Financial Analysts Journal

A Point-in-Time Perspective on Through-the-Cycle Ratings

  1. Edward I. Altman
  2. Herbert A. Rijken

The role and performance of credit-rating agencies are currently under debate. Several surveys conducted in the United States reveal that most investors believe rating agencies are too slow in adjusting their ratings to changes in corporate creditworthiness. It is well known that agencies achieve rating stability by their through-the-cycle methodology. This study provides quantitative insight into this methodology from an investor's point-in-time perspective and quantifies the effects of the methodology on three, somewhat conflicting, objectives: rating stability, rating timeliness, and performance in predicting defaults. The results can guide the search for an optimal balance among these three objectives.

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