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.
Credit Default Swap spreads have been used as a leading indicator of distress. Default probabilities can be extracted from CDS spreads, but during distress it is important to take account of the stochastic nature of recovery value. The recent episodes of Landbanski, WAMU and Lehman illustrate that using the industry-standard fixed recovery rate assumption gives default probabilities that are low relative to those extracted from stochastic recovery value as proxied by the cheapest-to-deliver bonds. Financial institutions using fixed rate recovery assumptions could have a false sense of security, and could be faced with outsized losses with potential knock-on effects for other institutions. To ensure effective oversight of financial institutions, and to monitor the stability of the global financial system especially during distress, the stochastic nature of recovery rates needs to be incorporated.