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Pension Measurement Assumptions

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key pension measurement assumptions

For fiscal years 2000 through 2007, this graph shows key measurement assumptions used for pension plans maintained by S&P 500 companies.

The red line with diamonds shows the weighted average discount rate used to measure projected benefit obligations as of the end of each fiscal year. Of course, companies typically use that discount rate to measure various liability-related components for the subsequent year’s net periodic pension cost, notably the service cost and the interest cost. During the past two years, the discount rate has reversed the long decline during the earlier years of the decade, that reverse being a major factor in the improvement in pension plan funded status during the past two years. Of course, remember that discount rates have been declining again in recent months, making it highly unlikely that we’ll witness a third consecutive year of higher discount rates.

The blue line with squares shows the weighted average expected rate of return on pension plan assets during each fiscal year, a component of the net periodic pension cost. After major cuts in this assumption early in the decade, the rate has been relatively stable during the past 5 years, and is unlikely to be changed much for 2008.

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Written by macheide

29 March 2008 at 9:00 am

Posted in άctuary

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