Pension buyouts: rock-bottom prices mask unease over risk

US insurers will digest $40bn in pension assets this year but tight pricing and an economic downturn could lead to reflux

Consumers and investors are wrestling with soaring prices. But in the market for pension buyouts, the reverse is true.

Companies across the US are scrambling to take advantage of a rare window of opportunity to transfer their defined benefit schemes to insurers, with some analysts expecting around $200 billion of annuity buyouts over the next five years. Buyout costs, meanwhile, have declined steadily, with insurers willing to take on pension obligations for as little as 98.3% of accounting

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