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Estimating probabilities of default

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  • Samuel Hanson
  • Til Schuermann

Abstract

We conduct a systematic comparison of confidence intervals around estimated probabilities of default (PD), using several analytical approaches from large-sample theory and bootstrapped small-sample confidence intervals. We do so for two different PD estimation methods-cohort and duration (intensity)-using twenty-two years of credit ratings data. We find that the bootstrapped intervals for the duration-based estimates are surprisingly tight when compared with the more commonly used (asymptotic) Wald interval. We find that even with these relatively tight confidence intervals, it is impossible to distinguish notch-level PDs for investment grade ratings-for example, a PDAA- from a PDA+. However, once the speculative grade barrier is crossed, we are able to distinguish quite cleanly notch-level estimated default probabilities. Conditioning on the state of the business cycle helps; it is easier to distinguish adjacent PDs in recessions than in expansions.

Suggested Citation

  • Samuel Hanson & Til Schuermann, 2004. "Estimating probabilities of default," Staff Reports 190, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:190
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Mr. Jorge A Chan-Lau, 2006. "Fundamentals-Based Estimation of Default Probabilities - A Survey," IMF Working Papers 2006/149, International Monetary Fund.
    2. Katja Pluto & Dirk Tasche, 2006. "Estimating Probabilities of Default for Low Default Portfolios," Springer Books, in: Bernd Engelmann & Robert Rauhmeier (ed.), The Basel II Risk Parameters, chapter 0, pages 79-103, Springer.
    3. Anand, Kartik & Gai, Prasanna & Kapadia, Sujit & Brennan, Simon & Willison, Matthew, 2013. "A network model of financial system resilience," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 85(C), pages 219-235.
    4. Rungporn Roengpitya, 2012. "Proposal of New Hybrid PD Estimation Models for the Low Default Portfolios (LDPs), Empirical Comparisons and Policy Implications," Working Papers 2012-03, Monetary Policy Group, Bank of Thailand.
    5. Jankowitsch, Rainer & Nagler, Florian & Subrahmanyam, Marti G., 2014. "The determinants of recovery rates in the US corporate bond market," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 114(1), pages 155-177.
    6. Rungporn Roengpitya & Pratabjai Nilla-or, 2012. "Challenges on the Validation of PD Models for Low Default Portfolios (LDPs) and Regulatory Policy Implications," Working Papers 2012-02, Monetary Policy Group, Bank of Thailand.
    7. Salnikov, V. & Mogilat, A. & Maslov, I., 2012. "Stress Testing for Russian Real Sector: First Approach," Journal of the New Economic Association, New Economic Association, vol. 16(4), pages 46-70.

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