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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 & Spreij, Peter & Straetmans, Stefan, 2001. "An analytic approach to credit risk of large corporate bond and loan portfolios," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 25(9), pages 1635-1664, September.
  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. Merton, Robert C, 1974. "On the Pricing of Corporate Debt: The Risk Structure of Interest Rates," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 29(2), pages 449-70, May.
  4. Nickell, Pamela & Perraudin, William & Varotto, Simone, 2000. "Stability of rating transitions," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 24(1-2), pages 203-227, January.
  5. Fama, Eugene F., 1986. "Term premiums and default premiums in money markets," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 175-196, September.
  6. 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.
  7. André Lucas & Pieter Klaassen, 2003. "Discrete versus Continuous State Switching Models for Portfolio Credit Risk," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 03-075/2, Tinbergen Institute, revised 30 Sep 2003.
  8. Stock, J.H. & Watson, M.W., 1989. "New Indexes Of Coincident And Leading Economic Indicators," Papers 178d, Harvard - J.F. Kennedy School of Government.
  9. Koopman, Siem Jan & Lucas, Andre & Monteiro, Andre, 2008. "The multi-state latent factor intensity model for credit rating transitions," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(1), pages 399-424, January.
  10. Kräussl, Roman, 2000. "Sovereign credit ratings and their impact on recent financial crises," CFS Working Paper Series 2000/04, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  11. Darrell Duffie & Leandro Siata & Ke Wang, 2006. "Multi-Period Corporate Default Prediction With Stochastic Covariates," NBER Working Papers 11962, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Philipp J. Schönbucher, 2000. "Factor Models for Portofolio Credit Risk," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse16_2001, University of Bonn, Germany.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Durbin, James & Koopman, Siem Jan, 2001. "Time Series Analysis by State Space Methods," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198523543, July.
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