Correlation Scenarios and Correlation Stress Testing

24 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2021

See all articles by Natalie Packham

Natalie Packham

Berlin School of Economics and Law; Humboldt University Berlin

Fabian Woebbeking

Halle Institute for Economic Research; Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg

Date Written: July 14, 2021


We develop a general approach for stress testing correlations of financial asset portfolios. The correlation matrix of asset returns is specified in a parametric form, where correlations are represented as a function of risk factors, such as country and industry factors. A sparse factor structure linking assets and risk factors is built using Bayesian variable selection methods. Regular calibration yields a joint distribution of economically meaningful stress scenarios of the factors. As such, the method also lends itself as a reverse stress testing framework: using the Mahalanobis distance or highest density regions (HDR) on the joint risk factor distribution allows to infer worst-case correlation scenarios. We give examples of stress tests on a large portfolio of European and North American stocks.

Keywords: Keywords: Correlation stress testing, reverse stress testing, factor selection, scenario selection, Bayesian variable selection, market risk management

JEL Classification: G11, G32

Suggested Citation

Packham, Natalie and Woebbeking, Fabian, Correlation Scenarios and Correlation Stress Testing (July 14, 2021). Available at SSRN: or

Natalie Packham

Berlin School of Economics and Law ( email )

Badensche Strasse 50-51
Berlin, D-10825


Humboldt University Berlin ( email )

Unter den Linden 6
Berlin, AK Berlin 10099

Fabian Woebbeking (Contact Author)

Halle Institute for Economic Research ( email )

P.O. Box 11 03 61
Kleine Maerkerstrasse 8
D-06017 Halle, 06108
+49 345 7753-851 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://

Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg

Emil-Abderhalden-Str. 7
Halle an der Saale
06099 Halle (Saale), DE Sachsen-Anhalt 06099

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