An Empirical Analysis of the Pricing of Collateralized Debt Obligations

  • Published: Apr 01, 2008
  • Pages: 529-563
  • DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-6261.2008.01330.x


We use the information in collateralized debt obligations (CDO) prices to study market expectations about how corporate defaults cluster. A three‐factor portfolio credit model explains virtually all of the time‐series and cross‐sectional variation in an extensive data set of CDX index tranche prices. Tranches are priced as if losses of 0.4%, 6%, and 35% of the portfolio occur with expected frequencies of 1.2, 41.5, and 763 years, respectively. On average, 65% of the CDX spread is due to firm‐specific default risk, 27% to clustered industry or sector default risk, and 8% to catastrophic or systemic default risk.

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