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Investigating the sources of default risk: lessons from empirically evaluating credit risk models

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  • Gurdip Bakshi
  • Dilip Madan
  • Frank Zhang
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    Abstract

    From a credit risk perspective, little is known about the distress factors -- economy-wide or firm-specific -- that are important in explaining variations in defaultable coupon yields. This paper proposes and empirically tests a family of credit risk models. Empirically, we find that firm-specific distress factors play a role (beyond treasuries) in explaining defaultable coupon bond yields. Credit risk models that take into consideration leverage and book-to-market are found to reduce out-of-sample yield fitting errors (for the majority of firms). Moreover, the empirical evidence suggests that interest rate risk may be of first-order prominence for pricing and hedging. Measured by both out-of-sample pricing and hedging errors, the credit risk models perform relatively better for high grade bonds. Controlling for credit rating, the model performance is generally superior for longer maturity bonds compared to its shorter maturity counterparts. Using equity as an instrument reduces hedging errors. This paper provides an empirical investigation of credit risk models using observable economic factors.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 2001-15.

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    Date of creation: 2001
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    Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2001-15

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    Keywords: Credit ; Risk ; Econometric models;

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    References

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    1. 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.
    2. Fisher, Lawrence, 1984. " Contingent Claims Analysis of Corporate Capital Structures: An Empirical Investigation," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 39(3), pages 625-27, July.
    3. Briys, Eric & de Varenne, Fran├žois, 1997. "Valuing Risky Fixed Rate Debt: An Extension," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 32(02), pages 239-248, June.
    4. Jarrow, Robert A & Turnbull, Stuart M, 1995. " Pricing Derivatives on Financial Securities Subject to Credit Risk," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 50(1), pages 53-85, March.
    5. Vasicek, Oldrich, 1977. "An equilibrium characterization of the term structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 177-188, November.
    6. Gregory R. Duffee, 1996. "Estimating the price of default risk," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 96-29, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    7. 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.
    8. Duffie, Darrell & Singleton, Kenneth J, 1997. " An Econometric Model of the Term Structure of Interest-Rate Swap Yields," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(4), pages 1287-1321, September.
    9. Jarrow, Robert A & Lando, David & Turnbull, Stuart M, 1997. "A Markov Model for the Term Structure of Credit Risk Spreads," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 10(2), pages 481-523.
    10. Titman, Sheridan & Wessels, Roberto, 1988. " The Determinants of Capital Structure Choice," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 43(1), pages 1-19, March.
    11. Longstaff, Francis A & Schwartz, Eduardo S, 1992. " Interest Rate Volatility and the Term Structure: A Two-Factor General Equilibrium Model," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 47(4), pages 1259-82, September.
    12. Fama, Eugene F & French, Kenneth R, 1992. " The Cross-Section of Expected Stock Returns," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 47(2), pages 427-65, June.
    13. Shumway, Tyler, 2001. "Forecasting Bankruptcy More Accurately: A Simple Hazard Model," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 74(1), pages 101-24, January.
    14. Brown, Stephen J & Dybvig, Philip H, 1986. " The Empirical Implications of the Cox, Ingersoll, Ross Theory of the Term Structure of Interest Rates," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 41(3), pages 617-30, July.
    15. Edwin J. Elton, 2001. "Explaining the Rate Spread on Corporate Bonds," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 56(1), pages 247-277, 02.
    16. Jones, E Philip & Mason, Scott P & Rosenfeld, Eric, 1984. " Contingent Claims Analysis of Corporate Capital Structures: An Empirical Investigation," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 39(3), pages 611-25, July.
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    Cited by:
    1. Rong Fan & Joseph G. Haubrich & Peter Ritchken & James B. Thomson, 2002. "Getting the most out of a mandatory subordinated debt requirement," Working Paper 0214, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
    2. Chu, Quentin C. & Pittman, Deborah N. & Yu, Linda Q., 2003. "Real rates, nominal rates, and the Fisherian link," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 189-205.
    3. Duffie, Darrell, 2005. "Credit risk modeling with affine processes," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 29(11), pages 2751-2802, November.
    4. Frank X. Zhang, 2003. "What did the credit market expect of Argentina default? Evidence from default swap data," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2003-25, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    5. Lekkos, Ilias, 2007. "Modelling multiple term structures of defaultable bonds with common and idiosyncratic state variables," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 14(5), pages 783-817, December.
    6. Quentin Chu & Deborah Pittman & Linda Yu, 2005. "Information Risk in TIPS Market: An Analysis of Nominal and Real Interest Rates," Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting, Springer, vol. 24(3), pages 235-250, May.

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