First-mover Disadvantage: The Sovereign Ratings Mousetrap
63 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2021
Date Written: March 29, 2021
Using 102 sovereigns rated by the three largest credit rating agencies (CRA), S&P, Moody’s and Fitch between January 2000 and January 2019, we are the first to document that the first- mover CRA (S&P) in downgrades falls into a commercial trap. Namely, each sovereign downgrade by one notch by the first-mover CRA (S&P) results in 2.4% increase in the probability of a rating contract being cancelled by the sovereign client. The more downgrades S&P makes in a given month, the more their sovereign rating coverage falls relative to Moody’s. Our results are more pronounced for downgrades on small sovereign borrowers than on large sovereign borrowers. This paper explores the interaction between three themes of the literature: herding behaviour amongst CRAs, issues of conflict of interest and ratings quality.
Keywords: Sovereign credit ratings, herding behaviour, conflict of interest
JEL Classification: G15, G24
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation