A Simple Indicator of Systemic Risk
43 Pages Posted: 15 Mar 2010
Date Written: March 11, 2010
We examine the relevance and effectiveness of stock return correlations among financial institutions as an indicator of systemic risk. By analyzing the trends and fluctuations of daily stock return correlations and default correlations among the 22 largest bank holding companies and investment banks from 1988 to 2008, we find that daily stock return correlation is a simple, robust, forward-looking, and timely systemic risk indicator. There is an increasing trend in stock return correlation among banks, whereas there is no obvious correlation trend among non-banks. Correlation spikes tend to predict or coincide with significant economic or market events, especially during the 2007-2008 financial crisis. Furthermore, stock return correlations can offer a perspective on the level of systemic risk in the financial sector that is not already captured by default correlations. Stock return correlations are not subject to data limitations or model specification errors that other potential systemic risk measures may face. Therefore, we recommend that regulators and businesses monitor daily stock return correlations among financial institutions to track the level of systemic risk.
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