Liquidity Coinsurance, Moral Hazard and Financial Contagion
We study the propagation of financial crises between regions characterized by moral hazard problems. The source of the problem is that banks are protected by limited liability and may engage in excessive risk taking. The regions are affected by negatively correlated liquidity shocks, so that liquidity coinsurance is Pareto improving. The moral hazard problem can be solved if banks are sufficiently capitalized. Under autarky, a limited investment is needed to achieve optimality, so that a limited amount of capital is sufficient to prevent risk-taking. With interbank deposits the optimal investment increases, and capital becomes insufficient to prevent excessive risk-taking. Thus bankruptcy occurs with positive probability and the crises spread to other regions via the financial linkages. Opening the financial markets is nevertheless Pareto improving; consumers benefit from liquidity coinsurance, although they pay the cost of excessive risk-taking. Finally, we show that in this framework a completely connected deposit structure is more conducive to financial crises than an incompletely connected structure.
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