Rating Agencies, Self-Fulfilling Prophecy and Multiple Equilibria? An Empirical Model of the European Sovereign Debt Crisis 2009-2011

Manfred Gartner, Bjorn Griesbach


We explore whether governments may have faced scenarios of self-fulfilling prophecy and multiple equilibria during Europe’s sovereign debt crisis. To this end, we estimate the effect of interest rates and other macroeconomic variables on sovereign debt ratings, and of ratings on interest rates. We detect a nonlinear effect of ratings on interest rates which is strong enough to permit multiple equilibria. The good equilibrium is stable, ratings are excellent and interest rates are low. A second unstable equilibrium marks a threshold beyond which the country slides towards an insolvency trap. Coefficient estimates suggest that countries should stay well within the A segment of the rating scale in order to remain safe from being driven towards default.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/ber.v7i1.11166


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