SAFE Working Paper No. 95

Sovereign Credit Risk, Liquidity, and ECB Intervention: Deus Ex Machina?

We examine the dynamic relation between credit risk and liquidity in the Italian sovereign bond market during the Euro-zone crisis and the subsequent European Central Bank (ECB) interventions. Credit risk drives the liquidity of the market: a 10% change in the credit default swap (CDS) spread leads to a 13% change in the bid-ask spread, the relation being stronger when the CDS spread exceeds 500 bp. The Long-Term Refinancing Operations (LTRO) of the ECB weakened the sensitivity of market makers’ liquidity provision to credit risk, highlighting the importance of funding liquidity measures as determinants of market liquidity.