Double-digit annual returns for most U.S. public pension systems over the past two years have done little to shrink the yawning deficits facing many of them after a decade of inadequate funding, according to analysts and recent data. Thanks to a robust stock market, most systems have enjoyed windfalls recently, with investment returns far exceeding projections. Roughly half of U.S. state pension plans have worrying gaps between what they have promised retirees and the funds on hand to pay benefits, according to most analyses. "For many public pension funds, the hole is so deep -- in the range of many tens of billions of dollars for some of them -- that they would need decades of double-digit returns to approach full funding," said Autumn Carter, executive director of California Common Sense, a non-partisan think-tank founded at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.
By Caroline Valetkevitch NEW YORK (Reuters) - Five years ago, the United States was in the midst of its worst recession in seven decades, and stocks were feeling it. On this day in 2009, the S&P 500 hit its nadir, closing at 676.53. That low marked a climax of a 16-month selloff that took more than half the S&P 500's value. Naturally, some investors are questioning whether the bull run is nearing an end.