A Reduced Form Model of Default Spreads with Markov Switching Macroeconomic Factors
An important research area of the corporate yield spread literature seeks to measure the proportion of the spread explained by factors such as the possibility of default, liquidity or tax differentials. We contribute to this literature by assessing the ability of observed macroeconomic factors and the possibility of changes in regime to explain the proportion in yield spreads caused by the risk of default in the context of a reduced form model. For this purpose, we extend the Markov Switching risk-free term structure model of Bansal ad Zhou (2002) to the corporate bond setting and develop recursive formulas for default probabilities, risk-free and risky zero-coupon bond yields. The model is calibrated out of sample with consumption, inflation, risk-free yield and default data over the 1987-1996 period. Our results indicate that inflation is a key factor to consider for explaining default spreads during our sample period. We also find that the estimated default spreads can explain up to half of the 10 year to maturity Baa zero-coupon yield in certain regime with different sensitivities to consumption and inflation through time.
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