Pension Funds' Risky Business
Newsweek (12/09/02) Vol. 140, No. 24 p.59; Sloan, Allan

Morgan Stanley recently estimated that 360 of Standard & Poor's 500 companies have defined benefit plans with about $240 billion in deficits. Since the economic downturn, the outbreak of corporate scandals, and other debacles, companies are feeling pressured to do something about their pension plans' deficits rather than just ride them out like usual. One option would be to add further assets into the plans, which could include stock or cash, but many may opt to convert defined benefit plans, which offer employees a set sum when they retire, based on the number of years worked and their salary, placed into cash-balance plans--allowing companies to place a set amount into each employees' account to be invested in the stock market. Cash balance plans would shift the investment risk from the employer to the worker, which can be beneficial in a booming market, but with harsh economic conditions, employees with tenure are likely to lose out.

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