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The Information in the High-Yield Bond Spread for the Business Cycle: Evidence and Some Implications

  • Gertler, Mark
  • Lown, Cara S

The market for high-yield (below-investment-grade) corporate bonds developed in the middle 1980s. We show that, since this time, the high-yield spread has had significant explanatory power for the business cycle. We interpret this finding as possibly symptomatic of financial factors at work in the business cycle, along the lines suggested by the financial accelerator. We also show that over this period the high-yield spread outperforms other leading financial indicators, including the term spread, the paper-bill spread, and the Federal Funds rate. We conjecture that changes in the conduct of monetary policy over time may account for the reduced informativeness of these alternative indicators, all of which are tied closely to monetary policy. Copyright 1999 by Oxford University Press.

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Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal Oxford Review of Economic Policy.

Volume (Year): 15 (1999)
Issue (Month): 3 (Autumn)
Pages: 132-50

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Handle: RePEc:oup:oxford:v:15:y:1999:i:3:p:132-50
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  1. Michael Dotsey, 1998. "The predictive content of the interest rate term spread for future economic growth," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Sum, pages 31-51.
  2. Ben S. Bernanke & Ilian Mihov, 1995. "Measuring Monetary Policy," NBER Working Papers 5145, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  4. Benjamin M. Friedman & Kenneth N. Kuttner, 1993. "Economic activity and the short-term credit markets: an analysis of prices and quantities," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues 93-17, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  5. R. Glenn Hubbard, 1998. "Capital-Market Imperfections and Investment," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 193-225, March.
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  8. Anil K. Kashyap & Jeremy C. Stein & David W. Wilcox, 1991. "Monetary policy and credit conditions: evidence from the composition of external finance," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 154, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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  10. Arturo Estrella & Frederic S. Mishkin, 1996. "Predicting U.S. recessions: financial variables as leading indicators," Research Paper 9609, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
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  12. Frederic S. Mishkin, 1990. "Asymmetric Information and Financial Crises: A Historical Perspective," NBER Working Papers 3400, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Ben S. Bernanke & Mark Gertler & Mark Watson, 1997. "Systematic Monetary Policy and the Effects of Oil Price Shocks," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 28(1), pages 91-157.
  14. Ben Bernanke & Mark Gertler & Simon Gilchrist, 1998. "The Financial Accelerator in a Quantitative Business Cycle Framework," NBER Working Papers 6455, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Muellbauer, John N J, 1996. "Income Persistence and Macro-Policy Feedbacks in the U.S," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 58(4), pages 703-33, November.
  16. Ben S. Bernanke & Cara S. Lown, 1991. "The Credit Crunch," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 22(2), pages 205-248.
  17. Ben S. Bernanke & Mark Gertler, 1995. "Inside the Black Box: The Credit Channel of Monetary Policy Transmission," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(4), pages 27-48, Fall.
  18. Bernanke, Ben & Gertler, Mark, 1989. "Agency Costs, Net Worth, and Business Fluctuations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 14-31, March.
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