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Complexity and Financial Panics

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  • Ricardo J. Caballero
  • Alp Simsek

Abstract

During extreme financial crises, all of a sudden, the financial world that was once rife with profit opportunities for financial institutions (banks, for short) becomes exceedingly complex. Confusion and uncertainty follow, ravaging financial markets and triggering massive flight-to-quality episodes. In this paper we propose a model of this phenomenon. In our model, banks normally collect information about their trading partners which assures them of the soundness of these relationships. However, when acute financial distress emerges in parts of the financial network, it is not enough to be informed about these partners, as it also becomes important to learn about the health of their trading partners. As conditions continue to deteriorate, banks must learn about the health of the trading partners of the trading partners of the trading partners, and so on. At some point, the cost of information gathering becomes too unmanageable for banks, uncertainty spikes, and they have no option but to withdraw from loan commitments and illiquid positions. A flight-to-quality ensues, and the financial crisis spreads.

Suggested Citation

  • Ricardo J. Caballero & Alp Simsek, 2009. "Complexity and Financial Panics," NBER Working Papers 14997, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14997
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ricardo J. Caballero & Arvind Krishnamurthy, 2008. "Collective Risk Management in a Flight to Quality Episode," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 63(5), pages 2195-2230, October.
    2. Freixas, Xavier & Parigi, Bruno M & Rochet, Jean-Charles, 2000. "Systemic Risk, Interbank Relations, and Liquidity Provision by the Central Bank," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 32(3), pages 611-638, August.
    3. Lagunoff, Roger & Schreft, Stacey L., 2001. "A Model of Financial Fragility," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 99(1-2), pages 220-264, July.
    4. Douglas W. Diamond & Philip H. Dybvig, 2000. "Bank runs, deposit insurance, and liquidity," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Win, pages 14-23.
    5. Bryan Routledge & Stanley Zin, 2009. "Model Uncertainty and Liquidity," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 12(4), pages 543-566, October.
    6. 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.
    7. Larry Eisenberg & Thomas H. Noe, 2001. "Systemic Risk in Financial Systems," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 47(2), pages 236-249, February.
    8. Rochet, Jean-Charles & Tirole, Jean, 1996. "Interbank Lending and Systemic Risk," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 28(4), pages 733-762, November.
    9. Yaron Leitner, 2005. "Financial Networks: Contagion, Commitment, and Private Sector Bailouts," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(6), pages 2925-2953, December.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Upper, Christian, 2011. "Simulation methods to assess the danger of contagion in interbank markets," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 111-125, August.
    2. Roger Koppl & William Luther, 2012. "Hayek, Keynes, and modern macroeconomics," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 25(3), pages 223-241, September.
    3. Gaetano Antinolfi & Francesca Carapella & Francesco Carli, 2018. "Transparency and Collateral : Central versus Bilateral Clearing," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2018-017, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    4. Piotr Ciżkowicz & Andrzej Rzońca, 2014. "Interest Rates Close to Zero, Post-crisis Restructuring and Natural Interest Rate," Prague Economic Papers, University of Economics, Prague, vol. 2014(3), pages 315-329.
    5. Kaushik Basu, 2009. "A Simple Model of the Financial Crisis of 2007-9 with Implications for the Design of a Stimulus Package," Working Papers id:2179, eSocialSciences.
    6. Jeong-Bon Kim & Li Li & Mary L. Z. Ma & Frank M. Song, 2013. "CEO Option Compensation, Risk-Taking Incentives, and Systemic Risk in the Banking Industry," Working Papers 182013, Hong Kong Institute for Monetary Research.
    7. Bhaskar DasGupta & Lakshmi Kaligounder, 2014. "Densely Entangled Financial Systems," Papers 1402.5208, arXiv.org.
    8. Kartik Anand & Prasanna Gai & Matteo Marsili, 2009. "Financial crises and the evaporation of trust," Papers 0911.3099, arXiv.org.
    9. Acharya, Viral & Bisin, Alberto, 2014. "Counterparty risk externality: Centralized versus over-the-counter markets," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 149(C), pages 153-182.
    10. Pol, Eduardo, 2012. "The preponderant causes of the USA banking crisis 2007–08," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 41(5), pages 519-528.
    11. Ricardo J. Caballero, 2010. "Macroeconomics after the Crisis: Time to Deal with the Pretense-of-Knowledge Syndrome," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(4), pages 85-102, Fall.
    12. Anand, Kartik & Gai, Prasanna & Marsili, Matteo, 2012. "Rollover risk, network structure and systemic financial crises," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 36(8), pages 1088-1100.
    13. Hitoshi Hayakawa, 2014. "Complexity of Payment Network," CARF F-Series CARF-F-345, Center for Advanced Research in Finance, Faculty of Economics, The University of Tokyo.
    14. Helmut Wagner, 2010. "The causes of the recent financial crisis and the role of central banks in avoiding the next one," International Economics and Economic Policy, Springer, vol. 7(1), pages 63-82, May.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty
    • E0 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General
    • E5 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit
    • G1 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets

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