DP16322 Insurance Companies and the Propagation of Liquidity Shocks to the Real Economy
We study the role of insurance companies in propagating liquidity shocks to the real economy. We use natural disasters as our instrument to identify exogenous shifts in capital-market liquidity, and study whether capital-market liquidity affects regional-level fiscal conditions and output. Aggregate disaster-driven bonds sales of disaster-unaffected municipal bonds by exposed insurers cause low GDP growth and high unemployment. In micro data, natural disasters trigger large, unexpected redemptions of property-insurance contracts, causing: fire sales of municipal bonds; increased borrowing costs in primary markets; decreased muni issuance; lower investment in muni-reliant sectors. Therefore, insurance companies do propagate liquidity shocks to the real economy.