The bear market, a steep decline in mutual fund and variable annuity sales and the strain of product guarantees, will result in widespread downgrades at life insurance and annuity companies, all of the major ratings agencies have announced,

A.M. Best & Co., Fitch Ratings, Moody's Investors Services, Standard & Poor's and Weiss Ratings have stated that the financial stability at many major carriers is threatened by volatility in the equity markets, increased reserve requirements for variable product death benefits and capital strain due to increased sales of fixed products. All have reached the same conclusion: The outlook for life insurers is negative.

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