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Credit Spreads and the Treasury Zero Coupon Spot Curve

  • Frank Skinner


    (ICMA Centre, University of Reading)

  • Nicholas Papageorgiou

    (HEC Montreal, Canada)

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    This paper examines the relationship between credit spreads on industrial bonds and the underlying Treasury term-structure. Unlike previous studies, we use zero-coupon spot rates, which eliminate coupon bias, and so allow for a consistent study both within and across the different credit ratings. As far as we are able to determine, we are the first to examine the stability of the relation between credit spreads and the Treasury term structure. We find that the level and the slope of the Treasury term structure are negatively correlated with the spread on corporate bonds. Importantly, the effect of the level and slope of the Treasury yield curve on credit spreads are reasonably constant through time. This is good news for value-at-risk calculations as this suggests that the correlation amongst assets of different credit classes are stable, so use of historic correlations to model spread relations maybe valid.

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    Paper provided by Henley Business School, Reading University in its series ICMA Centre Discussion Papers in Finance with number icma-dp2001-06.

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    Length: 38 pages
    Date of creation: Aug 2001
    Date of revision: Jul 2002
    Handle: RePEc:rdg:icmadp:icma-dp2001-06
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    1. Gregory R. Duffee, 1998. "The Relation Between Treasury Yields and Corporate Bond Yield Spreads," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(6), pages 2225-2241, December.
    2. Edwin J. Elton & T. Clifton Green, 1998. "Tax and Liquidity Effects in Pricing Government Bonds," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(5), pages 1533-1562, October.
    3. Pierre Collin-Dufresne, 2001. "The Determinants of Credit Spread Changes," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 56(6), pages 2177-2207, December.
    4. Duffee, Gregory R, 1999. "Estimating the Price of Default Risk," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 12(1), pages 197-226.
    5. Antionio Diaz & Frank Skinner, 2001. "Estimating Corporate Yield Curves," ICMA Centre Discussion Papers in Finance icma-dp2001-01, Henley Business School, Reading University.
    6. Mark Fisher & Douglas Nychka & David Zervos, 1995. "Fitting the term structure of interest rates with smoothing splines," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 95-1, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    7. Daniel F. Waggoner, 1997. "Spline methods for extracting interest rate curves from coupon bond prices," FRB Atlanta Working Paper No. 97-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    8. 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 1351-60, December.
    9. McCulloch, J Huston, 1975. "The Tax-Adjusted Yield Curve," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 30(3), pages 811-30, June.
    10. Edwin J. Elton, 2001. "Explaining the Rate Spread on Corporate Bonds," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 56(1), pages 247-277, 02.
    11. Breusch, T S & Pagan, A R, 1980. "The Lagrange Multiplier Test and Its Applications to Model Specification in Econometrics," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 239-53, January.
    12. McCulloch, J Huston, 1971. "Measuring the Term Structure of Interest Rates," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(1), pages 19-31, January.
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