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A Comparative Study of Structural Models of Corporate Bond Yields: An Exploratory Investigation


  • Anderson, Ronald

    (UNIVERSITE CATHOLIQUE DE LOUVAIN, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES); CEPR)

  • Sundaresan, Suresh

    (Columbia University, Graduate School of Business)


This paper empirically compares a variety of firm-value-based models of contingent claims. We formulate a general model which takes the perpetual coupon bond models of Merton (1974), Leland (1994) and Anderson, Sundaresan and Tychon (1996), as well as some immediate generalizations thereof, as special cases. We estimate these using aggregate time series data for the US corporate bond market, monthly, from August 1970 through December 1996. The data are average yields for industrial corporate bonds rated BBB, Treasury yields, leverage measures derived from the Flow of Funds Accounts, interest coverage measures derived from the National Income Accounts, and volatility measures derived from the stock market. In the basic specification with constant default free rates, we find that models with endogenous bankruptcy barriers (the Leland and the Anderson, Sundaresan and Tychon models) fit quite well. Thus, in these models, variations of leverage and asset volatility are found to account for much of the time-series variations of observed corporate yields. We then use the estimates to calculate the implied probability of default within N years. We find under plausible assumptions on the market risk-premium for levered firms that the models produce default probabilities for 5 years or more which are in line with the historical experience reported by Moodys.

Suggested Citation

  • Anderson, Ronald & Sundaresan, Suresh, 1998. "A Comparative Study of Structural Models of Corporate Bond Yields: An Exploratory Investigation," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 1999009, Universit√© catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES), revised 00 Jan 1999.
  • Handle: RePEc:ctl:louvir:1999009

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Merton, Robert C, 1974. "On the Pricing of Corporate Debt: The Risk Structure of Interest Rates," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 29(2), pages 449-470, May.
    2. 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..
    3. Chen, Nai-Fu, 1991. " Financial Investment Opportunities and the Macroeconomy," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 46(2), pages 529-554, June.
    4. Benjamin M. Friedman, 1985. "Corporate Capital Structures in the United States," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number frie85-1, July.
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    More about this item


    Contingent Claims Analysis; Corporate Bonds; Credit Risk;

    JEL classification:

    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • G13 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Contingent Pricing; Futures Pricing
    • G33 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Bankruptcy; Liquidation

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