The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. With nearly 300 released each year, working papers cover a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
We argue that firm interdependencies, as measured by correlations of stock returns, provide an indicator of systemic risk potential. We find a positive trend in stock return correlations net of diversification effects for a sample of U.S. Large and Complex Banking Organizations over 1988-99. This finding suggests that the systemic risk potential in the financial sector may have increased. In addition, we find a positive consolidation elasticity of correlations. However, such elasticity exhibits substantial time variation and likely declined in the latter part of the decade. Thus, factors other than consolidation have also been responsible for the upward trend in return correlations.