Journal of Risk Model Validation

A point-in-time–through-the-cycle approach to rating assignment and probability of default calibration

Mark Rubtsov and Alexandre Petrov

  • This article focuses on rating-level PDs, covering both corporate and retail portfolios.
  • We show a way to construct TTC rating grades and to obtain PIT PDs needed for IFRS9.
  • We quantify the size of estimation errors, producing a consistent MoC required by the regulators.
  • The methodology has direct implications for validation tests in Model Risk Control Units.


In order to be compliant with the Basel regulations and the upcoming International Financial Reporting Standard 9, banks need two probabilities of default (PDs): point-in-time (PIT) and through-the-cycle (TTC). The existing methodologies assume that banks already have a customer-specific hybrid PD, which is then adjusted to PIT and TTC. We avoid this assumption and focus instead on a two-step process to obtain a PD, namely, rating assignment and calibration. In the first step, we propose a methodology for constructing TTC rating grades and assessing the resulting degree of PIT-ness. For calibration, we let the rating-grade default threshold be stochastic. This move enables us to quantify the impact of estimation errors, provides a justification for the size of a regulatory margin of conservatism and has direct implications for validation tests. We illustrate our proposals on a sample portfolio of corporate customers, although we believe these ideas should be applicable in retail too.

Addendum to Rubtsov and Petrov (2016): “A point-in-time–through-the-cycle approach to rating assignment and probability of default calibration”

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