A Reduced Form Model of Default Spreads with Markov-Switching Macroeconomic Factors
53 Pages Posted: 9 Nov 2010
Date Written: November 8, 2010
An important research area of the corporate yield spread literature seeks to measure the proportion of the spread that can be explained by factors such as the possibility of default, liquidity, tax differentials and market risk. We contribute to this literature by assessing the ability of observed macroeconomic factors and the possibility of changes in regime to explain the proportion of yield spreads caused by the risk of default in the context of a reduced form model. For this purpose, we extend the Markov Switching risk-free term structure model of Bansal and Zhou (2002) to the corporate bond setting and develop recursive formulas for default probabilities, risk-free and risky zero-coupon bond yields as well as credit default swap premia. The model is calibrated with consumption, inflation, risk-free yields and default data for Aa, A and Baa bonds from the 1987-2008 period. We find that our macroeconomic factors are linked with two out of three sharp increases in the spreads during this sample period, indicating that the variations can be related to macroeconomic undiversifiable risk. The estimated default spreads can explain almost half of the 10 years to maturity industrial Baa zero-coupon yields in some regime. Much smaller proportions are found for Aa and A bonds with numbers around 10%. The proportions of default estimated with credit default swaps are higher, in many cases doubling those found with corporate yield spreads.
Keywords: Credit Spread, Default Spread, Markov Switching, Macroeconomic Factors, Reduced Form Model of Default, Random Subjective Discount Factor, Credit Default Swap, CDS
JEL Classification: G12, G13.
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