Political Risk in Credit Evaluation: Empirical Studies and Survey Results

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Title: Political Risk in Credit Evaluation: Empirical Studies and Survey Results
Author: Sandström, Annika
Contributor: Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration, Department of Finance and Statistics, Finance
Publisher: Svenska handelshögskolan
Date: 2008-09-02
Language: en
Belongs to series: Economics and Society - 184
ISBN: 978-952-232-002-5
ISSN: 0424-7256
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10227/287
Thesis level: Doctoral thesis
Abstract: Financing trade between economic agents located in different countries is affected by many types of risks, resulting from incomplete information about the debtor, the problems of enforcing international contracts, or the prevalence of political and financial crises. Trade is important for economic development and the availability of trade finance is essential, especially for developing countries. Relatively few studies treat the topic of political risk, particularly in the context of international lending. This thesis explores new ground to identify links between political risk and international debt defaults. The core hypothesis of the study is that the default probability of debt increases with increasing political risk in the country of the borrower. The thesis consists of three essays that support the hypothesis from different angles of the credit evaluation process. The first essay takes the point of view of an international lender assessing the credit risk of a public borrower. The second investigates creditworthiness assessment of companies. The obtained results are substantiated in the third essay that deals with an extensive political risk survey among finance professionals in developing countries. The financial instruments of core interest are export credit guaranteed debt initiated between the Export Credit Agency of Finland and buyers in 145 countries between 1975 and 2006. Default events of the foreign credit counterparts are conditioned on country-specific macroeconomic variables, corporate-specific accounting information as well as political risk indicators from various international sources. Essay 1 examines debt issued to government controlled institutions and conditions public default events on traditional macroeconomic fundamentals, in addition to selected political and institutional risk factors. Confirming previous research, the study finds country indebtedness and the GDP growth rate to be significant indicators of public default. Further, it is shown that public defaults respond to various political risk factors. However, the impact of the risk varies between countries at different stages of economic development. Essay 2 proceeds by investigating political risk factors as conveivable drivers of corporate default and uses traditional accounting variables together with new political risk indicators in the credit evaluation of private debtors. The study finds links between corporate default and leverage, as well as between corporate default and the general investment climate and measeures of conflict in the debtor country. Essay 3 concludes the thesis by offering survey evidence on the impact of political risk on debt default, as perceived and experienced by 103 finance professionals in 38 developing countries. Taken together, the results of the thesis suggest that various forms of political risk are associated with international debt defaults and continue to pose great concerns for both international creditors and borrowers in developing countries. The study provides new insights on the importance of variable selection in country risk analysis, and shows how political risk is actually perceived and experienced in the riskier, often lower income countries of the global economy.
Subject: political risk
country risk
credit risk
export credit guarantees
export credit agencies
default probability estimation
survey results
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