The Cross-Section of Expected Corporate Bond Returns: Betas or Characteristics?
Cornell University; Johnson Graduate School of Management Working Paper
43 Pages Posted: 26 Aug 2001
Date Written: July 2003
This paper finds that default betas are significantly related to the cross-section of average bond returns even after controlling for characteristics such as duration, ratings, and yield-to-maturity. Among characteristics, only yield-to-maturity is significantly related to average bond returns after controlling for default and term betas. The default and term factors are able to price the returns of beta-sorted portfolios better than they do the returns of yield-sorted portfolios. The magnitude of the ex ante Sharpe ratio generated by yield-sorted portfolios suggests non-risk based explanations. Overall, given the elusive nature of systematic risk in empirical asset pricing, the central finding of our paper is that systematic risk matters for corporate bonds.
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