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The pricing of unexpected credit losses

Author

Listed:
  • Jeffery D. Amato

    (Goldman Sachs International)

  • Eli M Remolona

Abstract

Why are spreads on corporate bonds so wide relative to expected losses from default? The spread on Baa-rated bonds, for example, has been about four times the expected loss. We suggest that the most commonly cited explanations – taxes, liquidity and systematic diffusive risk – are inadequate. We argue instead that idiosyncratic default risk, or the risk of unexpected losses due to single- name defaults in necessarily "small" credit portfolios, accounts for the major part of spreads. Because return distributions are highly skewed, diversification would require very large portfolios. Evidence from arbitrage CDOs suggests that such diversification is not readily achievable in practice, and idiosyncratic risk is therefore unavoidable. Taking a cue from CDO subordination structures, we propose value-at-risk at the Aaa-rated confidence level as a summary measure of risk in feasible credit portfolios. We find evidence of a positive linear relationship between this risk measure and spreads on corporate bonds across rating classes.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeffery D. Amato & Eli M Remolona, 2005. "The pricing of unexpected credit losses," BIS Working Papers 190, Bank for International Settlements.
  • Handle: RePEc:bis:biswps:190
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Gann, Philipp, 2008. "Der Internal Capital Adequacy Assessment Process als regulatorischer Treiber eines aktiven Kreditportfoliomanagements," Discussion Papers in Business Administration 4831, University of Munich, Munich School of Management.
    2. Roberto Violi, 2010. "Credit ratings in structured finance and the role of systemic risk," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 774, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    3. Gann, Philipp, 2009. "Liquidität, Risikoeinstellung des Kapitalmarktes und Konjunkturerwartung als Preisdeterminanten von Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs) - Eine simulationsgestützte Analyse," Discussion Papers in Business Administration 10582, University of Munich, Munich School of Management.
    4. Schaber, Albert, 2008. "Combination notes: market segmentation and equity transfer," Discussion Papers in Business Administration 4151, University of Munich, Munich School of Management.
    5. Berndt, Antje & Obreja, Iulian, 2007. "The pricing of risk in European credit and corporate bond markets," Working Paper Series 805, European Central Bank.
    6. Antonio Di Cesare & Giovanni Guazzarotti, 2010. "An analysis of the determinants of credit default swap spread changes before and during the subprime financial turmoil," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 749, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    7. M. Hashem Pesaran & Til Schuermann & Bjorn-Jakob Treutler, 2007. "Global Business Cycles and Credit Risk," NBER Chapters,in: The Risks of Financial Institutions, pages 419-474 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. M. Hashem Pesaran & Til Schuermann & Björn-Jakob Treutler, 2005. "The Role of Industry, Geography and Firm Heterogeneity in Credit Risk Diversification," IEPR Working Papers 05.25, Institute of Economic Policy Research (IEPR).
    9. Amstad, Marlene & Remolona, Eli & Shek, Jimmy, 2016. "How do global investors differentiate between sovereign risks? The new normal versus the old," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 32-48.
    10. Gann, Philipp & Laut, Amelie, 2008. "Einflussfaktoren auf den Credit Spread von Unternehmensanleihen," Discussion Papers in Business Administration 4231, University of Munich, Munich School of Management.
    11. Gemmill, Gordon & Keswani, Aneel, 2011. "Downside risk and the size of credit spreads," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 35(8), pages 2021-2036, August.
    12. James Kau & Donald Keenan & Alexey Smurov, 2011. "Leverage and Mortgage Foreclosures," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 42(4), pages 393-415, May.
    13. Don H Kim & Mico Loretan & Eli M Remolona, 2010. "Contagion and risk premia in the amplification of crisis: evidence from Asian names in the global CDS market," BIS Papers chapters,in: Bank for International Settlements (ed.), The international financial crisis and policy challenges in Asia and the Pacific, volume 52, pages 318-339 Bank for International Settlements.
    14. Berg, Tobias & Kaserer, Christoph, 2008. "Linking credit risk premia to the equity premium," CEFS Working Paper Series 2008-01, Technische Universität München (TUM), Center for Entrepreneurial and Financial Studies (CEFS).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    credit spread puzzle; jump-at-default risk; Sharpe ratio; collateralised debt obligation;

    JEL classification:

    • C13 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Estimation: General
    • C32 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Time-Series Models; Dynamic Quantile Regressions; Dynamic Treatment Effect Models; Diffusion Processes; State Space Models
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • G13 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Contingent Pricing; Futures Pricing
    • G14 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Information and Market Efficiency; Event Studies; Insider Trading

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