EUR 37.6 billion Swedish manager fears rate cuts more than virus

The woman overseeing one of Sweden’s biggest investment funds says ultra-low interest rates pose a bigger threat to her industry than the market sell-off caused by the coronavirus.

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Ylva Wessen, the 49-year-old chief executive of insurer Folksam, has opted to sit out the panic caused by the spread of the virus without doing major portfolio adjustments. But with some of the world’s most powerful central banks resorting to emergency rate cuts, the real worry for long-term investors like Folksam is the prospect of very low rates for a very long time.

“This is top of mind everywhere in the life insurance industry right now,” Wessen said in an interview from her top-floor office in Stockholm. “I think we’re all worried, as we don’t know where we’ll end up. These are troubled times.”

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