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Pricing Default Risk: The Good, The Bad, and The Anomaly

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  • Ferreira Filipe, Sara
  • Grammatikos, Theoharry
  • Michala, Dimitra

Abstract

While the empirical literature has often documented a “default anomaly”, i.e. a negative relation between default risk and stock returns, standard theory suggests that default risk should be priced in the cross-section. In this paper, we provide an explanation for this apparent puzzle using a new approach. First we calculate monthly physical probabilities of default (PDs) for a large sample of European firms. Second we decompose these estimated PDs into systematic and idiosyncratic components; we measure the systematic part as the sensitivity of the physical PD to an aggregate measure of default risk. While sorting stocks based on physical PDs confirms a possible default anomaly, we find that the relation between the systematic default risk and stock returns is in fact positive. Our results therefore suggest that risker stocks, as measured by the physical PDs, will tend to underperform because they have on average lower exposures to aggregate default risk. Their riskiness is mostly idiosyncratic and can be diversified away.

Suggested Citation

  • Ferreira Filipe, Sara & Grammatikos, Theoharry & Michala, Dimitra, 2014. "Pricing Default Risk: The Good, The Bad, and The Anomaly," MPRA Paper 53373, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:53373
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Default Risk; Merton model; Default Anomaly; Idiosyncratic Risk;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • G15 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - International Financial Markets
    • G33 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Bankruptcy; Liquidation

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