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In Rememberance: World Trade Center (WTC)

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Stock Market Performance and the Term Structure of Credit Spreads

by Andriy Demchuk of the University of Zürich, and
Rajna Gibson of the University of Zürich

June 2005

Abstract: We build a structural two-factor model of default where the stock market index is one of the stochastic factors. We allow the firm to adjust its leverage ratio in response to changes in the business climate, for which the past performance of the stock market index acts as a proxy. We assume that the firm's log-leverage ratio follows a mean-reverting process and that the past performance of the stock index negatively affects the firm's target leverage ratio. We show that for most credit ratings our model may explain actual yield spreads better than other well known structural credit risk models. Also, our model shows that the past performance of the stock index returns and the firm's assets beta have a significant impact on credit spreads. Hence, our model can explain why credit spreads may be different within the same credit-rating groups and why spreads are lower during economic expansions and higher during recessions.

Keywords: credit risk, capital structure, stock market performance.

Published in: Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Vol. 41, No. 4, (December 2006), pp. 863-887.

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