Tiebreaker: Certification and Multiple Credit Ratings

65 Pages Posted: 29 Nov 2008 Last revised: 10 Sep 2011

See all articles by Dion Bongaerts

Dion Bongaerts

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Finance

Martijn Cremers

University of Notre Dame; ECGI

William N. Goetzmann

Yale School of Management - International Center for Finance; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 13, 2011


This paper explores the role played by multiple credit rating agencies (CRAs) in the market for corporate bonds. Moody’s, S&P and Fitch operate in a competitive setting with market demand for both credit information and the certification value of a high rating. We empirically document the outcome of this competitive interaction over the period 2002 to 2007. Virtually all bonds in our sample are rated by both Moody’s and Standard and Poors (S&P), and between 40% and 60% of the bonds are also rated by Fitch. This apparent redundancy in information production has long been a puzzle. We consider three explanations for why issuers apply for a third rating: ‘information production,’ ‘adverse selection’ and ‘certification’ with respect to regulatory and rules-based constraints. Using ratings and credit spread regressions, we find evidence in favor of Certification only. Additional evidence shows that the reported certification effects are consistent with an equilibrium outcome in a market with information-sensitive and insensitive bonds. In such a setting, ratings help to prevent market breakdowns.

Keywords: Ratings, Credit Spreads

JEL Classification: G12, G14, G24

Suggested Citation

Bongaerts, Dion and Cremers, K. J. Martijn and Goetzmann, William N., Tiebreaker: Certification and Multiple Credit Ratings (September 13, 2011). Yale ICF Working Paper No. 08-27, AFA 2011 Denver Meetings Paper, EFA 2009 Bergen Meetings Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1307782

Dion Bongaerts (Contact Author)

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Finance ( email )

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K. J. Martijn Cremers

University of Notre Dame ( email )

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William N. Goetzmann

Yale School of Management - International Center for Finance ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://viking.som.yale.edu

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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