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Credit cycles and macro fundamentals

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  • Koopman, Siem Jan
  • Kräussl, Roman
  • Lucas, André
  • Monteiro, André B.

Abstract

We use an intensity-based framework to study the relation between macroeconomic fundamentals and cycles in defaults and rating activity. Using Standard and Poor's U.S. corporate rating transition and default data over the period 1980-2005, we directly estimate the default and rating cycle from micro data. We relate this cycle to the business cycle, bank lending conditions, and financial market variables. In line with earlier studies, the macro variables appear to explain part of the default cycle. However, we strongly reject the correct dynamic specification of these models. The problem is solved by adding an unobserved dynamic component to the model, which can be interpreted as an omitted systematic credit risk factor. By accounting for this latent factor, many of the observed macro variables loose their significance. There are a few exceptions, but the economic impact of the observed macro variables for credit risk remains low. We also show that systematic credit risk factors differ over transition types, with risk factors for downgrades being noticeably different from those for upgrades. We conclude that portfolio credit risk models based only on observable systematic risk factors omit one of the strongest determinants of credit risk at the portfolio level. This has obvious consequences for current modeling and risk management practices.

Suggested Citation

  • Koopman, Siem Jan & Kräussl, Roman & Lucas, André & Monteiro, André B., 2009. "Credit cycles and macro fundamentals," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 42-54, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:empfin:v:16:y:2009:i:1:p:42-54
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Lucas, Andre & Klaassen, Pieter, 2006. "Discrete versus continuous state switching models for portfolio credit risk," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 23-35, January.
    2. Duffie, Darrell & Saita, Leandro & Wang, Ke, 2007. "Multi-period corporate default prediction with stochastic covariates," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(3), pages 635-665, March.
    3. Fama, Eugene F., 1986. "Term premiums and default premiums in money markets," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 175-196, September.
    4. Kräussl, Roman, 2000. "Sovereign credit ratings and their impact on recent financial crises," CFS Working Paper Series 2000/04, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
    5. André Lucas & Siem Jan Koopman, 2005. "Business and default cycles for credit risk," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(2), pages 311-323.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Defaults Ratings Business cycles Bank lending conditions Unobserved component models Intensity models Monte Carlo likelihood;

    JEL classification:

    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages

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