(Please note: spreadsheet is available on the website). A nominal credit spread is the difference in yields (YTM), which are single factors; therefore, implicitly, the nominal spread compares flat curves. The Z-spread improves by giving the spread that adds across the entire spot (zero) rate curve; if the Z-spread is added to all points on the theoretical spot rate curve, the shift curve discounts the bond's cash flows to a present value that equals the bond's market price. In this way, the Z-spread represents compensation for credit risk across the entire curve.
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