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Credit Risk Diversification


  • Simonne Varotto

    () (ICMA Centre, University of Reading)


We study the role of diversification in reducing the volatility of corporate bond returns induced by changes in credit spreads. Specifically, we look at how credit risk can be diminished when a portfolio is diversified across countries, industry sectors, maturities, seniority types and credit ratings. The role of national industrial structures on international diversification is also investigated. Our results show that geographical diversification is more effective in reducing portfolio risk than any alternative investment strategy we consider, and that industry effects are not material to this result. Finally, we explore the implications of our findings for credit risk capital regulation in banks.

Suggested Citation

  • Simonne Varotto, 2001. "Credit Risk Diversification," ICMA Centre Discussion Papers in Finance icma-dp2001-07, Henley Business School, Reading University.
  • Handle: RePEc:rdg:icmadp:icma-dp2001-07

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Campbell, John Y & Ammer, John, 1993. " What Moves the Stock and Bond Markets? A Variance Decomposition for Long-Term Asset Returns," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 48(1), pages 3-37, March.
    2. Nickell, Pamela & Perraudin, William & Varotto, Simone, 2000. "Stability of rating transitions," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 24(1-2), pages 203-227, January.
    3. Solnik, B H, 1974. "The International Pricing of Risk: An Empirical Investigation of the World Capital Market Structure," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 29(2), pages 365-378, May.
    4. Kennedy, Peter, 1986. "Interpreting Dummy Variables," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 68(1), pages 174-175, February.
    5. 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..
    6. Levy, Haim & Sarnat, Marshall, 1970. "International Diversification of Investment Portfolios," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(4), pages 668-675, September.
    7. Beckers, Stan & Grinold, Richard & Rudd, Andrew & Stefek, Dan, 1992. "The relative importance of common factors across the European equity markets," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 75-95, February.
    8. Robert E. Cumby & Martin D.D. Evans, 1995. "The Term Structure of Credit Risk: Estimates and Specification Tests," Working Papers 95-14, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
    9. Griffin, John M. & Andrew Karolyi, G., 1998. "Another look at the role of the industrial structure of markets for international diversification strategies," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 351-373, December.
    10. 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.
    11. Edwin J. Elton, 2001. "Explaining the Rate Spread on Corporate Bonds," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 56(1), pages 247-277, February.
    12. Kaplanis, Evi & Schaefer, Stephen M., 1991. "Exchange risk and international diversification in bond and equity portfolios," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 43(4), pages 287-307, November.
    13. Fama, Eugene F & MacBeth, James D, 1973. "Risk, Return, and Equilibrium: Empirical Tests," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 607-636, May-June.
    14. Heston, Steven L. & Rouwenhorst, K. Geert, 1994. "Does industrial structure explain the benefits of international diversification?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 3-27, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lopez, Jose A., 2004. "The empirical relationship between average asset correlation, firm probability of default, and asset size," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 265-283, April.
    2. Jackson, Patricia & Perraudin, William & Saporta, Victoria, 2002. "Regulatory and "economic" solvency standards for internationally active banks," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 26(5), pages 953-976, May.

    More about this item


    Credit Risk Diversification; Globally and locally systematic risk; bond ratings;

    JEL classification:

    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • G13 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Contingent Pricing; Futures Pricing
    • G24 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Investment Banking; Venture Capital; Brokerage


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