The Global Credit Spread Puzzle
88 Pages Posted: 24 Sep 2019 Last revised: 19 Jan 2020
Date Written: September 15, 2019
Using security-level credit spread data in eight developed economies, we document a large cross-country difference in credit spreads conditional on credit ratings and other default risk measures. The standard benchmark structural models not only have difficulty matching credit spreads but also fail to explain the cross-country variation in spreads as well as the dynamic behavior of credit spreads. Since this cross-country variation is positively related to illiquidity measures, we implement an extended structural model that incorporates endogenous liquidity in the secondary market, and find that this model largely explains credit spreads in cross sections and over time. Therefore, default risk itself unlikely explains corporate credit spreads.
Keywords: Corporate credit spreads, Credit spread puzzle, Structural credit risk models, Merton model, Black and Cox model, CDS, Fixed income asset pricing
JEL Classification: G12, G13
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