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Multiple ratings and credit standards: differences of opinion in the credit rating industry

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  • Richard Cantor
  • Frank Packer

Abstract

This paper tests whether the tendency of third rating agencies to assign higher ratings than Moody's and Standard & Poor's results from more lenient standards or sample selection bias. More lenient standards might result from incentives to satisfy issuers who are, in fact, the purchasers of the ratings. Selection bias might be important because issuers that expect a low rating from a third agency are unlikely to request one. Our analysis of a broad sample of corporate bond ratings at year-end 1993 reveals that, although sample selection bias appears important, it explains less than half the observed difference in average ratings. The paper also investigates why bond issuers seek ratings in addition to those of Moody's and Standard & Poor's. Contrary to expectations, the probability of obtaining a third rating is not found to be related to levels of ex ante uncertainty over firm default probabilities. In particular, a firm's decision to obtain a third rating appears unrelated to its Moody's and Standard & Poor's ratings or the amount of disagreement between them. Instead, the most important determinants of the decision are a firm's age and size. The results should be of interest to investors and financial market regulators who generally use the ratings of different agencies as if they correspond to similar levels of default risk. In addition, our findings raise a number of questions about the certification role of rating agencies and about the strength of the rating agencies' incentives to maintain a reputation for high quality (accurate) ratings.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard Cantor & Frank Packer, 1995. "Multiple ratings and credit standards: differences of opinion in the credit rating industry," Research Paper 9527, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fednrp:9527
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    Cited by:

    1. Yusuf Jafry & Til Schuermann, 2003. "Metrics for Comparing Credit Migration Matrices," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 03-09, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
    2. Pesaran, M. Hashem & Schuermann, Til & Treutler, Bjorn-Jakob & Weiner, Scott M., 2006. "Macroeconomic Dynamics and Credit Risk: A Global Perspective," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 38(5), pages 1211-1261, August.
    3. Griep, Clifford & De Stefano, Michael, 2001. "Standard & Poor's official response to the Basel Committee's proposal," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 149-169, January.
    4. Kraft, Pepa, 2015. "Do rating agencies cater? Evidence from rating-based contracts," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 264-283.
    5. David Brookfield & Phillip Ormrod, 2000. "Credit agency regulation and the impact of credit ratings in the international bond market," The European Journal of Finance, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(4), pages 311-331.
    6. Alexandr Karminsky & Anatoly Peresetsky, 2009. "Ratings as Measure of Financial Risk: Evolution, Function and Usage," Journal of the New Economic Association, New Economic Association, issue 1-2, pages 86-102.
    7. Arie Melnik & Doron Nissim, 2003. "Debt issue costs and issue characteristics in the Eurobond market," ICER Working Papers 09-2003, ICER - International Centre for Economic Research.
    8. Lawrence White, 2005. "Good Intentions Gone Awry: A Policy Analysis of the SEC's Regulation of the Bond Rating Industry," Working Papers 05-16, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
    9. Wilhelm Jr, William J & Chen, Zhaohui, 2005. "The Industrial Organization of Financial Market Information Production," CEPR Discussion Papers 5314, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    10. Eichengreen, Barry & Mody, Ashoka, 2000. "Lending booms, reserves and the sustainability of short-term debt: inferences from the pricing of syndicated bank loans," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 5-44, October.
    11. Mattarocci, Gianluca, 2005. "Il rapporto tra impresa e agenzia di rating: la soluzione del multi-rating," MPRA Paper 4295, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Mar 2005.
    12. Menz, Klaus-Michael, 2010. "Market discipline and the evaluation of Euro financial bonds--An empirical analysis," Research in International Business and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 315-328, September.
    13. Til Schuermann & Yusuf Jafry, 2003. "Measurement and Estimation of Credit Migration Matrices," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 03-08, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
    14. Shin, Yoon S. & Moore, William T., 2003. "Explaining credit rating differences between Japanese and U.S. agencies," Review of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(4), pages 327-344.
    15. Santos, Joao A.C., 2006. "Why firm access to the bond market differs over the business cycle: A theory and some evidence," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 30(10), pages 2715-2736, October.
    16. Fausto Hernández-Trillo & Ricardo Smith, 2006. "Rating Sub-National Government Debt in LDCs: Does size matter?," Working papers DTE 370, CIDE, División de Economía.
    17. Daryl Koehn & Joe Ueng, 2005. "Evaluating the Evaluators: Should Investors Trust Corporate Governance Metrics Ratings?," Journal of Management & Governance, Springer;Accademia Italiana di Economia Aziendale (AIDEA), vol. 9(2), pages 111-128, June.
    18. Ying Yi Tsai & Li-Gang Liu, 2010. "Emergence of Rating Agencies : Implications for Establishing a Regional Rating Agency in Asia," Finance Working Papers 22824, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
    19. Schröder, Michael & Riedler, Jesper & Jaroszek, Lena & Lang, Gunnar & Hommel, Paul & Voll, Sebastian Simon, 2011. "Assessment of the cumulative impact of various regulatory initiatives on the European banking sector: Study," ZEW Expertises, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research, number 110523.
    20. Miloš Božovic & Branko Uroševic & Boško Živkovic, 2011. "Credit Rating Agencies and Moral Hazard," Panoeconomicus, Savez ekonomista Vojvodine, Novi Sad, Serbia, vol. 58(2), pages 219-227, June.
    21. Meryem Duygun & Huseyin Ozturk & Mohamed Shaban & Emili Tortosa-Ausina, 2014. "Quo Vadis, raters? A frontier approach to identify misratings in sovereign credit risk," Working Papers 2014/10, Economics Department, Universitat Jaume I, Castellón (Spain).
    22. Morales, Jorge & Tuesta, Pedro, 1998. "Calificaciones de crédito y riesgo país," Revista Estudios Económicos, Banco Central de Reserva del Perú, issue 3.
    23. 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.

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    Keywords

    Credit; Corporate bonds;

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