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Tiebreaker: Certification and Multiple Credit Ratings

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  • Dion Bongaerts
  • Martijn Cremers
  • William Goetzmann

Abstract

This paper explores the role played by multiple credit rating agencies (CRAs) in the market for corporate bonds. Moody’s, S&P and Fitch operate in a competitive setting with market demand for both credit information and the certification value of a high rating. We empirically document the outcome of this competitive interaction over the period 2002 to 2007. Virtually all bonds in our sample are rated by both Moody’s and Standard and Poors (S&P), and between 40% and 60% of the bonds are also rated by Fitch. This apparent redundancy in information production has long been a puzzle. We consider three explanations for why issuers apply for a third rating: ‘information production,’ ‘adverse selection’ and ‘certification’ with respect to regulatory and rules-based constraints. Using ratings and credit spread regressions, we find evidence in favor of Certification only. Additional evidence shows that the reported certification effects are consistent with an equilibrium outcome in a market with information-sensitive and insensitive bonds. In such a setting, ratings help to prevent market breakdowns.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Yale School of Management in its series Yale School of Management Working Papers with number amz2394.

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Date of creation: 01 Nov 2008
Date of revision: 01 Sep 2009
Handle: RePEc:ysm:somwrk:amz2394

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Web page: http://icf.som.yale.edu/
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Keywords: Ratings; Credit Spreads;

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References

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  1. Arnoud W. A. Boot & Todd T. Milbourn, 2002. "Credit Ratings as Coordination Mechanisms," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 457, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  2. Michaely, Roni & Womack, Kent L, 1999. "Conflict of Interest and the Credibility of Underwriter Analyst Recommendations," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 12(4), pages 653-86.
  3. Arnoud W A Boot & Anjan V Thakor, 1992. "Security Design," CEPR Financial Markets Paper 0020, European Science Foundation Network in Financial Markets, c/o C.E.P.R, 77 Bastwick Street, London EC1V 3PZ.
  4. Gorton, Gary & Pennacchi, George, 1990. " Financial Intermediaries and Liquidity Creation," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 45(1), pages 49-71, March.
  5. Güntay, Levent & Hackbarth, Dirk, 2010. "Corporate bond credit spreads and forecast dispersion," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 34(10), pages 2328-2345, October.
  6. Francis A. Longstaff & Sanjay Mithal & Eric Neis, 2004. "Corporate Yield Spreads: Default Risk or Liquidity? New Evidence from the Credit-Default Swap Market," NBER Working Papers 10418, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Doron Kliger & Oded Sarig, 2000. "The Information Value of Bond Ratings," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 55(6), pages 2879-2902, December.
  8. Shin, Yoon S. & Moore, William T., 2003. "Explaining credit rating differences between Japanese and U.S. agencies," Review of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(4), pages 327-344.
  9. Bannier, Christina E. & Behr, Patrick & Güttler, André, 2009. "Rating opaque borrowers: why are unsolicited ratings lower?," Frankfurt School - Working Paper Series 133, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.
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  11. Kisgen, Darren J., 2009. "Do Firms Target Credit Ratings or Leverage Levels?," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 44(06), pages 1323-1344, December.
  12. Vasiliki Skreta & Laura Veldkamp, 2009. "Ratings Shopping and Asset Complexity: A Theory of Ratings Inflation," NBER Working Papers 14761, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Christina E. Bannier & Marcel Tyrell, 2005. "Modelling the role of credit rating agencies - Do they spark off a virtuous circle?," Working Paper Series: Finance and Accounting 160, Department of Finance, Goethe University Frankfurt am Main.
  14. Donald P. Morgan, 2002. "Rating Banks: Risk and Uncertainty in an Opaque Industry," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 874-888, September.
  15. Altman, Edward I. & Rijken, Herbert A., 2004. "How rating agencies achieve rating stability," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 28(11), pages 2679-2714, November.
  16. Darren J. Kisgen, 2006. "Credit Ratings and Capital Structure," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 61(3), pages 1035-1072, 06.
  17. Mark A. Carlson & Galina B. Hale, 2005. "Courage to Capital? A Model of the Effects of Rating Agencies on Sovereign Debt Role-over," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1506, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  18. Cantor, Richard & Packer, Frank, 1997. "Differences of opinion and selection bias in the credit rating industry," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 21(10), pages 1395-1417, October.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Patrick Bolton & Xavier Freixas & Joel Shapiro, 2010. "The credit ratings game," Economics Working Papers 1221, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  2. Lawrence J. White, 2013. "Credit Rating Agencies: An Overview," Annual Review of Financial Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 5(1), pages 93-122, November.
  3. Bo Becker & Todd Milbourn, 2010. "How did increased competition affect credit ratings?," NBER Working Papers 16404, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Grothe, Magdalena, 2013. "Market pricing of credit rating signals," Working Paper Series 1623, European Central Bank.
  5. Dong Chen, 2014. "The Non-monotonic Effect of Board Independence on Credit Ratings," Journal of Financial Services Research, Springer, vol. 45(2), pages 145-171, April.
  6. Xia, Han, 2014. "Can investor-paid credit rating agencies improve the information quality of issuer-paid rating agencies?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 111(2), pages 450-468.
  7. Gwion Williams & Rasha Alsakka & Owain ap Gwilym, 2013. "The Impact of Sovereign Credit Signals on Bank Share Prices during the European Sovereign Debt Crisis," Working Papers 13007, Bangor Business School, Prifysgol Bangor University (Cymru / Wales).
  8. Darren J. Kisgen & Philip E. Strahan, 2009. "Do Regulations Based on Credit Ratings Affect a Firm's Cost of Capital?," NBER Working Papers 14890, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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