IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/jfinec/v101y2011i3p493-514.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

How did increased competition affect credit ratings?

Author

Listed:
  • Becker, Bo
  • Milbourn, Todd

Abstract

The credit rating industry has historically been dominated by just two agencies, Moody's and Standard & Poor's, leading to long-standing legislative and regulatory calls for increased competition. The material entry of a third rating agency (Fitch) to the competitive landscape offers a unique experiment to empirically examine how increased competition affects the credit ratings market. What we find is relatively troubling. Specifically, we discover that increased competition from Fitch coincides with lower quality ratings from the incumbents: Rating levels went up, the correlation between ratings and market-implied yields fell, and the ability of ratings to predict default deteriorated. We offer several possible explanations for these findings that are linked to existing theories.

Suggested Citation

  • Becker, Bo & Milbourn, Todd, 2011. "How did increased competition affect credit ratings?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 101(3), pages 493-514, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jfinec:v:101:y:2011:i:3:p:493-514
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0304405X11000778
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Mathis, Jérôme & McAndrews, James & Rochet, Jean-Charles, 2009. "Rating the raters: Are reputation concerns powerful enough to discipline rating agencies?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(5), pages 657-674, July.
    2. Jorion, Philippe & Liu, Zhu & Shi, Charles, 2005. "Informational effects of regulation FD: evidence from rating agencies," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 309-330, May.
    3. Marshall E. Blume & Felix Lim & A. Craig MacKinlay, "undated". "The Declining Credit Quality of US Corporate Debt: Myth or Reality?," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 3-98, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
    4. Hand, John R M & Holthausen, Robert W & Leftwich, Richard W, 1992. " The Effect of Bond Rating Agency Announcements on Bond and Stock Prices," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 47(2), pages 733-752, June.
    5. Patrick Bolton & Xavier Freixas & Joel Shapiro, 2012. "The Credit Ratings Game," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 67(1), pages 85-112, February.
    6. Diamond, Douglas W, 1989. "Reputation Acquisition in Debt Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(4), pages 828-862, August.
    7. Bar-Isaac, Heski & Shapiro, Joel, 2013. "Ratings quality over the business cycle," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(1), pages 62-78.
    8. Zhihua CHEN & Aziz A. LOOKMAN & Norman SCHURHOFF & Duane J. SEPPI, 2010. "Why Ratings Matter: Evidence from Lehman's Index Rating Rule Change," Swiss Finance Institute Research Paper Series 10-30, Swiss Finance Institute.
    9. Harrison Hong & Marcin Kacperczyk, 2010. "Competition and Bias," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(4), pages 1683-1725.
    10. George J. Mailath & Larry Samuelson, 2001. "Who Wants a Good Reputation?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 68(2), pages 415-441.
    11. Dion Bongaerts & K. J. Martijn Cremers & William N. Goetzmann, 2012. "Tiebreaker: Certification and Multiple Credit Ratings," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 67(1), pages 113-152, February.
    12. Arnoud W. A. Boot & Todd T. Milbourn & Anjolein Schmeits, 2006. "Credit Ratings as Coordination Mechanisms," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 19(1), pages 81-118.
    13. Ginger Zhe Jin & Phillip Leslie, 2009. "Reputational Incentives for Restaurant Hygiene," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 237-267, February.
    14. Benmelech, Efraim & Dlugosz, Jennifer, 2009. "The alchemy of CDO credit ratings," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(5), pages 617-634, July.
    15. Chemmanur, Thomas J & Fulghieri, Paolo, 1994. "Reputation, Renegotiation, and the Choice between Bank Loans and Publicly Traded Debt," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 7(3), pages 475-506.
    16. John Y. Campbell & Glen B. Taksler, 2003. "Equity Volatility and Corporate Bond Yields," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 58(6), pages 2321-2350, December.
    17. Roland Benabou & Guy Laroque, 1992. "Using Privileged Information to Manipulate Markets: Insiders, Gurus, and Credibility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(3), pages 921-958.
    18. Skreta, Vasiliki & Veldkamp, Laura, 2009. "Ratings shopping and asset complexity: A theory of ratings inflation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(5), pages 678-695, July.
    19. Spatt, Chester, 2009. "Discussion of "Ratings Shopping and Asset Complexity: A Theory of Ratings Inflation"," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(5), pages 696-699, July.
    20. Marshall E. Blume & Felix Lim & A. Craig Mackinlay, 1998. "The Declining Credit Quality of U.S. Corporate Debt: Myth or Reality?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(4), pages 1389-1413, August.
    21. Daniel M. Covitz & Paul Harrison, 2003. "Testing conflicts of interest at bond rating agencies with market anticipation: evidence that reputation incentives dominate," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2003-68, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    22. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1997. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(3), pages 557-586, May.
    23. Judith Chevalier & Glenn Ellison, 1999. "Career Concerns of Mutual Fund Managers," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(2), pages 389-432.
    24. Richard Cantor & Frank Packer, 1994. "The credit rating industry," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Sum, pages 1-26.
    25. Carmen M. Reinhart, 2002. "An Introduction," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 16(2), pages 149-150, August.
    26. Graham, John R. & Harvey, Campbell R., 2001. "The theory and practice of corporate finance: evidence from the field," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(2-3), pages 187-243, May.
    27. Bar-Isaac, Heski, 2005. "Imperfect competition and reputational commitment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 89(2), pages 167-173, November.
    28. repec:fth:pennfi:67 is not listed on IDEAS
    29. Strausz, Roland, 2005. "Honest certification and the threat of capture," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 23(1-2), pages 45-62, February.
    30. Harrison Hong & Jeffrey D. Kubik, 2003. "Analyzing the Analysts: Career Concerns and Biased Earnings Forecasts," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 58(1), pages 313-351, February.
    31. Joshua Coval & Jakub Jurek & Erik Stafford, 2009. "The Economics of Structured Finance," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(1), pages 3-25, Winter.
    32. 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.
    33. Bar-Isaac, Heski & Tadelis, Steven, 2008. "Seller Reputation," Foundations and Trends(R) in Microeconomics, now publishers, vol. 4(4), pages 273-351, August.
    34. Klein, Benjamin & Leffler, Keith B, 1981. "The Role of Market Forces in Assuring Contractual Performance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 615-641, August.
    35. Darren J. Kisgen, 2006. "Credit Ratings and Capital Structure," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 61(3), pages 1035-1072, June.
    36. Marshall E. Blume & Felix Lim & A. Craig MacKinlay, "undated". "The Declining Credit Quality of US Corporate Debt: Myth or Reality?," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 03-98, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Credit ratings Competition and reputation Information quality;

    JEL classification:

    • G24 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Investment Banking; Venture Capital; Brokerage

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jfinec:v:101:y:2011:i:3:p:493-514. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505576 .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.