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Insolvency or liquidity squeeze? Explaining very short-term corporate yield spreads

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  • Daniel M. Covitz
  • Chris Downing

Abstract

In this paper, we first document some stylized facts about very short-term and long-term corporate yield spreads. We find that short-term spreads are sizable, and the correlations between many firms' short-term and long-term yield spreads are at times negative. We then develop a structural model that generates levels and correlations of short-term and long-term spreads that are more consistent with what we observe. The model allows for the possibility of payment delays when a firm's liquid asset position deteriorates. Payment delays generate sizable short-term debt spreads because the realized returns on short-term investments are very sensitive to an increase in the holding period. The presence of liquidity risk can also explain negative correlations between short- and long-term spreads because liquidity risk is imperfectly correlated with insolvency risk. Using firm-level data, we provide empirical evidence that liquid assets holdings help predict short-term spreads, but not long-term spreads.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel M. Covitz & Chris Downing, 2002. "Insolvency or liquidity squeeze? Explaining very short-term corporate yield spreads," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2002-45, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2002-45
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Evan Gatev & Philip E. Strahan, 2003. "Banks' Advantage in Hedging Liquidity Risk: Theory and Evidence from the Commercial Paper Market," NBER Working Papers 9956, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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    Keywords

    Corporations ; Payment systems ; Econometric models;

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