DebtRank: Too Central to Fail? Financial Networks, the FED and Systemic Risk

Stefano Battiston, Michelangelo Puliga, Rahul Kaushik, Paolo Tasca and Guido Caldarelli

Scientific Reports (2012)


Systemic risk, here meant as the risk of default of a large portion of the financial system, depends on the network of financial exposures among institutions. However, there is no widely accepted methodology to determine the systemically important nodes in a network. To fill this gap, we introduce, DebtRank, a novel measure of systemic impact inspired by feedback-centrality. As an application, we analyse a new and unique dataset on the USD 1.2 trillion FED emergency loans program to global financial institutions during 2008-2010. We find that a group of 22 institutions, which received most of the funds, form a strongly connected graph where each of the nodes becomes systemically important at the peak of the crisis. Moreover, a systemic default could have been triggered even by small dispersed shocks. The results suggest that the debate on too-big-to-fail institutions should include the even more serious issue of too-central-to-fail.