CDS on Government Bonds Lead Bond Yields, suggests Research

December 22, 2011

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Sovereign CDS and Bond Pricing Dynamics in the Euro-area

Giorgia Palladini, Richard Portes

NBER Working Paper No. 17586
Issued in November 2011

This analysis tests the price discovery relationship between sovereign CDS premia and bond yield spreads on the same reference entity. The theoretical no-arbitrage relationship between the two credit spreads is confronted with daily data from six Euro-area countries over the period 2004-2011. As a first step, the supposed non stationary of the two series is verified. Then, we examine whether the non-stationary CDS and bond spreads series are bound by a cointegration relationship. Overall the cointegration analysis confirms that the two prices should be equal to each other in equilibrium, as theory predicts. Nonetheless the theoretical value [1, -1] for the cointegrating vector is rejected, meaning that in the short run the cash and synthetic market’s valuation of credit risk differ to various degrees. The VECM analysis suggests that the CDS market moves ahead of the bond market in terms of price discovery. These findings are further supported by the Granger Causality Test: for most sovereigns in the sample, past values of CDS spreads help to forecast bond yield spreads. Short-run deviations from the equilibrium persist longer than it would take for participants in one market to observe the price in the other. That is consistent with the hypothesis of imperfections in the arbitrage relationship between the two markets.

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