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Jel Classification:G22 

Journal Article
Introduction to Special Issue: The Appropriate Role of Government in U.S. Mortgage Markets

The U.S. mortgage finance system was one of the focal points of the 2007-08 financial crisis, yet legislative decisions about the appropriate role of the federal government in the system remain unsettled. Policy deliberations have focused on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?the two enormous government-sponsored enterprises that were placed into federal conservatorship in September 2008. The two GSEs have long been the centerpieces of a mortgage finance system that relies on capital market financing of U.S. residential mortgages. This volume contains eight articles that touch on several key ...
Economic Policy Review , Issue 24-3 , Pages 1-10

Report
A post-mortem of the life insurance industry's bid for capital during the financial crisis

The 2008?2009 financial crisis was the most serious shock to the U.S. financial system since the Great Depression of the 1930s. A number of large financial institutions failed during the crisis. Many institutions that survived did so only because of extraordinary actions undertaken by company management to maintain solvency, or through the extension of extraordinary support by the federal government and the Federal Reserve System. The impact of the financial crisis on the banking sector has been the subject of extensive research, discussion, and debate. Academic and policy researchers, as ...
Current Policy Perspectives , Paper 15-8

Working Paper
Variable Annuities: Underlying Risks and Sensitivities

This paper presents a quantitative model designed to understand the sensitivity of variable annuity (VA) contracts to market and actuarial assumptions and how these sensitivities make them a potentially important source of risk to insurance companies during times of stress. VA contracts often include long dated guarantees of market performance that expose the insurer to multiple nondiversifiable risks. Our modeling framework employs a Monte Carlo simulation of asset returns and policyholder behavior to derive fair prices for variable annuities in a risk neutral framework and to estimate ...
Supervisory Research and Analysis Working Papers , Paper RPA 19-1

Report
How does risk management influence production decisions? evidence from a field experiment

Weather is a key source of income risk, particularly in emerging market economies. This paper uses a randomized controlled trial involving a sample of Indian farmers to study how an innovative rainfall insurance product affects production decisions. We find that insurance provision induces farmers?particularly educated farmers?to shift production toward higher-return but higher-risk cash crops. Our results support the view that financial innovation can mitigate the real effects of uninsured production risk. Addressing the puzzle of low adoption, we show that payouts improve trust in the ...
Staff Reports , Paper 692

Report
Corporate Credit Provision

Productive firms can access credit markets directly by issuing corporate bonds or by borrowing through financial intermediaries. In this paper, we study the cyclical properties of corporate credit provision through these two types of debt instruments in major advanced economies. We argue that the cyclicality of corporate credit is closely related to the cyclicality of the types of financial intermediaries active in the provision of credit. When a debt instrument is held by institutions that manage their balance sheets through debt issuance, credit provision through that instrument is ...
Staff Reports , Paper 895

Report
Patterns of rainfall insurance participation in rural India

This paper describes the contract design and institutional features of an innovative rainfall insurance policy offered to smallholder farmers in rural India and presents preliminary evidence on the determinants of insurance participation. Insurance take-up is found to be decreasing in basis risk between insurance payouts and income fluctuations, higher among wealthy households, and lower among households that are credit constrained. These results match predictions of a simple neoclassical model appended with borrowing constraints. Other patterns are less consistent with the benchmark model. ...
Staff Reports , Paper 302

Report
Barriers to household risk management: evidence from India

Financial engineering offers the potential to significantly reduce the consumption fluctuations faced by individuals, households, and firms. Yet much of this potential remains unfulfilled. This paper studies the adoption of an innovative rainfall insurance product designed to compensate low-income Indian farmers in the event of insufficient rainfall during the primary monsoon season. We first document relatively low adoption of this new risk management product: Only 5-10 percent of households purchase the insurance, even though they overwhelmingly cite rainfall variability as their most ...
Staff Reports , Paper 373

Report
Shadow Insurance

Liabilities ceded by life insurers to shadow reinsurers (i.e., affiliated and less regulated off-balance-sheet entities) grew from $11 billion in 2002 to $364 billion in 2012. Life insurers using shadow insurance, which capture half of the market share, ceded 25 cents of every dollar insured to shadow reinsurers in 2012, up from 2 cents in 2002. Our adjustment for shadow insurance reduces risk-based capital by 53 percentage points (or 3 rating notches) and raises default probabilities by a factor of 3.5. We develop a structural model of the life insurance industry and estimate the impact of ...
Staff Report , Paper 505

Report
The Cost of Financial Frictions for Life Insurers

During the financial crisis, life insurers sold long-term policies at deep discounts relative to actuarial value. The average markup was as low as ?19 percent for annuities and ?57 percent for life insurance. This extraordinary pricing behavior was due to financial and product market frictions, interacting with statutory reserve regulation that allowed life insurers to record far less than a dollar of reserve per dollar of future insurance liability. We identify the shadow cost of capital through exogenous variation in required reserves across different types of policies. The shadow cost was ...
Staff Report , Paper 500

Working Paper
Measuring Interest Rate Risk in the Life Insurance Sector: The U.S. and the U.K.

We use a two factor model of life insurer stock returns to measure interest rate risk at U.S. and U.K. insurers. Our estimates show that interest rate risk among U.S. life insurers increased as interest rates decreased to historically low levels in recent years. For life insurers in the U.K., in contrast, interest rate risk remained low during this time, roughly unchanged from what it was in the period prior to the financial crisis when long-term interest rates were in their usual historical ranges. We attribute these differences to the heavier use of products that combine guarantees with ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2016-2

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