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Who Participates in Risk Transfer Markets? The Role of Transaction Costs and Counterparty Risk


  • Stephens, Eric

    () (University of Alberta, Department of Economics)

  • Thompson, James

    () (University of Waterloo)


We analyze the role of transaction costs in risk transfer markets. For example, when these markets are in their infancy, they are characterized by few contracts and high transaction costs. In this case, we show that only highly risk-averse buyers (e.g., hedgers) exist in the market alongside high quality counterparties, and no asymmetric information can be present on either the quality of the risk being transferred or the quality of the counterparty to which the risk is ceded. With lower transaction costs, we show that less risk-averse buyers (e.g., speculators) will enter the market thereby increasing risk transfer; however, these buyers will choose to contract with less stable counterparties. When transaction costs are low, we show that asymmetric information on the quality of the risk being transferred and of the quality of the counterparties can exist in equilibrium. Finally, we analyze the effect of a transaction tax, which is viewed simply as an increase in transaction costs. Such a tax is shown to push relatively less risk-averse buyers out of the market, which tends to reduce the relative number of unstable counterparties. In addition, we show that it reduces the rents that can be extracted due to asymmetric information.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephens, Eric & Thompson, James, 2012. "Who Participates in Risk Transfer Markets? The Role of Transaction Costs and Counterparty Risk," Working Papers 2012-12, University of Alberta, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ris:albaec:2012_012

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Stephens, Eric & Thompson, James R., 2014. "CDS as insurance: Leaky lifeboats in stormy seas," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 279-299.
    2. James R. Thompson, 2010. "Counterparty Risk in Financial Contracts: Should the Insured Worry About the Insurer?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(3), pages 1195-1252.
    3. George A. Akerlof, 1970. "The Market for "Lemons": Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jean-Sébastien Fontaine & Héctor Pérez Saiz & Joshua Slive, 2012. "When Lower Risk Increases Profit: Competition and Control of a Central Counterparty," Staff Working Papers 12-35, Bank of Canada.

    More about this item


    risk transfer; transaction costs; counterparty risk; transaction taxes;

    JEL classification:

    • G00 - Financial Economics - - General - - - General
    • G14 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Information and Market Efficiency; Event Studies; Insider Trading
    • G22 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Insurance; Insurance Companies; Actuarial Studies

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