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Hurricane Georges caught the attention of markets for catastrophe insurance-linked securities and derivatives late last week, but that extra interest translated into little additional market activity.
At such forums as the Chicago Board of Trade, CATEX and the Bermuda Commodities Exchange, the hurricane's threat failed to generate stepped-up trading in risk-swapping vehicles.
"The level of inquiry at Bermuda and CATEX has stepped up a little bit," said Robert W. Montgomery, managing director at Sedgwick Lane Financial L.L.C. in Chicago. "There's been no more trades, but there's been more interest. At the Board of Trade, we've seen the same sort of thing."
"We've seen a little bit of interest but not a real big amount of interest yet," echoed Carlton Prouty, an independent broker who trades catastrophe options at the Chicago Board of Trade. "I think it might be a case of waiting to see just what kind of damage comes down through Florida."
Mr. Montgomery said the slow trading in derivatives probably was due to economic forces in the insurance market. "I think because the industry is just sort of rolling in money these days, the pricing pressure that's taking place in the market is being reflected here," he said. "There just isn't the imperative for them to be looking at these alternative risk financing mechanisms when they don't feel any peril."
On the catastrophe bond front, Georges also might have caught the attention of holders of bonds issued earlier this year to back an East Coast windstorm reinsurance contract for United Services Automobile Assn.
The reinsurance contract written by Residential Reinsurance Ltd., the Cayman Islands-domiciled special-purpose reinsurer that issued the bonds, triggers in the event USAA sustains $1 billion in losses from a hurricane that is Category 3 or greater.
As Hurricane Georges passed over Key West Friday, forecasters predicted it could become a Category 3 storm as it made its way en route to a predicted landfall on the Florida Panhandle.