Liquidity Risk of Corporate Bond Returns
NBER Working Paper No. 16394
We study the exposure of the U.S. corporate bond returns to liquidity shocks of stocks and treasury bonds over the period 1973 to 2007. A decline in liquidity of stocks or Treasury bonds produces conflicting effects: Prices of investment-grade bonds rise while prices of speculative grade bonds fall substantially. This effect is regime-switching in nature and holds when the state of the economy is in a "stress" regime. The likelihood of being in such a regime can be predicted by macroeconomic and financial market variables that are associated with adverse economic conditions. Our model can predict the out-of-sample bond returns for the stress years 2008-2009. These effects are robust to controlling for other systematic risks (term and default). Our findings suggest the existence of time-varying liquidity risk of corporate bond returns and episodes of flight to liquidity.
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