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The Adjustment of Credit Ratings in Advance of Defaults


  • André Güttler


  • Mark Wahrenburg



We provide insights into determinants of the rating level of 371 issuers which defaulted in the years 1999 to 2003, and into the leader-follower relationship between Moody’s and S&P. The evidence for the rating level suggests that Moody’s assigns lower ratings than S&P for all observed periods before the default event. Furthermore, we observe two-way Granger causal-ity, which signifies information flow between the two rating agencies. Since lagged rating changes influence the magnitude of the agencies’ own rating changes it would appear that the two rating agencies apply a policy of taking a severe downgrade through several mild down-grades. Further, our analysis of rating changes shows that issuers with headquarters in the US are less sharply downgraded than non-US issuers. For rating changes by Moody’s we also find that larger issuers seem to be downgraded less severely than smaller issuers.

Suggested Citation

  • André Güttler & Mark Wahrenburg, 2007. "The Adjustment of Credit Ratings in Advance of Defaults," Working Paper Series: Finance and Accounting 155, Department of Finance, Goethe University Frankfurt am Main.
  • Handle: RePEc:fra:franaf:155

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    1. Puneet Handa, 2004. "The Economic Value of a Trading Floor: Evidence from the American Stock Exchange," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 77(2), pages 331-356, April.
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    3. Hart, Oliver & Moore, John, 1996. "The Governance of Exchanges: Members' Cooperatives versus Outside Ownership," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(4), pages 53-69, Winter.
    4. Charnes, A. & Cooper, W. W. & Rhodes, E., 1978. "Measuring the efficiency of decision making units," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 2(6), pages 429-444, November.
    5. Benn Steil, "undated". "Changes in the Ownership and Governance of Securities Exchanges: Causes and Consequences," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 02-15, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
    6. Schmiedel, Heiko, 2001. "Technological development and concentration of stock exchanges in Europe," Research Discussion Papers 21/2001, Bank of Finland.
    7. Oulton,Nicholas & O'Mahony,Mary, 1994. "Productivity and Growth," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521453455, March.
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    JEL classification:

    • G15 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - International Financial Markets
    • G23 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Non-bank Financial Institutions; Financial Instruments; Institutional Investors
    • G33 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Bankruptcy; Liquidation

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