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For some people it is Friday 13th every day

Dear Friend,

If you’re a superstitious person and are wary of underwriting anything today, Friday 13th, for fear of it immediately sinking, crashing, burning or being hit by a natural catastrophe – here’s something that will be of interest.

Over in Spain they are superstitious of Tuesday 13th (or martes trece as they say down there).

So logically there are four possibilities: —

1. We can’t both be right and therefore all superstitions are nonsense.

2. We’re wrong and they’re right, in which case, fill your boots today, but beware the 13th of June.

3. They’re wrong and we’re right — have a long lunch and take the rest of the afternoon off.

4. We are both right and the world is twice as dangerous as we first thought — a truly frightening prospect.

The last scenario looks suspiciously close to what has happened to the way Gulf of Mexico exposures have been rated this year.

It seems for the unlucky inhabitants of that sub-tropical coastline, we have suddenly decided that from now on every day is an unlucky day and that rates are going to have to multiply.

But for the rest of the world, any combination of the first three scenarios can apply. In some places across the board reductions are still being applied, and everywhere else the ebb and flow of claims cost and supply and demand are alternately putting underwriters and customers on top in the bargaining power stakes.

So much for an across-the-board hard market.

It seems that in this market, as in life, personal judgement, gut feeling and even superstition still have an important role to play.

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