US - The funding levels of plans in the S&P 500 index have are saddled with pension deficits worth US$274.5bn, down from a surplus of nearly $95bn the prior year, a Wilshire Associates report reveals.
The report said: "The (increase) reflects a general pattern of over contributing relative to the level of service costs in years where funding levels are below 100%, indicative of an effort to reach 100% funding."
Bank of America, for example, made no contributions to its pension fund in 2007 when the scheme was 132% funded, but made $1.4bn in contributions in 2008, according to the report.
Funding ratios among the 323 companies reviewed by Wilshire dropped to 80.6% in 2008, down from a surplus of 107.9% the previous year and Wilshire found that 92% of plans are underfunded, 30 percentage points higher than in 2007.
"Pension assets decreased significantly in concert with the broad-based deleveraging in the global financial markets," the report said.
The median 2008 investment return was -27.4% vs. positive returns of 8.2%.
The British Medical Association (BMA) has warned chancellor Philip Hammond to reform the NHS pension scheme rules or doctors will reduce their working hours.
The lifetime allowance should be scrapped and replaced with a lower annual allowance, last week's Pensions Buzz respondents said.
Action for Children Pension Fund has outsourced its pensions administration to Trafalgar House.