NEW YORK-- Swiss Re's chief economist said today that strong economic growth, coupled with a slight uptick in inflation, will force the Federal Reserve to raise the federal funds rate to close to 2 percent by the end of 2004.

Additionally, at the company's Mid-year Economic and Insurance Industry Teleconference, it was stated that a rising interest rate environment usually dampens investment results, straining insurance companies' capital base. This will tend to prolong the hard-market conditions through the end of 2005.

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