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Interest Rates and Credit Risk

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  • González-Aguado, Carlos
  • Suarez, Javier

Abstract

This paper explores the effects of shifts in interest rates on corporate leverage and default. We develop a dynamic model in which the relationship between firms and their outside financiers is affected by a moral hazard problem and entrepreneurs' initial wealth is scarce. The endogenous link between leverage and default risk comes from the lower incentives of overindebted entrepreneurs to guarantee the survival of their firms. Firms start up with leverage typically higher than some state-contingent target leverage ratio, and adjust gradually to it through earnings retention. The dynamic response of leverage and default to cut and rises in interest rates is both asymmetric (since it is easier to adjust to a higher target leverage than to a lower one) and heterogeneously distributed across firms (since interest rates affect the burden of outstanding leverage, which differs across firms). We find that both interest rate rises and interest rate cuts increase the aggregate default rate in the short-run. Instead, higher rates produce lower default rates in the longer run since they induce lower target leverage across all firms. These results help rationalize some of the empirical evidence regarding the so-called risk-taking channel of monetary policy.

Suggested Citation

  • González-Aguado, Carlos & Suarez, Javier, 2011. "Interest Rates and Credit Risk," CEPR Discussion Papers 8398, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8398
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:eee:iburev:v:26:y:2017:i:3:p:417-434 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Altunbas, Yener & Gambacorta, Leonardo & Marques-Ibanez, David, 2012. "Do bank characteristics influence the effect of monetary policy on bank risk?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 117(1), pages 220-222.
    3. Gilbert COLLETAZ & Grégory LEVIEUGE & Alexandra POPESCU, 2016. "Monetary Policy and Long-Run Risk-Taking," LEO Working Papers / DR LEO 2409, Orleans Economics Laboratory / Laboratoire d'Economie d'Orleans (LEO), University of Orleans.
    4. Ekin Ayse Ozsuca & Elif Akbostanci, 2012. "An Empirical Analysis of the Risk Taking Channel of Monetary Policy in Turkey," ERC Working Papers 1208, ERC - Economic Research Center, Middle East Technical University, revised Dec 2012.
    5. Ekin Ayşe Özşuca & Elif Akbostancı, 2016. "An Empirical Analysis of the Risk-Taking Channel of Monetary Policy in Turkey," Emerging Markets Finance and Trade, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 52(3), pages 589-609, March.
    6. repec:mes:emfitr:v:52:y:2016:i:3:p:589-609 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. repec:eee:dyncon:v:86:y:2018:i:c:p:165-184 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. repec:ecb:ecbwps:20111427 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    credit risk; firm dynamics; interest rates; search for yield; short-term debt;

    JEL classification:

    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • G33 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Bankruptcy; Liquidation

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