Beyond the Power Law: Uncovering Stylized Facts in Interbank Networks

Beyond the Power Law: Uncovering Stylized Facts in Interbank Networks; Benjamin Vandermarliere, Alexei Karas, Jan Ryckebusch & Koen Schoors

We use daily data on bilateral interbank exposures and monthly bank balance sheets to study network characteristics of the Russian interbank market over Aug 1998 – Oct 2004. Specifically, we examine the distributions of (un)directed (un)weighted degree, nodal attributes (bank assets, capital and capital-to-assets ratio) and edge weights (loan size and counterparty exposure). We search for the theoretical distribution that fits the data best and report the “best” fit parameters. We observe that all studied distributions are heavy tailed. The fat tail typically contains 20\% of the data and can be systematically described by a truncated power law. In most cases, however, separating the bulk and tail parts of the data is hard, so we proceed to study the full range of the events. We find that the stretched exponential and the log-normal distributions fit the full range of the data best. These conclusions are robust to 1) whether we aggregate the data over a week, month, quarter or year; 2) whether we look at the “growth” versus “maturity” phases of interbank market development; and 3) with minor exceptions, whether we look at the “normal” versus “crisis” operation periods. In line with prior research, we find that the network topology changes greatly as the interbank market moves from a “normal” to a “crisis” operation period.