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Are credit ratings procyclical?

Author

Listed:
  • C. H. Furfine
  • Jeffery D. Amato

    (Goldman Sachs International)

Abstract

This paper studies the influence of the state of the business cycle on credit ratings. In particular, we assess whether rating agencies are excessively procyclical in their assignment of ratings. Our analysis is based on a model of ratings determination that takes into account factors that measure the business and financial risks of firms, in addition to indicators of macroeconomic conditions. Utilising annual data on all US firms rated by Standard&Poor's, we find little evidence of procyclicality in ratings. By contrast, we find that initial ratings and rating changes exhibit excess sensitivity to the business cycle. The paper offers two explanations of these results.

Suggested Citation

  • C. H. Furfine & Jeffery D. Amato, 2003. "Are credit ratings procyclical?," BIS Working Papers 129, Bank for International Settlements.
  • Handle: RePEc:bis:biswps:129
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Nickell, Pamela & Perraudin, William & Varotto, Simone, 2000. "Stability of rating transitions," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 24(1-2), pages 203-227, January.
    2. Claudio Borio & Craig Furfine & Philip Lowe, 2001. "Procyclicality of the financial system and financial stability: issues and policy options," BIS Papers chapters, in: Bank for International Settlements (ed.), Marrying the macro- and micro-prudential dimensions of financial stability, volume 1, pages 1-57, Bank for International Settlements.
    3. 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.
    4. Richard F. Syron, 1991. "Are we experiencing a credit crunch?," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Jul, pages 3-10.
    5. Dimson, Elroy, 1979. "Risk measurement when shares are subject to infrequent trading," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 197-226, June.
    6. Lando, David & Skodeberg, Torben M., 2002. "Analyzing rating transitions and rating drift with continuous observations," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 26(2-3), pages 423-444, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    credit risk; rating agencies; business cycles; ordered probit; maximum likelihood;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C25 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Discrete Regression and Qualitative Choice Models; Discrete Regressors; Proportions; Probabilities
    • C81 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Microeconomic Data; Data Access
    • G20 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - General
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill

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