Much of the market-related systematic risk found in speculative-grade debt is due to markets reacting to changes in the economy in the same manner that the speculative-grade bond market reacts to changes in the economy.
The efficiency and continued viability of speculative-grade bond markets is of considerable importance to future economic growth since 95 percent of all corporations in this country with sales over $35 million do not qualify for investment-grade debt.
(5.) Our bond sample is smaller when compared with the entire speculative-grade bond market.
Primary-market, or original-issue risk premiums, and secondary-market risk premiums on speculative-grade bonds are traditionally measured as the difference between yields and/or coupon rates on speculative-grade debt and those on similar maturity Aaa corporate or U.S.
(1991), and Cornell and Green (1991) point out that speculative-grade bonds are hybrid securities with features of both bonds and stocks.
One factor has been the expansion of the market for speculative-grade bonds
. Because low-grade bonds typically have a junior standing in the issuing firm's capital structure and, more important, because their high returns are particularly vulnerable to a drop in earnings, these bonds have risk and return characteristics similar to those of both common stock and debt.
In addition, speculative-grade bonds
accounted for 69% of equity.
Columns 7 and 8 of Table 1 present default rates on investment-grade and speculative-grade bonds, respectively, calculated by Fons, Carty, and Girault (1993).
Call options on corporate bonds are now mostly observed on speculative-grade bonds and on long-term investment-grade bonds (e.g., bonds with maturities of 30 years or longer).
Figure 1 shows the distribution of maturity and callability for investment-grade and speculative-grade bonds. In our sample, speculative-grade bonds are almost exclusively 7 to 12 years in maturity, most are callable, and none has a maturity over 20 years.
Among callable speculative-grade bonds, 93% have a first call date three or five years after issuance.
Given the typical maturities and call dates of riskier bonds, call option values on speculative-grade bonds are unlikely to surpass those of high-grade bonds unless the lower-tier issuers set sharply lower call prices.