Insurance Investments and Economic Stability

January 19, 1949

Report Outline
Public Interest in the Business of Insurance
Life Insurance in the National Economy
Recent Changes in Company Investment Practices
Insurance Investments and the Capital Market
Special Focus

Public Interest in the Business of Insurance

Government Attention to Insurance Investments

A Full Investigation of the operations of American life insurance companies, and the power they wield as custodians of a large part of the nations' savings, has been promised by Rep. Celler (D., N. Y.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee in the 81st Congress. The five largest United States life insurance companies were cited by Celler in a statement, Dec. 3, 1948, as holding a concentration of economic power which enables them “to formulate a financial policy stronger than the policy of the national government itself.”

Celler's assertion was promptly denied by Leroy Lincoln, president of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, who said “it would be interesting to ask the congressman to cite some instances.” Lincoln said the insurance industry had been making efforts to curb inflation and suggested that if Celler made contact with financial authorities in the government, he would be so informed.

The reference to inflation in Lincoln's reply to Celler was an indirect response to speculation that had been raised by a Federal Reserve Board report on bank credit in October. The F. R. B. report had noted the extent to which government efforts to restrain an expansion of bank credit had been counteracted by the activities of non-bank investors, particularly insurance companies, in shifting out of long-term government bonds and into business loans and investments. The report made no comment or recommendations, but its emphasis on insurance company activities was taken in some quarters as a hint that “this situation might bring demands that Congress make insurance companies subject to [Federal Reserve] board regulations as lending institutions just as banks have been for more than 30 years.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Oct. 11, 1996  Insurance Fraud
Dec. 21, 1990  Is Insurance Going the Way of the S & Ls?
Dec. 06, 1985  Liability Insurance Squeeze
Feb. 11, 1977  Casualty Insurance: Troubled Industry
Jan. 19, 1949  Insurance Investments and Economic Stability
Mar. 21, 1941  Regulation of Insurance Company Investments
Insurance Industry
Investment and the Stock Market
Regulation and Deregulation