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Complexity and Financial Panics

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  • Ricardo J. Caballero
  • Alp Simsek

Abstract

During extreme financial crises, all of a sudden, the financial world that was once rife with profit opportunities for financial institutions (banks, for short) becomes exceedingly complex. Confusion and uncertainty follow, ravaging financial markets and triggering massive flight-to-quality episodes. In this paper we propose a model of this phenomenon. In our model, banks normally collect information about their trading partners which assures them of the soundness of these relationships. However, when acute financial distress emerges in parts of the financial network, it is not enough to be informed about these partners, as it also becomes important to learn about the health of their trading partners. As conditions continue to deteriorate, banks must learn about the health of the trading partners of the trading partners of the trading partners, and so on. At some point, the cost of information gathering becomes too unmanageable for banks, uncertainty spikes, and they have no option but to withdraw from loan commitments and illiquid positions. A flight-to-quality ensues, and the financial crisis spreads.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14997.

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Date of creation: May 2009
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14997

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  1. Freixas, Xavier & Parigi, Bruno & Rochet, Jean Charles, 1999. "Systemic Risk, Interbank Relations and Liquidity Provision by the Central Bank," CEPR Discussion Papers 2325, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Rochet, Jean-Charles & Tirole, Jean, 1996. "Interbank Lending and Systemic Risk," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 28(4), pages 733-62, November.
  3. Lagunoff, Roger & Schreft, Stacey L., 2001. "A Model of Financial Fragility," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 99(1-2), pages 220-264, July.
  4. Ricardo J. Caballero & Arvind Krishnamurthy, 2007. "Collective Risk Management in a Flight to Quality Episode," NBER Working Papers 12896, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Bryan R. Routledge & Stanley E. Zin, 2000. "Model Uncertainty and Liquidity," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1617, Econometric Society.
  6. Diamond, Douglas W & Dybvig, Philip H, 1983. "Bank Runs, Deposit Insurance, and Liquidity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(3), pages 401-19, June.
  7. Rodrigo Cifuentes & Hyun Song Shin & Gianluigi Ferrucci, 2005. "Liquidity Risk and Contagion," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 556-566, 04/05.
  8. Larry Eisenberg & Thomas H. Noe, 2001. "Systemic Risk in Financial Systems," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 47(2), pages 236-249, February.
  9. Yaron Leitner, 2005. "Financial Networks: Contagion, Commitment, and Private Sector Bailouts," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(6), pages 2925-2953, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Anand, Kartik & Gai, Prasanna & Marsili, Matteo, 2012. "Rollover risk, network structure and systemic financial crises," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 36(8), pages 1088-1100.
  2. Ricardo J. Caballero, 2010. "Macroeconomics after the Crisis: Time to Deal with the Pretense-of-Knowledge Syndrome," NBER Working Papers 16429, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Kartik Anand & Prasanna Gai & Matteo Marsili, 2009. "Financial crises and the evaporation of trust," Papers 0911.3099, arXiv.org.
  4. Helmut Wagner, 2010. "The causes of the recent financial crisis and the role of central banks in avoiding the next one," International Economics and Economic Policy, Springer, vol. 7(1), pages 63-82, May.
  5. Basu, Kaushik, 2009. "A Simple Model of the Financial Crisis of 2007-9 with Implications for the Design of a Stimulus Package," Working Papers 09-11, Cornell University, Center for Analytic Economics.
  6. Roger Koppl & William Luther, 2012. "Hayek, Keynes, and modern macroeconomics," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer, vol. 25(3), pages 223-241, September.
  7. Jeong-Bon Kim & Li Li & Mary L. Z. Ma & Frank M. Song, 2013. "CEO Option Compensation, Risk-Taking Incentives, and Systemic Risk in the Banking Industry," Working Papers 182013, Hong Kong Institute for Monetary Research.
  8. Pol, Eduardo, 2012. "The preponderant causes of the USA banking crisis 2007–08," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 41(5), pages 519-528.
  9. Acharya, Viral & Bisin, Alberto, 2014. "Counterparty risk externality: Centralized versus over-the-counter markets," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 149(C), pages 153-182.
  10. Cizkowicz, Piotr & Rzonca, Andrzej, 2011. "Interest rates close to zero, post-crisis restructuring and natural interest rate," MPRA Paper 36989, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  11. Bhaskar DasGupta & Lakshmi Kaligounder, 2014. "Densely Entangled Financial Systems," Papers 1402.5208, arXiv.org.
  12. Upper, Christian, 2011. "Simulation methods to assess the danger of contagion in interbank markets," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 111-125, August.

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