Published: João F Gomes & Marco Grotteria & Jessica A Wachter, 2019. "Cyclical Dispersion in Expected Defaults," The Review of Financial Studies, vol 32(4), pages 1275-1308. citation courtesy of
A growing literature shows that credit indicators forecast aggregate real outcomes. While researchers have proposed various explanations, the economic mechanism behind these results remains an open question. In this paper, we show that a simple, frictionless, model explains empirical findings commonly attributed to credit cycles. Our key assumption is that firms have heterogeneous exposures to underlying economy-wide shocks. This leads to endogenous dispersion in credit quality that varies over time and predicts future excess returns and real outcomes.