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The economic function of credit rating agencies: what does the watchlist tell us?

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  • Bannier, Christina E.
  • Hirsch, Christian

Abstract

Credit rating agencies do not only disclose simple ratings but announce watchlists (rating reviews) and outlooks as well. This paper analyzes the economic function underlying the review procedure. Using Moody's rating data between 1982 and 2004, we find that for borrowers of high creditworthiness, rating agencies employ watchlists primarily in order to improve the delivery of information. For low-quality borrowers, in contrast, the review procedure seems to have developed into an implicit contract `a la Boot, Milbourn, and Schmeits (2006), inducing the companies on watch to abstain from risk-augmenting actions. The agencies' economic role hence appears to have been enhanced from a pure information certification towards an active monitoring function.

Suggested Citation

  • Bannier, Christina E. & Hirsch, Christian, 2009. "The economic function of credit rating agencies: what does the watchlist tell us?," Frankfurt School - Working Paper Series 124, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:fsfmwp:124
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Holthausen, Robert W. & Leftwich, Richard W., 1986. "The effect of bond rating changes on common stock prices," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 57-89, September.
    2. Norden, Lars & Weber, Martin, 2004. "Informational efficiency of credit default swap and stock markets: The impact of credit rating announcements," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 28(11), pages 2813-2843, November.
    3. Hull, John & Predescu, Mirela & White, Alan, 2004. "The relationship between credit default swap spreads, bond yields, and credit rating announcements," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 28(11), pages 2789-2811, November.
    4. Gur Ofer & Richard Pomfret, 2004. "Introduction," Chapters,in: The Economic Prospects of the CIS, chapter 1 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    5. Arnoud W. A. Boot & Todd T. Milbourn & Anjolein Schmeits, 2006. "Credit Ratings as Coordination Mechanisms," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 19(1), pages 81-118.
    6. Loffler, Gunter, 2005. "Avoiding the rating bounce: why rating agencies are slow to react to new information," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 365-381, March.
    7. Cantor, Richard, 2004. "An introduction to recent research on credit ratings," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 28(11), pages 2565-2573, November.
    8. Heckman, James, 2013. "Sample selection bias as a specification error," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 31(3), pages 129-137.
    9. Lynnette D. Purda, 2007. "Stock Market Reaction To Anticipated Versus Surprise Rating Changes," Journal of Financial Research, Southern Finance Association;Southwestern Finance Association, vol. 30(2), pages 301-320.
    10. João A. C. Santos & Andrew Winton, 2008. "Bank Loans, Bonds, and Information Monopolies across the Business Cycle," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 63(3), pages 1315-1359, June.
    11. Philippe Robert-Demontrond & R. Ringoot, 2004. "Introduction," Post-Print halshs-00081823, HAL.
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    Cited by:

    1. Christina E. Bannier & Patrick Behr & Andre Güttler, 2010. "Rating opaque borrowers: why are unsolicited ratings lower?," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 14(2), pages 263-294.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Credit Rating Agencies; Credit Rating; Watchlist; Rating Review; Market Reaction; Event Study;

    JEL classification:

    • G14 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Information and Market Efficiency; Event Studies; Insider Trading
    • G29 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Other
    • G33 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Bankruptcy; Liquidation

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