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Bank ratings-What determines their quality?

  • Harald Hau

    (University of Geneva, Swiss Finance Institute and CEPR)

  • Sam Langfield

    (European Systemic Risk Board Secretariat and UK Financial Services Authority)

  • David Marques-Ibanez

    (European Central Bank)

This paper examines the quality of credit ratings assigned to banks in Europe and the United States by the three largest rating agencies over the past two decades. We interpret credit ratings as relative assessments of creditworthiness, and define a new ordinal metric of rating error based on banks’ expected default frequencies. Our results suggest that rating agencies assign more positive ratings to large banks and to those institutions more likely to provide the rating agency with additional securities rating business (as indicated by private structured credit origination activity). These competitive distortions are economically significant and help perpetuate the existence of ‘too-big-to-fail’ banks. We also show that, overall, differential risk weights recommended by the Basel accords for investment grade banks bear no significant relationship to empirical default probabilities.

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File URL: http://www.bangor.ac.uk/business/research/documents/BBSWP12012.pdf
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Paper provided by Bangor Business School, Prifysgol Bangor University (Cymru / Wales) in its series Working Papers with number 12012.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bng:wpaper:12012
Contact details of provider: Postal: Gwynedd LL57 2DG
Phone: +44 (0) 1248 383648
Web page: http://www.bangor.ac.uk/business/research/

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  12. Efraim Benmelech & Jennifer Dlugosz, 2009. "The Credit Rating Crisis," NBER Working Papers 15045, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  14. Bar-Isaac, Heski & Shapiro, Joel, 2010. "Ratings Quality over the Business Cycle," CEPR Discussion Papers 8156, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  18. Mariathasan, Mike & Merrouche, Ouarda, 2014. "The manipulation of basel risk-weights," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 300-321.
  19. Donald P. Morgan, 2002. "Rating Banks: Risk and Uncertainty in an Opaque Industry," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 874-888, September.
  20. Matthias Efing, 2013. "Bank Capital Regulation with an Opportunistic Rating Agency," CESifo Working Paper Series 4267, CESifo Group Munich.
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  24. Patrick Bolton & Xavier Freixas & Joel Shapiro, 2010. "The Credit Ratings Game," Working Papers 468, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  25. Mathis, Jérôme & McAndrews, James & Rochet, Jean-Charles, 2009. "Rating the raters: Are reputation concerns powerful enough to discipline rating agencies?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(5), pages 657-674, July.
  26. Heski Bar-Isaac & Joel Shapiro, 2011. "Credit Ratings Accuracy and Analyst Incentives," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 120-24, May.
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  28. Crouhy, Michel & Galai, Dan & Mark, Robert, 2000. "A comparative analysis of current credit risk models," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 24(1-2), pages 59-117, January.
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