Intermediation Via Credit Chains

61 Pages Posted: 11 Jan 2022 Last revised: 19 Jun 2023

See all articles by Zhiguo He

Zhiguo He

University of Chicago - Finance

Jian Li

Columbia University

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 2022


The modern financial system features complicated financial intermediation chains, with each layer performing a certain degree of credit/maturity transformation. We develop a dynamic model in which an entrepreneur borrows from overlapping-generation households via layers of funds, forming a credit chain. Each intermediary fund in the chain faces rollover risks from its lenders, and the optimal debt contracts among layers are time invariant and layer independent. The model delivers new insights regarding the benefits of intermediation via layers: the chain structure insulates interim negative fundamental shocks and protects the underlying cash flows from being discounted heavily during bad times, resulting in a greater borrowing capacity. We show that the equilibrium chain length minimizes the run risk for any given contract and find that restricting credit chain length can improve total welfare once the available funding from households has been endogenized.

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Suggested Citation

He, Zhiguo and Li, Jian, Intermediation Via Credit Chains (January 2022). NBER Working Paper No. w29632, Available at SSRN: or

Zhiguo He (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Finance ( email )

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Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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Jian Li

Columbia University ( email )

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New York, NY NY 10027
United States
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