IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Rating Sovereign Debt in a Monetary Union – Original Sin by Transnational Governance


  • Finn Marten Körner

    (University of Oldenburg - International Economics & ZenTra)

  • Hans-Michael Trautwein

    (University of Oldenburg - International Economics & ZenTra)


It is frequently argued that credit rating agencies (CRAs) have acted procyclically in their rating of sovereign debt in the European Monetary Union (EMU). They are believed to have under-rated sovereign risk in the early years of EMU, when integrated financial markets provided easier access to liquidity, and to have contributed to the recent Eurozone debt crisis by over-rating the lack of (individual) monetary sovereignty that EMU entails for its member states. Yet, there is little direct evidence for this so far. While CRAs are quite explicit about their risk assessments concerning public debt that is denominated in foreign currency, the same cannot be said about their treatment of sovereign debt issued in the currency of a monetary union. We examine the major CRAs’ methodologies for rating sovereign debt and test their ratings for a monetary union bonus in good times and a malus, akin to the ‘original sin’ problem of emerging market countries, in bad times. Using a newly compiled dataset of quarterly sovereign bond ratings from 1990 until 2012, we find some evidence that EMU countries received a rating bonus on euro-denominated debt before the global financial crisis and a large penalty after 2007.

Suggested Citation

  • Finn Marten Körner & Hans-Michael Trautwein, 2014. "Rating Sovereign Debt in a Monetary Union – Original Sin by Transnational Governance," ZenTra Working Papers in Transnational Studies 35 / 2014, ZenTra - Center for Transnational Studies, revised Jun 2014.
  • Handle: RePEc:zen:wpaper:35

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: First version, 2014
    Download Restriction: no

    More about this item


    Credit rating agencies; rating methodologies; sovereign debt; monetary union;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E42 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Monetary Sytsems; Standards; Regimes; Government and the Monetary System
    • F32 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Current Account Adjustment; Short-term Capital Movements
    • F33 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Monetary Arrangements and Institutions
    • 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

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:zen:wpaper:35. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no bibliographic references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Finn Marten Koerner (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.