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Liquidity and financial contagion

  • Adrian, T.
  • Shin, H S.

There is an apparent puzzle at the heart of the 2007 credit crisis. The subprime mortgage sector is small relative to the financial system as a whole and the exposure was widely dispersed through securitization. Yet the crisis in the credit market has been potent. Traditionally, financial contagion has been viewed through the lens of defaults, where if A has borrowed from B and B has borrowed from C, then the default of A impacts B, which then impacts C, etc. However, in a modern market-based financial system, the channel of contagion is through price changes and the measured risks and marked-to-market capital of financial institutions. When balance sheets are marked to market, asset price changes show up immediately on balance sheets and elicit response from financial market participants. Even if exposures are dispersed widely throughout the financial system, the potential impact of a shock can be amplified many-fold through market price changes.

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Article provided by Banque de France in its journal Financial stability review.

Volume (Year): (2008)
Issue (Month): 11 (February)
Pages: 1-7

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Handle: RePEc:bfr:fisrev:2008:11:1
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