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Evan Greenberg laments political populism in letter to shareholders

Evan Greenberg

Chubb Ltd. Chairman and CEO Evan Greenberg took issue with recent political trends in the United States and globally in his letter to shareholders in the insurer’s 2018 annual report released Thursday.

In addition to his traditional commentary on Chubb’s financial performance over the past year, Mr. Greenberg cited in the letter “rising nationalism and populism” and the “inability of major democracies to effectively govern” as “powerful forces” in feeding volatility.

“Our country’s brand of nationalism, as articulated by our leadership, has impacted our policies and relationships and, in turn, our image and standing in world trade and geopolitics. America’s reputation for reliability and its credibility on the world stage have been damaged,” he said.

The U.S. is a source of instability and uncertainty for its allies, which is not in the country’s national interest, Mr. Greenberg said.

“We are undermining the liberal world order we constructed,” he said. “We tolerate behavior in political leadership unheard of in the private sector,” he added.

Mr. Greenberg also called a “practical yet humanitarian immigration policy that responds to both our needs and the values of who we are as a nation of immigrants.”

Immigration policy should secure the country’s borders but provide the U.S. will large numbers of foreign skilled and unskilled labor, he said.

“America is more than just a nation; it is an ideal, a beacon for the democratic principles that underpin the liberal world order that has, in turn, served us and other nations so well,” Mr. Greenberg said.

In the 21-page letter, Mr. Greenberg also comments on Chubb’s financial performance and insurance market trends.

The insurer’s pretax net catastrophe losses were “significantly” lower in 2018, at $1.6 billion compared with $2.7 billion in 2017, but were some $700 million more than expected for the year, he said. Chubb reported $3.96 billion in net income for 2018, up 2.6% over 2017.

Insurance market pricing increased “materially” in the fourth quarter of 2018, and that momentum continues into 2019, Mr. Greenberg said.

But pricing varies by country and class of business, he said, and more increases are needed. “Frankly, our industry needs rate,” he said.





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