades after the TSP was created, powerful members of Congress pushed hard, very hard at times, on the board that run’s the TSP to open up its investment options to allow willing workers to go for higher rewards. Or maybe they would lose their shirts?

Instead, federal-military investors are “stuck” with are five basic funds:

  • The C Fund which tracks the S&P 500 was up 2.63 percent for the year as of Friday.
  • The S Fund that tracks the rest of the U.S. stock market is up 6.17 percent.
  • The international stock market I Fund, which is being revamped, is down 2.44 percent.
  • The F Fund for bonds is down 1.56 percent.
  • The G Fund composed of special U.S. Treasury certificates was up 1.37 percent for the year as of last week.

The TSP also offers employees five different Lifecycle funds ranging from a “current income fund” to 2020, 2030, 2040 and 2050 funds. They are self-adjusting and all of the TSP funds are  offered at some of the lowest administrative fees in the business.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Amelia Brust

Only three people survived the destruction of St. Pierre in Martinique when Mount Pelée erupted on May 8, 1902: a shoemaker, a felon and a 10-year-old girl. Havivra Da Ifrile ran to the ocean when she saw lava bubbling up through a crater and head toward the town. She rode her brother’s boat to a cave where they used to play. The prisoner, Louis-Auguste Cyparis, survived because he had been locked in solitary confinement in the dungeon, while the shoemaker Léon Compere-Léandre awoke from fume inhalation and ran to another town. The rest of the town’s 28,000 people perished.

Source: San Diego State University Department of Geological Sciences

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