Credit Risk and Risk Neutral Default Probabilities: Information About Migrations and Defaults
Default probabilities are important to the credit markets. Changes in default probabilities may forecast credit rating migrations to other rating levels or to default. Such rating changes can affect the firmâ€™s cost of capital, credit spreads, bond returns, and the prices and hedge ratios of credit derivatives. While rating agencies such as Moodys and Standard & Poors compute historical default frequencies, option models can also be used to calculate forward looking or expected default frequencies. In this paper, we compute risk neutral probabilities or default (RNPD) using the diffusion models of Merton (1974) and Geske (1977). It is shown that the Geske model produces a term structure of RNPDâ€™s, and the shape of this term structure may forecast impending credit events. Next, it is shown that these RNPDâ€™s serve as bounds to estimates of actual default probabilities. Furthermore, the RNPDâ€™s exhibit the same comparative statics as the estimates of actual default probabilities. Also, the risk neutral default probabilities may be more accurately estimated than actual default probabilities because they do not require an estimate of the firmâ€™s drift. Given these similarities and advantages of RNPDâ€™s, their estimates may possess significant information about credit events. To confirm this an event study of the relation between RNPD and rating migrations is conducted. We first show that these RNPDâ€™s from both the Merton and Geske models do possess significant and very early information about credit rating migrations.While the sample of firms that actually default during this time period is small, changes in the shape of the term structure of default probabilities appears to detect impending migrations to default. This is shown to be consistent with an inverted term structure of default probabilities, where prior to an impending default, the short term default probability is higher than the forward default probability. Finally, since rating migrations to either lower ratings or to default can be detected months in advance these credit events may not be a surprise.
|Date of creation:||01 May 1998|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: 110 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA. 90095|
Web page: http://www.escholarship.org/repec/anderson_fin/
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Black, Fischer & Cox, John C, 1976. "Valuing Corporate Securities: Some Effects of Bond Indenture Provisions," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 31(2), pages 351-367, May.
- Geske, Robert, 1978. "The Pricing of Options with Stochastic Dividend Yield," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 33(2), pages 617-625, May.
- Black, Fischer & Scholes, Myron S, 1973. "The Pricing of Options and Corporate Liabilities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 637-654, May-June.
- Duffie, Darrell & Singleton, Kenneth J, 1997. " An Econometric Model of the Term Structure of Interest-Rate Swap Yields," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(4), pages 1287-1321, September.
- Geske, Robert, 1979. "The valuation of compound options," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 63-81, March.
- Altman, Edward I. & Haldeman, Robert G. & Narayanan, P., 1977. "ZETATM analysis A new model to identify bankruptcy risk of corporations," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 29-54, June.
- Robert A. Jarrow & Stuart M. Turnbull, 2008.
"Pricing Derivatives on Financial Securities Subject to Credit Risk,"
World Scientific Book Chapters,in: Financial Derivatives Pricing Selected Works of Robert Jarrow, chapter 17, pages 377-409
World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
- Jarrow, Robert A & Turnbull, Stuart M, 1995. " Pricing Derivatives on Financial Securities Subject to Credit Risk," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 50(1), pages 53-85, March.
- Longstaff, Francis A & Schwartz, Eduardo S, 1995. " A Simple Approach to Valuing Risky Fixed and Floating Rate Debt," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 50(3), pages 789-819, July.
- Geske, Robert & Johnson, Herb E, 1984. " The American Put Option Valued Analytically," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 39(5), pages 1511-1524, December.
- Geske, Robert, 1977. "The Valuation of Corporate Liabilities as Compound Options," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 12(04), pages 541-552, November. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)