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Estimation of Default Probabilities with Support Vector Machines

  • Shiyi Chen
  • Wolfgang Härdle
  • Rouslan Moro

Predicting default probabilities is important for firms and banks to operate successfully and to estimate their specific risks. There are many reasons to use nonlinear techniques for predicting bankruptcy from financial ratios. Here we propose the so called Support Vector Machine (SVM) to estimate default probabilities of German firms. Our analysis is based on the Creditreform database. The results reveal that the most important eight predictors related to bankruptcy for these German firms belong to the ratios of activity, profitability, liquidity, leverage and the percentage of incremental inventories. Based on the performance measures, the SVM tool can predict a firms default risk and identify the insolvent firm more accurately than the benchmark logit model. The sensitivity investigation and a corresponding visualization tool reveal that the classifying ability of SVM appears to be superior over a wide range of the SVM parameters. Based on the nonparametric Nadaraya-Watson estimator, the expected returns predicted by the SVM for regression have a significant positive linear relationship with the risk scores obtained for classification. This evidence is stronger than empirical results for the CAPM based on a linear regression and confirms that higher risks need to be compensated by higher potential returns.

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File URL: http://sfb649.wiwi.hu-berlin.de/papers/pdf/SFB649DP2006-077.pdf
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Paper provided by Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany in its series SFB 649 Discussion Papers with number SFB649DP2006-077.

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Length: 43 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hum:wpaper:sfb649dp2006-077
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  1. Neville Francis & Valerie A. Ramey, 2006. "The Source of Historical Economic Fluctuations: An Analysis Using Long-Run Restrictions," NBER Chapters, in: NBER International Seminar on Macroeconomics 2004, pages 17-73 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  8. Fama, Eugene F. & French, Kenneth R., 1993. "Common risk factors in the returns on stocks and bonds," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 3-56, February.
  9. Fama, Eugene F & French, Kenneth R, 1996. " The CAPM Is Wanted, Dead or Alive," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 51(5), pages 1947-58, December.
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