Rating the raters: Are reputation concerns powerful enough to discipline rating agencies?
Credit rating agencies (CRAs) are accused of bearing a strong responsibility for contributing to the subprime crisis by having been deliberately too lax in the ratings of some structured products. In response to this accusation, CRAs argue that such an attitude would be too dangerous for them, since their reputation is at stake. The objective of this article is to examine the validity of this argument within a formal model: Are reputation concerns sufficient to discipline rating agencies? We show that the reputation argument only works when a sufficiency large fraction of the CRA income comes from other sources than rating complex products. By contrast when rating complex products becomes a major source of income for the CRA, we show that it is always too lax with a positive probability and inflates ratings with probability one when its reputation is good enough. We provide some empirical support for this prediction, by showing that ceteris paribus, the proportion of subprime residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) that were rated AAA by the three main CRAs indeed increased over the last eight years. We analyze the policy implications of our findings and advocate for a new business model of CRAs that we call the platform-pays model.
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- 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.
- Benabou, R. & Laroque, G., 1989. "Using Privileged Information To Manipulate Markets: Insiders, Gurus, And Credibility," Working papers 513, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
- Benabou, R. & Laroque, G., 1988. "Using Privileged Information To Manipulate Markets: Insiders, Gurus And Credibility," Papers 19, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Discussion Paper.
- Reinhart, Carmen & Felton, Andrew, 2009.
"The first global financial crisis of the 21st century: Part II, June-December, 2008,"
13604, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- Felton, Andrew & Reinhart, Carmen M. (ed.), 2008. "The First Global Financial Crisis of the 21st Century Part I: August 2007-May 2008," Vox eBooks, Centre for Economic Policy Research, number p187, December.
- Felton, Andrew & Reinhart, Carmen M. (ed.), 2009. "The First Global Financial Crisis of the 21st Century Part II: June–December, 2008," Vox eBooks, Centre for Economic Policy Research, number p199, December.
- Reinhart, Carmen & Felton, Andrew, 2009. "The first global financial crisis of the 21st century,Part II: Introduction," MPRA Paper 13607, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- Reinhart, Carmen, 2008. "The first global financial crisis of the 21st century: Introduction," MPRA Paper 13288, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- Reinhart, Carmen & Felton, Andrew, 2008. "The First Global Financial Crisis of the 21st Century," MPRA Paper 11862, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- Kreps, David M & Wilson, Robert, 1982.
Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 863-94, July.
- 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.
- 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.
- Boot, Arnoud W A & Milbourn, Todd, 2002. "Credit Ratings as Coordination Mechanism," CEPR Discussion Papers 3331, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Arnoud W.A. Boot & Todd T. Milbourn, 2002. "Credit Ratings as Coordination Mechanisms," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 02-058/2, Tinbergen Institute.
- Patrick Bolton & Xavier Freixas & Joel Shapiro, 2010.
"The Credit Ratings Game,"
468, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
- Patrick Bolton & Xavier Freixas & Joel Shapiro, 2009. "The Credit Ratings Game," NBER Working Papers 14712, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Patrick Bolton & Xavier Freixas & Joel Shapiro, 2009. "The credit ratings game," Economics Working Papers 1149, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
- Patrick Bolton & Xavier Freixas & Joel Shapiro, 2010. "The credit ratings game," Economics Working Papers 1221, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
- Antoine Faure-Grimaud & Eloïc Peyrache & Lucía Quesada, 2009.
"The ownership of ratings,"
RAND Journal of Economics,
RAND Corporation, vol. 40(2), pages 234-257.
- Perotti, Enrico C & Suarez, Javier, 2001.
"Last Bank Standing: What Do I Gain if You Fail?,"
CEPR Discussion Papers
2933, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Stephen Morris, 1999.
Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers
1242, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
- Paul Milgrom & John Roberts, 1997.
"Predation, reputation , and entry deterrence,"
Levine's Working Paper Archive
1460, David K. Levine.
- Joel Sobel, 1985. "A Theory of Credibility," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 52(4), pages 557-573.
- Carlson Mark & Hale Galina B, 2006. "Rating Agencies and Sovereign Debt Rollover," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 6(2), pages 1-32, September.
- Christoph Kuhner, 2001. "Financial Rating Agencies: Are They Credible? – Insights Into The Reporting Incentives Of Rating Agencies In Times Of Enhanced Systemic Risk," Schmalenbach Business Review (sbr), LMU Munich School of Management, vol. 53(1), pages 2-26, January.
- Douglas W. Diamond, 1998.
"Reputation Acquisition in Debt Markets,"
Levine's Working Paper Archive
602, David K. Levine.
- Stolper, Anno, 2009. "Regulation of credit rating agencies," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 33(7), pages 1266-1273, July.
- Charles Goodhart, 2008. "The Regulatory Response to the Financial Crisis," FMG Special Papers sp177, Financial Markets Group.
- Mailath, George J. & Samuelson, Larry, 2006. "Repeated Games and Reputations: Long-Run Relationships," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195300796, December.
- Alessandro Lizzeri, 1999. "Information Revelation and Certification Intermediaries," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 30(2), pages 214-231, Summer.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:moneco:v:56:y:2009:i:5:p:657-674. 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: (Shamier, Wendy)
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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 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.