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Credit Ratings and Credit Risk: Is One Measure Enough?

Jens Hilscher

University of California, Davis

Mungo Ivor Wilson

University of Oxford - Said Business School

July 24, 2015

AFA 2013 San Diego Meetings Paper

This paper investigates the information in corporate credit ratings. If ratings are to be informative indicators of credit risk they must reflect what a risk-averse investor cares about: both raw default probability and systematic risk. We find that ratings are relatively inaccurate measures of raw default probability - they are dominated as predictors of failure by a simple model based on publicly available financial information. However, ratings do contain relevant information since they are related to a measure of exposure to common (and undiversifiable) variation in default probability ('failure beta'). Systematic risk is shown to be related to joint default probabilities in the context of the Merton (1974) model. Empirically, it is related to CDS spreads and risk premia. Given the multidimensional nature of credit risk, it is not possible for one measure to capture all the relevant information.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 58

Keywords: credit rating, credit risk, default probability, forecast accuracy, systematic default risk

JEL Classification: G12, G24, G33

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Date posted: September 18, 2009 ; Last revised: August 5, 2015

Suggested Citation

Hilscher, Jens and Wilson, Mungo Ivor, Credit Ratings and Credit Risk: Is One Measure Enough? (July 24, 2015). AFA 2013 San Diego Meetings Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1474863 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1474863

Contact Information

Jens Hilscher (Contact Author)
University of California, Davis ( email )
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
United States
Mungo Ivor Wilson
University of Oxford - Said Business School ( email )
Park End Street
Oxford, OX1 1HP
Great Britain
+44 (0) 1865 288914 (Phone)

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