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Credit cycles and macro fundamentals

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

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.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Empirical Finance.

Volume (Year): 16 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 42-54

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Handle: RePEc:eee:empfin:v:16:y:2009:i:1:p:42-54
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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. Bangia, Anil & Diebold, Francis X. & Kronimus, Andre & Schagen, Christian & Schuermann, Til, 2002. "Ratings migration and the business cycle, with application to credit portfolio stress testing," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 26(2-3), pages 445-474, March.
  3. Durbin, James & Koopman, Siem Jan, 2001. "Time Series Analysis by State Space Methods," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198523543.
  4. Roman Kraeussl, 2003. "Sovereign Credit Ratings and Their Impact on Recent Financial Crises," International Finance 0311013, EconWPA.
  5. 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.
  6. Siem Jan Koopman & Andr� Lucas, 2003. "Business and Default Cycles for Credit Risk," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 03-062/2, Tinbergen Institute, revised 09 Jan 2003.
  7. Carling, Kenneth & Jacobson, Tor & Linde, Jesper & Roszbach, Kasper, 2007. "Corporate credit risk modeling and the macroeconomy," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 845-868, March.
  8. Siem Jan Koopman & Andr� Lucas & Andr� Monteiro, 2005. "The Multi-State Latent Factor Intensity Model for Credit Rating Transitions," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 05-071/4, Tinbergen Institute, revised 04 Jul 2005.
  9. Stock, J.H. & Watson, M.W., 1989. "New Indexes Of Coincident And Leading Economic Indicators," Papers 178d, Harvard - J.F. Kennedy School of Government.
  10. 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.
  11. Lando, David & Skodeberg, Torben M., 2002. "Analyzing rating transitions and rating drift with continuous observations," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 26(2-3), pages 423-444, March.
  12. Fama, Eugene F., 1986. "Term premiums and default premiums in money markets," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 175-196, September.
  13. Lucas, André & Klaassen, Pieter & Spreij, Peter, 1999. "An analytic approach to credit risk of large corporate bond and loan portfolios," Serie Research Memoranda 0018, VU University Amsterdam, Faculty of Economics, Business Administration and Econometrics.
  14. Pamela Nickell & William Perraudin & Simone Varotto, 2001. "Stability of ratings transitions," Bank of England working papers 133, Bank of England.
  15. Ferri, Giovanni & Liu, Li-Gang & Majnoni, Giovanni, 2001. "The role of rating agency assessments in less developed countries: Impact of the proposed Basel guidelines," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 115-148, January.
  16. Philipp J. Schönbucher, 2000. "Factor Models for Portofolio Credit Risk," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse16_2001, University of Bonn, Germany.
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