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Do Bond Issuers Shop for Favorable Credit Ratings?

57 Pages Posted: 22 Nov 2010 Last revised: 10 Apr 2017

Mathias Kronlund

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Date Written: March 19, 2017

Abstract

This paper provides evidence of ratings shopping in the corporate bond market. By exploiting systematic differences in bias across agencies about any given firm's bonds, I show that bonds are more likely to be rated by agencies with a positive bias. This pattern is especially strong among bonds that have only one rating. The paper also shows that issuers often delay less favorable ratings until after a bond is sold. Consistent with theoretical models of ratings shopping, both patterns are strongest among bonds that are complex to rate. Further, by exploiting a unique regulation-driven threshold that specifically encourages publishing only one rating, I show that issuers strategically manage their ratings around this threshold. Bonds with upward-biased ratings are more likely to default, but investors seem to account for this bias and demand higher yields for these bonds.

Keywords: Ratings shopping, credit rating agencies, corporate bonds, regulation

JEL Classification: G10, G14, G18, G20, G28, G30, G38

Suggested Citation

Kronlund, Mathias, Do Bond Issuers Shop for Favorable Credit Ratings? (March 19, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1712923 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1712923

Mathias Kronlund (Contact Author)

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ( email )

1206 South Sixth Street
Champaign, IL 61820
United States

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