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January 2010 Archives

January 4, 2010

Happy new year!

Another year begins and another set of January renewals end.

For those of you who participated in the latest renewals I hope they didn't ruin the festive fun.

The first renewal reports from those pesky brokers appeared in our inboxes here at Reinsurance Towers before December even ended (they seem to arrive earlier every year)

The reports seem to concur with what our readers predicted in the survey we conducted in November with rates down 5-15% for most lines. Those of you who participated in the survey can give yourselves a big pat on the back.

I'm keeping myself busy with writing our own little renewals report for our Jan/Feb edition of the magazine (amongst other things) - keep an eye out for it if you are one of those people who just love statistics

Have a good week

P.s. If you want to be polled for any of our future surveys make sure you are signed up to our daily news alerts at

January 8, 2010

Some Wild and Whacky Predictions for 2010 - and beyond

On the 8th January Alexander Ferguson wrote in "The Weekly":

After boring ourselves senseless talking about rates being flat or downward after the January 1/1 renewals, we thought that it would be high time to give our own predictions for this year - and 2011.

You'll be pleased to hear we won't be making predictions about rates (we think they'll be down unless it's windy in the Gulf of Mexico in the late summer), capital markets (we can see a nice little bubble emerging around Cat bonds), AIG (Chartis will get floated, by the end of Q4), or the country's financial future (one word, which I can't mention in high-brow letter like this one!).


1. There will be a General Election in the UK, and millions of Britons will drag themselves to the voting booth to vote in a government who will undoubtedly let the country down over the next four or five years. Until we vote them in....again....and again...Then, in around 2025, our PM can leave his stable at 10 Downing Street, struck by the belief that the 'world needs him', and he needs to deliver a 'Sermon On The Mount' - at only £100,000 a session! We'll then feel ripped off, and he'll still declare that the public should pay for his travel.

2. The Company Named After a Nice Place to Ski will take over The Company Named After a Washing Powder (work it out!) in the first quarter of the year, leading to lots of nice noises about co-operation. People at the Washing Powder company are subsequently cleaned out (and paid very nicely for it), but the leadership makes enough to go ballroom dancing.....for the rest of his life.

3. Some will end the year getting himself paralytic into an ambulance outside a London Market bar, as we know happened to one unfortunate lawyer of a 'WAM' company in December, who may or may not have made it onto the local evening news for his actions by ending up in the 'drunk tent'. Old habits die young in the London Market.

4. 'WAM' will want to make 'another hit with somebody', and so we'll see the merry dance of M&A. We think we could see one of the major US domestic brokers being taken out. We want Hub, so it can be 'WHAM', but we doubt one of the big brokers would give us that sort of pleasure.

5. The Omega situation will get sorted out. We revealed this week that the powers that be wanted a compromise, but we didn't expect it to be of the "pistols at dawn" variety. See you on Jan 15th for that! Would-be chairman John Coldman is a good shot, by the way.

6. XL's resurrection will continue, making the company's comeback just a little less impressive than that of Jesus Christ. Speaking of Jesus Christ, we're off to church tomorrow to find out how many hurricanes there will be this year. We're thinking 17 named ones including a 'biblical' one that hammers Miami.

7. Which is better than we say for [add your hated rival company/underwriter/broker's name here], who had quite a bad 2009....

8. Apparently, the world's going to end according to Munich Re, and Catlin. There's too much global warming. In London, this week, where temperatures are hovering around zero and in Georgia, USA, where it's snowing, we'd have to agree. I'll get my beach shorts!

9. You'll hear a lot about avoiding West Africa like the plague. Not a place for a holiday, apparently. Mind you, nor's Newark, New Jersey, or bad areas of London, Chicago, New York or LA.

10a ) Alabama and USC will play for the National Championship in 2011. Penn State won't.
b) The Yankees will win their 28th World Series. Cubs fans will throw themselves off buildings after losing yet another League Championship Series.
c) Indianapolis will win the Super Bowl, beating the Dallas Cowboys. I'll be jealous because I can't go.
d) Queens Park Rangers won't get promoted to the Premiership/Premier League/Whatever You Call It Now. Ipswich will. And I'll have to pay a senior broker a tenner.
e) Our editor believes that Liverpool will win the league. But then again, she says that every year - and has been disappointed since the (very) early 1990s!
f) Chicago will win its first title since the Bulls in ice hockey
g) Los Angeles will win yet another NBA Title.....and LeBron James will go and be a New York Knick.
h) Brazil will win the World Cup. England will lose somewhere along the line in heartbreaking fashion

Have a great year.

January 25, 2010

The sky is falling in...

On the 22nd January Alex Ferguson wrote for The Weekly:

The City is falling. New York is falling. The world is falling.

Bankers everyone are running from their offices, with dosh in their pockets and fear in their minds about the next obstruction to financial growth (ie their bonuses): Barack Obama.

Obama this week decided that the world needed cleaning up, and has decided to tell banks that they aren't going to able to operate businesses where their traders trade their own book, or be allowed to own private equity funds.

The world gulped. Bank stocks fell nearly 10%. The hysteria started.

Insurers were ecstatic that financial regulation doesn't seem to affect them - although we still can't believe that he didn't put forward the edict that no insurer was allowed to have a 'prop' trading arm or give out bonuses if it had been bailed out by the US government.

"Never mind the bloody bonuses, now I can't even trade," moaned one trader, in between his game of Liar's Poker and glass of Krug.

Reinsurance Towers told this trader to calm down. After all, we reasoned, what has Obama actually done in his year-or-so of office?

He's done one thing: he's reduced his own popularity. People are beginning to use the word "emperor" and "new" and clothes" when they talk about Barack Obama.

Don't get us wrong - we like a person who's desperate to do something and change the course of history. We loved the fact that he signed a decree to close Guantanamo Bay (hasn't happened yet), fought for health reform (hasn't happened yet - and now a Republican has won the 'safe' seat of Massachussetts (glad we splet that one correctli) - is unlikely to be anywhere near as good for the American people as it once was) and yelled at his security people over the near-fiasco of the Detroit plane bombing (can't wait for those see-through screen, Barack!).

But really, the grade you can give him a "C-". Why? Because he's tried very hard, but done absolutely nothing. We love triers in the world. But we want a doer.

Let's hope he gets something done.

Editor's blog, photo of Mark Geoghegan

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