The Real Costs of Corporate Credit Ratings

Taylor A. Begley

London Business School

August 11, 2015

Paris December 2014 Finance Meeting EUROFIDAI - AFFI Paper

Credit rating agencies emphasize the importance of specific financial ratio thresholds in their rating process. Firms below these thresholds are more likely to receive higher ratings than similar firms that are not. I show that firms near key Debt/EBITDA thresholds are significantly more likely to reduce R\&D and SG\&A expenditures (boosting EBITDA) prior to bond issuance compared to observationally similar firms not near a threshold. Subsequently, they are more likely to experience declines in patent productivity, profitability, and Tobin's Q. These distortions highlight an important cost of arm's-length financing and an adverse consequence of transparency in credit rating criteria.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 56

Keywords: credit ratings, transparency, real distortions

JEL Classification: G31

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Date posted: March 4, 2014 ; Last revised: August 11, 2015

Suggested Citation

Begley, Taylor A., The Real Costs of Corporate Credit Ratings (August 11, 2015). Paris December 2014 Finance Meeting EUROFIDAI - AFFI Paper. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2404290 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2404290

Contact Information

Taylor A. Begley (Contact Author)
London Business School ( email )
Sussex Place
Regent's Park
London, London NW1 4SA
United Kingdom
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