The largest part of insurers’ holdings consists of bonds, in particular government paper. The total bonds portfolio in the fourth quarter of 2011 stabilised at around EUR 174 billion (57% of total investments), following a strong decline in the third quarter mainly due to share price increases. Whereas the size of the bonds portfolio remained the same, its composition changed. Once again, a considerable amount − EUR 3 billion − was invested in Dutch government paper, bringing total purchases of Dutch government paper for the year 2011 to EUR 9 billion. In the fourth quarter, insurers also bought German paper worth nearly EUR 3 billion. By contrast, substantial amounts of French government paper were sold off. At the beginning of 2011 some insurers had already parted with French government paper, but fuelled by an imminent downgrading of France’s AAA rating, this trend gained momentum in the fourth quarter.
Across the year, the composition of the government paper portfolio showed a vigorous change. In 2011, the weight of Dutch paper increased 8 percentage points to 37% of the total.