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Target-date funds not a good investment strategy

If ignorance is bliss, then target retirement date funds have arrived just in time for those who are seeking that state of mind. Start humming that mantra as you invest your 401(k) account with the target date that matches the time you have left until retirement. Then, sit and watch as your contemporaries at work slowly accumulate substantially more money in their account over time -- maybe 50 percent more -- by actively managing their money and safely adopting more risk. What I just wrote is not a contradiction in terms as I'll explain in a moment.

For higher stock returns, take more risk

Like "Me and my shadow," the Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500 index are major benchmarks that could walk their miles in each others' moccasins ... or each others' Manolos. Women, after all, are said to own greater amounts of stock than men in this country thanks to inheritance, longer life spans, and their superior investment acumen due to less compulsive behavior.

Reading between the financial lines

Since 1928, the market has dropped by 20 percent roughly once every four years on average. Thirty-percent downdrafts have occurred nine times since then or about once every decade. One would think that with the Dodd-Frank financial regulations on their way to enactment, we will soon be able to sleep better at night.

But, as Woody Allen, paraphrasing the Bible, once said, "the lion will lay down with the lamb, but the lamb won't get much sleep."

Weighing the risk factor in mutual funds

The ever-inventive securities industry has managed to package yet another type of loan into an investment product for small investors. Banks often make loans to large corporations and then syndicate them -- split them up -- and spread them out to other banks and investors to spread the risk. Recently, there have been a number of mutual funds formed to invest in these syndicated packages.

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