How to calculate default risk premium
In the world of finance, understanding and assessing risks is crucial for investors when choosing an investment. Among the variety of risks, one that investors pay close attention to is default risk. This article will explain what default risk premium is and provide a step-by-step guide on how to calculate it.
What Is Default Risk Premium?
The default risk premium represents the additional return an investor requires in order to compensate for the possibility that a borrower may not repay their debt. In other words, it measures the difference between the interest rate on a risky bond and a risk-free bond with similar characteristics. The higher the default risk premium, the greater the perceived credit risk.
Steps to Calculate Default Risk Premium
Calculating the default risk premium involves several steps:
1. Identify Risky and Risk-Free Bonds
To begin, gather data on a risky bond (e.g., corporate bond) and a risk-free bond (e.g., Treasury bond) with similar features such as maturity period, coupon rate, and market liquidity. Ensure that both bonds have identical terms; any disparities may skew the comparison.
2. Obtain Interest Rates
Acquire current interest rates (yield to maturity) for both bonds. These rates indicate how much an investor can expect at the maturity of each bond. They’re often expressed as percentages.
3. Calculate Default Risk Premium
Subtract the interest rate of the risk-free bond from that of the risky bond.
Default Risk Premium = Interest Rate of Risky Bond – Interest Rate of Risk-Free Bond
This calculation provides you with the default risk premium, which represents additional compensation required by investors for bearing higher credit risk associated with risky bonds.
Here’s an example illustrating how to calculate default risk premium:
Suppose there’s a corporate bond with an annual interest rate of 7% and a Treasury bond with an annual interest rate of 4%. Both bonds have the same maturity period.
Default Risk Premium = 7% (Interest Rate of Risky Bond) – 4% (Interest Rate of Risk-Free Bond) = 3%
In this example, the default risk premium is 3%, representing the additional return an investor would expect for taking on the added risk of default from the corporate bond.
Understanding and assessing default risk premium is crucial for investors when selecting investments. By calculating it, you can identify which bonds best align with your risk tolerance and investment strategy. Keep in mind that evaluating credit risk involves various factors, and it is essential to consider other aspects such as credit rating and market sentiment when making your investment decisions.