Amsterdam Financial Services Correspondent
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Sep 20, 2012

‘Forceful’ QE3 needed to avoid stagnation – Fed official

QUINCY, Massachusetts (Reuters) – The Federal Reserve’s “forceful” new policy accommodation is essential to get the U.S. recovery back on track and to avoid a damaging economic stagnation, a top U.S. Fed official said on Thursday.

Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren said he strongly supported the U.S. central bank’s decision last week to launch a potentially massive program of asset purchases, arguing its risks are considerably smaller and more manageable than doing nothing.

Sep 13, 2012

Prominent Boston doctor arrested on child pornography charges

BOSTON (Reuters) – A prominent Boston physician, who served as medical director of the famed prep school Phillips Academy for nearly two decades, was arrested on Thursday and charged with receiving child pornography at his school office.

A search of Richard Keller’s home turned up more than 500 photographs and as many as 100 DVDs full of pornography, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston said in a statement. An associated complaint described the content of some of the DVDs, which mostly featured young boys in a variety of situations.

Sep 11, 2012

Travelers: Pricing power strengthens in third quarter

By Ben Berkowitz

(Reuters) – Insurance rates continued to rise in the third quarter for both businesses and individual customers, extending the pricing power that developed late last year, insurer Travelers Cos Inc said on Tuesday.

Travelers’ shares rose 1.4 percent to an all-time high in early trading.

In a slide presentation prepared for a Barclays financial services conference, Chief Executive Jay Fishman said business insurance rates were up an average of 7.7 percent so far in the third quarter, against gains of 7.2 percent last quarter.

Aug 2, 2012

MetLife expects to meet targets even with low rates

By Ben Berkowitz

(Reuters) – MetLife Inc (MET.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) still expects to hit its long-term targets for return on equity, even if 10-year U.S. Treasury yields remain at their historically low levels, the chief executive officer of the largest U.S. life insurer said on Thursday.

The company also said it still had no sense of when federal regulators might consider its pending deal to sell its online deposit-taking operations to GE Capital, a transaction crucial to its plans to return capital to shareholders.

Jul 31, 2012

Greenlight Re sees “irrational” insurance deals in Florida

July 31 (Reuters) – Hedge fund heavyweight David Einhorn’s
reinsurance business, Greenlight Capital Re Ltd, on
Tuesday warned that other insurers were making “irrational”
deals in Florida in the face of heavy competition.

The Florida market is crucial for Bermuda- and Caymans-based
reinsurers like Greenlight because of the heavy weather-related
risks there. Reinsuring Florida homeowners’ policies has been
one of Greenlight’s key categories in recent years.

Jul 30, 2012

Buffett’s ResCap bid gives him bond upside too

July 27 (Reuters) – Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway
(BRKa.N: Quote, Profile, Research) is bidding on a bankrupt mortgage lender that it may
not want, in what some investors and observers view as an effort
to make more money on Berkshire’s stake in the company’s bonds.

Berkshire has made two bids for Residential Capital, the
bankrupt unit of Ally Financial (GKM.N: Quote, Profile, Research) that makes loans and
collects payments on them. Both bids were topped by Nationstar
Mortgage Holdings (NSM.N: Quote, Profile, Research), which also makes and services loans.
An auction for the unit is due to start this fall.

Jul 27, 2012

Analysis: Buffett’s ResCap bid gives him bond upside too

By Ben Berkowitz and Caroline Humer

(Reuters) – Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (BRKa.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) is bidding on a bankrupt mortgage lender that it may not want, in what some investors and observers view as an effort to make more money on Berkshire’s stake in the company’s bonds.

Berkshire has made two bids for Residential Capital, the bankrupt unit of Ally Financial (GKM.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) that makes loans and collects payments on them. Both bids were topped by Nationstar Mortgage Holdings (NSM.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), which also makes and services loans. An auction for the unit is due to start this fall.

Jul 25, 2012

Big US crop insurers say losses manageable despite drought

July 25 (Reuters) – Two of the largest crop insurers in the
United States played down concerns over the financial impact of
the worst drought in more than 50 years, saying they expected
only modest losses even as claims rise to record levels.

Wells Fargo’s RCIS and Ace Ltd’s Rain & Hail
and said this week that between careful underwriting and
reinsurance, they could handle what many expect to be billions
of dollars in total payouts for crop losses this year.

Jul 24, 2012

Libor scandal makes it more costly for bankers to get insured

BOSTON/LONDON, July 24 (Reuters) – Some of the world’s
largest insurers for corporate directors and officers could be
on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars in claims over
the next few years to cover legal costs for people caught up in
the LIBOR scandal.

As a result of those costs, which insurers fear could
accumulate for the next few years, already rising insurance
rates stand to go even higher for all companies.

Jul 23, 2012

First mutual muni insurer launches with wide support

July 23 (Reuters) – The first-ever mutual municipal bond
insurer launched on Monday, with an endorsement from the
National League of Cities and a goal of bringing competition
back to a once huge market that nearly collapsed after the
credit crisis.

Build America Mutual Assurance Co, started by two veterans
of the bond insurance industry — and its recent turmoil —
received a “AA” rating from Standard & Poor’s, which said it
expects the company to gain “very strong market penetration.” It
is now the highest-rated bond insurer in the country.

    • About Ben

      "Ben Berkowitz covers the insurance industry in New York City. He rejoined Reuters in Amsterdam in May 2009, covering the Dutch banking system and economy. He originally worked for Reuters in Los Angeles and New York from 2001 to 2006 covering everything from video games to oil. In between he was business editor at AOL, head of the editing desk at AP Business News and managing editor of Fidelity.com."
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