Sunday, January 24, 2016

"European Financial Networks: Prepare for Bloodletting to Commence"

From True Economics:
A recent paper, titled "Transmission Channels of Systemic Risk and Contagion in the European Financial Network" co-authored by Nikos Paltalidis, Dimitrios Gounopoulos, Renatas Kizys, Yiannis Koutelidakis (Journal of Banking and Finance, gated) tackles a very interesting problem relating to the systemic stability of the European banking system and the bi-directional contagion channels shifting/transmitting systemic shocks between the banks and the sovereigns.

Following the euro area banking crisis of 2008-2012 (with residual effects of this crisis still strongly present in the so-called euro area 'periphery'), financial systems analysts and modellers came to the realisation that a number of key questions relating to overall system stability remain un-answered to-date. These include:
  • What determines the intensity with which exogenous shocks propagate in the financial system as a whole (and how this intensity carries across banking systems)?
  • How do we "identify, measure and understand the nature and the source of systemic risk in order to improve the underlying risks that banks face, to avert banks’ liquidation ex ante and to promote macro-prudential policy tools"? 
  • How do systemic risks arise in the cases where such risks are endogenous to the banking system itself?
  • How resilient is the euro area banking system (under improved regulatory and supervisory regimes) to systemic risk?
  • How "…shocks in economic and financial channels propagate in the banking sector"? 
  • And related to the above: "In the presence of a distress situation how the financial system performs? Have the new capital rules rendered the European banking industry safer? What is the primary source of systemic risk? How financial contagion propagates within the Eurozone?"
As the authors correctly note, "These fundamental themes remain unanswered, and hence obtaining the answers is critical and at the heart of most of the recent research on systemic risk."

Lacking empirical evidence (due to proximate timing of events and their extreme-tail nature) the authors create “a unique interconnected, dynamic and continuous-time model of financial networks with complete market structure (i.e. interbank loan market) and two additional independent channels of systemic risk (i.e. sovereign credit risk and asset price risk).”

Summary of the findings relating to sources of shocks:
  1. “…A shock in the interbank loan market causes the higher amount of losses in the banking network”;
  2. “…Losses generated by the sovereign credit risk channel transmit faster through the contagion channel, triggering a cascade of bank failures. This shock can cause banks to stop using the interbank market to trade with each other and can also lead banks to liquidate their asset holdings in order to meet their short-term funding demands.”
  3. “Moreover, we evaluate the impact of reduced collateral values and provide novel evidence that asset price contagion can also trigger severe direct losses and defaults in the banking system.”
So the model does support the view that “the Sovereign Credit Risk channel dominates systemic risks amplified in the euro area banking systems and hence, it is the primary source of systemic risk.” Which is quite interesting from a number of perspectives...