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Using counterfactual simulations to assess the danger of contagion in interbank markets

  • Christian Upper

Researchers at central banks increasingly turn to counterfactual simulations to estimate the danger of contagion owing to exposures in the interbank loan market. The present paper summarises the findings of such simulations, provides a critical assessment of the modelling assumptions on which they are based, and discusses their use in financial stability analysis. On the whole, such simulations suggest that contagious defaults are unlikely, but cannot be fully ruled out, at least in some countries. If contagion does take place, then it could lead to the breakdown of a substantial fraction of the banking system, thus imposing high costs to society. However, when interpreting these results, one has to bear in mind the potential bias caused by the very strong assumptions underlying the simulations. While robustness tests indicate that the models might be able to correctly predict whether or not contagion could be an issue and, possibly, also identify critical institutions, they are less suited for stress testing or for the analysis of policy options in crises, primarily due to their lack of behavioural foundations. Going forward, more work is needed on how to attach probabilities to the individual scenarios and on the microfoundations of the models.

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Paper provided by Bank for International Settlements in its series BIS Working Papers with number 234.

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Length: 24 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bis:biswps:234
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  1. Upper, Christian & Worms, Andreas, 2004. "Estimating bilateral exposures in the German interbank market: Is there a danger of contagion?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 827-849, August.
  2. Larry Eisenberg & Thomas H. Noe, 2001. "Systemic Risk in Financial Systems," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 47(2), pages 236-249, February.
  3. Iori, G. & Masi, G. D. & Precup, O. V. & Gabbi, G. & Caldarelli, G., 2005. "A network analysis of the Italian oversight money market," Working Papers 05/05, Department of Economics, City University London.
  4. Demiralp, Selva & Preslopsky, Brian & Whitesell, William, 2006. "Overnight interbank loan markets," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 67-83.
  5. Helmut Elsinger & Alfred Lehar & Martin Summer, 2002. "Risk Assessment for Banking Systems," Working Papers 79, Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Austrian Central Bank).
  6. Minton, Bernadette A. & Stulz, Rene M. & Williamson, Rohan, 2005. "How Much Do Banks Use Credit Derivatives to Reduce Risk?," Working Paper Series 2005-17, Ohio State University, Charles A. Dice Center for Research in Financial Economics.
  7. Dirk Schoenmaker, 1992. "Institutional Separation between Supervisory and Monetary Agencies," FMG Special Papers sp52, Financial Markets Group.
  8. Valerie Cerra & Sweta C. Saxena, 2005. "Growth Dynamics: The Myth of Economic Recovery," Macroeconomics 0508008, EconWPA.
  9. Iman van Lelyveld & Franka Liedorp, 2004. "Interbank Contagion in the Dutch Banking Sector," DNB Working Papers 005, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
  10. Nier, Erlend & Yang, Jing & Yorulmazer, Tanju & Alentorn, Amadeo, 2008. "Network models and financial stability," Bank of England working papers 346, Bank of England.
  11. Glenn Hoggarth & Ricardo Reis & Victoria Saporta, 2001. "Costs of banking system instability: some empirical evidence," Bank of England working papers 144, Bank of England.
  12. 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.
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