Monday, October 10, 2011

Pension Funding Deficit Reaches 50-Year High — Should You Be Worried?

In light of the recent Malaysian 2012 Budget, this article is relevant not only for consideration of private pension planners but also to the Malaysian Government Pension Department (Bahagian Pasca Perkhidmatan JPA). Defined Benefit plans give pensioners guarantees of income during retirement until death but the ability to pay depends on mortality and investment return.

The market swoon in last month didn’t just hurt your portfolio, it also clobbered corporate pensions. The total deficit of U.S. pension liabilities increased by $134 billion to $512 billion as of September 30, according to worldwide HR consulting firm Mercer. The reported deficit compares pension liabilities to assets in pension trusts for defined benefit retirement plans sponsored by S&P 1500 companies. The increase in the deficit results from a combination of stock market declines and decreases in yields on high-quality corporate bonds during the month. (Pension liabilities rise when interest rates fall, due to reduced expectations for future investment earnings).

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