This study aims at identifying an optimal set of features for predicting firms bankruptcy events in the current macroeconomic context. To this aim, among many financial features, we propose new country-specific factors which consider the macroeconomic conditions of the countries where firms operate. Our forecasting model is based on Support Vector Machines (SVMs), which are tools employed in supervised learning. Firstly, starting from a wide set of variables commonly used for bankruptcy prediction we assess the general effectiveness of SVMs also in comparison with the performances of other commonly used methods. Secondly, we try to improve the accuracy of forecasts by selecting optimal subsets of variables through a feature selection method. The results show that, in the current socio-economic context, the conjunct use of SVMs and the proposed feature selection technique significantly improves the accuracy of bankruptcy predictions compared to the performance of the other methods examined. Furthermore, we show that the proposed country-specific factors are relevant information for predicting the failure of firms and that most of the ratios proposed by Altman in 1968 are still relevant nowadays.
- bankruptcy prediction, default risk, credit scoring, support vector machines, feature selection, data mining, country-specific factors