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Default, Currency Crises, and Sovereign Credit Ratings

  • Carmen M. Reinhart

Sovereign credit ratings play an important part in determining countries' access to international capital markets and the terms of that access. In principle, there is no reason to expect that sovereign credit ratings should systematically predict currency crises. In practice, in emerging market economies there is a strong link between currency crises and default. Hence if credit ratings are forward-looking and currency crises in emerging market economies are linked to defaults, it follows that downgrades in credit ratings should systematically precede currency crises. This article presents results suggesting that sovereign credit ratings systematically fail to predict currency crises but do considerably better in predicting defaults. Downgrades in credit ratings usually follow currency crises, possibly suggesting that currency instability increases the risk of default. Copyright 2002, Oxford University Press.

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Article provided by World Bank Group in its journal The World Bank Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 16 (2002)
Issue (Month): 2 (August)
Pages: 151-170

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Handle: RePEc:oup:wbecrv:v:16:y:2002:i:2:p:151-170
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  1. Reinhart, Carmen & Kaminsky, Graciela, 1999. "The twin crises: The causes of banking and balance of payments problems," MPRA Paper 14081, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Graciela Kaminsky & Saul Lizondo & Carmen M. Reinhart, 1998. "Leading Indicators of Currency Crises," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 45(1), pages 1-48, March.
  3. Morris Goldstein & Carmen M. Reinhart, 2000. "Assessing Financial Vulnerability: An Early Warning System for Emerging Markets," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 100, May.
  4. Guillermo Larraín & Helmut Reisen & Julia von Maltzan, 1997. "Emerging Market Risk and Sovereign Credit Ratings," OECD Development Centre Working Papers 124, OECD Publishing.
  5. Guillermo A. Calvo & Carmen M. Reinhart, 2000. "Fixing for Your Life," NBER Working Papers 8006, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Goldfajn, Ilan & Valdes, Rodrigo O., 1998. "Are currency crises predictable?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-5), pages 873-885, May.
  7. Richard Cantor & Frank Packer, 1996. "Determinants and impact of sovereign credit ratings," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Oct, pages 37-53.
  8. Reinhart, Carmen & Goldstein, Morris & Kaminsky, Graciela, 2000. "Assessing financial vulnerability, an early warning system for emerging markets: Introduction," MPRA Paper 13629, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. Reinhart, Carmen, 2002. "Sovereign Credit Ratings Before and After Financial Crises," MPRA Paper 7410, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  10. Richard Cantor & Frank Packer, 1996. "Sovereign risk assessment and agency credit ratings," European Financial Management, European Financial Management Association, vol. 2(2), pages 247-256.
  11. Lee, Suk Hun, 1993. "Are the credit ratings assigned by bankers based on the willingness of LDC borrowers to repay?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 349-359, April.
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