Credit Risk, Insurance and Banking: A Study of Moral Hazard and Asymmetric Information

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Thompson, James
Economics , Financial Economics , Information Economics , Banking , Credit Risk , Insurance
This dissertation investigates agency problems within risk transfer contracts. We pay particular attention to the consequences of credit risk transfer in the context of banking. The first two chapters provide an introduction and literature review. We then analyze the effect of counterparty risk on financial insurance contracts in the following two chapters, and uncover a new moral hazard problem on the part of the insurer. If the insurer believes it is unlikely that a claim will be made, it is advantageous for them to invest in assets which earn higher returns, but may not be readily available if needed. We find that counterparty risk can create an incentive for the insured to reveal superior information about the risk of their "investment". In particular, a unique separating equilibrium may exist even in the absence of any signalling device. This constitutes a first example in which the separation of types can be achieved without a costly signalling device. Our research suggests that regulators should be wary of risk being offloaded to other, possibly unstable parties, especially in financial markets such as that of credit derivatives. The fifth chapter models loan sales and loan insurance (e.g. credit default swaps) as two key instruments of risk transfer within the banking environment. Recent empirical evidence suggests that the asymmetric information problem is as relevant in loan insurance as it is in loan sales. Contrary to previous literature, this paper allows for informational asymmetries in both markets. Our results show that a well capitalized bank will tend to use loan insurance regardless of loan quality in the presence of moral hazard and relationship banking costs of loan sales. Finally, we show that a poorly capitalized bank may be forced into the loan sales market, even in the presence of possibly significant moral hazard and relationship banking costs that can depress the selling price.
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