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Ratings quality over the business cycle

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  • Bar-Isaac, Heski
  • Shapiro, Joel

Abstract

Credit rating agencies (CRAs) have long held that reputational concerns discipline their behavior. The value of reputation, however, depends on economic fundamentals that vary over the business cycle. In a model of ratings incorporating endogenous reputation and a market environment that varies, we find that ratings quality is countercyclical. Specifically, a CRA is more likely to issue less-accurate ratings when fee-income is high, competition in the labor market for analysts is tough, and securities' default probabilities are low. Persistence in economic conditions can diminish our results, while mean reversion exacerbates them. The presence of naive investors reduces overall quality, but quality remains countercyclical. Finally, we demonstrate that competition among CRAs yields similar results.

Suggested Citation

  • Bar-Isaac, Heski & Shapiro, Joel, 2013. "Ratings quality over the business cycle," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(1), pages 62-78.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jfinec:v:108:y:2013:i:1:p:62-78 DOI: 10.1016/j.jfineco.2012.11.004
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Credit rating agencies; Reputation; Ratings accuracy;

    JEL classification:

    • G24 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Investment Banking; Venture Capital; Brokerage
    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation

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