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Credit risk

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Title: Credit risk  
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Subject: Basel II, Factoring (finance), Collateral management, Standardized approach (credit risk), Liquidity risk
Collection: Banking Infrastructure, Credit Scoring
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Credit risk

A credit risk is the risk of default on a debt that may arise from a borrower failing to make required payments.[1] In the first resort, the risk is that of the lender and includes lost principal and interest, disruption to cash flows, and increased collection costs. The loss may be complete or partial and can arise in a number of circumstances,[2] for example:

To reduce the lender's credit risk, the lender may perform a credit check on the prospective borrower, may require the borrower to take out appropriate insurance, such as mortgage insurance, or seek security over some assets of the borrower or a guarantee from a third party. The lender can also take out insurance against the risk or on-sell the debt to another company. In general, the higher the risk, the higher will be the interest rate that the debtor will be asked to pay on the debt.


  • Types of credit risk 1
  • Assessing credit risk 2
    • Sovereign risk 2.1
    • Counterparty risk 2.2
  • Mitigating credit risk 3
  • Credit risk related acronyms 4
  • See also 5
  • Further reading 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Types of credit risk

A credit risk can be of the following types:[3]

  • Credit default risk — The risk of loss arising from a debtor being unlikely to pay its loan obligations in full or the debtor is more than 90 days past due on any material credit obligation; default risk may impact all credit-sensitive transactions, including loans, securities and derivatives.
  • Concentration risk — The risk associated with any single exposure or group of exposures with the potential to produce large enough losses to threaten a bank's core operations. It may arise in the form of single name concentration or industry concentration.
  • Country risk — The risk of loss arising from a sovereign state freezing foreign currency payments (transfer/conversion risk) or when it defaults on its obligations (sovereign risk); this type of risk is prominently associated with the country's macroeconomic performance and its political stability.

Assessing credit risk

Significant resources and sophisticated programs are used to analyze and manage risk.[4] Some companies run a credit risk department whose job is to assess the financial health of their customers, and extend credit (or not) accordingly. They may use in house programs to advise on avoiding, reducing and transferring risk. They also use third party provided intelligence. Companies like Standard & Poor's, Moody's, Fitch Ratings, DBRS, Dun and Bradstreet, Bureau van Dijk and Rapid Ratings International provide such information for a fee

Most lenders employ their own models (credit scorecards) to rank potential and existing customers according to risk, and then apply appropriate strategies.[5] With products such as unsecured personal loans or mortgages, lenders charge a higher price for higher risk customers and vice versa.[6][7] With revolving products such as credit cards and overdrafts, risk is controlled through the setting of credit limits. Some products also require collateral, usually an asset that is pledged to secure the repayment of the loan.[8]

Credit scoring models also form part of the framework used by banks or lending institutions to grant credit to clients.[9] For corporate and commercial borrowers, these models generally have qualitative and quantitative sections outlining various aspects of the risk including, but not limited to, operating experience, management expertise, asset quality, and leverage and liquidity ratios, respectively. Once this information has been fully reviewed by credit officers and credit committees, the lender provides the funds subject to the terms and conditions presented within the contract (as outlined above).[10][11]

Sovereign risk

Sovereign credit risk is the risk of a government being unwilling or unable to meet its loan obligations, or reneging on loans it guarantees. Many countries have faced sovereign risk in the late-2000s global recession. The existence of such risk means that creditors should take a two-stage decision process when deciding to lend to a firm based in a foreign country. Firstly one should consider the sovereign risk quality of the country and then consider the firm's credit quality.[12]

Five macroeconomic variables that affect the probability of sovereign debt rescheduling are:[13]

The probability of rescheduling is an increasing function of debt service ratio, import ratio, variance of export revenue and domestic money supply growth.[13] The likelihood of rescheduling is a decreasing function of investment ratio due to future economic productivity gains. Debt rescheduling likelihood can increase if the investment ratio rises as the foreign country could become less dependent on its external creditors and so be less concerned about receiving credit from these countries/investors.[14]

