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The Use (and Abuse) of CDS Spreads During Distress


  • Carolyne Spackman
  • Manmohan Singh


Credit Default Swap spreads have been used as a leading indicator of distress. Default probabilities can be extracted from CDS spreads, but during distress it is important to take account of the stochastic nature of recovery value. The recent episodes of Landbanski, WAMU and Lehman illustrate that using the industry-standard fixed recovery rate assumption gives default probabilities that are low relative to those extracted from stochastic recovery value as proxied by the cheapest-to-deliver bonds. Financial institutions using fixed rate recovery assumptions could have a false sense of security, and could be faced with outsized losses with potential knock-on effects for other institutions. To ensure effective oversight of financial institutions, and to monitor the stability of the global financial system especially during distress, the stochastic nature of recovery rates needs to be incorporated.

Suggested Citation

  • Carolyne Spackman & Manmohan Singh, 2009. "The Use (and Abuse) of CDS Spreads During Distress," IMF Working Papers 09/62, International Monetary Fund.
  • Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:09/62

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Houweling, Patrick & Vorst, Ton, 2005. "Pricing default swaps: Empirical evidence," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 24(8), pages 1200-1225, December.
    2. Jun Pan & Kenneth J. Singleton, 2008. "Default and Recovery Implicit in the Term Structure of Sovereign "CDS" Spreads," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 63(5), pages 2345-2384, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Virginie Coudert & Mathieu Gex, 2010. "Le règlement des défauts sur le marché des credit default swaps : le cas de Lehman Brothers," Revue d'Économie Financière, Programme National Persée, vol. 97(2), pages 15-34.


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