April 2023

Contagion in Debt and Collateral Markets

Jin-Wook Chang, Grace Chuan


This paper investigates contagion in financial networks through both debt and collateral markets. We find that the role of collateral is mitigating counterparty exposures and reducing contagion but has a phase transition property. Contagion can change dramatically depending on the amount of collateral relative to the debt exposures. When there is an abundance of collateral (leverage is low), then collateral can fully cover debt exposures, and the network structure does not matter. When there is an adequate amount of collateral (leverage is moderate), then collateral can mitigate counterparty contagion, and having more links in the network reduces contagion, as interlinkages act as a diversifying mechanism. When collateral is not enough (leverage is high) and agents in the network are too interconnected, then the collateral price can plummet to zero and the whole network can collapse. Therefore, we show the importance of the interaction between the level of collateral and interconnectedness across agents. The model also provides the minimum collateral-to-debt ratio (haircut) to attain a robust macroprudential state for a given network structure and aggregate state.

Keywords: collateral, financial network, fire sale, systemic risk

DOI: https://doi.org/10.17016/FEDS.2023.016

PDF: Full Paper

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Last Update: April 11, 2023