A credit spread refers to the difference in interest rate between a corporate bond and a comparable maturity government bond. Suppose interest rate on a five-year corporate bond is 6 percent and that on a five-year government bond is 5 percent. The interest on corporate bond consists of a risk-free rate of 5 percent plus a credit spread of 1 percent. Credit spread is the compensation paid to investors for the risk of default in interest and principal payments. In other words, the yield of the bond comprises two components:
i) The yield on a similar default-free or government bond issue and
ii) A premium above that for the default risk associated with the bond.
The part of the risk premium attributed to default risk is called the credit spread. If the credit spread of a non-treasury bond will increase, the market price of the bond will decline. Credit spread risk can be defined as the risk wherein an issuer's debt obligation will decline due to an increase in the credit spread.