What do U.S. life insurers invest in?
Researchers at the Chicago Fed Insurance Initiative are analyzing the role that the insurance industry plays in financial markets and the economy as a whole. This article presents an overview of life insurers? financial asset holdings, the industries they invest in, and how the value of their investments would change if there was a large negative shock to asset values.
Insurance companies as financial intermediaries: risk and return
Public policy and life insurance
The future of the insurance industry
SPDAs and GICs: like money in the bank?
We argue that changes in the life insurance industry have created a nontrivial moral hazard. We document the industry's shift from sales of life insurance to sales of mainly rate-of-return oriented investments like single premium deferred annuities (SPDAs) and guaranteed investment contracts (GICs). We describe the system of explicit and implicit guarantees that state governments and the industry provide to SPDA and GIC investors. We argue that these guarantees create moral hazards that have contributed to insurance company failures and misallocation of resources. We summarize reformers' ...
Organizational form and efficiency: an analysis of stock and mutual property-liability insurers
This paper analyzes the efficiency of stock and mutual organizational forms in the property-liability insurance industry using nonparametric frontier efficiency methods. We test the managerial discretion hypothesis, which predicts that the market will sort organizational forms into market segments where they have comparative advantages in minimizing the costs of production, including agency costs. Both production and cost frontiers are estimated. The results indicate that stocks and mutuals are operating on separate production and cost frontiers and thus represent distinct technologies. The ...
Corporate hedging in the insurance industry: the use of financial derivatives by U.S. insurers
In this paper we investigate the extent to which insurance companies utilize financial derivatives contracts in the management of risks. The data set we employ allows us to observe the universe of individual insurer transactions for a class of contracts, namely, those normally through of as off-balance-sheet (OBS). We provide information on the number of insurers using various types of derivatives contracts and the volume of transactions in terms of notional amounts and the number of counterparties. Life insurers are most active in interest rate and foreign exchange derivatives, while ...
The status and future of the insurance industry
Consolidation and efficiency in the U.S. life insurance industry
This paper examines the relationship between mergers and acquisitions, efficiency, and scale economies in the U.S. life insurance industry. We estimate cost and revenue efficiency over the period 1988-1995 using data envelopment analysis (DEA). The Malmquist methodology is used to measure changes in efficiency over time. We find that acquired firms achieve greater efficiency gains than firms that have not been involved in mergers or acquisitions. Firms operating with nondecreasing returns to scale and financially vulnerable firms are more likely to be acquisition targets. Overall, mergers and ...