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The Asymmetric Effect of Diffusion Processes: Risk Sharing and Contagion

Listed author(s):
  • Gallegati Mauro

    ()

    (Università Politecnica delle Marche)

  • Greenwald Bruce

    ()

    (Columbia University)

  • Richiardi Matteo G

    ()

    (Università Politecnica delle Marche and Collegio Carlo Alberto - LABORatorio R. Revelli)

  • Stiglitz Joseph E.

    ()

    (Columbia University)

In this paper we provide a general characterization of diffusion processes, allowing us to analyze both risk-sharing and contagion effects at the same time.We illustrate the relevance of our theory with reference to the subprime mortgage crisis and more in general to the processes of securitization and interbank linkages. We show that interdependencies in real and financial assets are beneficial from a social point of view when the economic environment is favorable and detrimental when the economic environment deteriorates. In the latter case, private incentives are such that too many linkages are formed, with respect to what is socially desirable. The risk of contagion increases the volatility of the outcome and thus reduces the ability of the financial networks to provide risk-sharing.Our analysis suggests that a likely major explanation of the subprime mortgage crisis is the process of securitization itself, in addition to the absence of transparency about the characteristics of the underlying assets that the multiple layers of financial intermediation fostered, as commonly claimed.This may call for a different emphasis on the role of public intervention. While a goal to stabilize the economy in good times should be to disrupt the channels that bring contagion, that is a positive correlation in the returns, in a period of worsening economic conditions our analysis suggests regulatory intervention aimed at disconnecting the economy at crucial nodes. Moreover, we show that policy interventions should be aimed at rescuing institutions, but not their managers. Diminishing the cost of default actually increases the inefficiency due to the divergence between the social and the individual optimum.

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Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal Global Economy Journal.

Volume (Year): 8 (2008)
Issue (Month): 3 (September)
Pages: 1-22

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Handle: RePEc:bpj:glecon:v:8:y:2008:i:3:n:2
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  1. 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.
  2. De Weerdt, Joachim & Dercon, Stefan, 2006. "Risk-sharing networks and insurance against illness," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 337-356, December.
  3. Goldstein, Itay & Pauzner, Ady, 2004. "Contagion of self-fulfilling financial crises due to diversification of investment portfolios," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 119(1), pages 151-183, November.
  4. Stefan Dercon & Tessa Bold & Joachim De Weerdt & Alula Pankhurst, 2004. "Group-based Funeral Insurance in Ethiopia and Tanzania," CSAE Working Paper Series 2004-27, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  5. Franklin Allen & Douglas Gale, 1999. "Financial Contagion," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2092, David K. Levine.
  6. Iori, Giulia & Jafarey, Saqib & Padilla, Francisco G., 2006. "Systemic risk on the interbank market," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 61(4), pages 525-542, December.
  7. Harry Markowitz, 1952. "Portfolio Selection," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 7(1), pages 77-91, 03.
  8. Calvo, Guillermo A. & Mendoza, Enrique G., 2000. "Rational contagion and the globalization of securities markets," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 79-113, June.
  9. Garry J. Schinasi & R. Todd Smith, 2000. "Portfolio Diversification, Leverage, and Financial Contagion," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 47(2), pages 1-1.
  10. Laura E. Kodres & Matthew Pritsker, 2002. "A Rational Expectations Model of Financial Contagion," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 57(2), pages 769-799, 04.
  11. Albert S. Kyle, 2001. "Contagion as a Wealth Effect," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 56(4), pages 1401-1440, 08.
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