May 1997

Credit Derivatives in Banking: Useful Tools for Managing Risk?

Gregory R. Duffee and Chunsheng Zhou


We model the effects on banks of the introduction of a market for credit derivatives--in particular, credit default swaps. A bank can use such swaps to temporarily transfer credit risks of their loans to others, reducing the likelihood that defaulting loans would trigger the bank's financial distress. Because credit derivatives are more flexible at transferring risks than are other, more established tools, such as loan sales without recourse, these instruments make it easier for banks to circumvent the "lemons" problem caused by banks' superior information about the credit quality of their loans. However, we find that the introduction of a credit derivatives market is not necessarily desirable because it can cause other markets for loan risk-sharing to break down. In this case, the existence of a credit derivatives market will lead to a greater risk of bank insolvency.

Full paper (202 KB Postscript)

Keywords: Credit default swaps, bank loans, loan sales, asymmetric information

PDF: Full Paper

Disclaimer: The economic research that is linked from this page represents the views of the authors and does not indicate concurrence either by other members of the Board's staff or by the Board of Governors. The economic research and their conclusions are often preliminary and are circulated to stimulate discussion and critical comment. The Board values having a staff that conducts research on a wide range of economic topics and that explores a diverse array of perspectives on those topics. The resulting conversations in academia, the economic policy community, and the broader public are important to sharpening our collective thinking.

Back to Top
Last Update: February 12, 2021