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.
One plausible mechanism through which financial market shocks may propagate across countries is through the effect of past gains and losses on investors' risk aversion. We first present a simple model on how heterogeneous changes in investors' risk aversion affect portfolio decisions and stock prices. Second, we empirically show that, when funds' returns are below average, they adjust their holdings toward the average (or benchmark) portfolio. In other words, they tend to sell the assets of countries in which they were "overweight," increasing their exposure to countries in which they were "underweight." Based on this insight, we construct a matrix of financial interdependence reflecting the extent to which countries share overexposed funds. This index can improve predictions about which countries are likely to be affected by contagion from crisis centers.