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Credit Ratings and the Pricing of Sovereign Debt during the Euro Crisis

  • Joshua Aizenman
  • Mahir Binici
  • Michael M. Hutchison

This paper investigates the impact of credit rating changes on the sovereign spreads in the European Union and investigates the macro and financial factors that account for the time varying effects of a given credit rating change. We find that changes of ratings are informative, economically important and highly statistically significant in panel models even after controlling for a host of domestic and global fundamental factors and investigating various functional forms, time and country groupings and dynamic structures. Dynamic panel model estimates indicate that a credit rating upgrade decreases CDS spreads by about 45 basis points, on average, for EU countries. However, the association between credit rating changes and spreads shifted markedly between the pre-crisis and crisis periods. European countries had quite similar CDS responses to credit rating changes during the pre-crisis period, but that large differences emerged during the crisis period between the now highly-sensitive GIIPS group and other European country groupings (EU and Euro Area excluding GIIPS, and the non-EU area). We also find a complicated non-linear pattern dependent on the level of the credit rating. The results are robust to the including credit "outlook" or "watch" signals by credit rating agencies. In addition, contagion from rating downgrades in GIIPS to other euro countries is not evident once own-country credit rating changes are taken into account.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19125.

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Date of creation: Jun 2013
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Publication status: published as Joshua Aizenman & Mahir Binici & Michael Hutchison, 2013. "Credit ratings and the pricing of sovereign debt during the euro crisis," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 29(3), pages 582-609, AUTUMN.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19125
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  1. Alsakka, Rasha & ap Gwilym, Owain, 2010. "Leads and lags in sovereign credit ratings," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 34(11), pages 2614-2626, November.
  2. Beirne, John & Fratzscher, Marcel, 2012. "The Pricing of Sovereign Risk and Contagion during the European Sovereign Debt Crisis," CEPR Discussion Papers 9249, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Joshua Aizenman & Michael M. Hutchison & Yothin Jinjarak, 2011. "What is the Risk of European Sovereign Debt Defaults? Fiscal Space, CDS Spreads and Market Pricing of Risk," NBER Working Papers 17407, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Arghyrou, Michael G. & Kontonikas, Alexandros, 2012. "The EMU sovereign-debt crisis: Fundamentals, expectations and contagion," Journal of International Financial Markets, Institutions and Money, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 658-677.
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  10. Arellano, Manuel & Bond, Stephen, 1991. "Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(2), pages 277-97, April.
  11. Beetsma, Roel & Giuliodori, Massimo & de Jong, Frank & Widijanto, Daniel, 2013. "Spread the news: The impact of news on the European sovereign bond markets during the crisis," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 83-101.
  12. Anil K Kashyap & Natalia Kovrijnykh, 2013. "Who Should Pay for Credit Ratings and How?," NBER Working Papers 18923, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Michael Bergman & Michael M. Hutchison & Svend E. Hougaard Jensen, 2013. "Do Sound Public Finances Require Fiscal Rules Or Is Market Pressure Enough?," European Economy - Economic Papers 489, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
  14. Cantor, Richard & Packer, Frank, 1997. "Differences of opinion and selection bias in the credit rating industry," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 21(10), pages 1395-1417, October.
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