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The credit rating process and estimation of transition probabilities: A Bayesian approach

  • Stefanescu, Catalina
  • Tunaru, Radu
  • Turnbull, Stuart
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    The Basel II Accord requires banks to establish rigorous statistical procedures for the estimation and validation of default and ratings transition probabilities. This raises great technical challenges when sufficient default data are not available, as is the case for low default portfolios. We develop a new model that describes the typical internal credit rating process used by banks. The model captures patterns of obligor heterogeneity and ratings migration dependence through unobserved systematic macroeconomic shocks. We describe a Bayesian hierarchical framework for model calibration from historical rating transition data, and show how the predictive performance of the model can be assessed, even with sparse event data. Finally, we analyze a rating transition data set from Standard and Poor's during 1981-2007. Our results have implications for the current Basel II policy debate on the magnitude of default probabilities assigned to low risk assets.

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

    Volume (Year): 16 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 2 (March)
    Pages: 216-234

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:empfin:v:16:y:2009:i:2:p:216-234
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jempfin

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    1. Christensen, Jens H.E. & Hansen, Ernst & Lando, David, 2004. "Confidence sets for continuous-time rating transition probabilities," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 28(11), pages 2575-2602, November.
    2. Carey, Mark & Hrycay, Mark, 2001. "Parameterizing credit risk models with rating data," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 197-270, January.
    3. Altman, Edward I. & Rijken, Herbert A., 2004. "How rating agencies achieve rating stability," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 28(11), pages 2679-2714, November.
    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. 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.
    6. Patrick Gagliardini, 2005. "Stochastic Migration Models with Application to Corporate Risk," Journal of Financial Econometrics, Society for Financial Econometrics, vol. 3(2), pages 188-226.
    7. Shumway, Tyler, 2001. "Forecasting Bankruptcy More Accurately: A Simple Hazard Model," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 74(1), pages 101-24, January.
    8. Hanson, Samuel G. & Pesaran, M. Hashem & Schuermann, Til, 2008. "Firm heterogeneity and credit risk diversification," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 583-612, September.
    9. Michael B. Gordy, 2002. "A risk-factor model foundation for ratings-based bank capital rules," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2002-55, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    10. David J. Spiegelhalter & Nicola G. Best & Bradley P. Carlin & Angelika van der Linde, 2002. "Bayesian measures of model complexity and fit," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series B, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 64(4), pages 583-639.
    11. Jafry, Yusuf & Schuermann, Til, 2004. "Measurement, estimation and comparison of credit migration matrices," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 28(11), pages 2603-2639, November.
    12. 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.
    13. Frydman, Halina & Schuermann, Til, 2008. "Credit rating dynamics and Markov mixture models," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 1062-1075, June.
    14. Farnsworth, Heber & Li, Tao, 2007. "The Dynamics of Credit Spreads and Ratings Migrations," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 42(03), pages 595-620, September.
    15. Hanson, Samuel & Schuermann, Til, 2006. "Confidence intervals for probabilities of default," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 30(8), pages 2281-2301, August.
    16. McNeil, Alexander J. & Wendin, Jonathan P., 2007. "Bayesian inference for generalized linear mixed models of portfolio credit risk," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 131-149, March.
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