Journal of Risk

The signalling properties of the shape of the credit default swap term structure

Jenny Castellanos, Nick Constantinou and Wing Lon Ng


This paper studies the predictive power of the time-varying shape of the credit default swap (CDS) term structure to explain changes in future implied and excess implied volatility (implied volatility of the company over and above the market volatility) and therefore provide a leading sign of potential financial distress in a company. The shape of the CDS curve is captured by fitting the Nelson-Siegel model to the term structure and creating a new binary indicator (shape indicator) to distinguish between "good" and "bad" CDS curves. Applying the methodology to twenty US-traded companies from the financial and nonfinancial sectors, we find that the credit market is generally a leading indicator for movements in the volatility market during the subprime crisis. After confirming the strong link between CDSs and implied volatility markets (the average R2 per sector between 36% and 63% is obtained using the Nelson-Siegel parameter and shape indicator), a partial F -test is executed to see if additional information is contained within the CDS markets over and above the volatility markets. For the period studied, this is the case for the majority of names, and it is particularly significant for Lehman Brothers.

Sorry, our subscription options are not loading right now

Please try again later. Get in touch with our customer services team if this issue persists.

New to View our subscription options

You need to sign in to use this feature. If you don’t have a account, please register for a trial.

Sign in
You are currently on corporate access.

To use this feature you will need an individual account. If you have one already please sign in.

Sign in.

Alternatively you can request an individual account here