Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics
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Department of Economics, Lund University Working Papers, Department of Economics, Lund University

No 2003:14:
A Simple Continuous Measure of Credit Risk

Hans Byström () and Oh Kang Kwon

Abstract: This paper introduces a simple continuous measure of credit risk that associates to each firm a risk parameter related to the firm's risk-neutral default intensity. These parameters can be computed from quoted bond prices and allow assignment of credit ratings much finer than those provided by various rating agencies. We estimate the risk measures on a daily basis for a sample of US firms and compare them with the corresponding ratings provided by Moody's and the distance to default measures calculated using the Merton (1974) model. The three measures group the sample of firms into various risk classes in a similar but far from identical way, possibly reflecting the models' different forecasting horizons. Among the three measures, the highest rank correlation is found between our continuous measure and Moody's ratings. The techniques in this paper can be used to extract the entire distribution of inter-temporal risk-neutral default intensities which is useful for time-to-default estimations as well as for pricing credit derivatives.

Keywords: credit risk; credit rating; corporate bonds; (follow links to similar papers)

JEL-Codes: G14; G33; (follow links to similar papers)

18 pages, October 24, 2003, Revised January 18, 2005

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This paper is published as:
Byström, Hans and Oh Kang Kwon, (2007), 'A Simple Continuous Measure of Credit Risk', International Review of Financial Analysis, Vol. 16, No. 5, pages 508-523

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