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Filip Nikolic

23 November 2020
Financial Stability Review Issue 2, 2020
Credit rating downgrades - especially downgrades from investment grade to high yield (“fallen angels”) - can adversely affect the price and ease of a firm’s debt issuance. Such a downgrade can force (institutional) investors to sell securities, as investment mandates may restrict the securities that they are allowed to hold. We find that market repricing does not typically happen instantaneously after a downgrade, but instead over an extended period which preceding the actual downgrade. The impact of sales by institutional investors is softened by differences in the definition of “investment grade” and flexibility in investment funds’ mandates. Fallen angels since February 2020 follow this pattern, but with a swifter and stronger increase in the credit premium before the first downgrade. Securities of pandemic-related fallen angels show some post-event illiquidity which may be explained by the relatively sudden change in the broader economic outlook and wider market stress. Downgrades to below investment grade are typically also associated with lower bond issuance volumes. If a larger cohort of firms were to face funding pressures, this increases their vulnerability to shocks in the near term and, in the long term, could weigh on investment, creating wider macroeconomic costs.
JEL Code
G12 : Financial Economics→General Financial Markets→Asset Pricing, Trading Volume, Bond Interest Rates
G24 : Financial Economics→Financial Institutions and Services→Investment Banking, Venture Capital, Brokerage, Ratings and Ratings Agencies
G32 : Financial Economics→Corporate Finance and Governance→Financing Policy, Financial Risk and Risk Management, Capital and Ownership Structure, Value of Firms, Goodwill