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Misconceptions about Credit Ratings - An Empirical Analysis of Credit Ratings across Market Sectors and Agencies

Listed author(s):
  • Kerstin Lopatta


    (University of Oldenburg - Accounting and Corporate Governance & ZenTra)

  • Magdalena Tchikov

    (University of Oldenburg - Accounting and Corporate Governance & ZenTra)

  • Finn Marten Körner

    (University of Oldenburg & ZenTra)

Rating agencies strive to assign reliable, objective and comparable credit ratings as an indicator on one consistent scale. We test empirically how rating agencies meet their promise of providing objective and comparable assessments of credit risk of an issuer and thus creditworthiness. Logistic regressions of ratings across agencies and market sectors point to highly significant differences of ratings for issuers in the 11 market sectors in our sample. Based on inter-sectoral comparisons, we detect a systematically positive rating bias for financial issuers, while issuers operating in the cyclical consumer goods sector face relatively disadvantageous credit ratings. Our results indicate that the current assessment models and measurement standards do not only contain issuers’ credit risk but to a considerable extent also an assessment of industry and operating risk. Credit ratings should therefore not be equated with the likelihood of default as is often done in empirical applications. Stakeholders and especially investors – as well as researchers – should be aware of this misconception and not refer to ratings as pure measures of default risk.

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File Function: First version, 2013
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Paper provided by ZenTra - Center for Transnational Studies in its series ZenTra Working Papers in Transnational Studies with number 22 / 2013.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2013
Date of revision: Nov 2013
Handle: RePEc:zen:wpaper:22
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