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Default risk and the effective duration of bonds


  • Babbel, David F.
  • Merrill, Craig
  • Panning, William


Basis risk is the risk attributable to uncertain movements in the spread between yields associated with a particular financial instrument or class of instruments, and a reference interest rate over time. There are seven types of basis risk: Yields on 1) Long-term versus short-term financial instruments, 2) Domestic currency versus foreign currencies, 3) Liquid versus illiquid investments, 4) Bonds with higher or lower sensitivity to changes in interest rate volatility, 5) Taxable versus tax-free instruments, 6) Spot versus futures contracts and 7) Default-free versus non-default-free securities. Basis risk makes it difficult for the fixed-income portfolio manager to measure the portfolio's exposure to interest rate risk, heightens the anxiety of traders and arbitrageurs who are hedging their investments, and compounds the financial institution's problem of matching assets and liabilities. Much attention has been paid to the first type of basis risk. In recent years, attention has turned toward understanding the relation between credit risk and duration. The authors focus on that, emphasizing the importance of taking credit risk into account when computing measures of duration. The consensus of all work in this area is that credit risk shortens the effective duration of corporate bonds. The authors estimate how much durations shorten because of credit risk, basing their estimates on observable data and easily estimated bond pricing parameters.

Suggested Citation

  • Babbel, David F. & Merrill, Craig & Panning, William, 1995. "Default risk and the effective duration of bonds," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1511, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1511

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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..
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    Cited by:

    1. Sarkar, Sudipto & Hong, Gwangheon, 2004. "Effective duration of callable corporate bonds: Theory and evidence," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 499-521, March.
    2. Jacoby, Gady & Roberts, Gordon S., 2003. "Default- and call-adjusted duration for corporate bonds," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 27(12), pages 2297-2321, December.
    3. Francisco Sotos, 2003. "Interest risk and default risk: A conditional volatility study," International Advances in Economic Research, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 9(1), pages 56-63, February.
    4. Babbel, David F. & Merrill, Craig B. & Meyer, Mark F. & de Villiers, Meiring, 2004. "The Effect of Transaction Size on Off-the-Run Treasury Prices," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 39(03), pages 595-611, September.
    5. Scott D. Aguais & Anthony M. Santomero, 1997. "Incorporating New Fixed Income Approaches into Commercial Loan Valuation," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 98-06, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
    6. repec:kap:iaecre:v:9:y:2003:i:1:p:56-63 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. David F. Babbel & Anthony M. Santomero, 1997. "Risk Management by Insurers: An Analysis of the Process," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 96-16, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
    8. Kraft, Holger & Munk, Claus, 2007. "Bond durations: Corporates vs. Treasuries," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 31(12), pages 3720-3741, December.


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