Incentivizing resilience in financial networks
When banks extend loans to each other, they generate a negative externality in the form of systemic risk. They create a network of interbank exposures by which they expose other banks to potential insolvency cascades. In this paper, we show how a regulator can use information about the financial network to devise a transaction-specific tax based on a network centrality measure that captures systemic importance. Since different transactions have different impact on creating systemic risk, they are taxed differently. We call this tax a systemic risk tax (SRT).
We use an equilibrium concept inspired by the matching markets literature to show analytically that this SRT induces a unique equilibrium matching of lenders and borrowers that is systemic-risk efficient, i.e. it minimizes systemic risk given a certain transaction volume. On the other hand, we show that without this SRT multiple equilibrium matchings exist, which are generally inefficient. This allows the regulator to effectively stimulate a ‘rewiring’ of the equilibrium interbank network so as to make it more resilient to insolvency cascades, without sacrificing transaction volume. Moreover, we show that a standard financial transaction tax (e.g. a Tobin-like tax) has no impact on reshaping the equilibrium financial network because it taxes all transactions indiscriminately. A Tobin-like tax is indeed shown to have a limited effect on reducing systemic risk while it decreases transaction volume.