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Trading the bond-CDS basis: The role of credit risk and liquidity


  • Trapp, Monika


We analyze trading opportunities that arise from differences between the bond and the CDS market. By simultaneously entering a position in a CDS contract and the underlying bond, traders can build a default-risk free position that allows them to repeatedly earn the difference between the bond asset swap spread and the CDS, known as the basis. We show that the basis size is closely related to measures of company-specific credit risk and liquidity, and to market conditions. In analyzing the aggregate profits of these basis trading strategies, we document that dissolving a position leads to significant profit variations, but that attractive risk-return characteristics still apply. The aggregate profits depend on the credit risk, liquidity, and market measures even more strongly than the basis itself, and we show which conditions make long and short basis trades more profitable. Finally, we document the impact of the financial crisis on the profits of long and short basis trades, and show that the formerly more profitable long basis trades experienced stronger profit decreases than short basis trades.

Suggested Citation

  • Trapp, Monika, 2009. "Trading the bond-CDS basis: The role of credit risk and liquidity," CFR Working Papers 09-16, University of Cologne, Centre for Financial Research (CFR).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:cfrwps:0916

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    Cited by:

    1. Boyarchenko, Nina & Gupta, Pooja & Steele, Nick & Yen, Jacqueline, 2016. "Trends in credit market arbitrage," Staff Reports 784, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, revised 01 Jul 2016.
    2. Arce, Oscar & Mayordomo, Sergio & Peña, Juan Ignacio, 2013. "Credit-risk valuation in the sovereign CDS and bonds markets: Evidence from the euro area crisis," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 124-145.
    3. : Haitao Li & Weina Zhang & Gi H. Kim, 2011. "The CDS-Bond Basis Arbitrage and the Cross Section of Corporate Bond Returns," Working Papers wpn11-04, Warwick Business School, Finance Group.
    4. Ejsing, Jacob & Grothe, Magdalena & Grothe, Oliver, 2015. "Liquidity and credit premia in the yields of highly-rated sovereign bonds," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 160-173.

    More about this item


    bond asset swap spreads; CDS premia; basis trading profits; credit risk; liquidity; fixed-effects; vector error correction model;

    JEL classification:

    • C31 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models; Quantile Regressions; Social Interaction Models
    • C32 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Time-Series Models; Dynamic Quantile Regressions; Dynamic Treatment Effect Models; Diffusion Processes; State Space Models
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • G13 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Contingent Pricing; Futures Pricing
    • G14 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Information and Market Efficiency; Event Studies; Insider Trading
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill


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