The impact of credit rating announcements on credit default swap spreads

John D. Finnerty, Cameron D. Miller, Ren Raw Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


We document the ability of the credit default swap (CDS) market to anticipate favorable as well as unfavorable credit rating change (RC) announcements based on more extensive samples of credit rating events and CDS spreads than previous studies. We obtain four new results. In contrast to prior published studies, we find that corporate RC upgrades do have a significant impact on CDS spreads even though they are still not as well anticipated as downgrades. Second, CreditWatch (CW) and Outlook (OL) announcements, after controlling for prior credit rating events, lead to significant CARs at the time positive CW and OL credit rating events are announced. Third, we extend prior results by showing that changes in CDS spreads for non-investment-grade credits contain information useful for estimating the probability of negative credit rating events. Fourth, we find that the CDS spread impact of upgrades but not downgrades is magnified during recessions and that upgrades and downgrades also differ as to the impact of simultaneous CW/OL announcements, investment-grade/speculative-grade crossovers, current credit rating, market volatility, and industry effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2011-2030
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Banking and Finance
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • CDS
  • Creditwatch
  • Event study
  • Outlook
  • Rating
  • S&P

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics


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