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Do Reputational Concerns Lead to Reliable Ratings?

  • Beatriz Mariano

This paper examines to what extent reputational concerns give rating agencies incentives to reveal information. It demonstrates that, in a simple model in which a rating agency has public and private information about a project, it may ignore private information and even contradict public information in an attempt to minimize reputational costs. A monopolistic agency can act conservatively by issuing too many bad ratings when a project is expected to be good based on private and public information. In a competitive setting, an agency becomes bolder and can issue too many good ratings when a project is expected to be bad based on private and public information. The paper provides a reason for why competition in the ratings industry might lead to overly optimistic ratings even in the absence of conflicts of interest.

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Paper provided by Financial Markets Group in its series FMG Discussion Papers with number dp613.

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Date of creation: Jun 2008
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Handle: RePEc:fmg:fmgdps:dp613
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  1. Benabou, R. & Laroque, G., 1989. "Using Privileged Information To Manipulate Markets: Insiders, Gurus, And Credibility," Working papers 513, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  2. Effinger, Matthias R. & Polborn, Mattias K., 2001. "Herding and anti-herding: A model of reputational differentiation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 385-403, March.
  3. Morgan, John & Stocken, Phillip C, 2003. " An Analysis of Stock Recommendations," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 34(1), pages 183-203, Spring.
  4. G. Ferri & L.-G. Liu & J. E. Stiglitz, 1999. "The Procyclical Role of Rating Agencies: Evidence from the East Asian Crisis," Economic Notes, Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA, vol. 28(3), pages 335-355, November.
  5. Trueman, Brett, 1994. "Analyst Forecasts and Herding Behavior," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 7(1), pages 97-124.
  6. Sobel, Joel, 1985. "A Theory of Credibility," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(4), pages 557-73, October.
  7. John R. Graham, 1999. "Herding among Investment Newsletters: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 54(1), pages 237-268, 02.
  8. Adam Brandenburger & Ben Polak, 1996. "When Managers Cover Their Posteriors: Making the Decisions the Market Wants to See," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 27(3), pages 523-541, Autumn.
  9. Harrison Hong & Jeffrey D. Kubik & Amit Solomon, 2000. "Security Analysts' Career Concerns and Herding of Earnings Forecasts," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 31(1), pages 121-144, Spring.
  10. Zwiebel, Jeffrey, 1995. "Corporate Conservatism and Relative Compensation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(1), pages 1-25, February.
  11. Alessandro Lizzeri, 1999. "Information Revelation and Certification Intermediaries," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 30(2), pages 214-231, Summer.
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