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Understanding the Determinants of Government Debt Ratings: Evidence for the Two Leading Agencies

  • António Afonso

I conduct an analysis of the possible determinants of sovereign credit ratings assigned by the two leading credit rating agencies, Moody's and Standard and Poor's, by using both a linear and a logistic transformation of the rating scales. Of the large number of variables that can be used, the set of explanatory variables selected in this study is significant in explaining the credit ratings. Namely, six variables appear to be the most relevant to determine a country's credit rating: GDP per capita, external debt, level of economic development, default history, real growth rate and inflation rate.

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Paper provided by ISEG - School of Economics and Management, Department of Economics, University of Lisbon in its series Working Papers Department of Economics with number 2002/02.

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Date of creation: 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ise:isegwp:wp22002
Contact details of provider: Postal: Department of Economics, ISEG - School of Economics and Management, University of Lisbon, Rua do Quelhas 6, 1200-781 LISBON, PORTUGAL
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  1. Bulow, J. & Rogoff, K., 1988. "Sovereign Debt: Is To Forgive To Forget?," Papers 411, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
  2. Rose, Andrew K, 2002. "One Reason Countries Pay Their Debts: Renegotiation and International Trade," CEPR Discussion Papers 3157, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Eaton, Jonathan & Gersovitz, Mark & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1986. "The pure theory of country risk," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 481-513, June.
    • Jonathan Eaton & Mark Gersovitz & Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1991. "The Pure Theory of Country Risk," NBER Chapters, in: International Volatility and Economic Growth: The First Ten Years of The International Seminar on Macroeconomics, pages 391-435 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 1996. "Foundations of International Macroeconomics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262150476, June.
  5. Bayoumi, Tamim & Goldstein, Morris & Woglom, Geoffrey, 1995. "Do Credit Markets Discipline Sovereign Borrowers? Evidence from US States," CEPR Discussion Papers 1088, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Bayoumi, Tamim & Goldstein, Morris & Woglom, Geoffrey, 1995. "Do Credit Markets Discipline Sovereign Borrowers? Evidence from the U.S. States," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 27(4), pages 1046-59, November.
  7. International Monetary Fund, 1996. "The Economic Content of Indicators of Developing Country Creditworthiness," IMF Working Papers 96/9, International Monetary Fund.
  8. Guillermo Larraín & Helmut Reisen & Julia von Maltzan, 1997. "Emerging Market Risk and Sovereign Credit Ratings," OECD Development Centre Working Papers 124, OECD Publishing.
  9. Bennett Sutton & Luis Catão, 2002. "Sovereign Defaults: The Role of Volatility," IMF Working Papers 02/149, International Monetary Fund.
  10. Kneller, Richard & Bleaney, Michael F. & Gemmell, Norman, 1999. "Fiscal policy and growth: evidence from OECD countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(2), pages 171-190, November.
  11. Holzmann, Robert & Palacios, Robert & Zviniene, Asta, 2004. "Implicit pension debt: issues, measurement and scope in international perspective," Social Protection Discussion Papers 30153, The World Bank.
  12. Jean-Claude Cosset & Jean Roy, 1991. "The Determinants of Country Risk Ratings," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 22(1), pages 135-142, March.
  13. International Monetary Fund, 1998. "The Relative Importance of Political and Economic Variables in Creditworthiness Ratings," IMF Working Papers 98/46, International Monetary Fund.
  14. Lee, Suk Hun, 1993. "Are the credit ratings assigned by bankers based on the willingness of LDC borrowers to repay?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 349-359, April.
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