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Ratings Migration and the Business Cycle, With Application to Credit Portfolio Stress Testing


  • Anil Bangia
  • Francis X. Diebold
  • Til Schuermann


The turmoil in the capital markets in 1997 and 1998 has highlighted the need for systematic stress testing of banks' portfolios, including both their trading and lending books. We propose that underlying macroeconomic volatility is a key part of a useful conceptual framework for stress testing credit portfolios, and that credit migration matrices provide the specific linkages between underlying macroeconomic conditions and asset quality. Credit migration matrices, which characterize the expected changes in credit quality of obligors, are cardinal inputs to many applications, including portfolio risk assessment, modeling the term structure of credit risk premia, and pricing of credit derivatives. They are also an integral part of many of the credit portfolio models used by financial institutions. By separating the economy into two states or regimes, expansion and contraction, and conditioning the migration matrix on these states, we show that the loss distribution of credit portfolios can differ greatly, as can the concomitant level of economic capital to be assigned.

Suggested Citation

  • Anil Bangia & Francis X. Diebold & Til Schuermann, 2000. "Ratings Migration and the Business Cycle, With Application to Credit Portfolio Stress Testing," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 00-26, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
  • Handle: RePEc:wop:pennin:00-26

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Nickell, Pamela & Perraudin, William & Varotto, Simone, 2000. "Stability of rating transitions," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 24(1-2), pages 203-227, January.
    2. 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..
    3. Mingo, John J., 2000. "Policy implications of the Federal Reserve study of credit risk models at major US banking institutions," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 24(1-2), pages 15-33, January.
    4. Arthur F. Burns & Wesley C. Mitchell, 1946. "Measuring Business Cycles," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number burn46-1, January.
    5. Merton, Robert C, 1974. "On the Pricing of Corporate Debt: The Risk Structure of Interest Rates," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 29(2), pages 449-470, May.
    6. Engel, Charles & Hamilton, James D, 1990. "Long Swings in the Dollar: Are They in the Data and Do Markets Know It?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(4), pages 689-713, September.
    7. Hamilton, James D, 1989. "A New Approach to the Economic Analysis of Nonstationary Time Series and the Business Cycle," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 357-384, March.
    8. Gordy, Michael B., 2000. "A comparative anatomy of credit risk models," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 24(1-2), pages 119-149, January.
    9. Philippe Jorion, 2000. "Risk management lessons from Long‐Term Capital Management," European Financial Management, European Financial Management Association, vol. 6(3), pages 277-300.
    10. Cecchetti, Stephen G & Lam, Pok-sang & Mark, Nelson C, 1990. "Mean Reversion in Equilibrium Asset Prices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 398-418, June.
    11. Hamilton, James D., 1988. "Rational-expectations econometric analysis of changes in regime : An investigation of the term structure of interest rates," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 12(2-3), pages 385-423.
    12. Hamilton, James D. & Susmel, Raul, 1994. "Autoregressive conditional heteroskedasticity and changes in regime," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 64(1-2), pages 307-333.
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    More about this item


    Credit risk; stress testing; ratings migration; credit portfolio management;

    JEL classification:

    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation


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