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Investors Flee Stocks, Embrace Cash

Adam Gault/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Investors are fleeing the stock market's scalding volatility for the cool, calm comfort of cash, analysts say. Contrary to likely expectations, it's the youngest investors -- the ones who supposedly have the greatest tolerance for risk -- who are fleeing fastest.

Monday's market drop, the sixth biggest in the history of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, vaporized $2.3 trillion in investor wealth. The VIX index, a measure of market fear, soared to levels not seen since 2009.

Jacob Barr, 28, a technology consultant, cashed out all his investments Friday, after watching the stock market take a 513-point dive the day before. "It seemed like a good time to sell," Barr told the Tennessean newspaper.

As for getting back in at some point, he told the newspaper he would, but not until, "I get my feet back on the pavement. Then I'll be able to buy at a better price."

Adam Bruno, 28, of River Vale, N.J., said he lost more than $1,600 last week, just when he thought his portfolio was finally starting to turn around. "Monday was OK," he told the Newark Star-Ledger. "Tuesday was a slow decline. And Thursday, obviously, it fell off a cliff."

The experience, he said, left him worried he was witnessing "a repeat of 2008."

Fears rooted in the financial collapse of 2008, experts say, are prompting not just youngsters but investors of all ages and levels of experience to bolt stocks for cash.

A recent survey by MFS showed that investors of all ages are moving into cash. MFS said the trend, which it first detected last fall, "appears to be a deliberate and fundamental change in investing," with investors being "driven by protect their assets."

Most surprising, the MFS survey found that Generation Y (investors between the ages of 18 and 30) have abandoned stocks for cash sooner and more aggressively than their older peers.

Generation Y is now 30 percent invested in cash, compared with 26 percent for investors overall, according to the MFS survey.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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