The Cross-Section of Credit Risk Premia and Equity Returns
56 Pages Posted: 12 Jul 2011 Last revised: 12 Apr 2015
Date Written: May 3, 2013
We explore the link between a firm's stock returns and its credit risk using a simple insight from structural models following Merton (1974): risk premia on equity and credit instruments are related because all claims on assets must earn the same compensation per unit of risk. Consistent with theory, we find that firms' stock returns increase with credit risk premia estimated from CDS spreads. Credit risk premia contain information not captured by physical or by risk-neutral default probabilities alone. This sheds new light on the "distress puzzle", i.e. the lack of a positive relation between equity returns and default probabilities reported in previous studies.
Keywords: equity returns, default risk, credit risk premia, credit default swaps, cross-sectional asset pricing
JEL Classification: G12, G13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation