Monday, November 22, 2010

The Effect of Market Structure on Counterparty Risk (SSRN)

By Dale W. R. Rosenthal

Abstract: Two network structures of derivative contracts are studied as representatives of a bilaterally-cleared OTC market and a centrally-cleared market. An initial bankruptcy induces counterparties to trade with price impact. The two market structures yield economically different price impact, volatility and follow-on bankruptcies. A large market-induced bankruptcy yields two destabilizing phenomena in bilateral markets: checkmate and hunting. Checkmate occurs when a counterparty cannot expect to prevent impending bankruptcy. Hunting occurs when counterparties push markets further than necessary, inducing further bankruptcies which may yield profits. The results suggest that bilateral OTC markets have larger externalities (distress volatility) which can be priced relative to centrally-cleared markets. Bilateral OTC markets are also more sub ject to liquidity and funding crises. This has real effects: follow-on bankruptcies, unemployment, a reduction in tax revenue, higher transactions costs, less risk sharing, and thus a reduction in allocative efficiency. Pricing the distress volatility may suggest when and how to encourage markets to transition from bilateral OTC to central clearing. The results also suggest that limiting leverage ratios may reduce distress, that leverage limits may not vary linearly with capital, and that in times of distress coordination by market authorities has value.

Download here: papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1571552

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