Is the Tone of Risk Disclosures in MD&As Relevant to Debt Markets? Evidence from the Pricing of Credit Default Swaps
62 Pages Posted: 15 Dec 2014 Last revised: 5 Jan 2021
Date Written: August 21, 2020
This paper examines whether the tone of corporate textual disclosures related to risk and uncertainty conveys relevant information to the credit default swap (CDS) market. Prior studies largely focus on the amount of risk disclosures and provide inconclusive evidence on the usefulness of risk disclosures for investors in assessing firm risk. Using a large sample of textual risk disclosures in the Management’s Discussion and Analysis (MD&A) section of 10-K and 10-Q filings, I predict and find that the change in CDS spreads over the three-day window surrounding the 10-K/Q filing date is positively associated with the pessimism of the language used in the risk disclosures. I conduct several analyses to show that the effect of the tone of risk disclosures is distinguishable from that of the amount of such disclosures. Cross-sectional analyses reveal that the CDS market reaction to the tone of MD&A risk disclosures is more pronounced for reference entities closer to default, consistent with creditors’ particular concern about downside risk. Further, the CDS market reacts more significantly to the tone of MD&A risk disclosures for reference entities with a weaker information environment. Overall, these results support the view that the tone of textual risk disclosures in MD&As has information content for investors in the CDS market in particular and debt markets in general. My findings improve the understanding of textual risk disclosures by showing that the tone and the amount of such disclosures have different implications for debt market investors’ risk perceptions.
Keywords: credit default swap, risk disclosure, textual analysis, MD&A, credit risk
JEL Classification: G12, G13, G14, M41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation