Credit risk

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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. In an efficient market, higher levels of credit risk will be associated with higher borrowing costs. Because of this, measures of borrowing costs such as yield spreads can be used to infer credit risk levels based on assessments by market participants.

Default (finance) failure to meet the conditions of a loan

In finance, default is failure to meet the legal obligations of a loan, for example when a home buyer fails to make a mortgage payment, or when a corporation or government fails to pay a bond which has reached maturity. A national or sovereign default is the failure or refusal of a government to repay its national debt.

Interest A sum paid for the use of money

Interest, in finance and economics, is payment from a borrower or deposit-taking financial institution to a lender or depositor of an amount above repayment of the principal sum, at a particular rate. It is distinct from a fee which the borrower may pay the lender or some third party. It is also distinct from dividend which is paid by a company to its shareholders (owners) from its profit or reserve, but not at a particular rate decided beforehand, rather on a pro rata basis as a share in the reward gained by risk taking entrepreneurs when the revenue earned exceeds the total costs.

Cash flow movement of money into or out of a business, project, or financial product

A cash flow is a real or virtual movement of money:


Losses can arise in a number of circumstances, [2] for example:

Mortgage loan loan secured using real estate

A mortgage loan or, simply, mortgage is used either by purchasers of real property to raise funds to buy real estate, or alternatively by existing property owners to raise funds for any purpose, while putting a lien on the property being mortgaged. The loan is "secured" on the borrower's property through a process known as mortgage origination. This means that a legal mechanism is put into place which allows the lender to take possession and sell the secured property to pay off the loan in the event the borrower defaults on the loan or otherwise fails to abide by its terms. The word mortgage is derived from a Law French term used in Britain in the Middle Ages meaning "death pledge" and refers to the pledge ending (dying) when either the obligation is fulfilled or the property is taken through foreclosure. A mortgage can also be described as "a borrower giving consideration in the form of a collateral for a benefit (loan)".

Credit card Card enabling payments from a line of credit

A credit card is a payment card issued to users (cardholders) to enable the cardholder to pay a merchant for goods and services based on the cardholder's promise to the card issuer to pay them for the amounts plus the other agreed charges. The card issuer creates a revolving account and grants a line of credit to the cardholder, from which the cardholder can borrow money for payment to a merchant or as a cash advance.

Line of credit credit source extended to a government, business or individual by a bank or other financial institution

A line of credit is credit source extended to a government, business or individual by a bank or other financial institution. A line of credit takes several forms, such as overdraft protection, demand loan, special purpose, export packing credit, term loan, discounting, purchase of commercial bills, traditional revolving credit card account, etc. It is effectively a source of funds that can readily be tapped at the borrower's discretion. Interest is paid only on money actually withdrawn. Lines of credit can be secured by collateral, or may be unsecured.

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. Credit risk mainly arises when borrowers are unable to pay due willingly or unwillingly.

Mortgage Insurance is an insurance policy which compensates lenders or investors for losses due to the default of a mortgage loan. Mortgage insurance can be either public or private depending upon the insurer. The policy is also known as a mortgage indemnity guarantee (MIG), particularly in the UK.

Security (finance) tradable financial asset

A security is a tradable financial asset. The term commonly refers to any form of financial instrument, but its legal definition varies by jurisdiction. In some jurisdictions the term specifically excludes financial instruments other than equities and fixed income instruments. In some jurisdictions it includes some instruments that are close to equities and fixed income, e.g., equity warrants. In some countries and languages the term "security" is commonly used in day-to-day parlance to mean any form of financial instrument, even though the underlying legal and regulatory regime may not have such a broad definition.

Guarantee is a legal term more comprehensive and of higher import than either warranty or "security". It most commonly designates a private transaction by means of which one person, to obtain some trust, confidence or credit for another, engages to be answerable for him. It may also designate a treaty through which claims, rights or possessions are secured. It is to be differentiated from the colloquial "personal guarantee" in that a Guarantee is a legal concept which produces an economic effect. A personal guarantee by contrast is often used to refer to a promise made by an individual which is supported by, or assured through, the word of the individual. In the same way, a guarantee produces a legal effect wherein one party affirms the promise of another by promising to themselves pay if default occurs.


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

Derivative (finance) financial instrument whose value is based on one or more underlying assets

In finance, a derivative is a contract that derives its value from the performance of an underlying entity. This underlying entity can be an asset, index, or interest rate, and is often simply called the "underlying." Derivatives can be used for a number of purposes, including insuring against price movements (hedging), increasing exposure to price movements for speculation or getting access to otherwise hard-to-trade assets or markets. Some of the more common derivatives include forwards, futures, options, swaps, and variations of these such as synthetic collateralized debt obligations and credit default swaps. Most derivatives are traded over-the-counter (off-exchange) or on an exchange such as the New York Stock Exchange, while most insurance contracts have developed into a separate industry. In the United States, after the financial crisis of 2007–2009, there has been increased pressure to move derivatives to trade on exchanges. Derivatives are one of the three main categories of financial instruments, the other two being stocks and debt. The oldest example of a derivative in history, attested to by Aristotle, is thought to be a contract transaction of olives, entered into by ancient Greek philosopher Thales, who made a profit in the exchange. Bucket shops, outlawed a century ago, are a more recent historical example.

Concentration risk is a banking term describing the level of risk in a bank's portfolio arising from concentration to a single counterparty, sector or country.

Country risk risk of investing or lending in a country

Country risk refers to the risk of investing or lending in a country, arising from possible changes in the business environment that may adversely affect operating profits or the value of assets in the country. For example, financial factors such as currency controls, devaluation or regulatory changes, or stability factors such as mass riots, civil war and other potential events contribute to companies' operational risks. This term is also sometimes referred to as political risk; however, country risk is a more general term that generally refers only to risks affecting all companies operating within or involved with a particular country.


Significant resources and sophisticated programs are used to analyze and manage risk. [4] [5] 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.

Standard & Poors subsidiary company

Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC (S&P) is an American financial services company. It is a division of S&P Global that publishes financial research and analysis on stocks, bonds, and commodities. S&P is known for its stock market indices such as the U.S.-based S&P 500, the Canadian S&P/TSX, and the Australian S&P/ASX 200. S&P is considered one of the Big Three credit-rating agencies, which also include Moody's Investors Service and Fitch Ratings. Its head office is located on 55 Water Street in Lower Manhattan, New York City.

Fitch Ratings Inc. is one of the "Big Three credit rating agencies", the other two being Moody's and Standard & Poor's. It is one of the three nationally recognized statistical rating organizations (NRSRO) designated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in 1975.

DBRS financial services

DBRS is a global credit rating agency (CRA) founded in 1976 in Toronto. Its current ownership group, led by The Carlyle Group and Warburg Pincus, announced the purchase of the company in December 2014.

For large companies with liquidly traded corporate bonds or Credit Default Swaps, bond yield spreads and credit default swap spreads indicate market participants assessments of credit risk and may be used as a reference point to price loans or trigger collateral calls.

Most lenders employ their own models (credit scorecards) to rank potential and existing customers according to risk, and then apply appropriate strategies. [6] With products such as unsecured personal loans or mortgages, lenders charge a higher price for higher risk customers and vice versa. [7] [8] 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. [9]

Credit scoring models also form part of the framework used by banks or lending institutions to grant credit to clients. [10] 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). [11] [12]

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. [13]

Five macroeconomic variables that affect the probability of sovereign debt rescheduling are: [14]

The probability of rescheduling is an increasing function of debt service ratio, import ratio, variance of export revenue and domestic money supply growth. [14] 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. [15]

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. [16] Financial institutions or other transaction counterparties may hedge or take out credit insurance or, particularly in the context of derivatives, require the posting of collateral. Offsetting counterparty risk is not always possible, e.g. because of temporary liquidity issues or longer term systemic reasons. [17]

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. [18]


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

See also

Related Research Articles

Debt deferred payment, or series of payments, that is owed in the future

Debt is when something, usually money, is owed by one party, the borrower or debtor, to a second party, the lender or creditor. Debt is a deferred payment, or series of payments, that is owed in the future, which is what differentiates it from an immediate purchase. The debt may be owed by sovereign state or country, local government, company, or an individual. Commercial debt is generally subject to contractual terms regarding the amount and timing of repayments of principal and interest. Loans, bonds, notes, and mortgages are all types of debt. The term can also be used metaphorically to cover moral obligations and other interactions not based on economic value. For example, in Western cultures, a person who has been helped by a second person is sometimes said to owe a "debt of gratitude" to the second person.

Loan transfer of money that must be repaid

In finance, a loan is the lending of money by one or more individuals, organizations, or other entities to other individuals, organizations etc. The recipient incurs a debt, and is usually liable to pay interest on that debt until it is repaid, and also to repay the principal amount borrowed.

In finance, a credit derivative refers to any one of "various instruments and techniques designed to separate and then transfer the credit risk" or the risk of an event of default of a corporate or sovereign borrower, transferring it to an entity other than the lender or debtholder.

Credit default swap financial swap agreement in case of default

A credit default swap (CDS) is a financial swap agreement that the seller of the CDS will compensate the buyer in the event of a debt default or other credit event. That is, the seller of the CDS insures the buyer against some reference asset defaulting. The buyer of the CDS makes a series of payments to the seller and, in exchange, may expect to receive a payoff if the asset defaults.

