January 8, 2009
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Volatile markets have saddled U.S. companies with a $409 billion deficit on pension plans, reversing a $60 billion surplus a year earlier, and will cut into earnings in 2009, consulting firm Mercer said.
As of December 31, pension plans among members of the Standard & Poor’s 1500 had $1.21 trillion of assets and $1.62 trillion of liabilities, Mercer said in a report released on Wednesday. At the end of 2007, pension plan assets totaled $1.66 trillion and liabilities totaled about $1.6 trillion, Mercer said.
The S&P 1500 is a broad portfolio representing large-cap, mid-cap and small-cap segments of the U.S. equity markets.
The shortfall suggests that more companies will have to pump cash into their pension plans to ensure they can meet their commitments to retirees.