Difficulties with deficits

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Economies across the globe have stalled, credit is hard to come by, and default rates are rising. In this desperately difficult environment, the last thing companies need is rapidly swelling pension deficits. Yet plunging equity markets have pushed deficits up to eye-watering levels - a problem that could even tip some firms over the edge and into bankruptcy.

The picture for the asset portfolios of pension funds looks pretty bleak. In the UK, the FTSE 100 index fell to 3,780.96 on November 21 la