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Credit Ratings Failures and Policy Options

This paper examines the role of credit rating agencies in the subprime crisis that triggered the 2007-08 financial turmoil. We focus on two aspects of ratings that contributed to the boom and bust of the market for structured debt: rating inflation and coarse information disclosure. The paper discusses how regulation can be designed to mitigate these problems in the future. Our preferred policy is to require rating agencies to be paid by investors rather than by issuers and to grant open and free access to data about the loans or securities underlying structured debt products. A more modest (but less effective) approach would be to retain the “issuer pays” model but require issuers to pay an upfront fee irrespective of the rating, ban “rating shopping”, and prescribe a more complete format for the information that rating agencies must disseminate.

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File URL: http://www.csef.it/WP/wp239.pdf
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Paper provided by Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy in its series CSEF Working Papers with number 239.

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Date of creation: 06 Nov 2009
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Publication status: published in Economic Policy, 401-431, April 2010
Handle: RePEc:sef:csefwp:239
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  1. 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.
  2. Patrick Bolton & Xavier Freixas & Joel Shapiro, 2009. "The credit ratings game," Economics Working Papers 1149, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  3. Benjamin J. Keys & Tanmoy Mukherjee & Amit Seru & Vikrant Vig, 2010. "Did Securitization Lead to Lax Screening? Evidence from Subprime Loans," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 125(1), pages 307-362, February.
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