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Interest rate risk of life insurers: Evidence from accounting data

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  • Möhlmann, Axel

Abstract

Life insurers are exposed to interest rate risk, and their liability side is typically more sensitive to interest rate changes than their asset side. This paper develops an accounting-based measure of interest rate sensitivity. My approach uses the coexistence of historical cost and market value accounting, which permits the observation of valuations for different discount rates. Using microdata, I show that German life insurers have a significant exposure to interest rate risk. However, there is a wide dispersion across the sector. I find that insurers' size, growth and solvency are negatively correlated with interest rate risk. The heterogeneity suggests that insurers would behave differently during times of stress, which has important implications for understanding the macroprudential risks to which the sector is exposed.

Suggested Citation

  • Möhlmann, Axel, 2017. "Interest rate risk of life insurers: Evidence from accounting data," Discussion Papers 10/2017, Deutsche Bundesbank.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:bubdps:102017
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ralph S. J. Koijen & Motohiro Yogo, 2015. "The Cost of Financial Frictions for Life Insurers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(1), pages 445-475, January.
    2. Andrew Ellul & Chotibhak Jotikasthira & Christian T. Lundblad & Yihui Wang, 2015. "Is Historical Cost Accounting a Panacea? Market Stress, Incentive Distortions, and Gains Trading," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 70(6), pages 2489-2538, December.
    3. Bo Becker & Victoria Ivashina, 2015. "Reaching for Yield in the Bond Market," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 70(5), pages 1863-1902, October.
    4. Elijah Brewer & James M. Carson & Elyas Elyasiani & Iqbal Mansur & William L. Scott, 2007. "Interest Rate Risk and Equity Values of Life Insurance Companies: A GARCH-M Model," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 74(2), pages 401-423.
    5. Dietrich Domanski & Hyun Song Shin & Vladyslav Sushko, 2017. "The Hunt for Duration: Not Waving but Drowning?," IMF Economic Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Monetary Fund, vol. 65(1), pages 113-153, April.
    6. Ellul, Andrew & Jotikasthira, Chotibhak & Lundblad, Christian T & Wang, Yihui, 2015. "Is Historical Cost Accounting a Panacea? Market Stress, Incentive Distortions, and Gains Trading," CEPR Discussion Papers 10450, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Kablau, Anke & Weiß, Matthias, 2014. "How is the low-interest-rate environment affecting the solvency of German life insurers?," Discussion Papers 27/2014e, Deutsche Bundesbank.
    8. Robin Greenwood & Dimitri Vayanos, 2010. "Price Pressure in the Government Bond Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 585-590, May.
    9. Kyal Berends & Robert McMenamin & Thanases Plestis & Richard J. Rosen, 2013. "The sensitivity of life insurance firms to interest rate changes," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q II, pages 47-78.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    life insurance; interest rate risk; asset liability management; duration gap;

    JEL classification:

    • E43 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Interest Rates: Determination, Term Structure, and Effects
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • G22 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Insurance; Insurance Companies; Actuarial Studies

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