An Urn-Based Generalized Extreme Shock Model for the Probability of Firms' Default

Pasquale Cirillo

IMSV University of Bern

Jürg Hüsler

University of Bern


In the literature, there are several methods to estimate the probability of firms' default, from simple judgement-based methods to more complicated artificial intelligence systems and statistical regression models. In this paper we propose a new stochastic model for the probability of firms' default, based on a stochastic urn process, characterized by a special triangular reinforcement matrix. In particular, assuming that a firm can experience three different levels of risk (no risk, risk and default), we introduce a dependence among the levels, so that the probability of default increases every time the firm enters the risky state, while it decreases (but does not disappear) the more the firm spends in the non-risky one. The levels of risk are determined on the basis of aggregate balance indices. Using this approach, we are both able to predict firms' default probabilities with a good degree of approximation and to obtain limit distributions that nicely reproduce the empirical results one can find in the literature.

Keywords: generalized extreme shock model, Polya urn, reinforcement, default

JEL Classification: C15, C16, C19

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Date posted: April 8, 2008  

Suggested Citation

Cirillo, Pasquale and Hüsler, Jürg, An Urn-Based Generalized Extreme Shock Model for the Probability of Firms' Default (2008). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1117943

Contact Information

Pasquale Cirillo (Contact Author)
IMSV University of Bern ( email )
Sidlerstrasse 5
Bern, Bern CH3012
HOME PAGE: http://www.imsv.unibe.ch
Jürg Hüsler
University of Bern ( email )
Gesellschaftsstrasse 49
Bern, BERN 3001
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