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Internet Searches, Household Sentiment and Credit Spreads

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Abstract

We use Google internet search volumes to measure households’ pessimism about overall market-wide credit health in the economy, and show that this “household default sentiment” is positively correlated with the credit default swap (CDS) spread level in the market. However, while household default sentiment might drive the cost of credit to some degree, either directly or indirectly through its effect on the stock market, we find the stock market’s opinion about the credit risk in the economy (default probabilities backed out from structural models) to be much more important in explaining credit spreads. The rather weak link between household sentiment and CDS spreads, meanwhile, is consistent with the almost complete absence of retail investors (households) in the institutional investor-dominated credit derivatives market. The results are essentially the same, whether we look at market-wide CDS indexes or single-name CDS contracts, and whether we exclude the financial crisis or not.

Suggested Citation

  • Byström, Hans, 2019. "Internet Searches, Household Sentiment and Credit Spreads," Working Papers 2019:15, Lund University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:lunewp:2019_015
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Zhi Da & Joseph Engelberg & Pengjie Gao, 2015. "Editor's Choice The Sum of All FEARS Investor Sentiment and Asset Prices," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 28(1), pages 1-32.
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    5. 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.
    6. Benjamin Yibin Zhang & Hao Zhou & Haibin Zhu, 2009. "Explaining Credit Default Swap Spreads with the Equity Volatility and Jump Risks of Individual Firms," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 22(12), pages 5099-5131, December.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    sentiment; Google; internet search; households; CDS; spread; distance to default;

    JEL classification:

    • C82 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Macroeconomic Data; Data Access
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • G14 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Information and Market Efficiency; Event Studies; Insider Trading
    • G50 - Financial Economics - - Household Finance - - - General

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