Discussion paper

DP16458 Counterparty Choice, Bank Interconnectedness, and Systemic Risk

We provide evidence on how banks form network connections and endogenous risk-taking in their non-bank counterparty choices in the OTC derivative markets. We use confidential regulatory data from the Capital Assessment and Stress Testing reports that provide counterparty-level data across a wide range of OTC markets for the most systemically important U.S. banks. We show that banks are more likely to either establish or maintain a relationship, and increase their exposures within an existing relationship, with non-bank counterparties that are already heavily connected and exposed to other banks. Banks in such densely-connected networks are more likely to connect with riskier counterparties for their most material exposures. The effects are strongest in the case of (non-bank) financial counterparties. These findings suggest moral hazard behavior in counterparty choices. Finally, we demonstrate that these exposures are strongly linked to systemic risk. Overall, the results suggest a network formation process that amplifies risk propagation through non-bank linkages in opaque financial markets.


Ellul, A and D Kim (2021), ‘DP16458 Counterparty Choice, Bank Interconnectedness, and Systemic Risk‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 16458. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp16458