A mixture of record-setting low bond yields and a pattern of weak stock market behavior has drastically increased corporate pension benefits in not only the United States but in Britain as well.
Reuters reports that the combined deficit of England's top 100 corporations more than doubled over the past year to a total of 41 billion pounds ($64 billion), despite companies having poured 11 billion pounds into the system in the last year in an effort to shore up the issue - as reported by UK actuarial firm Lane, Clark and Peacock.
Total liabilities of blue chip British firms stand at 447 billion pounds, versus assets of 406 billion pounds, in at least 83 of the FTSE 100 companies examined.
That reflects the problems demonstrated in Mercer's report issued last week, which showed that the aggregate deficit of S&P 1500 companies grew $59 billion in the first half of 2012 to $543 billion, with major companies holding $2.09 trillion in liabilities versus $1.55 trillion in assets.
Flat interest rates have also prompted British firms to move out of riskier markets to try to normalize their returns. In the UK, only 35 percent of pension plan assets were being held in equities at the end of 2011, versus 43 percent in 2011 and nearly 70 percent a decade ago.