Prudential Financial, Inc.
We enter into over-the-counter market transactions primarily for the purpose of hedging interest rate and foreign exchange risk. In addition, we may take positions in foreign currencies, precious and base metals. These activities are executed in highly liquid markets, and the fair values generated internally are compared to third-party valuations, usually on a daily basis, during the lives of the contracts.
Deferred Policy Acquisition Costs We capitalize costs that vary with and are related primarily to the production of new insurance and annuity business. These costs include commissions, costs to issue and underwrite the policies and certain variable field office expenses. The capitalized amounts are known as deferred policy acquisition costs, or DAC. Our total DAC, including the impact of unrealized investment gains and losses, amounted to $6.868 billion at December 31, 2001, and $7.063 billion at December 31, 2000. Approximately 46% of our total DAC at December 31, 2001 relates to our Individual Life Insurance segment, and approximately 19% relates to our Closed Block Business.
If we were to experience a significant increase in lapse or surrender rates on policies for which we amortize DAC based on estimated gross margins or gross profits, such as participating and variable life insurance, we would expect acceleration of the write-off of DAC for the affected blocks of policies. Additionally, for all policies on which we have outstanding DAC, we would be required to evaluate whether this experience called into question our ability to recover all or a portion of the DAC, and we would be required to write off some or all of the DAC if we concluded that we could not recover it. While an accelerated write-off of DAC would not affect our cash flow or liquidity, it would negatively affect our reported earnings and level of capital under generally accepted accounting principles.
Recent Accounting Pronouncements See Note 2 to the Consolidated Financial Statements for a discussion of recently issued accounting pronouncements.
Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk
Risk Management, Market Risk and Derivative Instruments Risk management includes the identification and measurement of various forms of risk, the establishment of risk thresholds and the creation of processes intended to maintain risks within these thresholds while optimizing returns on the underlying assets or liabilities. We consider risk management an integral part of our core business.
Market risk is the risk of change in the value of financial instruments as a result of absolute or relative changes in interest rates, foreign currency exchange rates or equity or commodity prices. To varying degrees, the investment and trading activities supporting all of our products and services generate market risks. The market risks incurred and our strategies for managing these risks vary by product.
With respect to non-variable life insurance products, fixed rate annuities, the fixed rate options in our variable life insurance and annuity products, consumer banking products, and other finance businesses, we incur market risk primarily in the form of interest rate risk. We manage this risk through asset/liability management strategies that seek to match the interest rate sensitivity of the assets to that of the underlying liabilities. Our overall objective in these strategies is to limit the net change in value of assets and liabilities arising from interest rate movements. While it is more difficult to measure the interest sensitivity of our insurance liabilities than that of the related assets, to the extent that we can measure such sensitivities we believe that interest rate movements will generate asset value changes that substantially offset changes in the value of the liabilities relating to the underlying products.
For variable annuities and variable life insurance products, excluding the fixed rate options in these products, mutual funds and most separate accounts, our main exposure to the market is the risk that asset management fees decrease as a result of declines in assets under management due to changes in prices of securities. We also run the risk that asset management fees calculated by reference to performance could be lower. For variable annuity and variable life insurance products with minimum guaranteed death benefits, we also face the risk that declines in the value of underlying investments as a result of changes in prices of securities may increase our net exposure to death benefits under these contracts. We do not believe that these risks add significantly to our overall market risk.
We manage our exposure to equity price risk relating to our general account primarily by seeking to match the risk profile of equity investments against risk-adjusted equity market benchmarks. We measure benchmark risk levels in terms of price volatility in relation to the market in general.
The sources of our exposure to market risk can be divided into two categories, “other than trading” activities conducted primarily in our insurance, annuity and guaranteed products operations, and “trading” activities