Underwriting services are provided by some large financial institutions, such as banks, or insurance or investment houses, whereby they guarantee payment in case of damage or financial loss and accept the financial risk for liability arising from such guarantee. An underwriting arrangement may be created in a number of situations including insurance, issue of securities in a public offering, and bank lending, among others. The person or institution that agrees to sell a minimum number of securities of the company for commission is called the underwriter.

Collateralized debt obligation financial product

A collateralized debt obligation (CDO) is a type of structured asset-backed security (ABS). Originally developed as instruments for the corporate debt markets, after 2002 CDOs became vehicles for refinancing mortgage-backed securities (MBS). Like other private label securities backed by assets, a CDO can be thought of as a promise to pay investors in a prescribed sequence, based on the cash flow the CDO collects from the pool of bonds or other assets it owns. Distinctively, CDO credit risk is typically assessed based on a PD derived from ratings on those bonds or assets. The CDO is "sliced" into "tranches", which "catch" the cash flow of interest and principal payments in sequence based on seniority. If some loans default and the cash collected by the CDO is insufficient to pay all of its investors, those in the lowest, most "junior" tranches suffer losses first. The last to lose payment from default are the safest, most senior tranches. Consequently, coupon payments vary by tranche with the safest/most senior tranches receiving the lowest rates and the lowest tranches receiving the highest rates to compensate for higher default risk. As an example, a CDO might issue the following tranches in order of safeness: Senior AAA ; Junior AAA; AA; A; BBB; Residual.

Syndicated loan

A syndicated loan is one that is provided by a group of lenders and is structured, arranged, and administered by one or several commercial banks or investment banks known as lead arrangers.

Project finance is the long-term financing of infrastructure and industrial projects based upon the projected cash flows of the project rather than the balance sheets of its sponsors. Usually, a project financing structure involves a number of equity investors, known as 'sponsors', a 'syndicate' of banks or other lending institutions that provide loans to the operation. They are most commonly non-recourse loans, which are secured by the project assets and paid entirely from project cash flow, rather than from the general assets or creditworthiness of the project sponsors, a decision in part supported by financial modeling. The financing is typically secured by all of the project assets, including the revenue-producing contracts. Project lenders are given a lien on all of these assets and are able to assume control of a project if the project company has difficulties complying with the loan terms.

Loan origination is the process by which a borrower applies for a new loan, and a lender processes that application. Origination generally includes all the steps from taking a loan application up to disbursal of funds. For mortgages, there is a specific mortgage origination process. Loan servicing covers everything after disbursing the funds until the loan is fully paid off. Loan origination is a specialized version of new account opening for financial services organizations. Certain people and organizations specialize in loan origination. Mortgage brokers and other mortgage originator companies serve as a prominent example.

In law, set-off or netting are legal techniques applied between persons with mutual rights and liabilities, replacing gross positions with net positions. It permits the rights to be used to discharge the liabilities where cross claims exist between a plaintiff and a respondent. The result being that the gross claims of mutual debt produces a single, net claim. The net claim is known as a net position. In other words, a set-off is the right of a debtor to balance mutual debts with a creditor. In bookkeeping terms, set-offs are also known as reconciliations. To determine a set-off, simply subtract the smaller debt from the larger.

Initially pioneered by financial institutions during the 1970s as interest rates became increasingly volatile, asset and liability management is the practice of managing risks that arise due to mismatches between the assets and liabilities.

Credit analysis is the method by which one calculates the creditworthiness of a business or organization. In other words, It is the evaluation of the ability of a company to honor its financial obligations. The audited financial statements of a large company might be analyzed when it issues or has issued bonds. Or, a bank may analyze the financial statements of a small business before making or renewing a commercial loan. The term refers to either case, whether the business is large or small.

Mortgage underwriting in the United States is the process a lender uses to determine if the risk of offering a mortgage loan to a particular borrower under certain parameters is acceptable. Most of the risks and terms that underwriters consider fall under the three C’s of underwriting: credit, capacity and collateral.

Collateral has been used for hundreds of years to provide security against the possibility of payment default by the opposing party in a trade. Collateral management began in the 1980s, with Bankers Trust and Salomon Brothers taking collateral against credit exposure. There were no legal standards, and most calculations were performed manually on spreadsheets. Collateralisation of derivatives exposures became widespread in the early 1990s. Standardisation began in 1994 via the first ISDA documentation.

