Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Accounting, Economics and Finance


The analysis of credit risk by banks and rating agencies is very complicated because risk events, such as default and bankruptcy, are influenced by multiple factors, including those that are individually specific, as well as those arising from the external environment. The world economy has been shown to be a complex adaptive system (CAS), as companies and individual people within the global economy are constantly reacting to influences from the activities of other companies and the people they are interconnected with, in addition to external influences. This thesis uses a methodology developed for CAS to analyse the characteristics of multiple credit risk events in the United States, Europe and Asia between 1990–2010, as well as personal bankruptcies in Australia between 2008–2016 to establish the significance of factors driving credit risk. The analysis indicates that factors that drive corporate default are significant and stable over time in the United States, whilst differences across different economic zones are observed, meaning a static credit risk model will not work across different countries. The results for personal bankruptcy show that Age, Gross Income, Spouse Income, No Real Assets and Major City are five of the major characteristics and they show a stable pattern from 2008–2016. Moreover, two macro-economic factors ‘Change in Unemployment Rate’ and ‘Change in Interest Rate’ are significant as well. This indicates that drivers of bankruptcy come from socioeconomic issues, such as the external economic environment, income and the place where you live, rather than individual characteristics.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.