Monday, December 15, 2008

News You Can Use (but don't want to hear): Pensions at largest companies post record losses

This past Thanksgiving, it seems DB plan sponsors were just thankful to get through November. New analysis from Mercer shows that pension plans sponsored by the largest U.S. companies suffered their second consecutive month of record losses, with their funded status falling by more than $130 billion in November.

This adds to losses of $110 billion in October and $100 billion in the first three quarters of 2008, turning a surplus of $60 billion at the end of 2007 into a deficit of $280 billion at the end of November.

The study covered plans sponsored by companies in the S&P 1500, and showed the aggregate funded status fell from 104% at the end of 2007 to 97% at the end of September, and dropped further to 80% at the end of November. Mercer’s analysis also shows that without a significant increase in high-quality corporate bond yields -- used by most companies to measure the value of plan liabilities -- the losses would have been worse.

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