Çelim Yıldızhan, Research & Ideas

default risk resulted in unexpected findings, i.e. firms with higher default risk seem to underperform firms with lower default risk in the next period. But then why would investors expose themselves to this type of risk if they do not get any compensation in return? We are the first paper in this literature to point out that traditional measures of default risk are not necessarily good measures of exposure to the systematic component of default risk. Think about CAPM beta vs. the firm’s return volatility: For which of these measures do you expect to get compensation? Theoretically you would expect a premium due to your co-variation with the market , i.e. you’d get a premium based on your CAPM-beta not based on your return volatility, i.e. a firm can have very volatile returns but these returns may co-vary very little with the market returns. Similarly a firm may have a high expected default probability but this default probability may not be correlated with the default likelihoods of other firms in the market. And if that is the case (a high default probability with little correlation with other defaults in the market) then the investor wouldn’t necessarily be compensated for this firm-specific risk. In this paper we devise a method to better understand a firm’s covariation with the common default risk factor rather than blindly using a firm’s real world probability of default. 

Pricing of Default Risk

Is there a distress risk anomaly? Pricing of default risk in the cross-section of equity returns


This paper has been written with Deniz Angıner and has been accepted for publication at the Review of Finance in September 2017. It’s about the so-called default risk premium anomaly. The basic idea is that if default risk is a systematic risk then investors should get compensated for being exposed to this risk. The fundamental thinking is not any different from when we teach about the CAPM (Capital Asset Pricing Model). Then why bother writing this paper and what do I mean by the default risk premium anomaly? Well it turns out that using traditional measures of