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Loss Given Default (LGD)


Loss Given Default (LGD) is a financial term used in the assessment of credit risk to measure potential losses if a borrower defaults on a loan. Essentially, it calculates the ratio of the loss if default occurs to the total exposure at the time of default. It is a crucial component in the calculation of expected loss along with probability of default and exposure at default.


Loss Given Default (LGD) is pronounced as /lɒs ɡɪvən dɪˈfɔːlt/.

Key Takeaways

Loss Given Default (LGD) is a critical component in credit risk modeling, expected loss calculation, and risk-weighted asset calculation. Here are the three main takeaways:

  1. Definition: Loss Given Default (LGD) refers to the amount of money a bank or other financial institution loses when a borrower defaults on a loan. It is defined as the ratio of the loss on an exposure due to the default of a counterparty, to the amount outstanding at default.
  2. Impact: LGD plays a significant role in determining the credit risks and capital requirements of financial institutions. Higher LGD indicates a higher financial risk for lenders, leading to more cautious lending decisions or higher interest rates to compensate for the risk undertaken.
  3. Computation: LGD is typically estimated based on historical data looking at recoveries made after borrower defaults – including the recovered principal, interest, and cost of recovery. The calculation of LGD is typically made more complex due to the different types of collateral, seniority level of the debt, and other factors that affect the recovery rate.


Loss Given Default (LGD) is a critical component in the financial sector, particularly in risk management and credit risk modeling. It quantitatively defines the potential loss that a lender or investor would incur if a borrower defaults on a loan or other type of credit obligation. Estimating LGD accurately is vital as it directly impacts the calculation of expected losses, credit pricing, capital reserves and overall profitability. Therefore, understanding LGD aids in mitigating risks, making more informed loan pricing decisions and establishing adequate capital buffers. In essence, it enhances the lender’s ability to withstand potential losses and contribute to financial stability.


Loss Given Default (LGD) is a crucial aspect of the financial risk management framework that banking institutions and other lenders use to quantify potential losses if a borrower defaults on a loan. Essentially, LGD determines the extent of loss that a bank or lender can suffer if a customer fails to fulfill their loan obligations. But rather than just detailing the potential monetary losses, it paints a comprehensive picture that assists in understanding the risk associated with different types of loans or credit facilities. This enables financial institutions to effectively strategize their lending practices to mitigate risks, in turn, laying foundations for sound financial management and sustained profitability.By calculating LGD, lenders can determine the economic downturn’s impact, the collateral’s effect, and the recovery rates associated with different credit facilities. The value of LGD ranges from 0% (no loss) to 100% (total loss), and a higher LGD means a higher risk. Additionally, it also forms a critical input for credit risk modeling and quantifying regulatory capital under Basel II and Basel III. Calculating LGD allows institutions to prioritize their lending portfolio, focusing on avenues that minimize losses while maximizing profit. Ultimately, LGD plays a significant role in banking and financial institutions’ decision-making process, contributing towards credit risk management, pricing, loan decision, and capital adequacy calculations.


1. Auto Loans: In the case of a car loan, if a borrower defaults, the lending institution can repossess the car. However, if the total amount owed is $15,000 and the institution is only able to sell the repossessed car for $10,000, the loss given default would be $5,000.2. Home Mortgage: Say a bank has a residential mortgage portfolio and a certain homeowner defaults on their $300,000 mortgage, the bank seizes the property and sells it but only receives $250,000. In this case, the loss given default is $50,000. The LGD ratio would be $50,000/$300,000 = 16.7%.3. Commercial Business Loan: A commercial lender issues a $1 million loan to a business. Unfortunately, the business enters bankruptcy and the lender can only recover $600,000 by selling off assets. Here, the loss given default is $400,000. The LGD is 40% when calculated as $400,000/$1 million.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Loss Given Default (LGD)?

Loss Given Default (LGD) refers to the amount of money a bank or other financial institution loses when a borrower defaults on a loan i.e., fails to pay back. It is a risk measure used in the analysis of risk and financial modeling for loans and other financial products.

How is LGD calculated?

LGD is calculated by dividing the loss by the Exposure at Default (EAD). The EAD is the total value that a bank is exposed to at the time of default. Essentially, LGD = Loss / EAD.

What factors can impact the LGD?

There are various factors that can impact LGD, including: the type of loan, the collateral offered, economic conditions, the financial health of the borrower, the recovery processes, and legal and administrative procedures.

Is lower LGD better?

Yes, a lower LGD is preferable from the lender’s point of view. It indicates a lower potential loss amount should the borrower default.

How does LGD fit into credit risk modeling?

LGD is a key component of credit risk modeling. Together with Probability of Default (PD) and Exposure at Default (EAD), it helps banks assess the potential risk associated with issuing a loan. This is often referred to as the Expected Loss (EL) calculation.

What is the difference between LGD and EAD?

LGD is the percentage of a bank’s exposure which is likely to be lost in the event of a borrower’s default, while EAD is the total amount a bank is exposed to when a borrower defaults.

How does LGD help in risk management?

LGD is a vital tool for financial institutions in managing credit risk. It allows them to estimate potential losses from defaults and subsequently take measures to minimize their exposure such as setting loan provisions, adjusting loan rates, or making decisions on whether to lend.

Is LGD constant?

No, LGD can vary widely depending on a number of factors such as the nature of the loan, borrower characteristics, economic conditions, and recovery strategies implemented by the lender.

What is the correlation between LGD and Probability of Default?

LGD and Probability of Default (PD) are often used together to calculate the Expected Loss (EL) of a loan. However, they measure different things. While PD measures the likelihood of a default, LGD measures the potential loss from that default.

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