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Are credit default swaps associated with higher corporate defaults?

Listed author(s):
  • Stavros Peristiani
  • Vanessa Savino

Are companies with traded credit default swap (CDS) positions on their debt more likely to default? Using a proportional hazard model of bankruptcy and Merton’s contingent claims approach, we estimate the probability of default for U.S. nonfinancial firms. Our analysis does not generally find a persistent link between CDS and default over the entire period 2001-08, but does reveal a higher probability of default for firms with CDS over the last few years of that period. Further, we find that firms trading in the CDS market exhibited a higher Moody’s KMV expected default frequency during 2004-08. These findings are consistent with those of Henry Hu and Bernard Black, who argue that agency conflicts between hedged creditors and debtors would increase the likelihood of corporate default. In addition, our paper highlights other explanations for the higher defaults of CDS firms. Consistent with fire-sale spiral theories, we find a positive link between institutional ownership exposure and corporate distress, with CDS firms facing stronger selling pressures during the recent financial turmoil.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of New York in its series Staff Reports with number 494.

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Date of creation: 2011
Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:494
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  1. Markus K. Brunnermeier & Lasse Heje Pedersen, 2009. "Market Liquidity and Funding Liquidity," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 22(6), pages 2201-2238, June.
  2. Park, Sangkyun & Peristiani, Stavros, 2007. "Are bank shareholders enemies of regulators or a potential source of market discipline?," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 31(8), pages 2493-2515, August.
  3. Lucy F. Ackert & George Athanassakos, 2003. "A Simultaneous Equations Analysis of Analysts' Forecast Bias, Analyst Following, and Institutional Ownership," Journal of Business Finance & Accounting, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 30, pages 1017-1042.
  4. John Y. Campbell & Jens Hilscher & Jan Szilagyi, 2008. "In Search of Distress Risk," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 63(6), pages 2899-2939, December.
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  7. Hamid Mehran & Stavros Peristiani, 2010. "Financial Visibility and the Decision to Go Private," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 23(2), pages 519-547, February.
  8. Coval, Joshua & Stafford, Erik, 2007. "Asset fire sales (and purchases) in equity markets," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(2), pages 479-512, November.
  9. Sudheer Chava & Robert A. Jarrow, 2008. "Bankruptcy Prediction with Industry Effects," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: Financial Derivatives Pricing Selected Works of Robert Jarrow, chapter 21, pages 517-549 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
  10. Harald HAU & Sandy LAI, "undated". "The Role of Equity Funds in the Financial Crisis Propagation," Swiss Finance Institute Research Paper Series 11-35, Swiss Finance Institute.
  11. Gilson, Stuart C. & John, Kose & Lang, Larry H. P., 1990. "Troubled debt restructurings*1: An empirical study of private reorganization of firms in default," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 315-353, October.
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