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Rating Agencies

Author

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  • Harold L. Cole
  • Thomas F. Cooley

Abstract

For decades credit rating agencies were viewed as trusted arbiters of creditworthiness and their ratings as important tools for managing risk. The common narrative is that the value of ratings was compromised by the evolution of the industry to a form where issuers pay for ratings. In this paper we show how credit ratings have value in equilibrium and how reputation insures that, in equilibrium, ratings will reflect sound assessments of credit worthiness. There will always be an information distortion because of the fact that purchasers of ratings need not reveal them. We argue that regulatory reliance on ratings and the increasing importance of risk-weighted capital in prudential regulation have more likely contributed to distorted ratings than the matter of who pays for them. In this respect, much of the regulatory obsession with the conflict created by issuers paying for ratings is a distraction.

Suggested Citation

  • Harold L. Cole & Thomas F. Cooley, 2014. "Rating Agencies," NBER Working Papers 19972, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19972
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Arvind Krishnamurthy & Annette Vissing-Jorgensen, 2012. "The Aggregate Demand for Treasury Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 120(2), pages 233-267.
    2. Gary Gorton & Stefan Lewellen & Andrew Metrick, 2012. "The Safe-Asset Share," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(3), pages 101-106, May.
    3. 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.
    4. Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Olivier Jeanne, 2012. "Global safe assets," BIS Working Papers 399, Bank for International Settlements.
    5. Mathis, Jérôme & McAndrews, James & Rochet, Jean-Charles, 2009. "Rating the raters: Are reputation concerns powerful enough to discipline rating agencies?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(5), pages 657-674, July.
    6. Lawrence J. White, 2010. "Markets: The Credit Rating Agencies," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(2), pages 211-226, Spring.
    7. Opp, Christian C. & Opp, Marcus M. & Harris, Milton, 2013. "Rating agencies in the face of regulation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(1), pages 46-61.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. In Search of Better Credit Assessments
      by Steve Cecchetti and Kim Schoenholtz in Money, Banking and Financial Markets on 2014-09-18 17:28:35

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Razvan STEFANESCU & Ramona DUMITRIU, 2014. "A State-Owned Payment And Savings System As An Alternative To The Banking Regulations Strengthening," Risk in Contemporary Economy, "Dunarea de Jos" University of Galati, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, pages 297-301.
    2. Yun Wang & Yilan Xu, 2015. "Race to the Top: Credit Rating Bias from Competition," Working Papers 2015-05-12, Wang Yanan Institute for Studies in Economics (WISE), Xiamen University, revised 13 May 2015.
    3. repec:wsi:gcrxxx:v:05:y:2015:i:01:n:s2010493615500087 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Andrea Zaghini, 2014. "Bank Bonds: Size, Systemic Relevance and the Sovereign," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 17(2), pages 161-184, June.
    5. Jean Paul Rabanal & Olga A Rud, 2018. "Does Competition Affect Truth Telling? An Experiment with Rating Agencies," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 22(4), pages 1581-1604.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G1 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets
    • G24 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Investment Banking; Venture Capital; Brokerage

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