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On the term structure of default premia in the Swap and Libor markets

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  • SOLNIK, Bruno
  • COLLIN-DUFRESNE, Pierre

Abstract

Existing theories of the term structure of swap rates provide an analysis of the Treasury-swap spread based on either a liquidity convenience yield in the Treasury market, or default risk in the swap market. While these models do not focus on the relation between corporate yields and swap rates (the LIBOR-Swap spread), they imply that the term structure of corporate yields and swap rates should be identical. As documented previously (e.g. in Sun, Sundares and Wang (1993)) this is counter-factual. Here, we propose a simple model of the (complex) default risk imbedded in the swap term structure that is able to explain the LIBOR-swap spread. Whereas corporate bonds carry default risk, we argue that swaps should bear less default risk. In fact, we assume that swap contracts are free of default risk. Because swaps are indexed on "refreshed"-credit-quality LIBOR rates, the spread between corporate yields and swap rates should capture the market's expectations of the probability of deterioration in credit quality of a corporate bond issuer. We model this feature and use our model to estimate the likelihood of future deterioration in credit quality from the LIBOR-swap spread. The analysis is important because it shows that the term structure of swap rates does not reflect the borrowing cost of a standard LIBOR credit quality issuer. It also has implications for modeling the dynamics of the swap term structure.

Suggested Citation

  • SOLNIK, Bruno & COLLIN-DUFRESNE, Pierre, 2000. "On the term structure of default premia in the Swap and Libor markets," Les Cahiers de Recherche 704, HEC Paris.
  • Handle: RePEc:ebg:heccah:0704
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Narasimhan Jegadeesh & George Pennacchi, 1996. "The behavior of interest rates implied by the term structure of Eurodollar future," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue Aug, pages 426-451.
    2. Duffee, Gregory R, 1999. "Estimating the Price of Default Risk," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 12(1), pages 197-226.
    3. 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.
    4. Langetieg, Terence C, 1980. " A Multivariate Model of the Term Structure," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 35(1), pages 71-97, March.
    5. Mark Grinblatt, 2001. "An Analytic Solution for Interest Rate Swap Spreads," International Review of Finance, International Review of Finance Ltd., vol. 2(3), pages 113-149.
    6. Duffie, Darrell & Singleton, Kenneth J, 1999. "Modeling Term Structures of Defaultable Bonds," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 12(4), pages 687-720.
    7. Robert A. Jarrow & David Lando & Stuart M. Turnbull, 2008. "A Markov Model for the Term Structure of Credit Risk Spreads," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: Financial Derivatives Pricing Selected Works of Robert Jarrow, chapter 18, pages 411-453 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    8. Gregory R. Duffee, 1998. "The Relation Between Treasury Yields and Corporate Bond Yield Spreads," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(6), pages 2225-2241, December.
    9. Cossin, Didier & Pirotte, Hugues, 1997. "Swap credit risk: An empirical investigation on transaction data," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 21(10), pages 1351-1373, October.
    10. 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.
    11. Sarig, Oded & Warga, Arthur, 1989. " Some Empirical Estimates of the Risk Structure of Interest Rates," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 44(5), pages 1351-1360, December.
    12. Litzenberger, Robert H, 1992. " Swaps: Plain and Fanciful," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 47(3), pages 831-850, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Frank X. Zhang, 2003. "What did the credit market expect of Argentina default? Evidence from default swap data," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2003-25, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    2. Jobst, Norbert J. & Zenios, Stavros A., 2005. "On the simulation of portfolios of interest rate and credit risk sensitive securities," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 161(2), pages 298-324, March.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Credit risk; asset pricing; international finance;

    JEL classification:

    • G10 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - General (includes Measurement and Data)
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • G15 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - International Financial Markets

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