IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/15848.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Corporate Bond Default Risk: A 150-Year Perspective

Author

Listed:
  • Kay Giesecke
  • Francis A. Longstaff
  • Stephen Schaefer
  • Ilya Strebulaev

Abstract

We study corporate bond default rates using an extensive new data set spanning the 1866-2008 period. We find that the corporate bond market has repeatedly suffered clustered default events much worse than those experienced during the Great Depression. For example, during the railroad crisis of 1873-1875, total defaults amounted to 36 percent of the par value of the entire corporate bond market. We examine whether corporate default rates are best forecast by structural, reduced-form, or macroeconomic credit models and find that variables suggested by structural models outperform the others. Default events are only weakly correlated with business downturns. We find that over the long term, credit spreads are roughly twice as large as default losses, resulting in an average credit risk premium of about 80 basis points. We also find that credit spreads do not adjust in response to realized default rates.

Suggested Citation

  • Kay Giesecke & Francis A. Longstaff & Stephen Schaefer & Ilya Strebulaev, 2010. "Corporate Bond Default Risk: A 150-Year Perspective," NBER Working Papers 15848, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15848
    Note: AP
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w15848.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Duffie, Darrell & Saita, Leandro & Wang, Ke, 2007. "Multi-period corporate default prediction with stochastic covariates," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(3), pages 635-665, March.
    2. Antje Berndt & Rohan Douglas & Darrell Duffie & Mark Ferguson, "undated". "Measuring Default Risk Premia from Default Swap Rates and EDFs," GSIA Working Papers 2006-E31, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
    3. Goldstein, Robert & Ju, Nengjiu & Leland, Hayne, 2001. "An EBIT-Based Model of Dynamic Capital Structure," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 74(4), pages 483-512, October.
    4. Francis A. Longstaff & Sanjay Mithal & Eric Neis, 2005. "Corporate Yield Spreads: Default Risk or Liquidity? New Evidence from the Credit Default Swap Market," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(5), pages 2213-2253, October.
    5. Efraim Benmelech, 2009. "Asset Salability and Debt Maturity: Evidence from Nineteenth-Century American Railroads," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 22(4), pages 1545-1584, April.
    6. Snowden, Kenneth A., 1990. "Historical returns and security market development, 1872-1925," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 381-420, October.
    7. Robert C. Merton, 2005. "Theory of rational option pricing," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: Theory Of Valuation, chapter 8, pages 229-288 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    8. Duffie, Darrell & Singleton, Kenneth J, 1999. "Modeling Term Structures of Defaultable Bonds," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 12(4), pages 687-720.
    9. Robert A. Jarrow & David Lando & Fan Yu, 2008. "Default Risk And Diversification: Theory And Empirical Implications," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: Financial Derivatives Pricing Selected Works of Robert Jarrow, chapter 19, pages 455-480 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    10. Robert A. Jarrow & David Lando & Stuart M. Turnbull, 2008. "A Markov Model for the Term Structure of Credit Risk Spreads," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: Financial Derivatives Pricing Selected Works of Robert Jarrow, chapter 18, pages 411-453 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    11. Leland, Hayne E, 1994. " Corporate Debt Value, Bond Covenants, and Optimal Capital Structure," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 49(4), pages 1213-1252, September.
    12. Duffie, Darrell & Singleton, Kenneth J, 1997. " An Econometric Model of the Term Structure of Interest-Rate Swap Yields," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(4), pages 1287-1321, September.
    13. Sergei A. Davydenko & Ilya A. Strebulaev, 2007. "Strategic Actions and Credit Spreads: An Empirical Investigation," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 62(6), pages 2633-2671, December.
    14. O'Hara, Maureen & Easley, David, 1979. "The Postal Savings System in the Depression," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 39(03), pages 741-753, September.
    15. Robert A. Jarrow & Stuart M. Turnbull, 2008. "Pricing Derivatives on Financial Securities Subject to Credit Risk," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: Financial Derivatives Pricing Selected Works of Robert Jarrow, chapter 17, pages 377-409 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    16. Edward I. Altman, 1968. "Financial Ratios, Discriminant Analysis And The Prediction Of Corporate Bankruptcy," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 23(4), pages 589-609, September.
    17. 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.
    18. Bernanke, Ben S, 1981. "Bankruptcy, Liquidity, and Recession," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(2), pages 155-159, May.
    19. Heitor Almeida & Thomas Philippon, 2007. "The Risk-Adjusted Cost of Financial Distress," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 62(6), pages 2557-2586, December.
    20. repec:bla:joares:v:18:y:1980:i:1:p:109-131 is not listed on IDEAS
    21. Young Ho Eom, 2004. "Structural Models of Corporate Bond Pricing: An Empirical Analysis," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 17(2), pages 499-544.
