Innovating Insurance: Captives and Exotic Insurance Christopher Kobrak

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Innovating Insurance: Captives and Exotic Insurance
Christopher Kobrak

ESCP-EAP, the European School of Management,
Leigh Johnson

University of California at Berkeley,

Although financial innovation has received a lot of attention in academic literature, discussions focus mainly on the banking sector. Until very recently, insurance has been viewed as a staid sector, whose functions and product lines change little and whose connections to the overall investment community and “real economy” are tangential at best. Recent developments have contradicted both myths, showing with frightening clarity the importance of insurance companies as investors and as connections between finance and the overall economy. In this paper, we will focus on two kinds of changes in the insurance sector: disintermediation, and the creation of new products designed to address social and business uncertainty. With the increase in competition and the ability of some clients to take over some “bread and butter” insurance products, direct insurance and reinsurance firms have been forced to adapt by providing management services and, in general, by expanding their product offerings and investment vehicles. Putting these developments in the context of broader capital market, financial theory and corporate transformations, especially in the United States, we will argue that not only is insurance one of the most international economic sectors, its activities have both furthered the growth of and are threatened by some aspects of globalization.

Christopher Kobrak:
Christopher Kobrak holds a BA in Philosophy from Rutgers University, a PhD in History and an MBA in Finance and Accounting, both from Columbia University. With ten years of work experience at several multinational firms, he has taught Finance and Business History at ESCP-EAP, European School of Management in Paris since 1991. His publications include National Cultures and International Competition: The Experiences of Schering AG, 1850-1950 (Cambridge University Press), Banking on Global Markets: Deutsche Bank and the United States, 1870 to the Present (Cambridge University Press), and European Business, Dictatorship and Political Risk, 1920-1945 (ed. with Per Hansen, Berghahn Press) as well as articles in Enterprise and Society, Business History, Business History Review and several other journals.
Leigh Johnson, University of California, Berkeley:
Leigh Johnson is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Geography at the University of California, Berkeley. Her dissertation research concerns the development and integration of climatological knowledge, weather-related products, and catastrophe modeling capabilities within the (re)insurance industries.  More broadly, the project examines the transformation of risk assessment and risk governance as insurance markets face an increasingly uncertain future climate. Johnson received a U.S. National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (2006-2009) and the University of California Regents Fellowship
(2004-2006). Her PhD qualifying research demonstrated how climatic changes in the Arctic are being organized to generate new regional production strategies, thus exacerbating the environmental consequences of fossil fuel combustion. 

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