TSP and August: not the best combination

Tuesday - 9/7/2010, 8:14pm EDT

Tom Trabucco, director of external affairs, TSP

Click to hear the interview

Download mp3

By Olivia Branco
Internet Editor
Federal News Radio

August wasn't the greatest month on Wall Street. Undoubtedly, that would hurt your TSP. Tom Trabucco, the director of external affairs at the TSP, joined Chris Dorobek on The Dorobek Insider to assess the damage.

Trabucco reminded Dorobek that although August was seen as rough for the TSP, it's important to think big picture.

"It was a rough month because the indexes that we invest in and track, they were down. It was a bad month for stocks, which accelerated toward the end of the month. We have bounced back a little bit already in (September), but it just goes to show, don't look short-term, keep in mind: long term investing."

So exactly what happened with the various TSP funds? Trabucco took us through them:

  • F-Fund: As mostly government and corporate bonds, these are generally okay despite bad months. Trabucco reports that these have the advantage that as interest rates decline, the value of the bonds that are held in the fund actually increase. The August monthly return was 1.28%, which Trabucco says was actually a very good return.
  • G-Fund: Trabucco calls this the "never has a bad day fund" and he says it lived up to the nickname in August. It is the default fund for new employees that are automatically enrolled in TSP and have not chosen a fund on their own. "It never has a negative day and it is up .22% for the month of August," Trabucco says. "The year to date up 2%. It's a very good return for people that are looking for a stable, money market kind of investment"
  • C-Funds: These are the big stocks, the blue chip S&P 500 stocks, says Trabucco. They were down 4.51% for the month of August, down 4.62% for year-to-date and down 4.93% in the trailing 12 months. Trabucco says it's "no great shakes" but that "last year on the C-fund for the year it was up 26.68%, so one assumes you're going to give back some of that in out years, you're not going to hold down that return consistently."
  • S-Funds: While off 5.59% for the month of August, the year-to-date is actually up .21% and the trailing 12 months is up 11.03%. Trabucco says this is just what to expect because "small and medium sized stocks outperform larger stocks as the market is coming back. They're more volatile so for smaller stocks the highs are higher and the lows are lower, but they generally lead the way in a recovery."
  • I-Funds: Down all around: 3.14% for the month of August; 7.80% for the year-to-date and off 2.28% for the trailing 12 months.

Tom Trabucco, the director of external affairs at the TSP, joins the Dorobek Insider each Monday.