
 Metrics for Comparing Credit Migration Matrices by Yusuf Jafry, and March 25, 2003 Abstract: Credit migration or transition matrices, which characterize the expected changes in credit quality of obligors, are cardinal inputs to applications such as asset pricing and risk management. We propose a new metric for comparing these matrices (a mobility index) by first subtracting the identity matrix, focusing the analysis on the dynamics, and then taking the average of the singular values for the resulting matrix. This yields a metric which has an intuitivelyappealing "size" related to the average probability of migration of the original matrix. We also propose a new mobility index performance criterion which is particularly relevant for credit migration matrices, namely that it be distribution discriminatory, i.e. sensitive to the distribution of offdiagonal probability mass. We demonstrate the advantages of the proposed metric over more traditional cellbycell distance metrics and eigenvaluebased mobility indices. We then apply these metrics to credit rating histories of S&P rated U.S. obligors from 19812001. JEL Classification: C13, C41, G20. Keywords: credit migration matrix, matrix norm, mobility indices, singular values, risk management. Books Referenced in this paper: (what is this?) 