The Regulatory Role of Credit Ratings and Voluntary Disclosure
57 Pages Posted: 3 Mar 2020
Date Written: January 4, 2020
We provide evidence suggesting that corporate credit rating changes have an effect on firms’ voluntary disclosure behavior that is independent of the information they convey about firm fundamentals. Our analyses exploit two separate quasi-experimental settings that generate either exogenous credit rating downgrades or credit rating upgrades (i.e., credit rating label changes). We find evidence of a negative relation between the direction of the credit rating label change and the provision of voluntary disclosure in both settings — firms respond to exogenous downgrades by increasing voluntary disclosure and to exogenous upgrades by decreasing voluntary disclosure. The effects we document are independent of the information role of credit ratings, and are instead attributable to the regulatory role of credit ratings. Overall, our analyses indicate that credit rating agencies as gatekeepers influence firms’ provision of voluntary disclosure.
Keywords: Credit ratings, voluntary disclosure, information intermediaries
JEL Classification: G15, G18, M41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation