The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
Economic theory suggests that vulnerable financial conditions of the corporate sector can trigger or worsen an economy-wide recession. This paper proposes a measure of corporate vulnerability, the Corporate Vulnerability Index (CVI) and analyses whether it can explain the probability and severity of recessions. The CVI is constructed as the default probability for the entire corporate sector, using the model of corporate debt by Anderson, Sundaresan, and Tychon (1996). The CVI is shown to be a significant predictor of the probability of a recession 4 to 6 quarters ahead, even controlling for other leading indicators. An increase in the CVI is also associated with an increase in the probability of a more severe and lengthy recession 3 to 6 quarters ahead.