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Abstract

Catastrophe bonds feature full collateralization of the underlying risk transfer and thus abandon the reinsurance principle of economizing on collateral through diversification of risk transfer. Our analysis demonstrates that this feature places limits on catastrophe bond penetration, even if the structure possesses frictional cost advantages over reinsurance. However, we also show that catastrophe bonds have important uses when buyers and reinsurers cannot contract over the division of assets in the event of insolvency and, more generally, cannot write contracts with a full menu of state-contingent payments. In this environment, segregation of collateral—in the form of multiple reinsurance companies, as well as catastrophe bond vehicles—can ameliorate inefficiencies due to reinsurance contracting constraints by improving welfare for those exposed to default risk. Numerical simulation illustrates how catastrophe bonds improve efficiency in market niches with correlated risks, or with uneven exposure of buyers to reinsurer default.