Credit Default Swaps – A Survey
Foundations and Trends® in Finance: Vol. 9: No. 1–2, pp 1-196
199 Pages Posted: 3 Dec 2014 Last revised: 13 Jan 2015
Date Written: December 1, 2014
Credit default swaps (CDS) have been growing in importance in the global financial markets. However, their role has been hotly debated, in industry and academia, particularly since the credit crisis of 2007-2009. We review the extant literature on CDS that has accumulated over the past two decades. We divide our survey into seven topics after providing a broad overview in the introduction. The second chapter traces the historical development of CDS markets and provides an introduction to CDS contract definitions and conventions. The third chapter discusses the pricing of CDS, from the perspective of no-arbitrage principles, structural and reduced-form credit risk models. It also summarizes the literature on the determinants of CDS spreads, with a focus on the role of fundamental credit risk factors, liquidity and counterparty risk. The fourth chapter discusses how the development of the CDS market has affected the characteristics of the bond and equity markets, with an emphasis on market efficiency, price discovery, information flow and liquidity. Attention is also paid to the CDS-bond basis, the wedge between the pricing of the CDS and its reference bond, and the mispricing between the CDS and the equity market. The fifth chapter examines the effect of CDS trading on firms’ credit and bankruptcy risk, and how it affects corporate financial policy, including bond issuance, capital structure, liquidity management, and corporate governance. The sixth chapter analyzes how CDS impact the economic incentives of financial intermediaries. The seventh chapter reviews the growing literature on sovereign CDS and highlights the major differences between the sovereign and corporate CDS markets. In the eight chapter, we discuss CDS indices, especially the role of synthetic CDS index products backed by residential mortgage-backed securities during the financial crisis. We close with our suggestions for promising future research directions on CDS contracts and markets.
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