Annals of Operations Research

, Volume 266, Issue 1–2, pp 5–33 | Cite as

Portfolio diversification in the sovereign credit swap markets

  • Andrea Consiglio
  • Somayyeh Lotfi
  • Stavros A. ZeniosEmail author
Analytical Models for Financial Modeling and Risk Management


We develop models for portfolio diversification in the sovereign credit default swaps (CDS) markets and show that, despite literature findings that sovereign CDS spreads are affected by global factors, there is sufficient idiosyncratic risk to be diversified. However, we identify regime switching in the times series of CDS spreads and spread returns, and the optimal diversified strategies can be regime dependent. The developed models trade off the CVaR risk measure against expected return, consistently with the statistical properties of spreads. We consider three investment strategies suited for different CDS market participants: for investors with long positions, speculators that hold uncovered long and short positions, and hedgers with covered long and short exposures. We use the models to illustrate that diversification pays in the CDS market. The models are also tested for active portfolio management in Eurozone core and periphery, and Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe countries, and the optimized portfolio results outperform the broad S&P/ISDA Eurozone Developed Nation Sovereign CDS index. The paper concludes by identifying open questions in developing integrated enterprise-wide risk management models using CDS.


Credit derivatives Portfolio diversification Eurozone crisis CDS spreads Conditional Value-at-Risk Regime switching 



Stavros Zenios is holder of a Marie Sklodowska-Curie fellowship funded from the European Union Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement No. 655092. The authors benefited from the comments of two anonymous referees and participants at the Macro seminars at the Finance Department of the Wharton School.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics, Management and StatisticsUniversity of PalermoPalermoItaly
  2. 2.Department of Accounting and FinanceUniversity of CyprusNicosiaCyprus
  3. 3.Norwegian School of EconomicsBergenNorway
  4. 4.Wharton Financial Institutions Center, The Wharton SchoolUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA

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