Recovering portfolio default intensities implied by CDO quotes

Abstract : We propose a stable non-parametric algorithm for the calibration of pricing models for portfolio credit derivatives: given a set of observations of market spreads for CDO tranches, we construct a risk-neutral default intensity process for the portfolio underlying the CDO which matches these observations, by looking for the risk neutral loss process 'closest' to a prior loss process, verifying the calibration constraints. We formalize the problem in terms of minimization of relative entropy with respect to the prior under calibration constraints and use convex duality methods to solve the problem: the dual problem is shown to be an intensity control problem, characterized in terms of a Hamilton--Jacobi system of differential equations, for which we present an analytical solution. We illustrate our method on ITRAXX index data: our results reveal strong evidence for the dependence of loss transitions rates on the past number of defaults, thus offering quantitative evidence for contagion effects in the risk--neutral loss process.
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Journal articles
Mathematical Finance, Wiley, 2013, 23 (1), pp.94-121. <10.1111/j.1467-9965.2011.00491.x>
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Rama Cont, Andreea Minca. Recovering portfolio default intensities implied by CDO quotes. Mathematical Finance, Wiley, 2013, 23 (1), pp.94-121. <10.1111/j.1467-9965.2011.00491.x>. <hal-00413730>

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