News of COVID-19 taking hold in China emerged in the final days of 2019, with the virus now in 90 countries as of March 6. Compared with previous flu-like scares, COVID-19's threat to lives and the global economy has had a more significant impact on markets.
Global problem: More than 99,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported since the strain was first reported on Dec. 31. Global fear spiked as more cases outside its country of origin were reported.
The real deal: As the virus' foothold outside of China strengthened, global equities collapsed from their highs and the 10-year Treasury fell to record lows.
Rough ride: Equity-heavy public DB plans* could stand to lose more than $120 billion as falling yields can't offset portfolio losses. Corporate plans' bond-heavy portfolios provide some insulation, but funding ratios are expected to fall with lower discount rates.
TDFs mixed: Nearer-dated target-date funds have weathered the storm relatively well given their lower equity allocations. All but the least risky and equity-light fund vintages, which have a greater allocation to fixed income, are in the red so far in 2020.
*Estimates based on P&I's Top 1,000 plan sponsor survey. Sources: Bloomberg LP, eVestment LLC, P&I Research Center, World Health Organization