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Helmut Gründl

13 July 2023
Life insurers sell savings contracts with surrender options, which allow policyholders to prematurely receive guaranteed surrender values. These surrender options move toward the money when interest rates rise. Hence, higher interest rates raise surrender rates, as we document empirically by exploiting plausibly exogenous variation in monetary policy. Using a calibrated model, we then estimate that surrender options would force insurers to sell up to 2% of their investments during an enduring interest rate rise of 25 bps per year. We show that these fire sales are fueled by surrender value guarantees and insurers’ long-term investments.
JEL Code
G22 : Financial Economics→Financial Institutions and Services→Insurance, Insurance Companies, Actuarial Studies
E44 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Money and Interest Rates→Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
E52 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit→Monetary Policy
G52 : Financial Economics