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MetLife and Systemic Risk

MetLife’s recent designation by the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) as a Systemically Important Financial Institution (SIFI) has sparked furor by the life insurer and a series of lawsuits contesting this label. MetLife now joins Prudential as the second large life and retirement firm with the dubious distinction and heightened regulatory scrutiny of being labelled a SIFI. Looking beyond the headlines, there appears to be merit in the designation and cause for concern that large life and retirement firms are steadily climbing systemic risk rankings. According to market-based analysis available at Nobel Laureate Robert Engle’s Volatility Lab, MetLife has been a top 10 contributor to U.S. systemic financial risk since 2010. Since 2013, MetLife, Prudential, and Lincoln have shown surprising staying power among the top 10 systemic institutions in the U.S. contributing nearly 100 b.USD in expected capital shortfalls or 25% of the total as of February 6, 2015[1]. Principal Financial Group joins the top 10 as of this analysis.

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