Identifying the Factors that Affect Interest-Rate Swap Spreads: Some Evidence from the United States and the United Kingdom



We assess the ability of the factors proposed in previous research to account for the stochastic evolution of the term structure of the U.S. and U.K. swap spreads. Using as factor proxies the level, volatility, and slope of the zero-coupon government yield curve as well as the Treasury-bill—London Interbank Offer Rate (LIBOR) spread and the corporate bond spread, we identify a procyclical behavior for the short-maturity U.S. swap spreads and a countercyclical behavior for longer maturity U.S. swap spreads. Liquidity and corporate bond spreads are also significant, but their importance varies with maturity. The liquidity premium is more important for short-maturity swap spreads, although the corporate bond spread affects long-maturity swap spreads. For the United Kingdom, swap spreads are countercyclical across maturities. In addition, we find that shocks to the liquidity premium are more significant for long-maturity swaps and that the links between corporate bond markets and swap markets are much stronger than in the United States. When we look at the links between U.S. and U.K. swap markets, we identify a significant influence of the U.S. factors on the U.K. swap spreads across maturities. © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Jrl Fut Mark 21:737–768, 2001