Systematic Risk, Debt Maturity, and the Term Structure of Credit Spreads

66 Pages Posted: 21 Mar 2012 Last revised: 5 Aug 2013

Hui Chen

Massachusetts Institute of Technology; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Yu Xu

The University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Business and Economics

Jun Yang

Bank of Canada

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 4, 2013

Abstract

We build a structural model to explain corporate debt maturity dynamics over the business cycle and their implications for the term structure of credit spreads. Longer-term debt helps lower firms' default risks while shorter-term debt reduces investors' exposures to liquidity shocks. The joint variations in default risks and liquidity frictions over the business cycle cause debt maturity to lengthen in economic expansions and shorten in recessions. The model predicts that firms with higher systematic risk exposures will choose longer debt maturity, and that this cross-sectional relation between systematic risk and debt maturity will be stronger when risk premium is high. It also shows that the pro-cyclical maturity dynamics induced by liquidity frictions can signi cantly amplify the impact of aggregate shocks on credit risk, with different effects across the term structure, and that maturity management is especially important in helping high-beta and high-leverage firms reduce the impact of a crisis event that shuts down long-term refinancing. Finally, we provide empirical evidence for the model predictions on both debt maturity and credit spreads.

Keywords: credit risk, term structure, business cycle, maturity dynamics, liquidity

JEL Classification: E44, G12, G32, G33

Suggested Citation

Chen, Hui and Xu, Yu and Yang, Jun, Systematic Risk, Debt Maturity, and the Term Structure of Credit Spreads (August 4, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2024329 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2024329

Hui Chen (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology ( email )

50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-324-3896 (Phone)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Yu Xu

The University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Business and Economics ( email )

Pokfulam Road
Hong Kong
China

Jun Yang

Bank of Canada ( email )

234 Wellington Street
Ontario, Ottawa K1A 0G9
Canada

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