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To err is human: rating agencies and the interwar foreign government debt crisis

  • Marc Flandreau
  • Norbert Gaillard
  • Frank Packer

During the 1930s, rating agencies took up a central role in regulatory supervision that they still have today. The proximate cause for this changeover was the economic shock of the Great Depression. Exploring the performance of rating agencies in assessing the risks of sovereign debt, an important segment of the bond market, we do not find that superior forecasting capacities can explain the agencies' growing importance.

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Paper provided by Bank for International Settlements in its series BIS Working Papers with number 335.

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Length: 46 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bis:biswps:335
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  1. Sy, Amadou N.R., 2004. "Rating the rating agencies: Anticipating currency crises or debt crises?," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 28(11), pages 2845-2867, November.
  2. Efraim Benmelech & Jennifer Dlugosz, 2009. "The Credit Rating Crisis," NBER Working Papers 15045, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    • Efraim Benmelech & Jennifer Dlugosz, 2010. "The Credit Rating Crisis," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2009, Volume 24, pages 161-207 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Barry J. Eichengreen & Richard Portes, 1985. "Debt and Default in the 1930s: Causes and Consequences," NBER Working Papers 1772, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Reisen, Helmut & von Maltzan, Julia, 1999. "Boom and Bust and Sovereign Ratings," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 2(2), pages 273-93, July.
  5. Cantor, Richard & Packer, Frank, 1997. "Differences of opinion and selection bias in the credit rating industry," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 21(10), pages 1395-1417, October.
  6. Eugene N. White & John Landon-Lane & Adam Klug, 2002. "How Could Everyone Have Been So Wrong? Forecasting The Great Depression With The Railroads," Departmental Working Papers 200209, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
  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, 2002. "Sovereign Credit Ratings Before and After Financial Crises," MPRA Paper 7410, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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