Systemic Risk and Stability in Financial Networks
50 Pages Posted: 26 Jan 2013 Last revised: 4 Feb 2015
Date Written: August 30, 2014
We provide a framework for studying the relationship between the financial network architecture and the likelihood of systemic failures due to contagion of counterparty risk. We show that financial contagion exhibits a form of phase transition as interbank connections increase: as long as the magnitude and the number of negative shocks affecting financial institutions are sufficiently small, more "complete" interbank claims enhance the stability of the system. However, beyond a certain point, such interconnections start to serve as a mechanism for propagation of shocks and lead to a more fragile financial system. We also show that, under natural contracting assumptions, financial networks that emerge in equilibrium may be socially inefficient due to the presence of a network externality: even though banks take the effects of their lending, risk-taking and failure on their immediate creditors into account, they do not internalize the consequences of their actions on the rest of the network.
Keywords: contagion, counterparty risk, financial network, systemic risk
JEL Classification: G01, D85
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation