Glass Half Empty or 3/4 Full?

PBGC released its Annual Management Report for the fiscal year that ended September 30, 2009, and the headlines once more focus on the extent of PBGC's deficit, largely the $21.1 billion deficit in the single-employer program. Overlooked is the fact that PBGC's assets cover more than 75% of its liabilities. Also, that the deficit increase is largely a function of the interest rates used to discount PBGC's liabilities, which dropped almost 150 basis points.

Unlike the FDIC, PBGC doesn't have to pay out immediately when it takes over an underfunded plan. PBGC had positive cash flow, bringing in $2 billion more than it paid out.

Let's focus not on the short-term accounting measure but on PBGC's long-term ability to pay benefits. A sensible, diversified investment policy will go a long way over time to narrow the gap.

 -- Nell Hennessy