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Euro Area Sovereign Ratings: An Analysis of Fundamental Criteria and Subjective Judgement


  • Rudolf Alvise Lennkh
  • Antonello D'Agostino


This paper studies the sovereign ratings of the current 19 euro area Member States from 2005 to 2015. It disentangles the rating drivers into a ‘fundamental’ and ‘subjective’ component using Moody’s methodology, and explores which variables explain the ‘subjective’ component, that is Moody’s judgement. The main results show that judgement is applied to varying degrees, both across countries and over time. We find that past judgement as well as the 10-year government yield spread to the Bund are accurate predictors of the ‘subjective’ rating component. Our results suggest that Credit Rating Agencies should increase their methodological transparency and publish two ratings for each sovereign issuer, namely, i) a quantifiable, ‘fundamental’ rating which policymakers and market participants can replicate, and ii) a final rating, which includes agencies’ judgement.

Suggested Citation

  • Rudolf Alvise Lennkh & Antonello D'Agostino, 2016. "Euro Area Sovereign Ratings: An Analysis of Fundamental Criteria and Subjective Judgement," Working Papers 14, European Stability Mechanism.
  • Handle: RePEc:stm:wpaper:14

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    Cited by:

    1. Jan Bruha & Moritz Karber & Beatrice Pierluigi & Ralph Setzer, 2017. "Understanding Rating Movements in Euro Area Countries," Working Papers 2017/06, Czech National Bank.
    2. Hu, Haoshen & Prokop, Jörg & Trautwein, Hans-Michael, 2022. "Transnational spillover effects of European sovereign rating signals on bank stock returns," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 171-182.
    3. Annika Luisa Hofmann & Miguel Ferreira & João Lampreia, 2017. "Case Study: DBRS Sovereign Rating of Portugal. Analysis of Rating Methodology and Rating Decisions," GEE Papers 0073, Gabinete de Estratégia e Estudos, Ministério da Economia, revised Jul 2017.

    More about this item


    Credit rating agencies; sovereign risk; sovereign ratings; euro area crisis;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems
    • G15 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - International Financial Markets
    • G24 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Investment Banking; Venture Capital; Brokerage
    • H63 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Debt; Debt Management; Sovereign Debt

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