A Study of the Interaction between the Sovereign Credit Default Swap Market and the Exchange Rate
: An Analysis from a Macroeconomic Perspective

  • Yang Liu

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


This thesis analyses the relationship between the increasingly important sovereign CDS spreads and exchange rates, from a macroeconomic perspective. It attempts to address an existing gap in the empirical literature, which to date has paid limited attention to the role of exchange rates in influencing sovereign CDS spreads, and vice versa.In exploring the relationship between sovereign CDS markets and foreign exchange markets, I find relatively strong evidence of a causal relationship between these two variables. In a longer-term cointegrating relationship, I find that sovereign CDS spreads have different impacts (positive or negative) on exchange rates depending on the structural characteristics of the domestic export sectors of the countries studied.Turning to the second moment of exchange rates and sovereign CDS spreads, I examine the relationship between the volatility of sovereign CDS spreads and the volatility of exchange rates for developed economies (proxied by an index containing 10 Eurozone countries) and emerging economies (proxied by Brazil and Russia). My findings point to different mechanisms of transmission between sovereign CDS markets and foreign exchange markets with regard to developed and emerging economies: for developed economies, exchange rates affect sovereign CDS spreads through the volatility, whilst in emerging economies the exchange rates affect sovereign CDS spreads at the price level.To further analyse the determinants of sovereign CDS spreads, I incorporate additional macroeconomic fundamentals in addition to exchange rates into a model to explain sovereign CDS spreads. The results show that sovereign CDS spreads are indeed driven by most macroeconomic fundamentals. However, these results do not hold during periods of economic turmoil, in which the rising risk aversion of investors becomes a principal influence behind the sovereign CDS spreads. As changes in exchange rates are able to capture changes to risk aversion through trading in foreign exchange markets, the exchange rate retains its explanatory power to sovereign CDS spreads in ‘normal’ as well as ‘crisis’ conditions.Overall, the study provides strong support for the claim that exchange rates are an important determinant of sovereign CDS spreads, in addition to the interest rate which is highlighted in the literature review. The exchange rate – as an important fundamental indicator – can reflect the general domestic economic status, the relative international competitiveness of countries, as well as capture changes in risk aversion among investors. Therefore, using exchange rates to explain sovereign CDS spreads can help to account for both domestic and international dimensions of the ‘health’ of an economy as well as changes in investors’ attitudes.
Date of Award14 Jan 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorBruce Morley (Supervisor) & John Hudson (Supervisor)


  • exchange rate
  • CDS spread

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