Deficit hits record $26B for US pension insurer

November 15, 2011 - 4:50 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal agency that insures pensions for one in seven Americans ran the largest deficit last year in its 37-year history.

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. says it ran a $26 billion imbalance for the budget year that ended Sept. 30.

The agency has been battered by the weak economy, which has brought more bankruptcies and failed pension plans.

Their pension obligations rose by $4.5 billion. The PBGC also earned less money in the stock market, which helps to fund pension plans. Returns were $3.6 billion, half what it earned the previous year.

The agency's director says taxpayers may have to bail out the agency "eventually" if Congress doesn't raise companies' insurance premiums. He didn't give a timeframe.