Pension fund liabilities "are becoming so huge they may impede the ability of American business to function effectively, according to a study by Greenwich Associates.
"If the stock market is unable to stage another amazing, sustained surge, the pension obligations of a significant number of U.S. corporations may force them to follow the steel companies and airlines into bankruptcy, the study states.
"That may require a rethinking of important, fundamental aspects of the U.S. retirement system, Greenwich consultant Chris McNickle wrote in the study.
The volatility of investment markets applied to huge pension liabilities is more than most companies can handle, the report said. "Funding strategies and accounting practices that worked well when the pension plans were proportionate in size to the corporations sponsoring them are not working any longer.