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From Default Probabilities To Credit Spreads: Credit Risk Models Do Explain Market Prices


  • Stefan Denzler


  • Michel M. Dacorogna

    (Converium Ltd)

  • Ulrich A. Mueller

    (Converium Ltd)

  • Alexander McNeil

    (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology)


Credit risk models like Moody’s KMV are now well established in the market and give bond managers reliable estimates of default probabilities for individual firms. Until now it has been hard to relate those probabilities to the actual credit spreads observed on the market for corporate bonds. Inspired by the existence of scaling laws in financial markets by Dacorogna et al. (2001) and Di Matteo et al. (2005) deviating from the Gaussian behavior, we develop a model that quantitatively links those default probabilities to credit spreads (market prices). The main input quantities to this study are merely industry yield data of different times to maturity and expected default frequencies (EDFs) of Moody’s KMV. The empirical results of this paper clearly indicate that the model can be used to calculate approximate credit spreads (market prices) from EDFs, independent of the time to maturity and the industry sector under consideration. Moreover, the model is effective in an out-of-sample setting, it produces consistent results on the European bond market where data are scarce and can be adequately used to approximate credit spreads on the corporate level.

Suggested Citation

  • Stefan Denzler & Michel M. Dacorogna & Ulrich A. Mueller & Alexander McNeil, 2005. "From Default Probabilities To Credit Spreads: Credit Risk Models Do Explain Market Prices," Finance 0504011, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpfi:0504011
    Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 18

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gianluca Oderda & Michel M. Dacorogna & Tobias Jung, 2003. "Credit Risk Models - Do They Deliver Their Promises? A Quantitative Assessment," Economic Notes, Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA, vol. 32(2), pages 177-195, July.
    2. Matteo, T. Di & Aste, T. & Dacorogna, Michel M., 2005. "Long-term memories of developed and emerging markets: Using the scaling analysis to characterize their stage of development," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 827-851, April.
    3. 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.
    4. Muller, Ulrich A. & Dacorogna, Michel M. & Olsen, Richard B. & Pictet, Olivier V. & Schwarz, Matthias & Morgenegg, Claude, 1990. "Statistical study of foreign exchange rates, empirical evidence of a price change scaling law, and intraday analysis," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 14(6), pages 1189-1208, December.
    5. Delianedis, Gordon & Geske, Robert, 1998. "Credit Risk and Risk Neutral Default Probabilities: Information About Migrations and Defaults," University of California at Los Angeles, Anderson Graduate School of Management qt7dm2d31p, Anderson Graduate School of Management, UCLA.
    6. Jon Frye, 2000. "Depressing recoveries," Emerging Issues, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Oct.
    7. Acharya, Viral V & Bharath, Sreedhar T & Srinivasan, Anand, 2003. "Understanding the Recovery Rates on Defaulted Securities," CEPR Discussion Papers 4098, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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    Cited by:

    1. Andreasen, Eugenia & Valenzuela, Patricio, 2016. "Financial openness, domestic financial development and credit ratings," Finance Research Letters, Elsevier, vol. 16(C), pages 11-18.
    2. Mitra, Sovan & Karathanasopoulos, Andreas & Sermpinis, Georgios & Dunis, Christian & Hood, John, 2015. "Operational risk: Emerging markets, sectors and measurement," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 241(1), pages 122-132.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C15 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Statistical Simulation Methods: General
    • C51 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Model Construction and Estimation
    • C52 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Model Evaluation, Validation, and Selection
    • C53 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Forecasting and Prediction Models; Simulation Methods
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • G13 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Contingent Pricing; Futures Pricing

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