On March 8, 2016, the US Office of Financial Research (OFR) published a working paper using data on the credit default swap (CDS) market to assess the impact of a counterparty default on banks and the financial system as a whole. Using data from the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation, the paper applies the supervisory scenarios of the Federal Reserve’s Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review (CCAR) to CDS markets as a proxy for banks’ trading books. The working paper finds that the indirect effects of the default of a bank’s largest counterparty on the bank’s other counterparties are more significant than the impact on the bank itself. Moreover, the paper finds that, when looking at the financial system as a whole, banks may realize greater losses from the failure of a counterparty shared by the industry when compared to losses from the failure of the individual bank’s largest counterparty. The report concludes that CCAR does not take into account the losses that occur to other counterparties of a banking organization as a result of the default of its largest counterparty, nor does it take into account the large counterparty exposures that exist for the core financial system as a whole.

The working paper is available at: https://financialresearch.gov/working-papers/files/OFRwp-2016-01_Stressed-to-the-Core.pdf