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Credit Spreads and Business Cycle Fluctuations

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  • Simon Gilchrist
  • Egon Zakrajsek

Abstract

Using micro-level data, we construct a credit spread index with considerable predictive power for future economic activity. We decompose the credit spread into a component that captures firm-specific information on expected defaults and a residual component--the excess bond premium. Shocks to the excess bond premium that are orthogonal to the current state of the economy lead to declines in economic activity and asset prices. An increase in the excess bond premium appears to reflect a reduction in the risk-bearing capacity of the financial sector, which induces a contraction in the supply of credit and a deterioration in macroeconomic conditions.

Suggested Citation

  • Simon Gilchrist & Egon Zakrajsek, 2012. "Credit Spreads and Business Cycle Fluctuations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(4), pages 1692-1720, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:102:y:2012:i:4:p:1692-1720
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E22 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Investment; Capital; Intangible Capital; Capacity
    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates

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