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Working Paper, No. 2021-13, September 2021 Crossref
Capital Constraints and Risk Shifting: An Instrumental Approach

When firms approach distress, whether they engage in asset substitution (risk shifting) or rebuild equity (risk management) may depend on their access to capital markets. The property-casualty insurance industry has two features that make it ideal for testing this hypothesis: (1) the main losses for insurers are exogenous events like hurricanes that provide a strong instrument for financial distress; and (2) many insurers are organized as mutual companies, which cannot issue stock. Consistent with the importance of capital constraints, stock companies issue new equity following a negative shock, while mutual companies increase the riskiness of their investment portfolios.

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