When investors take more risk with their investments, they generally have the potential for, but not a guarantee of, a higher average return. For example, stocks (and stock mutual funds), which are very volatile in the short term, have historically produced the highest average annual returns of any asset class over the long term. By comparison, cash-equivalent assets, such as money market mutual funds and certificates of deposit, have less risk of loss of principal but generally pay relatively low rates of interest.
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