Bank financial institution

A bank is a financial institution that accepts deposits from the public and creates credit. Lending activities can be performed either directly or indirectly through capital markets. Due to their importance in the financial stability of a country, banks are highly regulated in most countries. Most nations have institutionalized a system known as fractional reserve banking under which banks hold liquid assets equal to only a portion of their current liabilities. In addition to other regulations intended to ensure liquidity, banks are generally subject to minimum capital requirements based on an international set of capital standards, known as the Basel Accords.

This article provides background information regarding the subprime mortgage crisis. It discusses subprime lending, foreclosures, risk types, and mechanisms through which various entities involved were affected by the crisis.

Under the Basel II guidelines, banks are allowed to use their own estimated risk parameters for the purpose of calculating regulatory capital. This is known as the internal ratings-based (IRB) approach to capital requirements for credit risk. Only banks meeting certain minimum conditions, disclosure requirements and approval from their national supervisor are allowed to use this approach in estimating capital for various exposures.

Financial law

Financial law is the law and regulation of the insurance, derivatives, commercial banking, capital markets and investment management sectors. Understanding Financial law is crucial to appreciating the creation and formation of banking and financial regulation, as well as the legal framework for finance generally. Financial law forms a substantial portion of commercial law, and notably a substantial proportion of the global economy, and legal billables are dependent on sound and clear legal policy pertaining to financial transactions. Understanding the legal implications of transactions and structures such as an indemnity, or overdraft is crucial to appreciating their effect in financial transactions. This is the core of Financial law. Thus, Financial law draws a narrower distinction than commercial or corporate law by focusing primarily on financial transactions, the financial market, and its participants; for example, the sale of goods may be part of commercial law but is not financial law. Financial law may be understood as being formed of three overarching methods, or pillars of law formation and categorised into five transaction silos which form the various financial positions prevalent in finance.


  1. "Principles for the Management of Credit Risk – final document". Basel Committee on Banking Supervision. BIS. September 2000. Retrieved 13 December 2013. Credit risk is umost simply defined as the potential that a bank borrower or counterparty will fail to meet its obligations in accordance with agreed terms.
  2. Risk Glossary: Credit Risk
  3. Credit Risk Classification Archived 2013-09-27 at the Wayback Machine
  4. BIS Paper:Sound credit risk assessment and valuation for loans
  5. Brkic, Sabina; Hodzic, Migdat; Dzanic, Enis (2018-07-02). "Soft Data Modeling Via Type 2 Fuzzy Distributions for Corporate Credit Risk Assessment in Commercial Banking". Rochester, NY.
  6. Huang and Scott:Credit Risk Scorecard Design, Validation and User Acceptance
  7. Investopedia: Risk-based mortgage pricing
  8. Edelman: Risk based pricing for personal loans
  9. Berger, Allen N., and Gregory F. Udell. "Collateral, loan quality and bank risk."Journal of Monetary Economics 25.1 (1990): 21–42.
  10. Jarrow, R. A.; Lando, D.; Turnbull, S. M. (1997). "A Markov Model for the Term Structure of Credit Risk Spreads". Review of Financial Studies. 10 (2): 481–523. doi:10.1093/rfs/10.2.481. ISSN   0893-9454.
  11. Altman, Edward I., and Anthony Saunders. "Credit risk measurement: Developments over the last 20 years." Journal of Banking & Finance 21.11 (1997): 1721–1742.
  12. Mester, Loretta J. "What’s the point of credit scoring?." Business review 3 (1997): 3–16.
  13. Cary L. Cooper; Derek F. Channon (1998). The Concise Blackwell Encyclopedia of Management. ISBN   978-0-631-20911-9.
  14. 1 2 Frenkel, Karmann and Scholtens (2004). Sovereign Risk and Financial Crises. Springer. ISBN   978-3-540-22248-4.
  15. Cornett, Marcia Millon; Saunders, Anthony (2006). Financial Institutions Management: A Risk Management Approach, 5th Edition. McGraw-Hill. ISBN   978-0-07-304667-9.
  16. Investopedia. Counterparty risk. Retrieved 2008-10-06
  17. Tom Henderson. Counterparty Risk and the Subprime Fiasco. 2008-01-02. Retrieved 2008-10-06
  18. Brigo, Damiano; Andrea Pallavicini (2007). Counterparty Risk under Correlation between Default and Interest Rates. In: Miller, J., Edelman, D., and Appleby, J. (Editors), Numerical Methods for Finance. Chapman Hall. ISBN   978-1-58488-925-0. Related SSRN Research Paper
  19. Debt covenants
  20. MBA Mondays:Risk Diversification
  21. Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (2014-03-31). "The standardised approach for measuring counterparty credit risk exposures". Retrieved 3 May 2018.

Further reading