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Default Cascades: When Does Risk Diversification Increase Stability?

  • Stefano Battiston

    ()

  • Domenico Delli Gatti
  • Mauro Gallegati
  • Bruce Greenwald
  • Joseph E. Stiglitz

We explore the dynamics of default cascades in a network of credit interlinkages in which each agent is at the same time a borrower and a lender. When some counterparties of an agent default, the loss she experiences amounts to her total exposure to those counterparties. A possible conjecture in this context is that individual risk diversification across more numerous counterparties should make also systemic defaults less likely. We show that this view is not always true. In particular, the diversification of credit risk across many borrowers has ambiguous effects on systemic risk in the presence of mechanisms of loss amplifications such as in the presence of potential runs among the short-term lenders of the agents in the network.

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Paper provided by ETH Zurich, Chair of Systems Design in its series Working Papers with number ETH-RC-11-006.

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Handle: RePEc:stz:wpaper:eth-rc-11-006
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  1. Acharya, Viral V., 2009. "A theory of systemic risk and design of prudential bank regulation," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 5(3), pages 224-255, September.
  2. Jean-Charles Rochet & Xavier Vives, 2004. "Coordination Failures and the Lender of Last Resort: Was Bagehot Right After All?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(6), pages 1116-1147, December.
  3. 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.
  4. Wagner, W.B., 2006. "Diversification at Financial Institutions and Systemic Crises," Discussion Paper 2006-71, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
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  6. Battiston, Stefano & Delli Gatti, Domenico & Gallegati, Mauro & Greenwald, Bruce & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 2012. "Liaisons dangereuses: Increasing connectivity, risk sharing, and systemic risk," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 36(8), pages 1121-1141.
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  8. Furfine, Craig H, 2003. " Interbank Exposures: Quantifying the Risk of Contagion," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 35(1), pages 111-28, February.
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  10. Markus K. Brunnermeier, 2008. "Deciphering the Liquidity and Credit Crunch 2007-08," NBER Working Papers 14612, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  12. Helmut Elsinger & Alfred Lehar & Martin Summer, 2002. "Risk Assessment for Banking Systems," Working Papers 79, Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Austrian Central Bank).
  13. Joseph E. Stiglitz, 2010. "Risk and Global Economic Architecture: Why Full Financial Integration May Be Undesirable," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 388-92, May.
  14. Gai, Prasanna & Kapadia, Sujit, 2010. "Contagion in financial networks," Bank of England working papers 383, Bank of England.
  15. Michael Boss & Martin Summer & Stefan Thurner, 2004. "Contagion Flow Through Banking Networks," Papers cond-mat/0403167, arXiv.org.
  16. Bartram, Sohnke M. & Brown, Gregory W. & Hund, John E., 2007. "Estimating systemic risk in the international financial system," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(3), pages 835-869, December.
  17. Larry Eisenberg & Thomas H. Noe, 2001. "Systemic Risk in Financial Systems," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 47(2), pages 236-249, February.
  18. Allen, F. & Babus, A. & Carletti, E., 2010. "Financial Connections and Systemic Risk," Discussion Paper 2010-88S, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
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