Systemic risk arises as a multi-layer network phenomenon. Layers represent direct financial exposures of various types, including interbank liabilities, derivative or foreign exchange exposures. Another network layer of systemic risk emerges through common asset holdings of financial institutions. Strongly overlapping portfolios lead to similar exposures that are caused by price movements of the underlying financial assets. Based on the knowledge of portfolio holdings of financial agents we quantify systemic risk of overlapping portfolios. We present an optimization procedure, where we minimize the systemic risk in a given financial market by optimally rearranging overlapping portfolio networks, under the constraints that the expected returns and risks of the individual portfolios are unchanged. We explicitly demonstrate the power of the method on the overlapping portfolio network of sovereign exposure between major European banks by using data from the European Banking Authority stress test of 2016. We show that systemic-risk-efficient allocations are accessible by the optimization. In the case of sovereign exposure, systemic risk can be reduced by more than a factor of two, without any detrimental effects for the individual banks. These results are confirmed by a simple simulation of fire sales in the government bond market. In particular we show that the contagion probability is reduced dramatically in the optimized network.
- Networks Seminar