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Credit Default Swaps and the Credit Crisis

  • Rene M. Stulz

Many observers have argued that credit default swaps contributed significantly to the credit crisis. Of particular concern to these observers are that credit default swaps trade in the largely unregulated over-the-counter market as bilateral contracts involving counterparty risk and that they facilitate speculation involving negative views of a firm's financial strength. Some observers have suggested that credit default swaps would not have made the crisis worse had they traded on exchanges. I conclude that credit default swaps did not cause the dramatic events of the credit crisis, that the over-the-counter credit default swaps market worked well during much of the crisis, and that exchange trading has both advantages and costs compared to over-the-counter trading. Though I argue that eliminating over-the-counter trading of credit default swaps could reduce social welfare, I also recognize that much research is needed to understand better and to quantify the social gains and costs of derivatives in general and credit default swaps in particular.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.24.1.73
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 24 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1 (Winter)
Pages: 73-92

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:24:y:2010:i:1:p:73-92
Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.24.1.73
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  1. Roberto Blanco & Simon Brennan & Ian W. Marsh, 2004. "An empirical analysis of the dynamic relationship between investment grade bonds and credit default swaps," Banco de Espa�a Working Papers 0401, Banco de Espa�a.
  2. Roberto Blanco & Simon Brennan & Ian W. Marsh, 2005. "An Empirical Analysis of the Dynamic Relation between Investment-Grade Bonds and Credit Default Swaps," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(5), pages 2255-2281, October.
  3. Diamond, Douglas W. & Verrecchia, Robert E., 1987. "Constraints on short-selling and asset price adjustment to private information," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 277-311, June.
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  5. Darrell Duffie & Nicolae Garleanu & Lasse Heje Pedersen, 2005. "Over-the-Counter Markets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(6), pages 1815-1847, November.
  6. Acharya, Viral V. & Johnson, Timothy C., 2007. "Insider trading in credit derivatives," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 110-141, April.
  7. Minton, Bernadette & Stulz, Rene & Williamson, Rohan, 2008. "How Much Do Banks Use Credit Derivatives to Hedge Loans?," Working Paper Series 2008-1, Ohio State University, Charles A. Dice Center for Research in Financial Economics.
  8. Andrei Shleifer ad Robert W. Vishny, 1995. "The Limits of Arbitrage," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1725, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  9. Rajesh K. Aggarwal & Guojun Wu, 2006. "Stock Market Manipulations," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 79(4), pages 1915-1954, July.
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