Originally Posted by db
Presumably the money you "lost" in stocks when their value dropped isn't just gone, but will return when the value of the stocks go up. That kind of risk is the risk that money wont be available when you need/want it, a risk common to equities. The other kind of risk is that your money will lose value because of inflation, a risk common to fixed income securities. Balancing those two risks is an aim of asset allocation.
Now if you loaded up on trendy stocks near the end of of the last century, you may have lost money from overblown values that are unlikely to return anytime soon, but that wasn't wise investment practice then or now. A well diversified portfolio with an asset allocation plan you maintain is a better way.
Just buying bonds is a foolish as chasing high-flying stock, IMO.
It looks like I didn't explain myself very well. The question was whether it makes sense to have the growth portion of a portfolio in retirement accounts. There always is a risk of loss, even for stocks that are not trendy. If you have a loss in a stock or a fund, and you decide it is appropriate to sell, you can't take that loss and offset it against income because it is in a retirement plan.
I of course agree that a well balanced portfolio is a good thing.
The question is whether there should be preferences in having certain assets in tax defered retirement accounts like 401ks and different assets in taxable accounts. There are tradeoffs in these decisions. But, since interest payers like taxable bonds are always taxed at ordinary income rates, it makes some sense to have that portion of your portfolio in the 401k so you don't have to pay tax on the interest income until you pull it out.