Illiquidity Component of Credit Risk

23 Pages Posted: 2 Jun 2016

See all articles by Stephen Morris

Stephen Morris


Hyun Song Shin

Bank for International Settlements (BIS)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: May 31, 2016


We describe and contrast three different measures of an institution's credit risk. "Insolvency risk" is the conditional probability of default due to deterioration of asset quality if there is no run by short term creditors. "Total credit risk" is the unconditional probability of default, either because of a (short term) creditor run or (long run) asset insolvency. "Illiquidity risk" is the difference between the two, i.e., the probability of a default due to a run when the institution would otherwise have been solvent. We discuss how the three kinds of risk vary with balance sheet composition. Illiquidity risk is (i) decreasing in the "liquidity ratio" - the ratio of realizable cash on the balance sheet to short term liabilities; (ii) decreasing in excess return to debt; and (iii) increasing in the solvency uncertainty - a measure of ex post variance of the asset portfolio. Increasing the liquidity ratio has decreasing returns to reducing illiquidity risk.

Suggested Citation

Morris, Stephen Edward and Shin, Hyun Song, Illiquidity Component of Credit Risk (May 31, 2016). Princeton University William S. Dietrich II Economic Theory Center Research Paper No. 081_2016. Available at SSRN: or

Stephen Edward Morris (Contact Author)

MIT ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
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Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States

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Hyun Song Shin

Bank for International Settlements (BIS) ( email )

Centralbahnplatz 2
Basel, Basel-Stadt 4002


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