Mutual funds, which have topped $13 trillion, are the way many Americans interact with the financial markets. You may have come across mutual funds when you set up an individual retirement account or a company-sponsored retirement account like a 401(k).
A "basket" of stocks, bonds or both, mutual funds are seen as safer to own than individual stocks. Having many in one basket spreads the risk, especially over time. But high fees, lack of diversification, or a focus on short-term gains can put your nest egg at risk.
NPR's business news starts with a scramble for Apple bonds.
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MONTAGNE: Apple, yesterday, sold $17 billion worth of bonds - which is a new industry record. Apple issued the bonds to take advantage of low interest rates as it prepares to make a payout of $100 billion to shareholders by 2015. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Some 93 percent of Americans saw their mean net worth fall in the first two years of the post-recession recovery, while the remaining 7 percent increased net worth by nearly a third, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data.