A disturbing report from a leading money management newspaper suggests that U.S. pension funds have sustained heavy losses in 2008.
The survey by Pensions & Investments revealed that the loss of close to $1 trillion in the year ended September 2008 represented the worst decline of the 1,000 largest plans that it has tracked for 30 years.
The fourth quarter of 2008 made it even worse – based on P&I estimates assets fell another $754 billion, or 11.8 percent, to a cumulative loss of $1.7 trillion for the 15 months ended Dec. 31.
According to the newspaper’s editor Nancy K. Webman, this was largely due to collapsing returns from equity markets.
Kevin P. Quirk, founding partner and principal of industry researcher Casey Quirk & Associates, observed that the results may spell an end to the corporate defined-benefit plans.
Meanwhile, Watson Wyatt Worldwide reported that retirement assets of the 11 largest foreign pension markets fell 19 percent in 2008, wiping out some $5 trillion. The only country that was spared major losses was Germany, where funds are characterized by high bond allocations.