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Rating Agency: De-Risking Has Risks

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Life insurers’ efforts to decrease exposure to risk could hold down future earnings growth.

Analysts at Moody’s Investors Service, New York, make that observation in a comment on U.S. life insurers’ second-quarter earnings.

Results were mixed but much better than in the second quarter of 2009 and in line with Moody’s expectations, the analysts say.

Life insurers have been active at using new prices and product design changes to reduce exposure to variable annuity risk, the analysts say.

But the uneven second-quarter results suggest that recovery will be slow and unsteady during the rest of the year, according to Ann Perry, a Moody’s vice president.

“We also believe that as companies de-risk their balance sheets and products, return on capital will be less robust than it was before the financial crisis and the rate of earnings growth will decline,” Perry says in a statement.