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Reputation and competition: evidence from the credit rating industry

Author

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  • Bo Becker

    () (Harvard Business School, Finance Unit)

  • Todd Milbourn

    () (Washington University, St. Louis.John M. Olin School of Business)

Abstract

The credit rating industry has historically been dominated by just two agencies, Moody’s and S&P, leading to longstanding legislative and regulatory calls for increased competition. The material entry of a third rating agency (Fitch) to the competitive landscape offers a unique experiment to empirically examine how in fact increased competition affects the credit ratings market. Increased competition from Fitch coincides with lower quality ratings from the incumbents: rating levels went up, the correlation between ratings and market-implied yields fell, and the ability of ratings to predict default deteriorated. We offer several possible explanations for these findings that are linked to existing theories.

Suggested Citation

  • Bo Becker & Todd Milbourn, 2008. "Reputation and competition: evidence from the credit rating industry," Harvard Business School Working Papers 09-051, Harvard Business School, revised Sep 2010.
  • Handle: RePEc:hbs:wpaper:09-051
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Lannoo, Karel, 2010. "What reforms for the credit rating industry? A European perspective," ECMI Papers 3805, Centre for European Policy Studies.
    2. Dion Bongaerts & K. J. Martijn Cremers & William N. Goetzmann, 2012. "Tiebreaker: Certification and Multiple Credit Ratings," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 67(1), pages 113-152, February.
    3. Daniel Rösch & Harald Scheule, 2011. "Securitization rating performance and agency incentives," BIS Papers chapters,in: Bank for International Settlements (ed.), Portfolio and risk management for central banks and sovereign wealth funds, volume 58, pages 287-314 Bank for International Settlements.
    4. Patrick Bolton & Xavier Freixas & Joel Shapiro, 2012. "The Credit Ratings Game," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 67(1), pages 85-112, February.
    5. Stéphane Rousseau, 2012. "A Question of Credibility: Enhancing the Accountability and Effectiveness of Credit Rating Agencies," C.D. Howe Institute Commentary, C.D. Howe Institute, issue 356, July.
    6. Marco Pagano & Paolo Volpin, 2010. "Credit ratings failures and policy options," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 25, pages 401-431, April.
    7. Aggelos KOTIOS & George GALANOS & Spyros ROUKANAS, 2012. "The Rating Agencies In The International Political Economy," Scientific Bulletin - Economic Sciences, University of Pitesti, vol. 11(1), pages 3-15.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. Skreta, Vasiliki & Veldkamp, Laura, 2009. "Ratings shopping and asset complexity: A theory of ratings inflation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(5), pages 678-695, July.
    11. Xavier Freixas, 2010. "Post-crisis challenges to bank regulation," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 25, pages 375-399, April.
    12. Viktor O. Ledenyov & Dimitri O. Ledenyov, 2012. "Shaping the international financial system in century of globalization," Papers 1206.2022, arXiv.org.
    13. Theurl, Theresia & Schaetzle, Dominik, 2011. "Ratingagenturen in der Kritik: Eine Analyse der Reformforderungen und -vorschläge," Arbeitspapiere 116, University of Münster, Institute for Cooperatives.
    14. 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.
    15. David Dranove & Ginger Zhe Jin, 2010. "Quality Disclosure and Certification: Theory and Practice," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 48(4), pages 935-963, December.
    16. Bar-Isaac, Heski & Shapiro, Joel, 2013. "Ratings quality over the business cycle," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(1), pages 62-78.
    17. Sumon Bhaumik & Pranab Kumar Das & Subal C. Kumbhakar, 2011. "Firm Investment & Credit Constraints in India, 1997 ??? 2006: A stochastic frontier approach," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series wp1010, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
    18. Jonathan Katz & Emanuel Salinas & Constantinos Stephanou, 2009. "Credit Rating Agencies," World Bank Other Operational Studies 10227, The World Bank.
    19. Bank for International Settlements, 2011. "Portfolio and risk management for central banks and sovereign wealth funds," BIS Papers, Bank for International Settlements, number 58, June - Se.
    20. Nelson Camanho & Pragyan Deb & Zijun Liu, 2010. "Credit Rating and Competition," FMG Discussion Papers dp653, Financial Markets Group.
    21. Erich Harbrecht & Martin Wieland & Ralf Elsas & Ottmar Schneck, 2010. "Ist eine europäische Ratingagentur sinnvoll, und wie sollte sie organisiert sein?," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 63(01), pages 03-11, January.
    22. Ashcraft, A. & Goldsmith-Pinkham, P. & Vickery, J., 2010. "MBS Ratings and the Mortgage Credit Boom," Discussion Paper 2010-89S, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C7 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • G14 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Information and Market Efficiency; Event Studies; Insider Trading

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