IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Ratings Shopping and Asset Complexity: A Theory of Ratings Inflation

  • Vasiliki Skreta
  • Laura Veldkamp

Many identify inflated credit ratings as one contributor to the recent financial market turmoil. We develop an equilibrium model of the market for ratings and use it to examine possible origins of and cures for ratings inflation. In the model, asset issuers can shop for ratings -- observe multiple ratings and disclose only the most favorable -- before auctioning their assets. When assets are simple, agencies' ratings are similar and the incentive to ratings shop is low. When assets are sufficiently complex, ratings differ enough that an incentive to shop emerges. Thus, an increase in the complexity of recently-issued securities could create a systematic bias in disclosed ratings, despite the fact that each ratings agency produces an unbiased estimate of the asset's true quality. Increasing competition among agencies would only worsen this problem. Switching to an investor-initiated ratings system alleviates the bias, but could collapse the market for information.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14761.

in new window

Date of creation: Feb 2009
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as 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.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14761
Note: AP CF ME
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Patrick Bolton & Xavier Freixas & Joel Shapiro, 2010. "The credit ratings game," Economics Working Papers 1221, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  2. James B. Bullard & George W. Evans & Seppo Honkapohja, 2004. "Near-rational exuberance," Working Papers 2004-025, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  3. Brunnermeier, Markus K., 2001. "Asset Pricing under Asymmetric Information: Bubbles, Crashes, Technical Analysis, and Herding," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198296980.
  4. 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.
  5. Morgan, J. & Stocken, P., 1998. "An Analysis of Stock Recommendations," Papers 204, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
  6. Antoine Faure-Grimaud & Eloïc Peyrache & Lucía Quesada, 2009. "The ownership of ratings," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 40(2), pages 234-257.
  7. Peter M. DeMarzo & Dimitri Vayanos & Jeffrey Zwiebel, 2003. "Persuasion bias, social influence, and uni-dimensional opinions," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 454, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  8. Ignacio Esponda, 2008. "Behavioral Equilibrium in Economies with Adverse Selection," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1269-91, September.
  9. Laura Veldkamp, 2003. "Media Frenzies in Markets for Financial Information," Working Papers 03-20, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
  10. Gadi Barlevy & Pietro Veronesi, . "Information Acquisition in Financial Markets," CRSP working papers 360, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
  11. Damiano, Ettore & Li, Hao & Suen, Wing, 2006. "Credible Ratings," working papers damiano-06-01-17-01-56-45, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 17 Jan 2006.
  12. Paul R. Milgrom, 1981. "Good News and Bad News: Representation Theorems and Applications," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 12(2), pages 380-391, Autumn.
  13. Eyster, Erik & Rabin, Matthew, 2002. "Cursed Equilibrium," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt7p2911dn, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  14. Paul Wachtel & Rainer Haselmann, 2007. "Risk Taking by Banks in the Transition Countries," Working Papers 07-18, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
  15. Hellwig, Martin F., 1980. "On the aggregation of information in competitive markets," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 477-498, June.
  16. Sanford J Grossman & Joseph E Stiglitz, 1997. "On the Impossibility of Informationally Efficient Markets," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1908, David K. Levine.
  17. Benabou, Roland & Laroque, Guy, 1992. "Using Privileged Information to Manipulate Markets: Insiders, Gurus, and Credibility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(3), pages 921-58, August.
  18. Steven Shavell, 1994. "Acquisition and Disclosure of Information Prior to Sale," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 25(1), pages 20-36, Spring.
  19. Boyan Jovanovic, 1982. "Truthful Disclosure of Information," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(1), pages 36-44, Spring.
  20. Emmanuel Farhi & Josh Lerner & Jean Tirole, 2008. "Fear of Rejection? Tiered Certification and Transparency," NBER Working Papers 14457, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Joël Peress, 2004. "Wealth, Information Acquisition, and Portfolio Choice," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 17(3), pages 879-914.
  22. Grossman, Sanford J, 1981. "The Informational Role of Warranties and Private Disclosure about Product Quality," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 461-83, December.
  23. Bolton, Patrick & Freixas, Xavier & Shapiro, Joel, 2007. "Conflicts of interest, information provision, and competition in the financial services industry," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(2), pages 297-330, August.
  24. Philip J Reny & Motty Perry, 2006. "Toward a Strategic Foundation for Rational Expectations Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(5), pages 1231-1269, 09.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14761. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.