Working paper series / Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, Fachbereich Wirtschaftswissenschaften : Finance & Accounting
Modelling the role of credit rating agencies : Do they spark off a virtuous circle?
Christina E. Bannier
- In this paper, we propose a model of credit rating agencies using the global games framework to incorporate information and coordination problems. We introduce a refined utility function of a credit rating agency that, additional to reputation maximization, also embeds aspects of competition and feedback effects of the rating on the rated firms. Apart from hinting at explanations for several hypotheses with regard to agencies' optimal rating assessments, our model suggests that the existence of rating agencies may decrease the incidence of multiple equilibria. If investors have discretionary power over the precision of their private information, we can prove that public rating announcements and private information collection are complements rather than substitutes in order to secure uniqueness of equilibrium. In this respect, rating agencies may spark off a virtuous circle that increases the efficiency of the market outcome.
The adjustment of credit ratings of defaulted issuers
- We provide insights into determinants of the rating level of 371 issuers which defaulted in the years 1999 to 2003, and into the leader-follower relationship between Moody’s and S&P. The evidence for the rating level suggests that Moody’s assigns lower ratings than S&P for all observed periods before the default event. Furthermore, we observe two-way Granger causal-ity, which signifies information flow between the two rating agencies. Since lagged rating changes influence the magnitude of the agencies’ own rating changes it would appear that the two rating agencies apply a policy of taking a severe downgrade through several mild down-grades. Further, our analysis of rating changes shows that issuers with headquarters in the US are less sharply downgraded than non-US issuers. For rating changes by Moody’s we also find that larger issuers seem to be downgraded less severely than smaller issuers.