Credit rating agencies (CRAs) have been accused of contributing to the 2008 financial crisis through misrepresenting risk levels of structured financial products. Since many highly rated securities were downgraded in the wake of the financial meltdown, many speculate that rating agencies were engaged in rating inflation. This study empirically examines if Moody Investor Service (Moody’s) assigned overly optimistic ratings to undeserving mortgage-backed securities (MBSs) in the years leading up to the crisis. This study observes the ratings and the impacts those ratings had on a sample of jumbo prime MBSs in both the years prior to 2008 and the years after the crisis. The purpose of this study is to determine if there is a difference in the way in which these securities were rated before and after the crisis.
The main finding of this independent study is that Moody’s gave overly optimistic ratings to undeserving MBSs in the years leading up to the financial collapse. Consequently, the rating agencies were punished by the market and financial reform, leading to a decrease in the percent of Aaa rated MBSs and tranches after the crisis. This study offers several possible explanations for these findings, which are linked to existing theories and research. This study provides empirical support for the prediction that rating agencies were engaged in rating inflation in the years leading up to the crisis, ceteris paribus.
Bell, Eda E., "Were Credit Rating Agencies the Real Wolf of Wall Street?: An Assessment of Credit Rating Agency Behavior in Relation to the Mortgage-Backed Security Market" (2016). Senior Independent Study Theses. Paper 7328.
Bachelor of Arts
Senior Independent Study Thesis
© Copyright 2016 Eda E. Bell