NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

International Contagion Through Leveraged Financial Institutions

Eric van Wincoop

NBER Working Paper No. 17686
Issued in December 2011
NBER Program(s):   AP   EFG   IFM

The 2008-2009 financial crises, while originating in the United States, witnessed a drop in asset prices and output that was at least as large in the rest of the world as in the United States. A widely held view is that this was the result of global transmission through leveraged financial institutions. We investigate this in the context of a simple two-country model. The paper highlights what the various transmission mechanisms associated with balance sheet losses are, how they operate, what their magnitudes are and what the role is of different types of borrowing constraints faced by leveraged institutions. For realistic parameters we find that the model cannot account for the global nature of the crisis, both in terms of the size of the impact and the extent of transmission.

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