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Contagious Adverse Selection


  • Stephen Morris
  • Hyun Song Shin


We illustrate the corrosive effect of even small amounts of adverse selection in an asset market and show how it can lead to the total breakdown of trade. The problem is the failure of "market confidence," defined as approximate common knowledge of an upper bound on expected losses. Small probability events can unravel market confidence. We discuss the role of contagious adverse selection and the problem of "toxic assets" in the recent financial crisis. (JEL D82, G01, G12, G14)

Suggested Citation

  • Stephen Morris & Hyun Song Shin, 2012. "Contagious Adverse Selection," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 1-21, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmac:v:4:y:2012:i:1:p:1-21 Note: DOI: 10.1257/mac.4.1.1

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Grzegorz Hałaj & Christoffer Kok, 2013. "Assessing interbank contagion using simulated networks," Computational Management Science, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 157-186, June.
    2. Goldstein, Itay & Razin, Assaf, 2015. "Three Branches of Theories of Financial Crises," Foundations and Trends(R) in Finance, now publishers, vol. 10(2), pages 113-180, 30.
    3. Foley-Fisher, Nathan & Ramcharan, Rodney & Yu, Edison, 2016. "The impact of unconventional monetary policy on firm financing constraints: Evidence from the maturity extension program," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 122(2), pages 409-429.
    4. Morris, Stephen & Shin, Hyun Song & Yildiz, Muhamet, 2016. "Common belief foundations of global games," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 163(C), pages 826-848.
    5. Moreno, Diego & Wooders, John, 2016. "Dynamic markets for lemons: performance, liquidity, and policy intervention," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 11(2), May.
    6. Welburn, Jonathan William & Hausken, Kjell, 2015. "A Game-Theoretic Model with Empirics of Economic Crises," UiS Working Papers in Economics and Finance 2015/7, University of Stavanger.
    7. Sergey Chernenko & Samuel G. Hanson & Adi Sunderam, 2014. "The Rise and Fall of Demand for Securitizations," NBER Working Papers 20777, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Jonathan William Welburn & Kjell Hausken, 2017. "Game Theoretic Modeling of Economic Systems and the European Debt Crisis," Computational Economics, Springer;Society for Computational Economics, vol. 49(2), pages 177-226, February.
    9. Marco Di Maggio & Marco Pagano, 2012. "Financial Disclosure and Market Transparency with Costly Information Processing," EIEF Working Papers Series 1212, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF), revised May 2014.
    10. repec:the:publsh:2543 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Welburn, Jonathan & Hausken, Kjell, 2014. "Game-Theoretic Perspectives on Financial Crises," UiS Working Papers in Economics and Finance 2014/22, University of Stavanger.
    12. Agur, Itai, 2013. "Multiple bank regulators and risk taking," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 259-268.
    13. Welburn, Jonathan W. & Hausken, Kjell, 2015. "A game theoretic model of economic crises," Applied Mathematics and Computation, Elsevier, vol. 266(C), pages 738-762.
    14. Timothy Shields & Baohua Xin, 2012. "Higher-order Beliefs in Simple Trading Models," Working Papers 12-18, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
    15. Carroll, Gabriel, 2016. "Informationally robust trade and limits to contagion," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 166(C), pages 334-361.
    16. Prokopczuk, Marcel & Siewert, Jan B. & Vonhoff, Volker, 2013. "Credit risk in covered bonds," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 21(C), pages 102-120.
    17. Anne-Marie Rieu-Foucault, 2017. "Point sur la fourniture de liquidié publique," EconomiX Working Papers 2017-27, University of Paris Nanterre, EconomiX.
    18. Silvo, Aino, 2017. "House prices, lending standards, and the macroeconomy," Research Discussion Papers 4/2017, Bank of Finland.
    19. Bental, Benjamin & Demougin, Dominique, 2016. "Privatizing profits and socializing losses with smoothly operating capital markets," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 179-194.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • G14 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Information and Market Efficiency; Event Studies; Insider Trading


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