Why They Keep Missing: An Empirical Investigation of Sovereign Bond Ratings and Their Timing
Scottish Journal of Political Economy,
Two contradictory strands of the rating literature criticize that rating agencies merely follow the market on the one hand, and emphasizing that rating changes affect capital movements on the other hand. Both focus on explaining rating levels rather than the timing of rating announcements. Contrarily, we explicitly differentiate between a decision to assess a country and the actual rating decision. We show that this differentiation significantly improves the estimation of the rating function. The three major rating agencies treat economic fundamentals similarly, while differing in their response to other factors such as strategic considerations. This reconciles the conflicting literature.
Ricardian Equivalence, Foreign Debt and Sovereign Default Risk
Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization,
We study the impact of sovereign solvency on the private-public savings offset. Using data on 80 economies for 1989–2018, we find robust evidence for a U-shaped pattern in the private-public savings offset in sovereign credit ratings. While the 1:1 savings offset is observed at intermediate levels of sovereign solvency, fiscal deficits are not offset by private savings at extremely low and high levels of sovereign solvency. Particularly, the U-shaped pattern is more pronounced for countries with high levels of foreign ownership of government debt. The U-shaped pattern is an emerging market phenomenon; additionally, it is confirmed when considering foreign currency rating and external public debt, but not for domestic currency rating and domestic public debt. For considerable foreign ownership of sovereign bonds, sovereign default constitutes a net wealth gain for domestic consumers.
The Effects of Sovereign Risk: A High Frequency Identification Based on News Ticker Data
IWH Discussion Papers,
This paper uses novel news ticker data to evaluate the effect of sovereign risk on economic and financial outcomes. The use of intraday news enables me to derive policy events and respective timestamps that potentially alter investors’ beliefs about a sovereign’s willingness to service its debt and thereby sovereign risk. Following the high frequency identification literature, in the tradition of Kuttner (2001) and Guerkaynak et al. (2005), associated variation in sovereign risk is then obtained by capturing bond price movements within narrowly defined time windows around the event time. I conduct the outlined identification for Italy since its large bond market and its frequent coverage in the news render it a suitable candidate country. Using the identified shocks in an instrumental variable local projection setting yields a strong instrument and robust results in line with theoretical predictions. I document a dampening effect of sovereign risk on output. Also, borrowing costs for the private sector increase and inflation rises in response to higher sovereign risk.
Quid Pro Quo? Political Ties and Sovereign Borrowing
Journal of International Economics,
Do stronger political ties with a global superpower improve sovereign borrowing conditions? We use data on voting at the United Nations General Assembly along with foreign aid flows to construct an index of political ties and find evidence that suggests stronger political ties with the US is associated with both better sovereign credit ratings and lower yields on sovereign bonds especially among lower income countries. We use official heads-of-state visits to the White House and coalition forces troop contributions as additional measures of the strength of political ties to further reinforce our findings.
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What Drives the Commodity-Sovereign Risk Dependence in Emerging Market Economies?
Journal of International Money and Finance,
Using daily data for 34 emerging markets in the period 1994–2016, we find robust evidence that higher export commodity prices are associated with lower sovereign default risk, as measured by lower EMBI spreads. The economic effect is especially pronounced for heavy commodity exporters. Examining the drivers, we find that, first, commodity dependence is higher for countries that export large volumes of commodities, whereas other portfolio characteristics like volatility or concentration are less important. Second, commodity-sovereign risk dependence increases in times of recessions and expansionary U.S. monetary policy. Third, the importance of raw material prices for sovereign financing can likely be mitigated if a country improves institutions and tax systems, attracts FDI inflows, invests in manufacturing, machinery and infrastructure, builds up reserve assets and opens capital and trade accounts. Fourth, the country’s government indebtedness or amount of received development assistance appear to be only of secondary importance for commodity dependence.
The Economic Record of the Government and Sovereign Bond and Stock Returns Around National Elections
Journal of Banking and Finance,
This paper investigates the role of the fiscal and economic record of the incumbent government in shaping the price response of sovereign bonds and stocks to the election outcome in emerging markets and developed countries. For sovereign bonds in emerging markets, we find robust evidence for higher cumulative abnormal returns (CARs) if a government associated with a relatively low primary fiscal balance is voted out of office compared to elections where the fiscal balance was relatively high. This effect of the incumbent government's fiscal record is significantly more pronounced in the presence of high sovereign default risk and strong political veto players, whereas the quality of institutions does not explain differences in effects for different events. We do not find robust effects of the government's fiscal record for developed countries and stocks.