The ordered qualitative model for credit rating transitions
Information on the expected changes in credit quality of obligors is contained in credit migration matrices which trace out the movements of firms across ratings categories in a given period of time and in a given group of bond issuers. The rating matrices provided by Moody’s, Standard &Poor’s and Fitch became crucial inputs to many applications, including the assessment of risk on corporate credit portfolios (CreditVar) and credit derivatives pricing. We propose a factor probit model for modeling and prediction of credit rating matrices that are assumed to be stochastic and driven by a latent factor. The filtered latent factor path reveals the effect of the economic cycle on corporate credit ratings, and provides evidence in support of the PIT (point-in-time) rating philosophy. The factor probit model also yields the estimates of cross-sectional correlations in rating transitions that are documented empirically but not fully accounted for in the literature and in the regulatory rules established by the Basle Committee.
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