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How Did the Financial Crisis Alter the Correlations of U.S. Yield Spreads?

We investigate the pairwise correlations of 11 U.S. fixed income yield spreads over a sample that includes the Great Financial Crisis of 2007-2009. Using cross-sectional methods and nonparametric bootstrap breakpoint tests, we characterize the crisis as a period in which pairwise correlations between yield spreads were systematically and significantly altered in the sense that spreads comoved with one another much more than in normal times. We find evidence that, for almost half of the 55 pairs under investigation, the crisis has left spreads much more correlated than they were previously. This evidence is particularly strong for liquidity- and default-risk-related spreads, long-term spreads, and the spreads that were most likely directly affected by policy interventions.

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