How Does Debt Composition Influence Credit Risk?

71 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2020

Date Written: July 06, 2020


How do different types of debt influence firm credit risk? This paper sheds new light on this issue by decomposing the leverage ratio into market debt, bank debt, and trade credit leverage ratios by balance sheet account type classification; and short-term debt and long-term debt leverage ratios by debt maturity classification. The pecking order theory (Myers & Majluf, 1984) suggests that these debt types differ in terms of the information asymmetry. Therefore, their effects on credit risk might be distinct. We find that debt to financial markets (commercial papers, bonds, etc.) is more positively correlated with the next period's CDS spread than other debt types. CDS spread also reacts positively to bank debt leverage and responds positively to trade credit leverage only for firms in competitive sectors. With regard to maturity classification, the CDS market attributes more credit risk to long-term debt than short-term debt. We also document that the CDS market tracks firms’ accounts receivable. Our findings are also robust when we control for the credit quality of firms via credit ratings.

Keywords: Credit Risk, Credit Default Swap, CDS Spread, Capital Structure, Leverage, Information Asymmetry, Credit Ratings, Accounting

JEL Classification: G14, G21, G24, G30, G32, M41

Suggested Citation

Kaya, Mehmet Caglar, How Does Debt Composition Influence Credit Risk? (July 06, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Mehmet Caglar Kaya (Contact Author)

Mehmet Caglar Kaya ( email )

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Grevgatan 34, 2nd floor
Stockholm, SE-102 15

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