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Structural models of credit risk are useful: Evidence from hedge ratios on corporate bonds

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  • Schaefer, Stephen M.
  • Strebulaev, Ilya A.

Abstract

Structural models of credit risk provide poor predictions of bond prices. We show that, despite this, they provide quite accurate predictions of the sensitivity of corporate bond returns to changes in the value of equity (hedge ratios). This is important since it suggests that the poor performance of structural models may have more to do with the influence of non-credit factors rather than their failure to capture the credit exposure of corporate debt. The main result of this paper is that even the simplest of the structural models [Merton, R., 1974. On the pricing of corporate debt: the risk structure of interest rates. Journal of Finance 29, 449-470] produces hedge ratios that are not rejected in time-series tests. However, we find that the Merton model (with or without stochastic interest rates) does not capture the interest rate sensitivity of corporate debt, which is substantially lower than would be expected from conventional duration measures. The paper also shows that corporate bond prices are related to a number of market-wide factors such as the Fama-French SMB (small minus big) factor in a way that is not predicted by structural models.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Financial Economics.

Volume (Year): 90 (2008)
Issue (Month): 1 (October)
Pages: 1-19

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jfinec:v:90:y:2008:i:1:p:1-19

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505576

Related research

Keywords: Credit risk Structural models Hedge ratios Credit spreads;

References

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  1. Gregory R. Duffee, 1998. "The Relation Between Treasury Yields and Corporate Bond Yield Spreads," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(6), pages 2225-2241, December.
  2. Longstaff, Francis A & Schwartz, Eduardo S, 1995. " A Simple Approach to Valuing Risky Fixed and Floating Rate Debt," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 50(3), pages 789-819, July.
  3. Mella-Barral, Pierre & Perraudin, William, 1997. " Strategic Debt Service," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(2), pages 531-56, June.
  4. Merton, Robert C, 1974. "On the Pricing of Corporate Debt: The Risk Structure of Interest Rates," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 29(2), pages 449-70, May.
  5. In Joon Kim & Krishna Ramaswamy & Suresh Sundaresan, 1993. "Does Default Risk in Coupons Affect the Valuation of Corporate Bonds?: A Contingent Claims Model," Financial Management, Financial Management Association, vol. 22(3), Fall.
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  9. Vasicek, Oldrich Alfonso, 1977. "Abstract: An Equilibrium Characterization of the Term Structure," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 12(04), pages 627-627, November.
  10. Sergei A. Davydenko & Ilya A. Strebulaev, 2007. "Strategic Actions and Credit Spreads: An Empirical Investigation," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 62(6), pages 2633-2671, December.
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  12. Pierre Collin-Dufresne, 2001. "The Determinants of Credit Spread Changes," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 56(6), pages 2177-2207, December.
  13. Maria Vassalou & Yuhang Xing, 2004. "Default Risk in Equity Returns," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 59(2), pages 831-868, 04.
  14. Edwin J. Elton, 2001. "Explaining the Rate Spread on Corporate Bonds," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 56(1), pages 247-277, 02.
  15. Leland, Hayne E & Toft, Klaus Bjerre, 1996. " Optimal Capital Structure, Endogenous Bankruptcy, and the Term Structure of Credit Spreads," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 51(3), pages 987-1019, July.
  16. Pierre Collin-Dufresne, 2001. "Do Credit Spreads Reflect Stationary Leverage Ratios?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 56(5), pages 1929-1957, October.
  17. Darrell Duffie & Rui Kan, 1996. "A Yield-Factor Model Of Interest Rates," Mathematical Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(4), pages 379-406.
  18. Hayne E. Leland, 1998. "Agency Costs, Risk Management, and Capital Structure," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(4), pages 1213-1243, 08.
  19. Goldstein, Robert & Ju, Nengjiu & Leland, Hayne, 2001. "An EBIT-Based Model of Dynamic Capital Structure," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 74(4), pages 483-512, October.
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