    22. Altman, Edward I, 1989. " Measuring Corporate Bond Mortality and Performance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 44(4), pages 909-922, September.
    23. Milton Friedman & Anna J. Schwartz, 1963. "A Monetary History of the United States, 1867–1960," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number frie63-1.
    24. 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.
    25. Edwin J. Elton, 2001. "Explaining the Rate Spread on Corporate Bonds," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 56(1), pages 247-277, February.
    26. Joost Driessen, 2005. "Is Default Event Risk Priced in Corporate Bonds?," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 18(1), pages 165-195.
    27. Edward I. Altman & Brooks Brady & Andrea Resti & Andrea Sironi, 2005. "The Link between Default and Recovery Rates: Theory, Empirical Evidence, and Implications," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(6), pages 2203-2228, November.
    28. Black, Fischer & Scholes, Myron S, 1973. "The Pricing of Options and Corporate Liabilities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 637-654, May-June.
    29. repec:bla:joares:v:4:y:1966:i::p:71-111 is not listed on IDEAS
    30. Maria Vassalou & Yuhang Xing, 2004. "Default Risk in Equity Returns," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 59(2), pages 831-868, April.
    31. 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..
    32. Hanno Lustig & Priyank Gandhi, 2010. "Size Anomalies in US Bank Stock Returns: Your Tax Dollars at Work?," 2010 Meeting Papers 1290, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    33. Shumway, Tyler, 2001. "Forecasting Bankruptcy More Accurately: A Simple Hazard Model," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 74(1), pages 101-124, January.
    34. In Joon Kim & Krishna Ramaswamy & Suresh Sundaresan, 1993. "Does Default Risk in Coupons Affect the Valuation of Corporate Bonds?: A Contingent Claims Model," Financial Management, Financial Management Association, vol. 22(3), Fall.
    35. Sarig, Oded & Warga, Arthur, 1989. " Some Empirical Estimates of the Risk Structure of Interest Rates," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 44(5), pages 1351-1360, December.
    36. Ilia D. Dichev, 1998. "Is the Risk of Bankruptcy a Systematic Risk?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(3), pages 1131-1147, June.
    37. Fons, Jerome S, 1987. " The Default Premium and Corporate Bond Experience," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 42(1), pages 81-97, March.
    38. Sreedhar T. Bharath & Tyler Shumway, 2008. "Forecasting Default with the Merton Distance to Default Model," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 21(3), pages 1339-1369, May.
    39. Pierre Collin-Dufresne, 2001. "The Determinants of Credit Spread Changes," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 56(6), pages 2177-2207, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Matthias Fleckenstein & Francis A. Longstaff & Hanno Lustig, 2010. "Why Does the Treasury Issue Tips? The Tips-Treasury Bond Puzzle," NBER Working Papers 16358, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Füss, Roland & Gehrig, Thomas & Rindler, Philipp B, 2011. "Scattered Trust - Did the 2007-08 financial crisis change risk perceptions?," CEPR Discussion Papers 8714, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Christian Hellwig & Aleh Tsyvinski & Elias Albagli, 2014. "Dynamic Dispersed Information and the Credit Spread Puzzle," 2014 Meeting Papers 808, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    4. Dionne, Georges & Gauthier, Geneviève & Hammami, Khemais & Maurice, Mathieu & Simonato, Jean-Guy, 2011. "A reduced form model of default spreads with Markov-switching macroeconomic factors," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 35(8), pages 1984-2000, August.
    5. Warren Bailey & Lin Zheng & Yinggang Zhou, 2012. "What Makes the VIX Tick?," Working Papers 222012, Hong Kong Institute for Monetary Research.
    6. Siakoulis, Vasilios, 2015. "Modeling bank default intensity in the USA using autoregressive duration models," MPRA Paper 64526, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Marti G. Subrahmanyam & Dragon Yongjun Tang & Sarah Qian Wang, 2012. "Does the Tail Wag the Dog? The Effect of Credit Default Swaps on Credit Risk," Working Papers 292012, Hong Kong Institute for Monetary Research.
    8. Priyank Gandhi & Hanno Lustig, 2010. "Size Anomalies in U.S. Bank Stock Returns: A Fiscal Explanation," NBER Working Papers 16553, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. repec:wsi:gcrxxx:v:02:y:2012:i:01:n:s2010493612500055 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Matthias Fleckenstein & Francis A. Longstaff & Hanno Lustig, 2013. "Deflation Risk," NBER Working Papers 19238, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Kay Giesecke & Francis A. Longstaff & Stephen Schaefer & Ilya Strebulaev, 2012. "Macroeconomic Effects of Corporate Default Crises: A Long-Term Perspective," NBER Working Papers 17854, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Francis A. Longstaff & Ilya A. Strebulaev, 2014. "Corporate Taxes and Capital Structure: A Long-Term Historical Perspective," NBER Working Papers 20372, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Emmanuel Mamatzakis & Panos Remoundos, 2012. "What are the Driving Factors Behind the Rise of Spreads and CDS of Eurozone Sovereign Bonds? A Panel VAR Analysis," Global Credit Review (GCR), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 2(01), pages 79-94.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • G33 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Bankruptcy; Liquidation

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15848. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: () or (Joanne Lustig). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.