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Counterparty Risk Externality: Centralized Versus Over-the-counter Markets

  • Viral V. Acharya
  • Alberto Bisin

We model the opacity of over-the-counter (OTC) markets in a setup where agents share risks, but have incentives to default and their financial positions are not mutually observable. We show that this setup results in excess "leverage" in that parties take on short OTC positions that lead to levels of default risk that are higher than Pareto-efficient ones. In particular, OTC markets feature a "counterparty risk externality" that we show can lead to ex-ante productive inefficiency. This externality is absent when trading is organized via a centralized clearing mechanism that provides transparency of trade positions, or a centralized counterparty (such as an exchange) that observes all trades and sets prices competitively. While collateral requirements and subordination of OTC positions in bankruptcy can ameliorate the counterparty risk externality, they are in general inadequate in addressing it fully.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17000.

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Date of creation: Apr 2011
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Publication status: published as “Counterparty Risk Externality: Centralized versus Over - the - counter Markets” with Alberto Bisin, Journal of Economic Theory , 2014, 149 , 153 - 182
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17000
Note: AP
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  1. Alberto Bisin & Adriano Rampini, 2006. "Exclusive contracts and the institution of bankruptcy," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 27(2), pages 277-304, January.
  2. Adriano Rampini & Alberto Bisin, 2005. "Markets as Beneficial Constraints on the Government," 2005 Meeting Papers 325, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  3. Duffee, Gregory R. & Zhou, Chunsheng, 2001. "Credit derivatives in banking: Useful tools for managing risk?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 25-54, August.
  4. Pradeep Dubey & John Geanakoplos & Martin Shubik, 2005. "Default and Punishment in General Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(1), pages 1-37, 01.
  5. Alberto Bisin & Danilo Guaitoli, 2004. "Moral Hazard and Nonexclusive Contracts," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 35(2), pages 306-328, Summer.
  6. Christine A. Parlour & Uday Rajan, 2001. "Competition in Loan Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1311-1328, December.
  7. Acharya, Viral V. & Johnson, Timothy C., 2007. "Insider trading in credit derivatives," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 110-141, April.
  8. James R. Thompson, 2010. "Counterparty Risk in Financial Contracts: Should the Insured Worry about the Insurer?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 125(3), pages 1195-1252, August.
  9. Alberto Bisin & John Geanakoplos & Piero Gottardi & Enrico Minelli & Heracles Polemarchakis, 2009. "Markets and Contracts," Working Papers 0915, University of Brescia, Department of Economics.
  10. Bizer, David S & DeMarzo, Peter M, 1992. "Sequential Banking," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(1), pages 41-61, February.
  11. Ricardo J. Caballero & Alp Simsek, 2009. "Complexity and Financial Panics," NBER Working Papers 14997, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Darrell Duffie & Nicolae Garleanu & Lasse Heje Pedersen, 2005. "Over-the-Counter Markets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(6), pages 1815-1847, November.
  13. Christine A. Parlour & Guillaume Plantin, 2008. "Loan Sales and Relationship Banking," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 63(3), pages 1291-1314, 06.
  14. Darrell Duffie & Nicolae Gârleanu & Lasse Heje Pedersen, 2007. "Valuation in Over-the-Counter Markets," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 20(6), pages 1865-1900, November.
  15. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1976. "Equilibrium in Competitive Insurance Markets: An Essay on the Economics of Imperfect Information," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 90(4), pages 630-49, November.
  16. Tano Santos & Joséa. Scheinkman, 2001. "Competition Among Exchanges," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(3), pages 1027-1061, August.
  17. Viral V. Acharya & Alberto Bisin, 2009. "Managerial hedging, equity ownership, and firm value," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 40(1), pages 47-77.
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