UK - Pension fund trustees are facing average returns of -13% for 2008, preliminary State Street Investment Analytics figures reveal.
But it said the large decline of sterling - which fell 40% against the yen and around a quarter against the dollar and the euro over the year - absorbed some of the pain for the sterling investor.
And it added the economic turmoil - while not so positive for equity markets - was good for government bonds where returns were positive.
The analysis also revealed that, while almost every scheme will record a negative result for the year, individual fund returns will vary widely.
It said those funds that have an equity bias, such as local authority schemes and many charities, will be most adversely impacted while many of the corporate schemes, which have a relatively high commitment to bonds, will fare relatively better.
State Street Investment Analytics vice-president Jeanette Patrizio said: "Although the returns we've seen over 2008 are not surprising given the slowdown in the global economy, we need to remember that these funds are long term investors and the annual results need to be viewed in context.
"The negative returns of 2008 followed five years of extremely strong investment performance. Over the last decade, a period which includes not only the latest year but the negative returns from the fallout of the dotcom bubble, the average fund is still up more than 4% per annum, ahead of RPI for the same period."
This comes as BNY Mellon Asset Servicing said the average UK pension fund achieved an estimated weighted average return of -9.8% over 2008.
The performance management firm said this is the first time it has recorded negative yearly returns for pension funds since the three-year downturn at the beginning of the decade.
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