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Interbank exposures: an empirical examination of systemic risk in the Belgian banking system


  • Hans Degryse

    () (University of Leuven

  • Grégory Nguyen

    () (National Bank of Belgium, Department of International Cooperation and Financial Stability)


Robust (cross-border) interbank markets are important for the well functioning of modern financial systems. Yet, a network of interbank exposures may lead to domino effects following the event of an initial bank failure. The structure of the interbank market is a potential important driving factor in the risk and impact of interbank contagion. We investigate the evolution of contagion risk for the Belgian banking system over the period 1993-2002 using detailed information on aggregate interbank exposures of individual banks and on large bilateral interbank exposures. We find that a change from a complete structure (where all banks have symmetric links) towards a multiple money centre structure (where the money centres are symmetrically linked to some banks, which are themselves not linked together) as well as a more concentrated banking market have decreased the risk and impact of contagion. Moreover, an increase in the proportion of cross-border interbank assets has lowered the risk and impact of local contagion. Yet, this reduction was probably accompanied by an increase in contagion risk generated by foreign banks, although even here the contagion risk appears fairly limited.

Suggested Citation

  • Hans Degryse & Grégory Nguyen, 2004. "Interbank exposures: an empirical examination of systemic risk in the Belgian banking system," Working Paper Research 43, National Bank of Belgium.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbb:reswpp:200403

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Aghion, Philippe & Bolton, Patrick & Dewatripont, Mathias, 2000. "Contagious bank failures in a free banking system," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(4-6), pages 713-718, May.
    2. Franklin Allen & Douglas Gale, 1998. "Optimal Financial Crises," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(4), pages 1245-1284, August.
    3. Franklin Allen & Douglas Gale, 2000. "Financial Contagion," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(1), pages 1-33, February.
    4. Bhattacharya, Sudipto & Fulghieri, Paolo, 1994. "Uncertain liquidity and interbank contracting," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 287-294.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sam Langfield & Kimmo Soramäki, 2016. "Interbank Exposure Networks," Computational Economics, Springer;Society for Computational Economics, vol. 47(1), pages 3-17, January.
    2. Caccioli, Fabio & Farmer, J. Doyne & Foti, Nick & Rockmore, Daniel, 2015. "Overlapping portfolios, contagion, and financial stability," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 50-63.
    3. Doris Neuberger & Roger Rissi, 2014. "Macroprudential Banking Regulation: Does One Size Fit All?," Journal of Banking and Financial Economics, University of Warsaw, Faculty of Management, vol. 1(1), pages 5-28, May.
    4. Pawe{l} Smaga & Mateusz Wili'nski & Piotr Ochnicki & Piotr Arendarski & Tomasz Gubiec, 2016. "Can banks default overnight? Modeling endogenous contagion on O/N interbank market," Papers 1603.05142,
    5. Ana Babus, 2016. "The formation of financial networks," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 47(2), pages 239-272, May.
    6. Schwarcz Steven L., 2005. "The Confused U.S. Framework for Foreign-Bank Insolvency: An Open Research Agenda," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 1(1), pages 81-95, April.
    7. Helmut Elsinger & Alfred Lehar & Martin Summer, 2006. "Risk Assessment for Banking Systems," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 52(9), pages 1301-1314, September.
    8. Andrea Amaral & Margarida Abreu & Victor Mendes, 2014. "The Spatial Probit Model – An Application to the Study of Banking Crises at the End of the 90’s," CEFAGE-UE Working Papers 2014_05, University of Evora, CEFAGE-UE (Portugal).
    9. Oliver Kley & Claudia Kluppelberg & Lukas Reichel, 2014. "Systemic risk through contagion in a core-periphery structured banking network," Papers 1406.6575,
    10. Geert Langenus, 2006. "Fiscal sustainability indicators and policy design in the face of ageing," Working Paper Research 102, National Bank of Belgium.
    11. Frank Emmert-Streib & Aliyu Musa & Kestutis Baltakys & Juho Kanniainen & Shailesh Tripathi & Olli Yli-Harja & Herbert Jodlbauer & Matthias Dehmer, 2017. "Computational Analysis of the structural properties of Economic and Financial Networks," Papers 1710.04455,
    12. Paul Glasserman & Peyton Young, 2013. "How Likely is Contagion in Financial Networks?," Working Papers 13-06, Office of Financial Research, US Department of the Treasury.
    13. Amaral, Andrea & Abreu, Margarida & Mendes, Victor, 2014. "The spatial Probit model—An application to the study of banking crises at the end of the 1990’s," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 415(C), pages 251-260.
    14. Glasserman, Paul & Young, H. Peyton, 2015. "How likely is contagion in financial networks?," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 383-399.

    More about this item


    Interbank markets; financial stability; financial integration; contagion;

    JEL classification:

    • G20 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - General
    • G15 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - International Financial Markets

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