Probability of default rating methodology review



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Kansas State University


Institutions of the Farm Credit System (FCS) focus on risk-based lending in accordance with regulatory direction. The rating of risk also assists retail staff in loan approval, risk-based pricing, and allowance decisions. FCS institutions have developed models to analyze financial and related customer information in determining qualitative and quantitative risk measures. The objective of this thesis is to examine empirical account data from 2006-2012 to review the probability of default (PD) rating methodology within the overall risk rating system implemented by a Farm Credit System association. This analysis provides insight into the effectiveness of this methodology in predicting the migration of accounts across the association’s currently-established PD ratings where negative migration may be an apparent precursor to actual loan default. The analysis indicates that average PD ratings hold relatively consistent over the years, though the distribution of the majority of PD ratings shifted to higher quality by two rating categories over the time period. Various regressions run in the analysis indicate that the debt to asset ratio is most consistently statistically significant in estimating future PD ratings. The current ratio appears to be superior to working capital to gross profit as a liquidity measure in predicting PD rating migration. Funded debt to EBITDA is more effective in predicting PD rating movement as a measure of earnings to debt than gross profit to total liabilities, although the change of these ratios over time appear to be weaker indicators of the change in PD rating potentially due to the variable nature of annual earnings of production agriculture operations due to commodity price volatility. The debt coverage ratio is important as it relates to future PD migration, though the same variability in commodity price volatility suggests the need implement multi-year averaging for calculation of earnings-based ratios. These ratios were important in predicting the PD rating of observations one year into the future for production agriculture operations. To further test the predictive ability of the PD ratings, similar regression analyses were completed comparing current year rating and ratios to future PD ratings beyond one year, specifically for three and five years. Results from these regression models indicate that current year PD rating and ratios are less effective in predicting future PD ratings beyond one year. Furthermore, because of the variation in regression results between the analyses completed for one, three and five years into the future, it is important to regularly capture ratio and rating information, at least annually.



Credit migration, Credit quality, Farm credit system, Probability of default, Agricultural lending

Graduation Month



Master of Agribusiness


Department of Agricultural Economics

Major Professor

Allen M. Featherstone