Counterparty risk

A counterparty risk, also known as a default risk, is a risk that a counterparty will not pay as obligated on a bond, derivative, insurance policy, or other contract.[15] Financial institutions may hedge or take out credit insurance. Offsetting counterparty risk is not always possible, e.g. because of temporary liquidity issues or longer term systemic reasons.[16]

Counterparty risk increases due to positively correlated risk factors. Accounting for correlation between portfolio risk factors and counterparty default in risk management methodology is not trivial.[17]

Mitigating credit risk

Lenders mitigate credit risk in a number of ways, including:

  • Risk-based pricing — Lenders may charge a higher interest rate to borrowers who are more likely to default, a practice called risk-based pricing. Lenders consider factors relating to the loan such as loan purpose, credit rating, and loan-to-value ratio and estimates the effect on yield (credit spread).
  • Covenants — Lenders may write stipulations on the borrower, called covenants, into loan agreements, such as:[18]
    • Periodically report its financial condition,
    • Refrain from paying dividends, repurchasing shares, borrowing further, or other specific, voluntary actions that negatively affect the company's financial position, and
    • Repay the loan in full, at the lender's request, in certain events such as changes in the borrower's debt-to-equity ratio or interest coverage ratio.
  • Credit insurance and credit derivatives — Lenders and bond holders may hedge their credit risk by purchasing credit insurance or credit derivatives. These contracts transfer the risk from the lender to the seller (insurer) in exchange for payment. The most common credit derivative is the credit default swap.
  • Tightening — Lenders can reduce credit risk by reducing the amount of credit extended, either in total or to certain borrowers. For example, a distributor selling its products to a troubled retailer may attempt to lessen credit risk by reducing payment terms from net 30 to net 15.
  • Diversification — Lenders to a small number of borrowers (or kinds of borrower) face a high degree of unsystematic credit risk, called concentration risk.[19] Lenders reduce this risk by diversifying the borrower pool.
  • Deposit insurance — Governments may establish deposit insurance to guarantee bank deposits in the event of insolvency and to encourage consumers to hold their savings in the banking system instead of in cash.

Credit risk related acronyms

See also

Further reading

  • Principles for the management of credit risk from the Bank for International Settlements


  1. ^
  2. ^ Risk Glossary: Credit Risk
  3. ^ Credit Risk Classification
  4. ^ BIS Paper:Sound credit risk assessment and valuation for loans
  5. ^ Huang and Scott:Credit Risk Scorecard Design, Validation and User Acceptance
  6. ^ Investopedia: Risk-based mortgage pricing
  7. ^ Edelman: Risk based pricing for personal loans
  8. ^ Berger, Allen N., and Gregory F. Udell. "Collateral, loan quality and bank risk."Journal of Monetary Economics 25.1 (1990): 21-42.
  9. ^
  10. ^ Altman, Edward I., and Anthony Saunders. "Credit risk measurement: Developments over the last 20 years." Journal of Banking & Finance 21.11 (1997): 1721-1742.
  11. ^ Mester, Loretta J. "What’s the point of credit scoring?." Business review 3 (1997): 3-16.
  12. ^
  13. ^ a b
  14. ^
  15. ^ Investopedia. Counterparty risk. Retrieved 2008-10-06
  16. ^ Tom Henderson. Counterparty Risk and the Subprime Fiasco. 2008-01-02. Retrieved 2008-10-06
  17. ^ Related SSRN Research Paper
  18. ^ Debt covenants
  19. ^ MBA Mondays:Risk Diversification
  20. ^

External links

  • Bank Management and Control, Springer - Management for Professionals, 2014
  • Credit Risk Calculators - QuantCalc
  • A Guide to Modeling Counterparty Credit Risk - SSRN Research Paper, July 2007
  • - research and white papers on credit risk modelling
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