Estimating Asset Correlation from CDS Spreads: An Analysis of the Hedge Effectiveness of FTD Baskets

Nils Friewald

    Publikation: Working/Discussion PaperWorking Paper/Preprint


    Modeling default dependence for measuring and managing portfolio credit risk is one of the most
    challenging problems in modern finance. The standard industry model is a multi-variate Gaus-
    sian latent-variable model where the latent variables are associated with log asset value processes.
    These processes are most commonly modeled by a firm specific and a single market factor with a
    constant factor loading determining the strength of correlation between the asset values. Estimat-
    ing asset correlations is not straightforward because asset values are per se not observable. Stan-
    dard practice suggests estimating asset values from stock prices using the Black-Scholes-Merton
    framework and computing the correlation parameter from the obtained asset values. However, it
    is well known that this model is based on several simplifying assumptions and, moreover, relies on
    infrequently updated accounting data. In this paper we apply a latent variable model to estimate
    the log asset returns from observable CDS spreads. In a market without reliable prices, such as for
    first-to-default (FTD) baskets, we compare our model with the standard industry model by ana-
    lyzing the hedge effectiveness on FTD baskets for three different regimes: the GM/Ford crisis, the
    sub-prime crisis and the period in between, when market conditions were more normal. We find
    both models to perform similarly but in periods of severe market turbulences such as the ongoing
    sub-prime crisis the spread model is more favorable, since it results in hedging error distributions
    with substantially lower dispersion.
    PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 1 Sept. 2009