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The joint dynamics of sovereign ratings and government bond yields

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  • El-Shagi, Makram
  • von Schweinitz, Gregor

Abstract

Can a negative shock to sovereign ratings invoke a vicious cycle of increasing government bond yields and further downgrades, ultimately pushing a country toward default? The narratives of public and political discussions, as well as of some widely cited papers, suggest this possibility. In this paper, we will investigate the possible existence of such a vicious cycle. We find no evidence of a bad long-run equilibrium and cannot confirm a negative feedback loop leading into default as a transitory state for all but the very worst ratings. We use a bivariate semiparametric dynamic panel model to reproduce the joint dynamics of sovereign ratings and government bond yields. The individual equations resemble Pesaran-type cointegration models, which allow for valid interference regardless of whether the employed variables display unit-root behavior. To incorporate most of the empirical features previously documented (separately) in the literature, we allow for different long-run relationships in both equations, nonlinearities in the level effects of ratings, and asymmetric effects in changes of ratings and yields. Our finding of a single good equilibrium implies the slow convergence of ratings and yields toward this equilibrium. However, the persistence of ratings is sufficiently high that a rating shock can have substantialcosts if it occurs at a highly speculative rating or lower. Rating shocks that drive the rating below this threshold can increase the interest rate sharply, and for a long time. Yet, simulation studies based on our estimations show that it is highly improbable that rating agencies can be made responsible for the most dramatic spikes in interest rates.

Suggested Citation

  • El-Shagi, Makram & von Schweinitz, Gregor, 2016. "The joint dynamics of sovereign ratings and government bond yields," Discussion Papers 13/2016, Deutsche Bundesbank.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:bubdps:132016
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    4. Hansen, Daniel, 2020. "The effectiveness of fiscal institutions: International financial flogging or domestic constraint?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 63(C).
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Sovereign Risk; Rating Agencies; Semiparametric Models; Nonlinearities;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C14 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Semiparametric and Nonparametric Methods: General
    • C25 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Discrete Regression and Qualitative Choice Models; Discrete Regressors; Proportions; Probabilities
    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems
    • G24 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Investment Banking; Venture Capital; Brokerage

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