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Credit risk refers to the risk that a borrower will default on any type of debt by failing to make payments which it is obligated to do. The risk is primarily that of the lender and include lost principal and interest, disruption to cash flows, and increased collection costs. The loss may be complete or partial and can arise in a number of circumstances. For example:
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 or guarantees of third parties, besides other possible strategies. 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 can be classified in the following way:
Significant resources and sophisticated programs are used to analyze and manage risk. 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, and Dun and Bradstreet provide such information for a fee.
Most lenders employ their own models (credit scorecards) to rank potential and existing customers according to risk, and then apply appropriate strategies. With products such as unsecured personal loans or mortgages, lenders charge a higher price for higher risk customers and vice versa. With revolving products such as credit cards and overdrafts, risk is controlled through the setting of credit limits. Some products also require security, most commonly in the form of property.
Credit scoring models also form part of the framework used by banks or lending institutions grant credit to clients. 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).
Sovereign risk is the risk of a government becoming 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.
The probability of rescheduling is an increasing function of debt service ratio, import ratio, variance of export revenue and domestic money supply growth. Frenkel, Karmann, Raahish and Scholtens also argue that the likelihood of rescheduling is a decreasing function of investment ratio due to future economic productivity gains. Saunders argues that rescheduling can become more likely 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.
A counterparty risk, also known as a default risk, is a risk that a counterparty will not pay what it is obligated to do on a bond, credit derivative, trade credit insurance or payment protection insurance contract, or other trade or transaction when it is supposed to. Financial institutions may hedge or take out credit insurance of some sort with a counterparty, which may find themselves unable to pay when required to do so, either due to temporary liquidity issues or longer term systemic reasons.
Large insurers are counterparties to many transactions, and thus this is the kind of risk that prompts financial regulators to act, e.g., the bailout of insurer AIG.
On the methodological side, counterparty risk can be affected by wrong way risk, namely the risk that different risk factors be correlated in the most harmful direction. Including correlation between the portfolio risk factors and the counterparty default into the methodology is not trivial, see for example Brigo and Pallavicini.
A good introduction can be found in a paper by Michael Pykhtin and Steven Zhu.
Lenders mitigate credit risk using several methods:
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