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Author:Bai, Jennie 

Discussion Paper
The Effects of Entering and Exiting a Credit Default Swap Index
Since their inception in 2002, credit default swap (CDS) indexes have gained tremendous popularity and become leading barometers of the credit market. Today, investors who want to hedge credit risk or to speculate can choose from a broad menu of indexes that offer protection against the default of a firm, a European sovereign, or a U.S. municipality, among others. The major CDS indexes in the U.S. are the CDX.NA.IG and the CDX.NA.HY, composed of North American investment-grade (IG) and high-yield (HY) issuers, respectively. In this post, we focus on the CDX.NA.IG index. We discuss the interplay between the index and its constituents, specifically the ?roll? process of the index, when irrelevant constituents are replaced by new ones. Analyzing the relation between the CDX.NA.IG index and its constituents in the context of the roll process allows us to gain a better understanding of how the exit of dealers from the single-name CDS market might affect pricing dynamics in the CDS market as a whole.
AUTHORS: Bai, Jennie; Shachar, Or
DATE: 2015-03-30

Report
The Microstructure of China's Government Bond Market
Although China now has one of the largest government bond markets in the world, the market has received relatively little attention and analysis. We describe the history and structure of the market and assess its functioning. We find that trading in individual bonds was historically sparse but has increased markedly in recent years. We find also that certain announcements of macroeconomic news, such as China?s producer price index (PPI) and manufacturing purchasing managers? index (PMI), have significant effects on yields, even when such yields are measured at a daily level. Despite the increased activity in the market, we are able to reject the null hypothesis of market efficiency under two different tests for four of the most actively traded bonds.
AUTHORS: Horan, Casidhe; Fleming, Michael J.; Bai, Jennie
DATE: 2013-05-01

Report
Have financial markets become more informative?
The finance industry has grown. Financial markets have become more liquid. Information technology has improved. But have prices become more informative? Using stock and bond prices to forecast earnings, we find that the information content of market prices has not increased since 1960. The magnitude of earnings surprises, however, has increased. A baseline model predicts that as the efficiency of information production increases, prices become more disperse and covary more strongly with future earnings. The forecastable component of earnings improves capital allocation and serves as a direct measure of welfare. We find that this measure has remained stable. A model with endogenous information acquisition predicts that an increase in fundamental uncertainty also increases informativeness as the incentive to produce information grows. We find that uncertainty has indeed increased outside of the S&P 500, but price informativeness has not.
AUTHORS: Philippon, Thomas; Bai, Jennie; Savov, Alexi
DATE: 2012

Report
When is there a strong transfer risk from the sovereigns to the corporates? Property rights gaps and CDS spreads
When a sovereign faces the risk of debt default, it may be tempted to expropriate the private sector. This may be one reason why international investment in private companies has to take into account the sovereign risk. But the likelihood of sovereign risk transferring to corporates and increasing their risk of default may be mitigated by legal institutions that provide strong property rights protection. Using a novel credit default swaps (CDS) data set covering government and corporate entities across thirty countries, we study both the average strength of the transfer risks and the role of institutions in mitigating such risks. We find that 1) sovereign risk on average has a statistically and economically significant influence on corporate credit risks (all else equal, a 100 basis point increase in the sovereign CDS spread leads to an increase in corporate CDS spreads of 71 basis points); 2) the sovereign-corporate relation varies across corporations, with state-owned companies exhibiting a stronger relation with the sovereign; and 3) the presence of strong property rights institutions, however, tends to weaken the connection. In contrast, contracting institutions (offering protection of creditor rights or minority shareholder rights) do not appear to matter much in this context.
AUTHORS: Bai, Jennie; Wei, Shang-Jin
DATE: 2012

Report
Equity premium predictions with adaptive macro indexes
Fundamental economic conditions are crucial determinants of equity premia. However, commonly used predictors do not adequately capture the changing nature of economic conditions and hence have limited power in forecasting equity returns. To address the inadequacy, this paper constructs macro indexes from large data sets and adaptively chooses optimal indexes to predict stock returns. I find that adaptive macro indexes explain a substantial fraction of the short-term variation in future stock returns and have more forecasting power than both the historical average of stock returns and commonly used predictors. The forecasting power exhibits a strong cyclical pattern, implying the ability of adaptive macro indexes to capture time-varying economic conditions. This finding highlights the importance of using dynamically measured economic conditions to investigate empirical linkages between the equity premium and macroeconomic fundamentals.
AUTHORS: Bai, Jennie
DATE: 2010

Report
On bounding credit event risk premia
Reduced-form models of default that attribute a large fraction of credit spreads to compensation for credit event risk typically preclude the most plausible economic justification for such risk to be priced--namely, a ?contagious? response of the market portfolio during the credit event. When this channel is introduced within a general equilibrium framework for an economy comprised of a large number of firms, credit event risk premia have an upper bound of just a few basis points and are dwarfed by the contagion premium. We provide empirical evidence supporting the view that credit event risk premia are minuscule.
AUTHORS: Bai, Jennie; Collin-Dufresne, Pierre; Goldstein, Robert S.; Helwege, Jean
DATE: 2012

Report
Going global: markups and product quality in the Chinese art market
We analyze two reasons for export prices to be different across markets ? namely, quality differentiation and variable markups ? and attempt to parse their relative importance and some of their underlying drivers. To overcome the substantial measurement issues in this task, we consider a particular industry as a special case: Chinese fine art. The simplicity of the supply-side of art vis--vis marginal cost and the wealth of data on its quality characteristics make it possible to separately identify the markup and quality components of international relative prices for Chinese artwork. Through this lens, we trace the process of growth and internationalization of Chinese art since the year 2000 and uncover a rich set of facts. We find strong support for quality sorting into international markets at both the level of artist and artwork, as well as substantial markup differences across destinations. Using a structural model of endogenous quality choice by Feenstra and Romalis (2012), we argue that much of the international quality premium is driven by specific distribution costs (whether physical or informational), rather than destination-specific preferences for quality.
AUTHORS: Bai, Jennie; Guo, Jia; Mandel, Benjamin R.
DATE: 2013-05-01

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