Institutional Affiliation: University of Florida
|Secured Credit Spreads|
with Efraim Benmelech, Raghuram Rajan: w26799
Lenders are unwilling to accept lower credit spreads for secured debt relative to unsecured debt when a firm is healthy. However, they accept significantly lower credit spreads for secured debt when a firm’s credit quality deteriorates, the economy slows, or average credit spreads widen. This contingent valuation of collateral or security, coupled with the borrower perceiving a loss of operational and financial flexibility when issuing secured debt, may explain why firms issue secured debt on a contingent basis; they issue more when their credit quality deteriorates, the economy slows, and average credit spreads widen.
|The Decline of Secured Debt|
with Efraim Benmelech, Raghuram Rajan: w26637
We document a steady decline in the share of secured debt issued (as a fraction of total debt) in the United States over the twentieth century, with some pickup in this century. Superimposed on this secular trend, the share of secured debt issued is countercyclical. The secular decline in secured debt issuance seems to result from creditors acquiring greater confidence over time that the priority of their debt claims will be respected even if they do not obtain security up front. Borrowers also do not seem to want to lose financial and operational flexibility by giving security up front. Instead, security is given on a contingent basis – when a firm approaches distress. Similar arguments explain why debt is more likely to be secured in the down phase of a cycle than in the up phase, thus a...