When the city of Detroit filed for bankruptcy protection in July, the cannon shot was heard from coast to coast. States and municipalities across America are suffering major budget shortfalls; not since the 1970s have U.S. civic finances felt so tenuous. Rising pension costs are a big contributor to the problem. Combined with the 2008 economic collapse and its aftermath, those expenses have put the entire $7 trillion defined benefit retirement system and millions of workers and retirees in jeopardy.

Against that backdrop Institutional Investor has compiled its inaugural ranking of the 40 most important players in the fight for — and against — defined benefit pensions. The Pension 40 covers not only public pensions but corporate and Taft-Hartley, or multiemployer, plans. After more than six months of research and reporting, we identified the people who are doing the most to tackle the pension problem, including reformers with new ideas.

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