Ramin Baghai, Bo Becker, 10 November 2016

Excessively high credit ratings are thought to have contributed to the Global Crisis. A key concern is the conflict of interest that arises due to rating agencies being mainly paid by the companies whose securities they rate. This column uses Indian data to explore how the commercial ties between issuers and raters affect ratings. The results indicate a fee-driven conflict of interest, with an upward bias in the ratings of issuers whose fees are important to an agency. This highlights the potential benefits for the financial system of circumscribing rating agency consulting.

Marc Flandreau, Norbert Gaillard, Sebastian Nieto-Parra, Juan Flores, 21 August 2009

How would financial markets assess complicated structured products in the absence of ratings agencies? This column uses the history of emerging economies’ government debt to argue that investment banks used to win market share by building a reputation for quality products. It says that ratings agencies insulated investment banks from reputational rewards and freed them to deal in junk.

Marc Flandreau, Norbert Gaillard, 26 June 2009

How did the rating agencies come to have such a prominent role in the regulation of securities? This column traces their history back to the Great Depression. Ironically, the agencies became a regulatory instrument to address concerns about securities originators’ conflicts of interest, the very problem plaguing the agencies today. The lesson may be that no fixed regulatory solution is durable in the long run.

Vasiliki Skreta, Laura Veldkamp, 27 March 2009

Understanding the origins of the crisis requires understanding the failures of the market for ratings. This column explains how conflicts of interest and shopping for the best rating produced biased assessments of complex assets, whereas these bad incentives had not plagued ratings of simpler assets. We need to rethink how ratings are provided, lest the next bout of financial innovation trigger another round of ratings inflation and subsequent financial market turmoil.

Xavier Freixas, Joel Shapiro, 18 March 2009

Credit rating agencies played a significant part in the financial meltdown, failing (sometimes intentionally) to properly estimate complicated products’ risk. This column summarises the problems plaguing the industry – conflicts of interest, “shopping” for ratings, and informational issues. It concludes that regulators must reshape the agencies and their role.

Beatriz Mariano, 12 July 2008

Rating agencies are currently plagued by conflicts of interest in building and rating financial products. But even with the right incentives, reliable ratings would be hard to come by, this column argues. If market participants punish wrongly optimistic predictions more than wrongly pessimistic ratings, then an agency’s good reputation and a good rating do not coincide.

Jon Danielsson, 08 May 2008

In response to financial turmoil, supervisors are demanding more risk calculations. But model-driven mispricing produced the crisis, and risk models don’t perform during crisis conditions. The belief that a really complicated statistical model must be right is merely foolish sophistication.

Richard Portes, 22 January 2008

Recent financial market troubles highlight a number of problems with the credit ratings agencies. This column argues only a few of the proposed policy solutions are likely to be both feasible and helpful.

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