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Author:Benzoni, Luca 

Working Paper
Estimating the Tax and Credit-Event Risk Components of Credit Spreads

This paper argues that tax liabilities explain a large fraction of observed short-maturity investment-grade (IG) spreads, but credit-event premia do not. First, we extend Duffie and Lando (2001) by permitting management to issue both debt and equity. Rather than defaulting, managers of IG firms who receive bad private signals conceal this information and service existing debt via new debt issuance. Consistent with empirical observation, this strategy implies that IG firms have virtually zero credit-event risk (at least until they become ?fallen angels"). Second, we provide empirical evidence ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2017-17

Working Paper
Modeling credit contagion via the updating of fragile beliefs

We propose a tractable equilibrium model for pricing defaultable bonds that are subject to contagion risk. Contagion arises because agents with ?fragile beliefs? are uncertain about both the underlying state of the economy and the posterior probabilities associated with these states. As such, agents adopt a robust decision rule for updating that leads them to over-weight the posterior probabilities of ?bad? states. We estimate the model using panel data on sovereign Euro-zone CDS spreads during the recent crisis, and find that it captures levels and dynamics of spreads better than traditional ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2012-04

Working Paper
The Interplay Between Financial Conditions and Monetary Policy Shocks

We study the interplay between monetary policy and financial conditions shocks. Such shocks have a significant and similar impact on the real economy, though with different degrees of persistence. The systematic fed funds rate response to a financial shock contributes to bringing the economy back towards trend, but a zero lower bound on policy rates can prevent this from happening, with a significant cost in terms of output and investment. In a retrospective analysis of the U.S. economy over the past 20 years, we decompose the realization of economic variables into the contributions of ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2016-11

Working Paper
Why Does the Yield-Curve Slope Predict Recessions?

Why is an inverted yield-curve slope such a powerful predictor of future recessions? We show that a decomposition of the yield curve slope into its expectations and risk premia components helps disentangle the channels that connect fluctuations in Treasury rates and the future state of the economy. In particular, a change in the yield curve slope due to a monetary policy easing, measured by the current real-interest rate level and its expected path, is associated with an increase in the probability of a future recession within the next year. In contrast, a decrease in risk premia is ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2018-15

Why Does the Yield-Curve Slope Predict Recessions?

Many studies document the predictive power of the slope of the Treasury yield curve for forecasting recessions.2 This work is motivated, for example, by the empirical evidence in figure 1, which shows the term-structure slope, measured by the spread between the yields on ten-year and two-year U.S. Treasury securities, and shading that denotes U.S. recessions (dated by the National Bureau of Economic Research). Note that the yield-curve slope becomes negative before each economic recession since the 1970s.3 That is, an ?inversion? of the yield curve, in which short-maturity interest rates ...
Chicago Fed Letter

Working Paper
Human Capital and Long-Run Labor Income Risk

This review article examines the role of labor income risk in determining the value of a person?s human capital. We draw on the existing literature to present a model that incorporates various types of shocks to earnings. Within this framework, we highlight the implications of different assumptions about the correlation between market returns and labor income growth for the value of human capital and its riskiness. Further, the article surveys other work that applies similar ideas to assess the value and risk of pension promises. Finally, we discuss how to enrich the environment with ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2013-16

Journal Article
No-arbitrage restrictions and the U.S. Treasury market

What is the role of arbitrage trading in the U.S. Treasury market? In this article, the authors discuss the pricing of risk-free Treasury securities via no-arbitrage arguments and illustrate how this approach works in models of the term structure of interest rates. The article ends with an evaluation of market frictions (for example, transaction costs, leverage constraints, and the limited availability of arbitrage capital) in the government debt market and their implications for bond pricing using no-arbitrage term structure models.
Economic Perspectives , Volume 36 , Issue Q II , Pages 55-74

Working Paper
Conflict of interest and certification in the U.S. IPO market

We examine the long-run performance and valuation of IPOs underwritten by relationship banks. We find that over one- to three-year horizons these IPOs do not underperform similar stocks managed by independent institutions. Moreover, our analysis suggests that relationship banks avoid potential conflicts of interest by choosing to underwrite their best clients' IPOs. Consistent with this result, we show that investors value new issues managed by relationship banks higher than similar IPOs managed by outside banks. Our findings support the certification role of relationship banks and suggest ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-07-09

Journal Article
Investing over the life cycle with long-run labor income risk

Many financial advisors and much of the academic literature often argue that young people should place most of their savings in stocks. In contrast, a significant fraction of U.S. households do not hold stocks. Investors typically hold very little in stocks when they are young, progressively increase their holdings as they age, and decrease their exposure to stock market risk when they approach retirement. The authors show how long-run labor income risk helps explain this evidence. Moreover, they discuss the effect of long-run labor income risk on the valuation of pension plan obligations, ...
Economic Perspectives , Volume 33 , Issue Q III , Pages 29-43

Working Paper
Realized volatility

Realized volatility is a nonparametric ex-post estimate of the return variation. The most obvious realized volatility measure is the sum of finely-sampled squared return realizations over a fixed time interval. In a frictionless market the estimate achieves consistency for the underlying quadratic return variation when returns are sampled at increasingly higher frequency. We begin with an account of how and why the procedure works in a simplified setting and then extend the discussion to a more general framework. Along the way we clarify how the realized volatility and quadratic return ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-08-14


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