As I began writing this column, the stock market was in the midst of another sell-off, this time in response to the announced departure of Trump economic adviser Gary Cohn and fears of an impending trade war. The Dow has dropped more than 300 points (or 1.3 percent) — and it’s only lunchtime.
In February wage inflation and concerns that the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates spooked the market, kicking off a month of volatility not seen since the crash of 2008, when Americans’ retirement funds lost trillions of dollars in value.
Of course, this is what markets do — they have bubbles, corrections and crashes. But the recent tumult on Wall Street serves as a stark reminder of the role that Social Security plays as a stable source of income, insulated from the inevitable fluctuations in private investments — including the 401(k) plans that many Americans increasingly rely upon in the absence of employer-provided pensions.