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How Likely is Contagion in Financial Networks?

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  • H Peyton Young
  • Paul Glasserman

Abstract

Interconnections among financial institutions create potential channels for contagion and amplification of shocks to the financial system. We propose precise definitions of these concepts and analyze their magnitude. Contagion occurs when a shock to the assets of a single firm causes other firms to default through the network of obligations; amplification occurs when losses among defaulting nodes keep escalating due to their indebtedness to one another. Contagion is weak if the probability of default through contagion is no greater than the probability of default through independent direct shocks to the defaulting nodes. We derive a general formula which shows that, for a wide variety of shock distributions, contagion is weak unless the triggering node is large and/or highly leveraged compared to the nodes it topples through contagion. We also estimate how much the interconnections between nodes increase total losses beyond the level that would be incurred without interconnections. A distinguishing feature of our approach is that the results do not depend on the specific topology: they hold for any financial network with a given distribution of bank sizes and leverage levels. We apply the framework to European Banking Authority data and show that both the probability of contagion and the expected increase in losses are small under a wide variety of shock distributions. Our conclusion is that the direct transmission of shocks through payment obligations does not have a major effect on defaults and losses; other mechanisms such as loss of confidence and declines in credit quality are more llikely sources of contagion.

Suggested Citation

  • H Peyton Young & Paul Glasserman, 2013. "How Likely is Contagion in Financial Networks?," Economics Series Working Papers 642, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:642
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    File URL: http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/materials/papers/12619/paper642.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gai, Prasanna & Kapadia, Sujit, 2010. "Contagion in financial networks," Bank of England working papers 383, Bank of England.
    2. 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.
    3. Helmut Elsinger & Alfred Lehar & Martin Summer, 2006. "Risk Assessment for Banking Systems," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 52(9), pages 1301-1314, September.
    4. Goodhart, Charles A. E. & Sunirand, Pojanart & Tsomocos, Dimitrios P., 2004. "A model to analyse financial fragility: applications," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 1-30, September.
    5. 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.
    6. Degryse, H.A. & Nguyen, G., 2004. "Interbank Exposures : An Empirical Examination of Systemic Risk in the Belgian Banking System," Discussion Paper 2004-4, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    7. Nier, Erlend & Yang, Jing & Yorulmazer, Tanju & Alentorn, Amadeo, 2007. "Network models and financial stability," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 2033-2060, June.
    8. Goodhart, Charles A. E. & Sunirand, Pojanart & Tsomocos, Dimitrios P., 2004. "A model to analyse financial fragility: applications," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 1-30, September.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Georgescu, Oana-Maria, 2015. "Contagion in the interbank market: Funding versus regulatory constraints," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 18(C), pages 1-18.
    2. Antonio Cabrales & Piero Gottardi & Fernando Vega-Redondo, 2017. "Risk Sharing and Contagion in Networks," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 30(9), pages 3086-3127.
    3. Andrea Aguiar & Rick Bookstaber & Thomas Wipf, 2014. "A Map of Funding Durability and Risk," Working Papers 14-03, Office of Financial Research, US Department of the Treasury.
    4. Matthew Elliott & Benjamin Golub & Matthew O. Jackson, 2014. "Financial Networks and Contagion," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(10), pages 3115-3153, October.
    5. repec:aud:audfin:v:15:y:2017:i:147:p:418 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Hamed Amini & Andreea Minca, 2014. "Inhomogeneous Financial Networks and Contagious Links," Working Papers hal-01081559, HAL.
    7. repec:spr:annopr:v:247:y:2016:i:2:d:10.1007_s10479-015-1857-x is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Systemic risk; contagion; financial network;

    JEL classification:

    • D85 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Network Formation
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages

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