The Content of Credit Rating Reports

54 Pages Posted: 24 Jan 2021 Last revised: 1 Jun 2021

See all articles by Florian Kiesel

Florian Kiesel

Grenoble Ecole de Management

Darren J. Kisgen

Boston College - Carroll School of Management

Date Written: June 1, 2021


We examine the readability, length, numerical content, uncertainty, and uniqueness of Moody’s rating reports. We analyze which factors affect the content of ratings in the cross-section and how regulatory events influence these measures over time. Rating content depends on analyst fixed effects, firm size, rating levels and rating bias. Moreover, rating report length significantly dropped after the Credit Rating Reform Act (2006), but readability and report length significantly improved after Dodd-Frank (2010). Greater readability and more unique ratings lead to lower announcement returns following downgrades, providing evidence that the content of rating reports plays a significant role for investors.

Keywords: Credit ratings, Regulation, Credit Rating Reform Act, Dodd-Frank Act, Financial crisis, Textual analysis

JEL Classification: G01, G14, G24, G28

Suggested Citation

Kiesel, Florian and Kisgen, Darren J., The Content of Credit Rating Reports (June 1, 2021). Available at SSRN: or

Florian Kiesel (Contact Author)

Grenoble Ecole de Management ( email )

12 Rue Pierre Semard
Grenoble, Cedex 01 38000

Darren J. Kisgen

Boston College - Carroll School of Management ( email )

140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
United States

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