2017 investment returns were positive across the seven regions covered by Willis Towers Watson’s Global Pension Finance Watch through the third quarter. Brazil, Japan and the U.S. were the top performers, with Brazil as the positive outlier among the group with a 16.7% return. U.S. plans returned 9.8% and Japanese pension plans, 7.1%.
Changes in liabilities were more of a mixed bag, however, as discount rate fluctuations and interest accumulations were more varied. Brazil saw its strong investment gains more than offset by liabilities that increased 17.2%, in part due to falling discount rates. Brazilian yields fell across the curve, most notably, the three-month government yield fell to 7.4% from 12.9%. Plan liabilities in the U.S. increased 7.4% as the benchmark discount rate fell to 3.8% from 4.1%.