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Default probability estimation in small samples - with an application to sovereign bonds

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  • Orth, Walter

Abstract

In small samples and especially in the case of small true default probabilities, standard approaches to credit default probability estimation have certain drawbacks. Most importantly, standard estimators tend to underestimate the true default probability which is of course an undesirable property from the perspective of prudent risk management. As an alternative, we present an empirical Bayes approach to default probability estimation and apply the estimator to a comprehensive sample of Standard & Poor's rated sovereign bonds. We further investigate the properties of a standard estimator and the empirical Bayes estimator by means of a simulation study. We show that the empirical Bayes estimator is more conservative and more precise under realistic data generating processes.

Suggested Citation

  • Orth, Walter, 2011. "Default probability estimation in small samples - with an application to sovereign bonds," MPRA Paper 33778, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:33778
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/36557/1/MPRA_paper_36557.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Kiefer, Nicholas M., 2009. "Default estimation for low-default portfolios," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 164-173, January.
    2. Hanson, Samuel & Schuermann, Til, 2006. "Confidence intervals for probabilities of default," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 30(8), pages 2281-2301, August.
    3. Fuertes, Ana-Maria & Kalotychou, Elena, 2007. "On sovereign credit migration: A study of alternative estimators and rating dynamics," Computational Statistics & Data Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 51(7), pages 3448-3469, April.
    4. Altman, Edward I, 1989. " Measuring Corporate Bond Mortality and Performance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 44(4), pages 909-922, September.
    5. Lando, David & Skodeberg, Torben M., 2002. "Analyzing rating transitions and rating drift with continuous observations," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 26(2-3), pages 423-444, March.
    6. Kiefer, Nicholas M., 2010. "Default Estimation and Expert Information," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 28(2), pages 320-328.
    7. Christensen, Jens H.E. & Hansen, Ernst & Lando, David, 2004. "Confidence sets for continuous-time rating transition probabilities," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 28(11), pages 2575-2602, November.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Low-default portfolios; empirical Bayes; sovereign default risk; Basel II;

    JEL classification:

    • C41 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Duration Analysis; Optimal Timing Strategies
    • G15 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - International Financial Markets
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • C11 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Bayesian Analysis: General

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