Cornelius Vander Starr

           Governments had to come to the rescue of many firms during the 2007-09 financial crisis and one of the largest rescues was that of American International Group (AIG). Unlike most of the other firms teetering on the brink, AIG was an insurance company and not a bank. It was also a particularly international firm; not

Pinochet, Pensions, and Chilean Markets

           Among the most dramatic and controversial economic transformations pursued in any country was that launched in Chile after the 1973 coup that brought General Augusto Pinochet to power. The civilian administrators he entrusted with the nation’s economy went about turning it into a neoliberal experiment. Their reforms included a restructuring of the country’s dated pension

Funding Canada’s Nation-Building Railroad

           Projects of immediate national significance, even when privately owned, are infrequently left to their own management and their own devices. Acceptance of government regulation in exchange for subsidies or other concessions usually constitutes the manner in which such projects get off the ground, especially for those that attempt something never done before. Private entrepreneurship, critical

‘Equitas’, Insurance’s Bad Bank

           Lloyd’s of London, one of the oldest continuously operating financial institutions around, faced profound troubles just thirty years ago, financial challenges that threatened to discredit or destroy it. The eyes of its regulators, customers, and thousands of member underwriters were on Lloyd’s. In recent years, banking firms in distress have created ‘bad banks’ to separate

The Disaster that Made Reinsurance

           Favorable laws and institutions along with innovative practices helped put Britain at the forefront of the world insurance business for centuries. However, when it came to reinsurance, the British were sitting on the sidelines while the industry was thriving in Germany. As with many other historic changes in insurance, the birth of reinsurance resulted from

The Convoy that Sank London’s Insurers

           Over three centuries ago, Britain had just overtaken Italy to be the center of the world’s insurance trade and it nearly came crashing down. At the time, marine insurance was the largest insurance sector; it was virtually synonymous with insurance itself. The dominance of London’s insurers almost led to ruin as many new underwriters complacently

The Amicable Society

           Life insurance and annuities have been around for centuries; in fact, basic burial insurance existed even in classical Rome. However, for the majority of this history, insurance contracts only existed as informal arrangements. Even in early modern Europe, though the lingo of modern insurance existed (there were underwriters at work, premiums paid, and indemnities claimed,

The 280-Year-Old Pension

           For over a century, life annuities were sold as a means of financing government deficits. In the 18th century, the French state would sell these annuities to fund its wars in Europe and abroad, often at very generous implied interest rates. Though they experimented most with life annuities, in contrast to Britain’s perpetual consolidated annuities

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