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The Credit Rating Crisis

In: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2009, Volume 24

  • Efraim Benmelech
  • Jennifer Dlugosz

Since June 2007, the creditworthiness of structured finance products has deteriorated rapidly. The number of downgrades in November 2007 alone exceeded 2,000 and many downgrades were severe, with 500 tranches downgraded more than 10 notches. Massive downgrades continued in 2008. More than 11,000 of the downgrades affected securities that were rated AAA. This paper studies the credit rating crisis of 2007-2008 and in particular describes the collapse of the credit ratings of ABS CDOs. Using data on ABS CDOs we provide suggestive evidence that ratings shopping may have played a role in the current crisis. We find that tranches rated solely by one agency, and by S&P in particular, were more likely to be downgraded by January 2008. Further, tranches rated solely by one agency are more likely to suffer more severe downgrades.

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This chapter was published in:
  • Daron Acemoglu & Kenneth Rogoff & Michael Woodford, 2010. "NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2009, Volume 24," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number acem09-1, October.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 11794.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:11794
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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    1. Damiano, Ettore & Li, Hao & Suen, Wing, 2008. "Credible ratings," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 3(3), September.
    2. Ingo Fender & John Kiff, 2004. "CDO rating methodology: Some thoughts on model risk and its implications," BIS Working Papers 163, Bank for International Settlements.
    3. Patrick Bolton & Xavier Freixas & Joel Shapiro, 2009. "The credit ratings game," Economics Working Papers 1149, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    4. Vasiliki Skreta & Laura Veldkamp, 2009. "Ratings Shopping and Asset Complexity: A Theory of Ratings Inflation," NBER Working Papers 14761, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    7. Bo Becker & Todd Milbourn, 2008. "Reputation and competition: evidence from the credit rating industry," Harvard Business School Working Papers 09-051, Harvard Business School, revised Sep 2010.
    8. Adam B. Ashcraft & Til Schuermann, 2008. "Understanding the securitization of subprime mortgage credit," Staff Reports 318, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    9. Kashyap, Anil K. & Rajan, Raghuram G. & Stein, Jeremy C., 2008. "Rethinking capital regulation," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 431-471.
    10. Peter M. DeMarzo, 2005. "The Pooling and Tranching of Securities: A Model of Informed Intermediation," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 18(1), pages 1-35.
    11. Myers, Stewart C. & Majluf, Nicholas S., 1984. "Corporate financing and investment decisions when firms have information that investors do not have," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 187-221, June.
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    13. Ashcraft, A. & Goldsmith-Pinkham, P. & Vickery, J., 2010. "MBS Ratings and the Mortgage Credit Boom," Discussion Paper 2010-89S, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    14. Efraim Benmelech & Nittai K. Bergman, 2008. "Collateral Pricing," NBER Working Papers 13874, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Stewart C. Myers & Nicholas S. Majluf, 1984. "Corporate Financing and Investment Decisions When Firms Have InformationThat Investors Do Not Have," NBER Working Papers 1396, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Gorton, Gary & Pennacchi, George, 1990. " Financial Intermediaries and Liquidity Creation," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 45(1), pages 49-71, March.
    17. Myers, Stewart C. & Majluf, Nicolás S., 1945-, 1984. "Corporate financing and investment decisions when firms have information that investors do not have," Working papers 1523-84., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
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