America's wealthy feel bite of financial crisis

Thu Oct 16, 2008 9:08am EDT
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By Kristina Cooke

NEW YORK (Reuters) - For the past two weeks, Kathryn Morrison and her husband have been shaken awake at night by visions of crashing stock markets and evaporating retirement plans.

Harvey Goldberg liquidated his account when the Dow Jones industrial average was at 12,300, but his financial advisor persuaded him to reinvest. Since then, the Dow has fallen about 20 percent.

Wealthy Americans like Morrison and Goldberg were relatively insulated from the global financial crisis until just a few months ago. Now, falling stock markets are slashing their investments, and some are even starting to panic.

"I'm a little angry that I didn't trust my own gut, my own instinct to stay on the sidelines and wait," said Goldberg, 57, an executive coach who lives in Washington. "I'm angry at myself."

Of course, reaction to the financial crisis differs from person to person and even from husband to wife.

"My husband's approach has been 'Oh my God, I've got to sell, we're mature people and there goes our retirement'," said Morrison, 59. Morrison, who lives in Alexandria, Virginia, and runs a PR firm, has about $2 million in investable assets.

"I can't quarrel with his reaction -- he needs to sell for his comfort." She said it doesn't matter if he loses money if he's late in getting back into the market. "So what, if it helps him sleep now?"

She, on the other hand, is taking the market drubbing as an opportunity to look for bargains in the wreckage.   Continued...

<p>SunStar Inc. CEO Kathryn Morrison sits in her office in Alexandria, Virginia October 15, 2008. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque</p>