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

Author

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  • Finn Marten Körner

    () (University of Oldenburg - International Economics & ZenTra)

  • Hans-Michael Trautwein

    () (University of Oldenburg - International Economics & ZenTra)

Abstract

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
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    File URL: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2458378
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    Cited by:

    1. van Riet, Ad, 2015. "Market-preserving fiscal federalism in the European Monetary Union," MPRA Paper 77772, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Credit rating agencies; rating methodologies; sovereign debt; monetary union;

    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

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