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An experimental investigation of rating-market regulation


  • Keser, Claudia
  • Özgümüs, Asri
  • Peterlé, Emmanuel
  • Schmidt, Martin


We introduce a simple game-theoretical model that captures the main aspects of the repeated interaction between an issuer and a credit-rating agency. It involves up-front payments of issuer-fees and direct publication of requested ratings. Due to pecuniary injuries for untruthful ratings, the creditrating agency should always report truthfully in the subgame perfect equilibrium. Knowing this, the issuer should never request a rating. Conducting laboratory experiments, we find that behavior significantly deviates from the equilibrium prediction in favor of a cooperative solution: issuers frequently do request ratings, which is often reciprocated with untruthful good ratings.

Suggested Citation

  • Keser, Claudia & Özgümüs, Asri & Peterlé, Emmanuel & Schmidt, Martin, 2017. "An experimental investigation of rating-market regulation," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 299, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:cegedp:299

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
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    3. Patrick Bolton & Xavier Freixas & Joel Shapiro, 2012. "The Credit Ratings Game," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 67(1), pages 85-112, February.
    4. Jiang, John (Xuefeng) & Harris Stanford, Mary & Xie, Yuan, 2012. "Does it matter who pays for bond ratings? Historical evidence," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 105(3), pages 607-621.
    5. Becker, Bo & Milbourn, Todd, 2011. "How did increased competition affect credit ratings?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 101(3), pages 493-514, September.
    6. 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.
    7. Kreps, David M. & Wilson, Robert, 1982. "Reputation and imperfect information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 253-279, August.
    8. Rosenthal, Robert W., 1981. "Games of perfect information, predatory pricing and the chain-store paradox," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 92-100, August.
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    11. John M. Griffin & Dragon Yongjun Tang, 2012. "Did Subjectivity Play a Role in CDO Credit Ratings?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 67(4), pages 1293-1328, August.
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    13. Bongaerts, Dion, 2014. "Alternatives for issuer-paid credit rating agencies," Working Paper Series 1703, European Central Bank.
    14. Sivan Frenkel, 2015. "Repeated Interaction and Rating Inflation: A Model of Double Reputation," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(1), pages 250-280, February.
    15. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
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    More about this item


    game theory; laboratory experiments; rating agencies; regulation;

    JEL classification:

    • C70 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - General
    • C9 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments
    • G0 - Financial Economics - - General

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