Distress Dispersion and Systemic Risk in Networks
62 Pages Posted: 4 Apr 2015 Last revised: 1 Jan 2016
Date Written: December 2015
I develop a model of contagion that stems from endogenous risk-sharing when financial firms differ in distress levels. Firms face costly liquidation and strategically trade assets, thereby forming links. A link with a distressed firm can be socially costly as it raises system-wide liquidation risk. When firms are highly dispersed in financial distress, the network composition is distorted in two ways: it features too many links with distressed firms and too few risk-sharing links among non-distressed firms. This inefficiency arises from an externality when bilateral trading terms are not contingent on links faraway in the network. Using insights from the model, I discuss policy implications for financial stability. I also show empirical evidence that the distress dispersion across financial firms provides a novel indicator for systemic risk.
Keywords: Financial network formation, systemic risk, financial distress, network externality.
JEL Classification: D85, G01, G20, G28
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation