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Toward a bottom-up approach to assessing sovereign default risk: an update

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Abstract

We propose a totally new approach toward assessing sovereign risk by examining rigorously the health and aggregate default risk of a nation’s private corporate sector. Models such as our new Z-Metrics™ approach can be utilized to measure the median probability of default of the non-financial sector cumulatively for five years, both as an absolute measure of corporate risk vulnerability and a relative measure compared to other sovereigns and to the market’s assessment via the now liquid credit-default-swap market. Specifically, we measure the default probabilities of listed corporate entities in eleven European countries, and the U.S., as of 2008-2010. These periods coincide with the significant rise in concern with sovereign default risk in the euro country sphere. We conclude that our corporate health index of the private sector measured at periods prior to the explicit recognition by most credit professionals, not only gave an effective early warning indicator but provided a mostly appropriate hierarchy of relative sovereign risk. Policy officials should, we believe, nurture, not penalize, the tax revenue paying and jobs generating private sector when considering austerity measures of distressed sovereigns.

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  • Altman, Edward & Rijken, Herbert, 2012. "Toward a bottom-up approach to assessing sovereign default risk: an update," Journal of Financial Transformation, Capco Institute, vol. 34, pages 19-29.
  • Handle: RePEc:ris:jofitr:1508
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Sovereign Risk; Financial Crisis; Default Probability; Z-Metrics;

    JEL classification:

    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems
    • F36 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Financial Aspects of Economic Integration

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