Last week, I reassessed my fortune-telling ability in picking the Top-10 stories for 2009. (Turns out I got four absolutely right and two half-right, but was dead wrong on four others.) Now it’s time to peer into my crystal ball once again to forecast what might be in store for 2010.
Check out my picks and let me know what you think:
1: AIG On The Road To Recovery! Not only will AIG pay back the bulk of the money owed to taxpayers, but Chartis—its rebranded p&c operation—will resolve any lingering questions over reserve adequacy and reemerge as a force to be reckoned with in a very competitive market.
2: Benmosche Stands By AIG! Despite butting heads with federal supervisors over executive compensation, CEO Robert Benmosche will stick it out for all of 2010, bolstering investor and policyholder confidence.
3: Greenberg Makes Triumphant Return! Yes, folks, it’s a hat trick for AIG, as its former iconic leader, Maurice “Hank” Greenberg–who buried the hatchet with his old company just before Thanksgiving—comes back in a formal advisory role.
4: Get Ready For Obamacare! By hook or by crook, President Barack Obama will sign a health care reform bill before the cherry blossoms appear in Washington–though without a public option. Insurers will lament its passage as their Waterloo, but thanks to mandated purchases, the bill will eventually be a bonanza for the industry.
5: Insurers Come Through Regulatory Reform Unscathed! Congress will approve a vast financial services regulatory reform bill by July 4, but the Federal Insurance Office it establishes will be virtually powerless, and the industry’s systemic risk responsibilities very limited.
6: Hardening Market Nowhere In Sight! Given the sluggish economic recovery and falling reinsurance costs, p&c policy pricing will remain extremely soft throughout 2010—absent a major disaster.
7: Much Ado About Nothing! Despite all the hoopla over Chinese drywall claims and the threat of a Swine Flu pandemic, neither of these threats will have a major impact on insurer bottom lines.
8: Democrats Lose Ground In Congress! With unemployment remaining high and the war in Afghanistan dragging on, the Democrats will lose seats in both the House and Senate, making any significant change in climate policy impossible to pass.
9: Sink Takes Governor’s Race In Florida! The Sunshine State—better known for its stormy weather—places at the helm Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, perhaps the most popular Democrat in the country among insurers. Ms. Sink, who oversees Florida’s insurance department, is a former business leader who appreciates the industry’s value and needs.
10: Dinallo Elected N.Y. Attorney General! The state’s former insurance superintendent shakes off his association with political pariah Eliot Spitzer, as well as mudslinging by opponents about his handling of the AIG crisis, to win the AG spot vacated by Andrew Cuomo–who takes over as governor. Mr. Dinallo is one Democrat seen as fair towards the industry.
Did I miss something? If you have a prediction of your own, feel free to post it right here!