This paper examines the impact of central clearing on the credit default swap (CDS) market using a sample of voluntarily cleared single-name contracts. Consistent with central clearing reducing counterparty risk, CDS spreads increase around the commencement of central clearing and are lower than settlement spreads published by the central clearinghouse. Furthermore, the relation between CDS spreads and dealer credit risk weakens after central clearing begins, suggesting a lowering of systemic risk. These findings are robust to controls for frictions in both CDS and bond markets. Finally, matched sample analysis reveals that the increased post-trade transparency following central clearing is associated with an improvement in liquidity and trading activity. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.
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