Risk-sharing and the Probability of Crises
In this paper I add heterogeneous agents and risk-sharing opportunities to a coordination game which represents deposit withdrawals from the banking system. I find that heterogeneity in risk aversion within the population amplifies the effect of the business cycle on the probability of a bank run. In particular, risk-sharing enhances the likelihood of bank runs during bad times. The novel insight is that when there is a risk-sharing motive, fundamentals drive not only individual behavior, but also which individuals are more relevant for the likelihood of a crisis. This mechanism has important consequences for the way we think about policy questions. In the paper I discuss three such implications in detail: (1) I show that a policy that facilitates access to banking for previously unbanked individuals generates externalities, and may even decrease welfare of the least risk averse group in the population. (2) I characterize the bias in the estimation of the probability of a banking crisis when heterogeneity is neglected. (3) I show how to correctly calculate the social value of deposit insurance when depositors differ in their risk aversion.
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|Date of creation:||2008|
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