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Credit spreads and interest rates : a cointegration approach

  • Charles S. Morris
  • Robert Neal
  • Doug Rolph

This paper uses cointegration to model the time-series of corporate and government bond rates. We show that corporate rates are cointegrated with government rates and the relation between credit spreads and Treasury rates depends on the time horizon. In the short-run, an increase in Treasury rates causes credit spreads to narrow. This effect is reversed over the long-run and higher rates cause spreads to widen. The positive long-run relation between spreads and Treasuries is inconsistent with prominent models for pricing corporate bonds, analyzing capital structure, and measuring the interest rate sensitivity of corporate bonds.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City in its series Research Working Paper with number 98-08.

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Date of creation: 1998
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedkrw:98-08
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  1. Johansen, Soren & Juselius, Katarina, 1990. "Maximum Likelihood Estimation and Inference on Cointegration--With Applications to the Demand for Money," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 52(2), pages 169-210, May.
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  5. Yash P. Mehra, 1994. "An error-correction model of the long-term bond rate," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Fall, pages 49-68.
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  9. 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 1351-60, December.
  10. Rose, Andrew Kenan, 1988. " Is the Real Interest Rate Stable?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 43(5), pages 1095-1112, December.
  11. Davis, E P, 1992. "Credit Quality Spreads, Bond Market Efficiency and Financial Fragility," The Manchester School of Economic & Social Studies, University of Manchester, vol. 60(0), pages 21-46, Supplemen.
  12. James G. MacKinnon, 1990. "Critical Values for Cointegration Tests," Working Papers 1227, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  13. Bernanke, Ben & Gertler, Mark, 1989. "Agency Costs, Net Worth, and Business Fluctuations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 14-31, March.
  14. Leland, Hayne E & Toft, Klaus Bjerre, 1996. " Optimal Capital Structure, Endogenous Bankruptcy, and the Term Structure of Credit Spreads," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 51(3), pages 987-1019, July.
  15. Gregory R. Duffee, 1996. "Treasury yields and corporate bond yield spreads: an empirical analysis," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 96-20, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  16. Granger, C W J & Swanson, Norman, 1996. "Future Developments in the Study of Cointegrated Variables," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 58(3), pages 537-53, August.
  17. Toru Konishi & Valerie A. Ramey & Clive W.J. Granger, 1993. "Stochastic Trends and Short-Run Relationships Between Financial Variables and Real Activity," NBER Working Papers 4275, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Bernanke, Ben S, 1983. "The Determinants of Investment: Another Look," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(2), pages 71-75, May.
  19. Chance, Don M, 1990. " Default Risk and the Duration of Zero Coupon Bonds," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 45(1), pages 265-74, March.
  20. Jarrow, Robert A & Lando, David & Turnbull, Stuart M, 1997. "A Markov Model for the Term Structure of Credit Risk Spreads," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 10(2), pages 481-523.
  21. Hall, Anthony D & Anderson, Heather M & Granger, Clive W J, 1992. "A Cointegration Analysis of Treasury Bill Yields," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(1), pages 116-26, February.
  22. Osterwald-Lenum, Michael, 1992. "A Note with Quantiles of the Asymptotic Distribution of the Maximum Likelihood Cointegration Rank Test Statistics," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 54(3), pages 461-72, August.
  23. 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.
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