The delivery option in credit default swaps
Under standard assumptions the reduced-form credit risk model is not capable of accurately pricing the two fundamental credit risk instruments - bonds and credit default swaps (CDS) - simultaneously. Using a data set of euro-denominated corporate bonds and CDS our paper quantifies this mispricing by calibrating such a model to bond data, and subsequently using it to price CDS, resulting in model CDS spreads up to 50% lower on average than observed in the market. An extended model is presented which includes the delivery option implicit in CDS contracts emerging since a basket of bonds is deliverable in default. By using a constant recovery rate standard models assume equal recoveries for all bonds and hence zero value for the delivery option. Contradicting this common assumption, case studies of Chapter 11 filings presented in the paper show that corporate bonds do not necessarily trade at equal levels following default. Our extension models the implied expected recovery rate of the cheapest-to-deliver bond and, applied to data, largely eliminates the mispricing. Calibrated recovery values lie between 8% and 47% for different obligors, exhibiting strong variation among rating classes and industries. A cross-sectional analysis reveals that the implied recovery parameter depends on proxies for the delivery option, primarily the number of available bonds and bond pricing errors. No evidence is found for a direct influence of the bid-ask spread, notional amount, coupon, or rating used as proxies for bond market liquidity.
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