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The Cost of Financial Frictions for Life Insurers

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  • Ralph S.J. Koijen
  • Motohiro Yogo

Abstract

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 $0.96 per dollar of statutory capital for the average company in November 2008.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18321.

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Date of creation: Aug 2012
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18321

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  1. Markus K. Brunnermeier & Thomas M. Eisenbach & Yuliy Sannikov, 2012. "Macroeconomics with Financial Frictions: A Survey," Levine's Working Paper Archive 786969000000000384, David K. Levine.
  2. Gron, Anne, 1994. "Evidence of Capacity Constraints in Insurance Markets," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 37(2), pages 349-77, October.
  3. Andrew Ellul & Chotibhak Jotikasthira & Christian T. Lundblad & Yihui Wang, 2012. "Is Historical Cost Accounting a Panacea? Market Stress, Incentive Distortions, and Gains Trading," FMG Discussion Papers dp701, Financial Markets Group.
  4. Kenneth A. Froot, 1999. "Introduction to "Financing of Catastrophe Risk, The"," NBER Chapters, in: The Financing of Catastrophe Risk, pages 1-22 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Koehn, Michael & Santomero, Anthony M, 1980. " Regulation of Bank Capital and Portfolio Risk," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 35(5), pages 1235-44, December.
  6. Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1992. " Liquidation Values and Debt Capacity: A Market Equilibrium Approach," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 47(4), pages 1343-66, September.
  7. Kenneth A. Froot, 1999. "The Financing of Catastrophe Risk," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number froo99-1.
  8. Merrill, Craig B. & Nadauld, Taylor & Stulz, Rene M. & Sherlund, Shane M., 2012. "Did Capital Requirements and Fair Value Accounting Spark Fire Sales in Distressed Mortgage-Backed Securities?," Working Paper Series 2012-12, Ohio State University, Charles A. Dice Center for Research in Financial Economics.
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Cited by:
  1. Yogo, Motohiro & Koijen, Ralph S.J. & Van Nieuwerburgh, Stijn, 2014. "Health and Mortality Delta: Assessing the Welfare Cost of Household Insurance Choice," Staff Report 499, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  2. Ralph S.J. Koijen & Motohiro Yogo, 2013. "Shadow Insurance," NBER Working Papers 19568, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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