The Real Effects of Debt Certification: Evidence from the Introduction of Bank Loan Ratings
Posted: 23 Mar 2009
Date Written: April 2009
I examine the introduction of syndicated bank loan ratings by Moody's and Standard & Poor's in 1995 to evaluate whether third-party rating agencies affect firm financial and investment policy. The introduction of bank loan ratings leads to an increase in the use of debt by firms that obtain a rating, and also increases in firms' asset growth, cash acquisitions, and investment in working capital. Consistent with a causal effect of the ratings, the increase in debt usage and investment is concentrated in the set of borrowers who are of lower credit quality and do not have an issuer credit rating before 1995. A loan-level analysis demonstrates that previously unrated borrowers who obtain a loan rating gain increased access to the capital of less-informed investors. The results suggest that third-party debt certification has real effects on firm investment policy.
Keywords: G31, G32, G34, G21
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