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Fear and Greed: Investment risks and opportunities in a turbulent world by Nicolas Sarkis

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Chapter 8: When Rules and Regulators Fail

There could hardly have been a more trusted body than the Equitable Life Assurance Society. The world’s first mutually-owned life insurer was founded in London in 1762, and pioneered the business of accepting premiums from policyholders and paying out guaranteed sums to their heirs upon death. Based on mortality tables developed by Edmund Halley – of comet fame – Equitable Life’s scientific approach to insuring against the inevitable laid the foundations for the life insurance industry as we know it today.

Almost two-and-a-half centuries after its creation, however, Equitable Life was ignominiously forced to close its doors to new business. In 2000, it was revealed that this venerable organisation ...

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