Rating agencies’ signals during the European sovereign debt crisis: Market impact and spillovers
The ongoing financial crisis has drawn considerable attention to the role of credit rating agencies in the financial system. We examine how the foreign exchange market reacts to sovereign credit events prior to (2000–2006) and during the crisis (2006–2010). The sample includes a broad set of countries in Europe and Central Asia in order to investigate spillover effects. We find that rating agencies’ signals do affect the own-country exchange rate and we identify strong spillover effects to other countries’ exchange rates in the region. In both cases, the impact of outlook and watch signals is stronger than the impact of actual rating changes. Market reactions and spillovers are far stronger during the financial crisis period than pre-crisis. Negative news from all three major agencies has an impact, whereas only Moody's positive news produces a reaction. Negative news from Fitch tends to have the strongest effect. The findings are important in enhancing understanding of the role of rating agencies and the market response to their signals.
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