A framework for analyzing contagion in assortative banking networks
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We introduce a probabilistic framework that represents stylized banking networks with the aim of predicting the size of contagion events. Most previous work on random financial networks assumes independent connections between banks, whereas our framework explicitly allows for (dis)assortative edge probabilities (i.e., a tendency for small banks to link to large banks). We analyze default cascades triggered by shocking the network and find that the cascade can be understood as an explicit iterated mapping on a set of edge probabilities that converges to a fixed point. We derive a cascade condition, analogous to the basic reproduction number R0 in epidemic modelling, that characterizes whether or not a single initially defaulted bank can trigger a cascade that extends to a finite fraction of the infinite network. This cascade condition is an easily computed measure of the systemic risk inherent in a given banking network topology. We use percolation theory for random networks to derive a formula for the frequency of global cascades. These analytical results are shown to provide limited quantitative agreement with Monte Carlo simulation studies of finite-sized networks. We show that edge-assortativity, the propensity of nodes to connect to similar nodes, can have a strong effect on the level of systemic risk as measured by the cascade condition. However, the effect of assortativity on systemic risk is subtle, and we propose a simple graph theoretic quantity, which we call the graph-assortativity coefficient, that can be used to assess systemic risk.
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