Purpose – The purpose of this study is two-fold. The first purpose is to properly measure the level of US property and liability (P/L) insurers liquidity creation, applying the liquidity creation measure developed by Berger and Bouwman. The second purpose is to identify factors affecting P/L insurers' liquidity creation using a regression. Particularly, this paper tests two competing hypotheses regarding the relationship between the level of capital and liquidity creation.
Design/methodology/approach – The paper calculates liquidity creation for the US P/L insurers. First, the paper categorizes all items in assets, liabilities and surplus into liquid, semi-liquid, or illiquid. This process is based on the ease, cost, and time for insurers to meet their contractual obligation to obtain liquid funds or to pay off their liability. The paper also constructs the regression model to test the impact of insurers' surplus level on liquidity creation while controlling for the firm-specific variables. The paper examines this relationship for the time period between 1998 and 2007.
Findings – Contrary to the study of depository institutions, the paper reports that P/L insurers are liquidity destroyers than liquidity creators. This paper also provides that liquidity destruction varies over time and differs among insurers in different size. The total amount of liquidity destruction ranges from 47 to 58 percent of insurer total asset. In addition, the results of a regression show that insurer capital is negatively related to the level of liquidity creation. This provides implications that insurers with lower level of capital face more regulatory requirements and are forced to meet liquidity demand more.
Practical implications – The level of liquidity creation and the trend of liquidity creation of P/L insurers are of particular interest to regulators and consumers because the level of liquidity creation as shown during the financial crisis has a significant adverse impact on the financial intermediaries.
Originality/value – The paper do not aware of any study that attempts to measure liquidity creation by insurers and its relationship with both organizational and financial characteristics. The paper reports that P/L insurers are, unlike depository institutions, liquidity destroyers. Whether or not P/L insurers create/destroy liquidity is an interesting economic question to shed light on the roles of P/L insurers as a financial intermediary.