Impact of the Dodd-Frank Act on Credit Ratings
44 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2014 Last revised: 26 Jun 2015
Date Written: April 2, 2014
We analyze the impact of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank) on corporate bond ratings issued by credit rating agencies (CRAs). We find no evidence that Dodd-Frank disciplines CRAs to provide more accurate and informative credit ratings. Instead, following Dodd-Frank, CRAs issue lower ratings, give more false warnings, and issue downgrades that are less informative. These results are consistent with the reputation model of Morris (2001), and suggest that CRAs become more protective of their reputation following the passage of Dodd-Frank. Consistent with Morris (2001), we find that our results are stronger for industries with low Fitch market share, where Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s have stronger incentives to protect their reputation (Becker and Milbourn (2011)). Our results are not driven by business cycle effects or firm characteristics, and strengthen as the uncertainty regarding the passage of Dodd-Frank gets resolved. We conclude that increasing the legal and regulatory costs to CRAs might have an adverse effect on the quality of credit ratings.
Keywords: Dodd-Frank, Reputation, Credit Ratings, Information
JEL Classification: G14; G28
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation