Financial Analysts Journal

Understanding Changes in Corporate Credit Spreads

  1. Doron Avramov
  2. Gergana Jostova
  3. Alexander Philipov

New evidence is reported on the empirical success of structural models in explaining changes in corporate credit risk. A parsimonious set of common factors and company-level fundamentals, inspired by structural models, was found to explain more than 54 percent (67 percent) of the variation in credit-spread changes for medium-grade (low-grade) bonds. No dominant latent factor was present in the unexplained variation. Although this set of factors had lower explanatory power among high-grade bonds, it did capture most of the systematic variation in credit-spread changes in that category. It also subsumed the explanatory power of the Fama and French factors among all grade classes.

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