Recovery Rate

The percentage of the amount recovered when a loan defaults

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What is Recovery Rate?

Recovery rate, commonly used in credit risk management, refers to the amount recovered when a loan defaults. In other words, the recovery rate is the amount, expressed as a percentage, recovered from a loan when the borrower is unable to settle the full outstanding amount. A higher rate is always desirable. Although the rate is typically used for debt defaults, it can also be used for account receivables defaults.

Recovery Rate

Formula for Recovery Rate

Recovery Rate - Formula


  • Amount Recovered is the dollar amount that the issuer receives over the period of the loan.
  • Amount Loaned is the amount that the issuer loaned out.

Factors that Affect the Recovery Rate

When looking at factors that can affect the recovery rate, the most notable factors are poor macroeconomic conditions and business issues.

1. Macroeconomic conditions

Poor macroeconomic conditions significantly affect the recovery rate for loans. Rates are typically lower during a severe economic recession. During poor macroeconomic conditions, businesses face reduced profitability and a greater risk of defaulting on debt. For example, consider the following scenario:

ABC Company is facing profitability issues and will default on its loan in the coming year. The outstanding amount is $1,000,000. In a strong economy, the company is able to generate $900,000 to pay off its loan. In a weak economy, the company is only able to generate $300,000.

As illustrated above, for a company that is expected to default on its debt, poor macroeconomic conditions decrease the recovery rate as the company is generating fewer profits to settle its debt.

Recovery Rate - Example

2. Business Issues

Business failure caused by unforeseen business issues impacts the recovery rate. For example, a catastrophic fire that results in the inability to conduct business may result in a company defaulting on its debt. In short, business issues that affect a company’s ability to conduct business and generate profits play a key role in the recovery rate.

Recovery Within a Capital Structure

Debt that is more senior within a capital structure offers a higher recovery rate. This is due to the senior debt being accorded a greater claim to assets as opposed to debt ranked lower in the capital structure. In a data report issued by Moody’s, the average corporate debt recovery rate in 2017 was 81.3% for loans, 52.3% for senior secured bonds, 52.3% for senior unsecured bonds, and 4.5% for subordinated bonds. Consider the following example:

A company is facing bankruptcy and owns $500,000 in distributable assets to senior secured debt holders and subordinated debt holders. Senior secured debt holders are owed $700,000 while subordinated debt holders are owed $1,000,000. What is the recovery rate for the two different debt holders?

Senior debt holders are given a higher priority in the capital structure. In other words, assets must first be distributed to senior debt holders before subordinated debt holders are paid. Since senior debt holders are owed $700,000 and the company only holds $500,000 in assets, all assets of the company are given to senior debt holders for a recovery rate of 71%. Subordinated debt holders are left with no assets, as they’ve already been distributed, and they, therefore, will recover 0%.

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