Credit Spreads, Economic Activity and Fragmentation

76 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2016

See all articles by Roberto A. De Santis

Roberto A. De Santis

European Central Bank (ECB) - Directorate General Economics

Date Written: July 5, 2016


Credit spreads may be jointly driven by developments that are orthogonal to the current state of the economy. We show that this unobserved systematic component is demanded to hedge against adverse economic fluctuations. Using either yield-to-maturity spreads or asset swap spreads for 2345 Eurobonds across euro area non-financial industries, we estimate a market wide relative excess bond premium - a function of the unobserved systematic component, which can predict real economic activity, the stock market and survey-based economic sentiment. This premium was highly negative between March 2003 and June 2007 in all bond segments and turned positive since then up to the launch of the 3-years long term refinancing operations in December 2011, predicting the financial crisis and the two recessions. Finally, using the countries' excess bond premia, we find that fragmentation risk increased sharply after Lehmans bankruptcy and during the sovereign debt crisis.

Keywords: corporate credit spreads, excess bond premium, forecasts, fragmentation

JEL Classification: C32, F36, G12, G15

Suggested Citation

De Santis, Roberto A., Credit Spreads, Economic Activity and Fragmentation (July 5, 2016). ECB Working Paper No. 1930. Available at SSRN:

Roberto A. De Santis (Contact Author)

European Central Bank (ECB) - Directorate General Economics ( email )

Kaiserstrasse 29
D-60311 Frankfurt am Main

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