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Insolvency or liquidity squeeze? Explaining very short-term corporate yield spreads

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  • Dan Covitz
  • Chris Downing
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    Abstract

    In this paper, we first document some stylized facts about very short-term and long-term corporate yield spreads. We find that short-term spreads are sizable, and the correlations between many firms' short-term and long-term yield spreads are at times negative. We then develop a structural model that generates levels and correlations of short-term and long-term spreads that are more consistent with what we observe. The model allows for the possibility of payment delays when a firm's liquid asset position deteriorates. Payment delays generate sizable short-term debt spreads because the realized returns on short-term investments are very sensitive to an increase in the holding period. The presence of liquidity risk can also explain negative correlations between short- and long-term spreads because liquidity risk is imperfectly correlated with insolvency risk. Using firm-level data, we provide empirical evidence that liquid assets holdings help predict short-term spreads, but not long-term spreads.

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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 2002-45.

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    Date of creation: 2002
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    Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2002-45

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    Keywords: Corporations ; Payment systems ; Econometric models;

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    References

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    1. Anderson, Torben G. & Bollerslev, Tim & Diebold, Francis X. & Labys, Paul, 2002. "Modeling and Forecasting Realized Volatility," Working Papers 02-12, Duke University, Department of Economics.
    2. Merton, Robert C., 1973. "On the pricing of corporate debt: the risk structure of interest rates," Working papers 684-73., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
    3. Leland, Hayne E, 1994. " Corporate Debt Value, Bond Covenants, and Optimal Capital Structure," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 49(4), pages 1213-52, September.
    4. 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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    7. Duffie, Darrell & Singleton, Kenneth J, 1999. "Modeling Term Structures of Defaultable Bonds," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 12(4), pages 687-720.
    8. Wara, A. & Welch, I., 1990. "Bondholder Losses In Leveraged Buyouts," Papers fb-_90-04, Columbia - Graduate School of Business.
    9. Jean Helwege & Christopher M. Turner, 1999. "The Slope of the Credit Yield Curve for Speculative-Grade Issuers," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 54(5), pages 1869-1884, October.
    10. Andersen, Torben G. & Bollerslev, Tim & Diebold, Francis X. & Ebens, Heiko, 2001. "The distribution of realized stock return volatility," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 43-76, July.
    11. Longstaff, Francis A., 2000. "The term structure of very short-term rates: New evidence for the expectations hypothesis," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(3), pages 397-415, December.
    12. Hayne E. Leland and Klaus Bjerre Toft., 1995. "Optimal Capital Structure, Endogenous Bankruptcy, and the Term Structure of Credit Spreads," Research Program in Finance Working Papers RPF-259, University of California at Berkeley.
    13. Geske, Robert, 1977. "The Valuation of Corporate Liabilities as Compound Options," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 12(04), pages 541-552, November.
    14. 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.
    15. Sarig, Oded & Warga, Arthur, 1989. " Some Empirical Estimates of the Risk Structure of Interest Rates," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 44(5), pages 1351-60, December.
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    Cited by:
    1. Evan Gatev & Philip E. Strahan, 2003. "Banks' Advantage in Hedging Liquidity Risk: Theory and Evidence from the Commercial Paper Market," NBER Working Papers 9956, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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