Pension deficits soar as equities and bonds tumble

Pension funds around the world have fallen deep into the red as equity prices and government bond yields have plunged over the past year. The first nine months of 2008 saw private pension funds in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) - a group of 30 wealthy countries - lose 20% of their total assets, an estimated loss of $5 trillion. This meant an approximate funding deficit of $2 trillion, the OECD said.

In the UK, defined-benefit pension schemes are now £136 billion