Does it Matter Who Pays for Bond Ratings? Historical Evidence
45 Pages Posted: 29 Oct 2011 Last revised: 12 Mar 2012
Date Written: Nov 3, 2011
We test whether Standard and Poor’s (S&P) assigns higher bond ratings after it switches from investor-pay to issuer-pay fees in 1974. Using Moody’s rating for the same bond as a benchmark, we find that when S&P charges investors and Moody’s charges issuers, S&P’s ratings are lower than Moody’s. Once S&P adopts issuer-pay, its ratings increase and no longer differ from Moody’s. More importantly, S&P only assigns higher ratings for bonds that are subject to greater conflicts of interest, measured by higher expected rating fees or lower credit quality. These findings suggest that the issuer-pay model leads to higher ratings.
Keywords: Credit Ratings, Investor Pay, Issuer Pay, Moody’s, S&P
JEL Classification: G18, G20, G28
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation