In some tremendous news, last year the average 401(k) balance rose to $112,300, an increase of 17 percent from the prior year. Similarly, the average individual retirement account (IRA) balance rose 17 percent to $115,400. Both are new records.
Going back to the 2009 subprime mortgage crisis, it was clear a lot of bad mortgages were packaged as investments and sold off. When the mortgages went bad, so did the investments, causing a disastrous economic ripple effect.