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The Value of RiskSwiss Re and the History of Reinsurance$
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Harold James, Peter Borscheid, David Gugerli, and Tobias Straumann

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199689804

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199689804.001.0001

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(p.70) Chapter 3 Backlash
The Value of Risk

Harold James

Peter Borscheid

David Gugerli

Tobias Straumann

Oxford University Press

The early twentieth century radically changed the world map for insurers. The San Francisco earthquake was the first catastrophe of truly global consequence to the industry. It demonstrated how much the industry had become internationally interlinked, but it also redefined the limits of insurability. Reinsurance was to become more important in the aftermath of the event. The Titanic also served as a reminder that the larger risks that came with engineering progress had to be assessed more carefully. But it was the First World War that was to have the most devastating effect on the internationalization of the industry. During and after the war companies were exposed not only to rising nationalism and protectionism but also to the unpredictable effects of fluctuating exchange rates and inflation. The Second World War saw insurance being abused for political purposes and prepared for the division of the world that followed.

Keywords:   First World War, Second World War, San Francisco earthquake, exchange rates, inflation, financial crisis

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