The Role of Stress Testing in Credit Risk Management

Journal of Investment Management (JOIM), Fourth Quarter 2012

Posted: 20 May 2013

See all articles by Roger Stein

Roger Stein

Sloan School of Management, MIT

Date Written: May 17, 2013

Abstract

In this article, we outline some concepts relating to the use of stress testing in credit risk management. We begin by providing a simple taxonomy of stress scenarios and discussing the trade-offs that different approaches require for implementation. Our taxonomy is modeled after one that is common in the credit literature and involves con-cepts related to reduced-form and structural approaches to credit modeling. Recently, some have expressed the view that the use of distribution-based measures such as VaR and expected shortfall (ES) for credit risk management should be deemphasized in favor of stress-testing and scenario analysis. We consider this question in the main portion of this article. We discuss the benefits of stress testing and scenario analysis as well as describing some limitations of using scenario-based approaches as a sole mechanism for assessing portfolio risk. We provide a number of examples to illustrate these limitations. In particular, except in special cases, it is difficult to use stress scenarios alone, ex ante, for allocating capital across disparate portfolios. However, stress testing and scenario analysis are integral to prudent credit risk management and can complement measures such as VaR and ES, thereby better informing both risk assessment and business strategy development. While neither stress testing nor VaR type measures, in and of themselves, provide complete descriptions of credit portfolio risk, combining both approaches results in more robust risk analysis. This permits risk managers to integrate quantitative measures with managerial intuition and judgment to arrive at more comprehensive assessments of both portfolio risk and overall firm strategy.

Keywords: Stress testing, scenario analysis, portfolio analysis, systemic risk, model risk, VaR, macroeconomic analysis, credit risk

JEL Classification: G00

Suggested Citation

Stein, Roger, The Role of Stress Testing in Credit Risk Management (May 17, 2013). Journal of Investment Management (JOIM), Fourth Quarter 2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2266629

Roger Stein (Contact Author)

Sloan School of Management, MIT ( email )

100 Main Street
E62-416
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.rogermstein.com

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