Higher contributions and market returns pumped up US pension plans in 2017. Today, corporate pension plans are at an important inflection point. As shown above, the estimated funded status for pension plans was about four percentage points higher in 2017 from 2016 — the first annual year-over-year increase since 2013, according to Michael Moran, senior pension strategist, who analyzed the 50 largest US defined benefit plans in the S&P 500 in Goldman Sachs Asset Management’s 2017 Pension Review “First Take”: It Should Be Different This Time. The change in funded levels — which have continued to move higher in 2018 — indicates that plan sponsors may be preparing to shift more into fixed income and consider other portfolio changes to lock in gains and reduce risk.
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