Review of Derivatives Research

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 63–118 | Cite as

The determinants of CDS spreads: evidence from the model space

  • Matthias PelsterEmail author
  • Johannes Vilsmeier


We apply Bayesian model averaging and a frequentistic model space analysis to assess the pricing determinants of credit default swaps (CDSs). Our study focuses on the complete model space of plausible models and thus supports ultimate robustness. Using a large dataset of CDS contracts we find that CDS price dynamics can be mainly explained by factors describing firms’ sensitivity to extreme market movements. More precisely, our results suggest that dynamic copula based measures of tail dependence incorporate most essential pricing information, making other potential determinants such as Merton-type factors or linear variables measuring the systematic market evolution negligible.


CDS Bayesian model averaging Crash aversion Tail risk Tail dependence Time-varying copulas 

JEL Classification

G12 C11 G01 

Supplementary material


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Leuphana University LueneburgLüneburgGermany
  2. 2.Deutsche BundesbankFrankfurt am MainGermany

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